You may have heard on the news over the last year plenty of articles about cyber security and keeping your details safe online. Well Google has been pushing for years that it wants all websites to become secure using encryption regardless of whether they take payment details or not, in a bid to keep web visitors safe. Google has also admitted that HTTPS (the secure version of HTTP) is now a ranking factor in it’s own search algorithm, so it’s not something you should ignore. This is a big change and one of the biggest since Google’s algorithm change to rank responsive websites higher in search for mobile visitors.
Aside from the search ranking effects for HTTPS, Google will soon display a ‘site not secure’ message or similar if it deems your website needs an SSL certificate (the service that encrypts this data) but doesn’t have one in place. This could put off potential visitors, affect your brand and harm sales.
So, how can you get ahead in Google’s new secure website search update? Well, first you need to consider costs. Dedicated SSL certificates are usually more expensive than domains, need renewing every year and without technical knowledge, can be difficult to setup with your domain and hosting if you’re not familiar with the process.
Let’s look at the benefits of a dedicated SSL certificate first. Having a secure website gives your users:
- Peace of mind when browsing your website that they’re connection is safe.
- Payments or personal details will be encrypted between their computer and your server using 2048-bit key encryption.
- Browsers will display a ‘padlock’ symbol and sometimes a ‘Secure’ message with a green highlight in the address bar, giving extra peace of mind.
- As the website owner, you will also get varying levels of insurance covering you for interception by the SSL certificate provider. Usually this starts with a minimum of $10,000 and of course the higher the payout the more you pay each year.
On the flip side, there are some important points to note about SSL certificates:
- Having an SSL certificate on your website doesn’t necessarily secure it from hackers. Don’t forget to update your website frequently and adhere to all security protocols when handling sensitive data.
- Your website will load ever so slightly slower. Encryption usually takes longer to process and therefore page speeds will be slightly longer. The added security will help improve peace of mind for users though.
- You will need to change all URLs on your website to use the new HTTPS URL, otherwise you will get browser ‘mixed content’ warnings and your browser and possibly search engines won’t give an improved ranking.
- Renew the SSL certificate every year or risk losing your secure website status. Forgetting to do so could also mean your website may not load correctly. Each certificate is uniquely generated and therefore needs to be reinstalled on renewal.
If setting up an SSL certificate on your website all sounds too complex, we can help you set it up and provide hosting as well as domain registration. We provide dedicated SSL security certificates and will ensure they’re fully configured with you website. We’ll even check for old URLs so you don’t get ‘mixed content’ errors in the browser. Contact us today if you need an SSL certificate or would like some general web design advice.