The Google-Mandated Migration to HTTPS: What is it and Why Does it Matter?

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Most people know that Google is the biggest search engine in the world. More people use Google to locate the data they want than any other browser – by far! What this means, then, is that businesses are dependent on the way Google offers search results. When Google shifts the way their programming selects and offers results – called their algorithm – businesses had better pay attention and keep up with those changes. They risk falling in the search results if they don’t. 

To give you a little background before I explain what HTTPS is, in the past four years or so, Google has made a number of significant changes. Sometimes they explain what has changed and sometimes they don’t.

You may or may not know that you can use a service called Google Analytics to watch how many people visit your site, how many pages they visit, which pages perform better than others and similar data. When Google makes these shifts, you can very quickly see if your site is performing better or worse.

Here’s an example of how Google’s modifications can change a company’s result. In August 2013, a site I’ve been working with saw its results decline severely. We all studied the changes and made some changes and the site began to climb slowly. In May of this year, Google made another change and the company saw the number of visitors to the site jump up considerably, back to the prior year’s level.

Now, Google is encouraging all site owners to switch to a different website technology – HTTPS. As motivation for this change, sites that use this more secure system will rank higher in the search results that Google offers up.

HTTP refers to the language used for building websites. It’s this language that enables you to place live links on your web pages that carry you instantly to a new page. When you add the S to HTTP, this refers to Secure Socket Layer, an encryption process. When you send information across the internet on an HTTPS site, your data is encrypted and is unavailable to whoever might be snagging information from this traffic. If you have an HTTP site, the data is freely available to anyone who can trap these bits of data.

Shopping and banking sites are normally HTTPS. You might be browsing on HTTP pages and then when you go to buy something, that new page is HTTPS.

To see this in action, go to Amazon.com. Find a book you might like to buy. The address at the top of the browser window will start with “www.amazon.com.” Add the book to your shopping cart and then move on to checkout. Now the web address starts with HTTPS.

So shopping carts and confidential reports to government or law enforcement agencies (for example) use this more secure foundation for their sites. Google wants ALL sites to shift over to this system.

When preparing your site for this change, your content and design remain exactly the same. Some of the settings of your site will change and you’ll need the the service of a company that offers this security protocol. The good news is that we can handle this for you. All you need to do is tell us that you’re ready for this shift.

Remember, this change should make your site rise in the Google rankings and that is valuable. A better position in Google search result enables you to put more dollars in your pocket. And your customers who know about the increased security offered by HTTPS know you are offering them a more secure browsing experience. In these days of hacked websites, that’s valuable.

By making this change now, you will have an advantage that millions of other sites do not yet have. Call us any time and we’ll let you know exactly what will be involved in updating your site to HTTPS.