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Wednesday, 06 July 2016 17:47

Do you need HTTPS/SSL?

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SSL Certificates

If you think you don't need HTTPS/SSL security on your site, then you may need to re-evaluate this opinion as things are changing.

Back in August 2014 we published an article called SSL for SEO. This related to the announcement that Google had made at the time informing webmasters that HTTPS/SSL security was now a ranking factor in search engine positioning. So what's changed since then? At first not much......but stats now demonstrate that having SSL security in place is getting very important.

Let's first look back to July 2014 prior to Google's announcement! This chart shows that only 7% of the results delivered on the first page of Google were sites with SSL encryption.

Importance of SSL

Fast forward two years.....and now the chart shows that the percentage of sites with SSL on the first page of Google is 35%.

Benefits of SSL

At the current rate of increase we're going to hit 50% earlier next year. And industry analysts consider that 50% could well be the balance point where Google really turn up the algorithmic volume on SSL. In the initial stages they couldn't downgrade sites for not having SSL because it would diminish the quality of their search results. But now the bigger players like Wikipedia, Amazon, Facebook, YouTube, eBay, Twitter etc are all on board with SSL.....things are likely to change.

So what is SSL? Basically it's a a 2048bit data encryption method, and these days it comes with multiple benefits:

1. 2048 bit encrypted connection between the user and the site giving a higher level of security for data transmission.
2. An SSL certificate also provides authentication. This means that users can be sure that they are sending information to YOU, and not to a criminal’s server.
3. Protection from Phishing, where a criminal tries to impersonate you or your website.
4. Dedicated IP address that gives you protection from any IP blacklisting of your site and e-mail caused by other users on the shared server IP address.
5. Enhanced professionalism giving clients confidence in doing business with you.
6. Trust! Browsers give visual cues, such as the lock icon in the address bar, which tells visitors that their connection is secure.
7. SSL is a criteria for search engine ranking, so potentially higher placement in searches.

If those benefits are not important to you, then there is no need for you to consider SSL. However, if that's the case, I would advise you not to make statements in your terms and conditions like "We take your security and data protection seriously".....because in reality you don't. So probably best if you omit that part because you're leaving yourself wide open.

To summarise, HTTPS/SSL encryption delivers numerous benefits to both site users and site owners alike, and it's importance is going to continue to rise.
At some point it may well be that those websites without HTTPS/SSL will be viewed as inactive or dormant businesses. Or even worse, as some analysts have suggested, Google may show a message to users warning them that it's an insecure site, or actually force HTTPS through the browser. If that happens, it could have catastrophic effects on businesses without SSL security.

We've used HTTPS/SSL on our site for almost 10 years now.....simply because it was the professional way to do things. For those of you considering making the switch now, there's many more incentives to do so as I've indicated above. Because you never know, in the future it could come down to Google viewing unsecured sites as.....NOT ENCRYPTED? Then you're NOT RELEVANT!

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