The secure web transfer protocol HTTPS is not new. In one form or another, it’s been around for more than 20 years. Yet it’s only recently become a necessity for any site to adopt HTTPS.
Even since cybersecurity became a hot button issue, HTTPS has been viewed by some as an optional extra. Traditionally only sites that deal with private information, such as ecommerce sites, have been seen to require HTTPS. Sadly, that’s no longer the case. Whatever your site or your business, a lack of secure protocols could kill your site…
Protecting site integrity and user privacy
First, you need HTTPS to ensure intruders can’t tamper with communications between a site and its users by way of a malicious attack or through the insertion of spam ads. If you can’t protect users from such interference, the integrity of your site is compromised. Trust levels with site visitors will drop, and so will your site traffic.
What the protocol also does – as it was designed to – is to protect sensitive information. Every unsecured HTTP connection can potentially reveal information over and above financial or personal details. Modern cyber-criminals are skilled at accessing information in many ways to leverage for their own gain. That’s why you need HTTPS, whatever type of site you own.
Maintaining lead generation
The above explanation is the main reason why secured connections are better than unsecured ones. And if that’s not enough to convince you that a lack of HTTPS could kill your new business venture, there are other reasons relating to specific, practical ways in which a lack of HTTPS might damage the effectiveness of your site. If you use your site for lead generation, not using HTTPS might cost your brand lots of vital leads. In October 2017, Google Chrome – one of the most popular browsers – introduced a new warning. Anyone using the browser to fill in a form on a site with an unsecured connection sees a warning which tells them in no uncertain terms the site is ‘not secure’.
Faced with such a warning, a person’s logical response is to stop filling in a form and leave the site. That’s probably what you or I would do. If your lead generation site isn’t using HTTPS, then, the abandonment rate for contact forms is likely to be much higher than it otherwise might be. You need HTTPS to ensure maximum engagement with potential customers/audiences/contacts.
Boosting SEO performance
Search engine optimization (SEO) is key to the success of any site. Achieving and maintaining a high ranking on Google is how sites get the traffic they need to survive. There are a huge number of ranking factors for Google’s algorithms – those elements which the search engine accounts for when deciding a site’s ranking. Arch-rival Bing operates along similar lines.
Since 2014, HTTPS has been one of these ranking factors. In late 2015, Google’s Gary Illyes even suggested that HTTPS could be a tiebreaker for ranking sites with otherwise comparable performance. In recent months and years, it looks like the importance of secure connectivity is increasing, and the highest-ranked pages will almost always be using HTTPS for pretty much any Google search.
If your site doesn’t use HTTPS, you’re putting it on the back foot from an SEO perspective. Given how much time and effort good SEO takes, that’s an irresponsible stance for any site owner to take. Boosting SEO is one of the many reasons you need HTTPS to ensure the survival of your site.