Why HTTPS? An SEO Ranking Factor…That’s Why
When it comes to webpages, we all know how complex they can be. From original coding to back end signals that affect search engine rankings, it’s hard to keep up with constantly changing web page development. But have you ever wondered what the “http or https” stands for before the www address of your website and what it means? You see it daily, but what is the difference and why does it matter? These protocols help guide users through your site and the web. In this blog, we will explore the difference between http and https, the benefits of switching to https protocols, and why you should do it sooner rather than later.
So what are they?
HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. What HTTP does is communicate data information through the World Wide Web through collaborative online systems. In short, it allows people to find and interact with your website through a request-response protocol- which means the HTTP is the request message and the response is the delivery of the webpage. HTTPS, or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, operates on the same system basis as HTTP, but holds an encrypted connection between your browser and the website that makes it more difficult for hackers and others to track users than on the open connection that HTTP webpages have. HTTPS works by using secure protocols such as SSL or TLS certificates that start the protected connection. You know that a site is secure when a lock appears on your search bar, and it turns green.
The main difference between the two is HTTP operates in plain text and HTTPS operates in encrypted text among other things.
At their origin, sites are automatically HTTP unless the secure certificates are bought and implemented. So what are the benefits of using HTTPS as opposed to HTTP as a website owner? Not only is it more secure for users, but there are also SEO benefits to switching to HTTPS ASAP.
Safety and security on the web has become increasingly important when it comes to online shopping, especially with more advanced hacking methods and hackers on a daily basis. When one establishes an HTTPS protocol for their website, it becomes less susceptible to hackers. Privacy is not only a wish of online users, but more so a demand. Even if you aren’t selling products, switching to HTTPS protects users data that you collect from them such as email addresses, demographic information, etc. The Moz blog explains that there are other privacy benefits such as verifying that the website is the one the server it is supposed to be talking to, stopping Man-in-the-middle attacks, making your site more secure for visitors, and that HTTPS encrypts all communication, including URLs, which protects things like browsing history and credit card numbers. Don’t be the next company on the news due to a major hack and information leak. Make the switch.
2. Referral Data
In the Digital Era, it is essential to understand where your website’s traffic is coming from in order to better capitalize on it and adjust other methods. A major benefit of HTTPS is not breaking referrer data. Referrer data tells you what site users came from previously. If your site is using HTTP and the user comes from a site with HTTPS, the encryption strips the data and you cannot see where they were previously. However, HTTPS referrer information can travel between two HTTPS enabled sites-so you can see where they were before without stripped data.
3. Ranking Boost
In August 2014, Google made a rare announcement that HTTPS would officially be considered a ranking signal for the search engine. They told readers that the signal would start small, “carrying less weight than other signals… But over time, they may decide to strengthen it, because they’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.” High organic ranking is a goal for every web page owner, so this in itself is reason to switch over to HTTPS. If you are asking, yes, we (SayItSocial) made the switch, see image above or view the URL bar above in your browser. Want to make the switch to improve your SEO? Visit our search engine optimization, or our responsive web site design page to see how we can help you!
So if it is a small signal what is the point? “As a website and business we 1) Want to take every advantage we can to help improve ranking and web security for users and 2) It is so rare that Google makes announcements that reveal what impacts ranking- to ignore it just doesn’t make sense.” Says CEO of SayItSocial Ty Downing.