2018: The Year Of HTTPS

What Even Is An SSL Certificate & Why You Definitely Need One In 2018

Mar 6, 2018 | SEO, Web Design

Tangible Strategies | Small Business Marketing Greenville SC | 11 Questions to Ask Your Web Developer

Sometimes, it feels like Google is all we talk about. Like, Google is the new Marcia. (Oops, does that reference age us?)

Let’s be real, Google is king. Or, errr, queen. (Looking at you, feminists.) But you get it. As a business owner, you probably know that Google holds a large part of your fate online, and you might even spend a lot of time and money trying to please the Google SEO gods, just hoping to be one of the chosen websites worthy of that coveted first page search result.

Well, at the end of 2016, Google announced that they’d soon begin warning Chrome users by labeling sites without SSL Certificates as not secure. Late last year, Google even started sending emails to site owners warning them of the upcoming changes about SSL Certificates. Google said, “Beginning in October 2017, Chrome will show the ‘Not secure’ warning in two additional situations: when users enter data on an HTTP page, and on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode.”

The internet tech blogosphere has been going crazy over all of this for a while, but maybe you’re not techy, so you’re thinking, “What’s an SSL certificate?” We’re glad you asked.

What Is An SSL Certificate?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificates make your website safe by doing background checks and encrypting any data entered on your site, and the term is often used interchangeably with the term TLS – Transport Layer Security. . And the most basic way we can explain it is that it’s what makes the difference between HTTP:// and HTTPS://. But does all this really matter?

Why Ppl Say You Should Care

Encrypts Sensitive Information

Encryption, in terms you can (hopefully) actually understand = making all communication/information entered on the site between the client and the server secure, so no one else (aka: the bad people) can read it. This is a key point for all websites with e-commerce, but it’s equally important to encrypt any data submitted using forms. So, if your website has a contact form, this applies to you!

Helps SEO Rankings

Some studies show that HTTPS websites have a higher advantage of ranking over HTTP links, so switching to HTTPS will benefit your website, even if you don’t have any forms. It’s important to note that there’s not a lot of significant evidence that supports this, and honestly, this specific element is probably not even in the top ten list of what Google prioritizes for SEO. But every bit helps!

Builds Brand Influence

Most visitors will choose not to browse a website if it isn’t secure. Would you? I mean, I’m sure you remember at least a couple of companies off the top of your head that have suffered cyber attacks that have damaged their reputation. Depending on the scale of the attack, a cyber security breach can have a short term effect (I vaguely remember the Target security breach a few years ago, but I online shop there quite often now). If the event becomes widespread in the media, or if it’s devastating to a lot of people, it can have a major impact on a brand long-term (Re: Equifax). All that to say, if you want people to trust you and your brand, get secure!

Why You Should Actually Care

Okay, let’s just pause for a second and address that thought that’s most likely going through your head: “These are all good reasons so far, but they don’t really apply to me… not really anyways.” We get it… So in case you’re not already convinced, here’s the kicker.

Users Will Receive Non-Secure Site Warning

Starting in July of this year, Google will actually begin penalizing ALL websites that don’t have an SSL certificate. Users will get a clear “non-secure” message when entering your website if you don’t have an SSL certificate. We aren’t talking a small, subtle warning. We’re talking a blatant, in-your-users’-faces warning, a la Kevin from The Office.

Chances are once a user sees that, they’ll immediately click off of your page. Goodbye sight traffic. Goodbye sales. So we’re here to tell you, Google has given a clear deadline and you have until July to make the switch.

What Will It Cost You?

In this case, the benefits FAR outweigh the cost. The cost of the SSL certificate will depend on your hosting company. We know that Blue Host offers free SSL certificates with all WordPress websites, GoDaddy has them for $120 a year, and HostGator’s price is $40 per year. The only other cost associated with it is a one time installation fee for your developer to make the switch for you. Like we said, this is affordable. (Yay!) So, start by checking with your hosting company to see their fee, and then get with your developer to start implementing it.

Conclusion

Basically, if you have a website and it’s the year 2018, you need an SSL certificate, preferably now, but definitely by July.

Procrastination is human. We get it. And listen, there are still big websites that haven’t addressed the warnings yet. But because we’re a small business, we know how hard you work as a small business owner. We’d hate to see your website lose traffic because your visitors get a big warning that your website isn’t secure.

It’s pretty inexpensive and your web developer will spend no time tackling it. So just do it! 😉