The Consequences of Not Using HTTPS on Your Site
Deciding whether to move your domain to the HTTPS protocol has become a no-brainer. That’s just something Google WANTS you to do.
To make the web safer for their users, of course. To give this initiative a boost, they even announced HTTPS as a ranking signal in 2014.
Since then, the buzz created around this whole HTTPS thing hasn’t stop. However, it seems that marketers are still not sure whether the transition to HTTPS is worth the effort. They talk about its disadvantages, such as the cost of this transition, the proxy caching issues, or the duplicated content it may trigger.
Given all this, it is not surprising at all that the number of sites that switched to HTTPS is still not satisfactory. In fact, despite the fact that the usage of HTTPS has tripled since 2014 (according to a study conducted by SEMrush), only 31% of domains are labeled with a green address bar and a padlock.
So what about the 69% of sites that haven’t moved to HTTPS yet? How does this affect their online performance?
Let’s find out.
It can affect your SEO
Today, there are hundreds or even thousands of businesses like yours –and to succeed in such a competitive business world, you need to set yourself apart from your competitors. In terms of SEO, this means ranking higher than them and, ideally, jumping to the first page of Google’s search results.
However, to do so, you need to optimize your site according to the Google’s rules. And you need to know that Google is obsessed with the implementation of SSL/TLS. After all, it shouldn’t surprise us that the search engine giant prefers sites that are safe and trusted.
Like I’ve already mentioned, they announced that HTTPS was to become yet another search ranking signal. They emphasized that this change is necessary to establish and nurture a solid web culture, where the security of users’ data would be protected by all means.
Even though the presence or absence of HTTPS is what Google calls “a very lightweight signal affecting fewer than 1% of global queries and carrying less weight than other signals”, it’s still vital to your SEO.
Here is how.
First, Google emphasizes that chances are they may decide to strengthen it over time.
Second, to understand the importance of using encrypted connections, you shouldn’t observe them in isolation. Maybe the mere migration to HTTPS isn’t that significant to your rankings but when combined with the other benefits it brings (such as the HTTPS schema that boosts your CTR or the improved speed HTTP/2 brings to your site), it can take your rankings to a whole new level.
This was confirmed by the Backlinko’s study, where they analyzed more than 1 million Google search results and saw that there is a strong correlation between Google’s first page rankings and HTTPS.
You’re missing out on the opportunity to boost your site’s performance
One of the marketers’ major concerns about HTTPS is the negative impact it would have on their website’s load time. After all, encryption always takes its toll on the overall performance, right?
Well, it turns out that, this time, this is not true. Thanks to mountains of upgrades, the way TLS encryption impacts the overall website performance is now negligible. Namely, when Google decided to move Gmail to HTTPS, they realized that “SSL/TLS accounts less than 1% of the total CPU load”.
Not only that, but the migration to HTTPS makes your users’ browsing experience much faster. The reason is simple- today’s browsers support HTTP/2, which cannot work without HTTPS. According to the recent Four Dot’s guide on using SSL and HTTPS, these two are a perfect match. They provide you with a safer and faster website that will boost your rankings, conversions, and user experience.
The lack of security
The major difference between HTTP and HTTPS is the level of security they offer to your users. They emphasize that HTTP is basically a text-based protocol, meaning that it is incredibly easy to intercept the traffic and read any data that is transferred.
On the other hand, HTTPS is a binary protocol that prevents cybercriminals from seeing the content of the request. When someone shares their sensitive information, HTTPS adds some additional layers of protection to your site, such as encryption, data integrity, and authentication.
To take advantage of all this, you need to install an SSL certificate to make sure that the information between your server and the browser remains safe. Once it’s installed, the certificate will serve as a padlock, binding your domain name, location, and company name together. Now, we won’t get into the technical aspects of this process, but you need to know is the following- even if a hacker intercepts the data being transmitted from a server to a browser, as long as they don’t have a private key, they cannot decrypt it.
It’s bad for your brand authority
Your target audience loves sites they can trust. And Google is here to help them recognize such sites immediately — they not only decided to make your site’s security a ranking factor, but also to label HTTP-only websites as unsafe. Once you land an HTTP-only site, Google Chrome and Firefox will display the “not secure” label in the address bar, telling you something is wrong with this site’s safety measures.
Now, studies show that people are still not that familiar with SSL certificates and their importance. They don’t pay too much attention to whether your site uses the HTTPS protocol when submitting their sensitive data or making purchases. Still, the “not secure” label can heavily affect your conversion rates and sales. If they notice it, chances are your customers will abandon you and look for your competitors.
On the other hand, the green padlock will tell your users that your site is trustworthy and that you take their safety seriously. You should also add a trust badge somewhere on your site to make your users feel safe. The best way to do so is to integrate these badges into your product pages, where your customers are usually required to leave their sensitive data.
The moral of the story is obvious – migrating to HTTPS will make Google love you. Aside from the SEO benefits mentioned above, you should always keep in mind that HTTPS is a much safer option for both your site and your users. And, in the era of the rise of cybercrimes, switching to this protocol should be a top priority.
Have you moved to HTTPS? How does it influence your site?
**About the Author: Emma Miller is a digital marketer and a contributor at BizzMark Blog