If you run a business, you have a website.
Make sure Google likes you.
Why is it important?
Managing that website is often a full-time job, so you might look to outsource your Denver web design needs. That’s a reasonable approach, but it doesn’t preclude you from needing to understand a few basics. Among those is website security. That’s a scary topic, but you can make reasonable decisions without being an IT expert. What you really need to understand is the importance of https. It is a designation that can be attached to your website, and without it, you are hurting your business prospects in a number of disastrous ways.
What is HTTPS?
It’s silly to discuss making changes to your website without discussing the meaning of those changes. Many of you might already have an idea of the differences between http and https, but here’s a short answer just in case. Https is a secure version of http. What that really means is that an https site utilizes a secure socket layer (SSL) encryption every time information is downloaded or uploaded. That means the interactions between the site server and users is protected, and their personal and/or financial information is thoroughly protected by that encryption process.
Now, just having SSL encryption isn’t quite enough to become an https site. Once you have the functioning security, you need to obtain an SSL Certificate (in reality this is done in the reverse order). These are regulated, vetted certificates that visibly display your status to users. You can probably imagine how that is a good thing for your reputation. It also stands to have a major impact on your business. With that in mind, these are the most compelling reasons to stop beating around the bush and commit to obtaining your SSL Certificate.
This is usually the first point made when anyone discusses motivations for switching to https. There is a reason for that. Google has been favoring secure sites over non-secure counterparts for years. They even announced it in 2014. It is a documented and open part of their crusade to make the internet more secure. So, if you want good search rankings, you need that “s.”
Except, this goes way beyond your search rank number. What Google started, many others have followed. Website security affects organic search results on all of the most popular engines. More importantly, most browsers flag http sites as insecure. They will warn users not to provide data over an insecure connection, and in many cases they will outright block access to the site. This might feel unfair, but the giants of technology are monolithic in their determination to make https the standard, and they are succeeding. In the past four years, more than half of the entire internet has adopted SSL security, and the number is growing. Staying behind won’t lower your search rating. It will eventually cause you to disappear entirely.
Here’s the final point to consider on SEO. This is all based on international competition for search rankings. Everything is actually more extreme on a local scale. Denver SEO rankings will be more heavily impacted by whether or not you have that “s” in your address.
There’s an obvious component to sales. You just read that avoiding SSL Certificates will hurt your visibility. That’s actually not what we’re talking about here. Secure sites can handle personal and financial information directly. You don’t need redirects to handle transactions safely. On top of that, the average internet shopper is better informed on internet safety than they were a few years ago. That means having the certificate is essential to convincing buyers that it is safe to do business.
We can speculate about the cause and effect relationships, but there is a clear bottom line. Statistical analysis repeatedly shows that secure sites have significantly better conversions than their non-secure counterparts. Even when looking at the same site before and after converting to https, conversion rates consistently increase. And, this isn’t a small gain. Conversion increases have been known to climb by as much as three-fold. If that weren’t enough, the price per purchase also increases. If your website involves any kind of transaction, security is the single best change to boost revenue.
Here’s another obvious idea. Secure sites are more stable. How? Well, they protect information. This protects your site and servers on several fronts. First, the SSL security protects back-end users when they log in. The encryption stops the most common attacks that could steal information that would give a third party complete access and control in regards to your website. That said, many sites use secure connections for back-end control and remain unsecured for nominal users.
Here’s the second front. When user information is at risk, it can be used to attack your server. DDOS style attacks often require large numbers of IP addresses to succeed (if you have any measure of protection). Unsecure user information can be stolen and abused by nefarious parties to bring your website down. In all, there are too many risks to count. SSL encryption eliminates most of them. Obtaining certificates will, in the long run, increase your up time and improve your accessibility to users.
This topic gets a bit counterintuitive. You might assume that encrypting your website will require more computational resources and make it run slower. You’re half right. Encryption does increase server loads, but it is by a tiny amount. For reference, Gmail switched to HTTPS security in 2010. They saw a one-percent increase in overall server load. The process has been optimized since, so you can expect an even smaller increase when you switch.
Still, that doesn’t suggest that your website will actually run faster when it’s secured. That’s where the second half of this equation comes into play. All modern browsers are optimized for https. They literally connect, load and run faster on https than http. And, that improved performance requires no extra infrastructure on your part. The user experience doesn’t just get a placebo boost when you have more security. Your site will perform measurably better.
For this topic, things are less straightforward. Converting your website to https will cost money. There’s no getting around it. You might be able to justify the cost with increased visibility and conversions, but we’re going to ignore that for a moment. The operational cost of remaining http instead of https alone is likely to outpace the cost of conversion. Now, this will obviously vary depending on the size and scope of your website, so take this with a grain of salt.
That said, the conversion process is so streamlined that you are likely overestimating the cost of your security certificates. Several nonprofit groups have spent years improving accessibility, and a number of standardized SSL Certificates can be obtained for free (ignoring the cost of integrating SSL into your site). Some certificates still require specialized vetting that costs money, but most businesses don’t need them.
This only becomes more important because consumer indexes are increasingly more dependent on security certificates. Having your website or business on trusted and vetted lists is often vital to success, and obtaining a free SSL Certificate is enough to get your foot in that door. SEO aside, this is another way that https increases your visibility and reach.
Referral data is not tracked the same way for both types of sites. As a product of encryption, referral data is automatically preserved for an https site. The same is not true for http. This matters because it changes the analytical tracking of web traffic. Unsecured sites treat all referrals as direct traffic, and it changes the appearance of traffic patterns.
This is getting pretty technical, but it has dramatic impacts. First, it further sinks your SEO ranking. Besides that, it hurts your own analytics. If you’re like most businesses, you count on software reports to help you see what is and isn’t working with your website. Not having that SSL Certificate can completely mangle your analytics and send you in the wrong direction entirely.
This circles back to security, but it’s a specific issue that is worth mentioning. Generically speaking, a nefarious entity could spoof your website and redirect your users to their site. They could use it to steal information, wreak havoc or just be annoying. SSL Certificates solve this problem. Part of the certificate process automatically ensures that traffic trying to reach you does. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see how this improves your visibility, sales and overall interaction with online customers.
Handling web design Denver is a simple matter of making good decisions. When it comes to security certificates, you can’t succeed without them. Whether you are launching a new site or just updating what you have, this conversion is essential. But, it doesn’t have to be painful. There are countless resources to ease the transition, and any expert worth their salt can have you officially certified and operating under https in short order.