Brace Yourself, Big Changes Coming with ‘HTTPS’

For webmasters, content developers, and business owners alike, search engine optimization, or SEO, is an essential part of driving search traffic to your website. There are several ways to enhance SEO and improve rank and visibility on results pages, but switching your website from “HTTP” to “HTTPS” is an important, effective, and recommended strategy for increased optimization results, as well as increased privacy and security.

HTTP versus HTTPS: What’s the Difference?

You probably recognize the familiar acronym “HTTP” that magically and mysteriously appears in your address bar every time you visit a website, but do you happen to know what it stands for or what purpose it serves? Moreover, are you aware of why the shift to “HTTPS” has gained so much traction and attention over the past four years? In 2014, Google officially announced that switching your website from HTTP to HTTPS will give you a minor ranking boost, but is that the only benefit? Let’s explore the evolution of HTTP to HTTPS, including the pros and cons associated with each, in more detail.

HyperText Transfer Protocol, or HTTP, is the means by which information is sent and received across the Internet. In technical terms, HTTP is an “application layer protocol,” which means that the data being communicated between the browser and the website is sent over in plain text. Although HTTP is said to be stateless, meaning that no attempt is made to remember specific information that is entered, the lack of a secure connection increases the likelihood that your data may be intercepted and exposed. This is especially concerning for those of us who use the Internet to pay bills or make purchases — two common activities that require our most sensitive information!

To prevent massive security breaches of personal information, HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure, or HTTPS, was developed to ensure that all information we view or send is secure. The chief difference between HTTP and HTTPS is that instead of acting as its own application layer protocol, HTTPS works in conjunction with two separate protocols — SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) — for added privacy and security.

Neither HTTP nor HTTPS are particularly concerned with how information gets from one point to another; so the SSL has the incredibly important task of ensuring that all information travels through a secure ‘tunnel’ to its ultimate destination. Without getting overly technical, the SSL also encrypts the information that is being sent, which means that the true meaning of your most sensitive data (bank statements, credit card numbers, and login information) is disguised, making it more difficult for a third party intruder to access or decipher.

The Benefits of Switching to HTTPS

  • As you might expect, HTTPS has faster speeds and connections than HTTP. This is because encrypted websites supporting HTTPS have already been certified as secure, whereas unencrypted websites supporting HTTP need to be filtered and scanned before connections can be established and user access can be granted*.
  • Most popular browsing platforms—Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Google Chrome—support HTTPS for more secure and streamlined Internet browsing.
  • Switching to HTTPS can improve SEO and the rank and visibility of your website on results pages.
  • In 2014, Google confirmed a rankings boost for websites supporting HTTPS. Although the exact percentage is hard to quantify, the value of switching has increased significantly over the past four years.
  • More accurate referrer data is another benefit of switching from HTTP to HTTPS. When traffic comes through HTTP websites, for example, it shows as “direct” traffic in the analytics report even though no information has been saved. Conversely, when traffic comes through HTTPS websites, referral traffic data is preserved. As a result, you can determine precisely where your search traffic is coming from**.
  • Websites supporting HTTPS provide enhanced privacy and security. First, by verifying that your website is the one the server is supposed to connect to, and second, by encrypting all communication (including URLs) which protects browser history, credit card numbers, and passwords.

Google Gets Serious About HTTPS

In June 2014, Google launched its “HTTPS Everywhere” Campaign in an attempt to create a more secure internet. Two months later, in August 2014, Google announced that switching websites from HTTP to HTTPS may give webmasters a minor rankings boost, as an added incentive to switch. Since then, Google has taken additional—some might argue even controversial—steps to compel more webmasters to upgrade to HTTPS.

One way Google is taking control of the HTTPS movement is by marking websites that do not support HTTPS with a bright red “X” over the padlock icon in the URL bar. The purpose of the red “X” is to classify HTTP supporting websites as unencrypted, and therefore, unsafe. Last year, in January 2017, Google took their campaign one step further, and began showing “NOT SECURE” warnings on HTTP pages featuring credit card and password fields.

Presently, even more serious changes are on the horizon for users of Google Chrome, and they will be rolled out in two stages. In the first stage, which is set to begin September 2018, Google Chrome will no longer display a green “warning” icon in the URL bar for secure websites.

In the second stage, beginning October 2018, Google Chrome will display a prominent red warning on all HTTP supporting websites indicating that those sites are “Not Secure.” This new interface serves as an aggressive reminder that all HTTP websites are insecure, and that HTTPS will officially be the default state of safe websites.

Data source for both images: SEJ
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/chrome-browser-https/253801/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

Takeaway: Embrace the Changes

For those of you who have been on the fence about switching from HTTP to HTTPS, the time has come to make a decision. Not only will upgrading to HTTPS keep you in Google’s good graces, but it will also protect your website against third party hackers trying to intercept sensitive information.

According to web experts***, more than 50 percent of internet browsers worldwide use Google Chrome, so these changes will impact users across the globe. Even if your HTTP website is safe, the blanket warning issued by Chrome may scare off potential visitors, prompting them to leave your site. In short, failure to upgrade to HTTPS may negatively affect advertising impressions, affiliate clicks, site traffic, and overall revenue.

Heightened privacy and security for your site, increased optimization, and a safer Internet for all users are just a few of the reasons why switching from HTTP to HTTPS is beneficial. If you want to learn more about HTTPS, or need assistance changing your entire website from HTTP to HTTPS, Perfexion, Inc. is here to help. We specialize in managing and maximizing our clients’ web content, ranking, and search results traffic.

Contact us to learn how we can make your website more secure and keep your SEO efforts and strategy strong.

WEBSITE pfxn.com
E-MAIL hello@pfxn.com
CALL 610-783-7660
SAY HELLO

* https://blog.easynews.com/http-vs-https-whats-the-difference/
** https://www.searchenginejournal.com/pros-cons-using-https-small-businesses/168937/
*** https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-sets-https-deadline/236225/
“Google Sets Deadline for HTTPS and Warns Publishers to Upgrade Soon”

Protect Your Website from Hackers

How to Protect Your Website from Hackers
(And Save Your SEO Efforts in the Process)

Website security has been garnering a lot of attention lately. More and more website owners and web developers are paying attention to the topic of security and to the very real potential that their website can get hacked. A website that is not well protected or properly optimized for search engine optimization (SEO) is at greater risk of being hacked than one that is. Your SEO results and search engine ranking can take a hit if the security of your website has been threatened.

What are the chances of your website getting hacked? What are the most usual types of website compromises? What steps can be taken to avoid getting hacked and subsequently penalized by Google with a lower search result ranking? When you understand the answers to these questions, you’ll know what steps to take to prevent future hacks and thus ensure your SEO strategy will remain sound.

In March 2017, Google presented information on the state of website security*. Most alarming is their statistic of a 32% increase from 2015 to 2016 of the number of websites that had been hacked. Even more alarming is that Google expects that number to rise as a result of websites becoming more and more outdated and hackers becoming more and more sophisticated and aggressive.

What Are the Most Common Ways a Website Can Be Hacked?

  • Spam – Hackers upload seemingly safe and innocent content and images on legitimate websites with the purpose of redirecting users to malicious websites. Links within the content, or even clicking on or opening a document, can cause damage to your own website.
  • Botnets – Cybercriminals – botmasters – develop a network of computers that are infected with malicious software that is often capable of getting around your antivirus software and other security tools. According to Google, “Botnets steal your resources in order to do malicious things like crack passwords or crack other sites.”
  • Malware – Malware is any type of software that harms people’s data and devices. Because malware can affect your users directly, it is critical to heed all warnings against it.
  • Credit Card Fraud – Of particular concern to e-commerce websites, hackers skim credit card information and steal users’ data. This type of compromise not only hurts your users, it is a sure sign that your website is not secure – and ultimately damages your reputation.

How to Minimize Your Chances of Getting Hacked

If your site has been hacked, finding a solution to the problem can be difficult because botmasters and hackers do their best to always stay a step ahead. When you make the security of your website a top priority, you reduce the potential of hackers, malware, and bots getting in and taking over your website and the data it contains. You can, however, take steps to make sure your website is as secure as it can be.

  • Get critical notices – Once you have added your website to Google’s Search Console and verified that you own it, you will receive important notifications from Google regarding security concerns, such as hacking events, that you will want to address promptly.
  • Prioritize the security of your website – Security should be your highest priority for your website – make sure everyone who contributes to your website operations understands how critically important security is.
  • Update software – Keep all software and plug-ins updated to the latest versions and releases to minimize hacks.
  • Back up your website – Regular back-ups of your website are critical. In the event you are hacked, reverting the site to its pre-hack version is easy and efficient. Update your content management system (CMS) such as WordPress and e-commerce software as necessary and apply all security patches as they are released.
  • Install security software and tools – For added peace of mind and an extra layer of security, install security software.

 

The security of your website should be your number one priority. Without the necessary safeguards on your website, the security of your customers is largely at risk, your own data and information is jeopardized, and your brand and reputation can take a serious hit from which it is difficult, if not impossible, to recover. And, the time and energy investment in developing and implementing your SEO strategy will all be for naught, as your search engine ranking will drop. Don’t become an unfavorable Google statistic. Address weak spots and vulnerabilities and keep the security of your website a top priority.

Perfexion, Inc. takes the security of every client’s website seriously. We use SEO to manage and maximize our clients’ web content, website ranking, and search engine results traffic. And, we take steps such as regularly backing up data and updating all software and plugins, including WordPress CMS, as needed – all to protect your website, which includes not only the content, but your clients’ data.

Contact us to learn how we can make your website more secure and keep your SEO efforts and strategy strong.

WEBSITE pfxn.com
E-MAIL hello@pfxn.com
CALL 610-783-7660
SAY HELLO

* https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2017/03/nohacked-year-in-review.html