HTTPS: Do I need to switch from HTTP?

What are HTTPS and HTTP?
HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP.

Everyone on the web wants to be found. Search Marketers exist to help websites get found through a range of methods including better search rankings in Google.

google-ssl-https-secure-lockImage credit SearchEngineLand

Many focus on the technical aspects of hunting down the hundreds of algorithm factors and then tweaking a site to improve results.

In addition, many have found that Google typically wants a better experience for the searcher – their main customer.

Google feels that using a web with secure information is better than a web with insecure information.

As a result, Google has taken steps since 2014 to educate Search Marketers and the public about the benefits of and Google’s preference for HTTPS.

As one of those steps Google has added features to Google Chrome, the most widely used web browser, to make it obvious if a site is using HTTPS or not.

Google Chrome Secure Padlock indicates HTTPS

In fact, in a few months, the browser will start warning visitors that it is not safe to proceed to visit a site that uses HTTP rather than HTTPS.

So, whether motivated by technical SEO or a better user experience, switching from HTTP to HTTPS is the unavoidable conclusion.

I thought that only e-commerce sites need HTTPS. Wrong.

In the past, there were specific use cases when it was important to securely send information over the web. Think of buying a product online or signing up for a service that requires personal information, such as a Social Security number. The rest of the web didn’t require a secure connection between the browser and the website server.

Now, there is a clear trend towards all websites switching to HTTPS. This is true even for simple websites with nothing for sale and no secure information being requested.

Does Google really prefer that my site is HTTPS?
Yes. Google wants the world wide web secure. Google even offers an explanation and best practices.

What percentage of all websites are now using HTTPS?
According to W3Tech The default protocol HTTPS is used by 29.7% of all the websites.

Are global searches on Google for “change to HTTPS” increasing or decreasing?

Interest in HTTPS has been increasing as seen by global search volume

Does switching, transferring or changing my site from HTTP to HTTPS effect my traffic numbers on Google?
It may have a small effect in Google’s eyes. 

Is there an SEO or Google Ranking impact from switching to HTTPS?
Yes. It is favorable. Back in 2014 SearchEngineLand discussed the issue. The first headline reads, Google to Give Secure Sites a Ranking Boost. This was likely a result of Google publishing a post titled, HTTPS as a ranking signal.
In addition, Google’s John Mueller shared the following reply in 2016
Question – Do I lose “link juice” from the redirects?
Answer – No, for 301 or 302 redirects from HTTP to HTTPS no PageRank is lost.

So, is HTTPS the future of the web?
According to Google, Yes, HTTPS matters and is the future.

If I am building a new site should I use HTTPS?
Without question.

If you have questions about the increasing implementation of HTTPS around the web and how you might switch, you are encouraged to send an email or leave a comment below. We would love to hear about your experiences and questions.


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