HTTPS vs HTTP - Recent Changes at Google

Google recently announced that it would make all plain HTTP pages on the web “not secure”. But what does this mean? What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS and how can one make sure to comply with Google’s policies? We take a look at this in this article, as well as recent changes at Google and how these will affect you, your business or your site's ranking.

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The difference between HTTP and HTTPS

HTTP stands for Hyper Transfer Protocol and refers to an underlying protocol on the web, which defines how your information is transmitted to the website you are accessing. It can be found in the URL of the website you are visiting and will determine to what extent your connection to the website is secure. To put it simply, the S in HTTPS refers to “secure”. If you are visiting a plain HTTP page, rather than an HTTPS, your connection is not secure due to it not being encrypted. This means that virtually anyone within your network could interfere with this connection and thus change the contents of the page, or gather your personal information. While the difference between HTTP and HTTPS were not as relevant before, Google has now decided to add a note next to HTTP URLs, emphasising the page is not secure. While this is recent, it’s a definitive sign that you should get on the HTTPS train as soon as possible if you don’t want your customers using Chrome to see a big red exclamation mark urging them to give up before they get to your landing page.

Image of a browser with "your connection is not private"

Who needs HTTPS and how to I get it?

If you are collecting any kind of information on your websites such as emails, credit card numbers or addresses you need to ensure your website is secure. Many website providers like Wix or Squarespace will ensure your website complies with Google’s policies. However, if you are managing your own page, the best way to ensure you are complying with Google’s policies is to use SSL (Secure Socket Layer). SSL will encrypt all the information being inputted on the website, and thus making you and the customer secure. All you will need to do is get a certificate, and currently, Google is offering free certificates and monitoring through “Let’s Encrypt”.

Any other recent changes at Google I should know about?

Google will usually change the way their system “crawls” and ranks web pages between 400 to 600 times a year. Even though most of these changes are minor, this means that you constantly have to be on your toes in order to remain 1st in Google rankings. To stay on top of this make sure you update your content frequently, that your pages are well named and formatted, and most importantly, that your content is relevant. This will ensure you keep your ranking up, while also having a secure website.

First published on www.companyconnecting.com January 2019

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