Encryption, Web Safety & Rumors
In December, we wrote about Google’s quest to make the web a safer place with HTTPS. The search engine publically announced they give an SEO edge for those websites who adopt URLs with this added layer of protection. Now the web is abuzz with rumors that the Chrome browser may mark HTTP websites as unsafe. Let’s dig into what’s fact, what’s not and how you should manage your website.
Official Google Reports
First, let’s examine what Google has officially released to the press and published on the web:
- Google’s Webmaster Central blog — in August 2014 they announced that HTTPS is a ranking signal. In the blog article, they mention their quest to make the web a safer place for users, citing that webmasters need to prevent and fix security breaches on their websites. This official report was picked by digital marketing trade sources including Search Engine Land and Moz. Mainstream news sites such as Forbes shared their commentary.
- Google I/O 2014 — a session was dedicated to HTTPS everywhere. If you want to geek out… watch the video.
- On Google+ — John Mueller, Google’s spokesperson, goes on record with a social media post. If you want to get into some detail… read the thread of comments and questions.
- Search Console Help –There’s a step-by-step guide on how to secure your site with HTTPS.
Ok, I think the signals are crystal clear. Google likes HTTPS. They want websites to be on HTTPS. They encourage Webmasters to switch to HTTPS. Their message hasn’t wavered since Summer 2014. Now for the unofficial reports that are worrying Webmasters.
The Unofficial HTTPS Reports
EWeek and Motherboard published articles recently. Sensational headlines like “Google Will Soon Shame All Websites That Are Unencrypted” are meant to be alarming. Webmasters are scurrying for more information. While the commentary in these articles is interesting and well worth the read, note that Google has not released an official mandate.
However, Chris Palmer, a Google software engineer, announced the proposal via the Chromium Projects back in 2014. The “Making HTTP as Non-Secure” was a plan to be deployed in 2015. Again, no recent or official statements have been released from the big G.
Is It Time for HTTP Websites to Move?
From an SEO perspective, my answer is yes. Google has told Webmasters that they will get a slight boost in organic rankings. Just make sure when you make the switch that all your technical “i”s are dotted and your “t”s are crossed. You don’t want to inadvertently lose your hard-earned SEO equity. This is an excellent time to read through Google’s step-by-step guide or get a professional to help you navigate the process.
From a brand reputation perspective, my answer is yes. Upgrading your website’s security protocol is a wise investment. It’s not that expensive, but it speaks volumes. Your company wants to protect it’s visitors’ information.
Now that we’ve separated fact from rumor, are you going to switch to HTTPS?
How can we help?
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