December 7, 2017
Google recently announced that they will soon be displaying the following warning on all non-https websites:
All websites continuing to use a standard http address will be treated this way, regardless of whether or not you deal with sensitive data or conduct e-commerce.
And the process is already well underway. Google is currently showing non-https websites with a grey ⓘ icon next to the web address. Very soon, that will change to a grey version of the "Not secure" warning label above, and finally it will be turned red. And when it turns red, people will stop visiting your website.
That's right, once this goes into full effect, it's not unreasonable to expect 75% or more of your website traffic to disappear. A warning like that is strong enough to make visitors concerned that their computer may be at risk by simply browsing your website. Who could blame them for avoiding it like a virus, and jumping to a competitor whose website doesn't look like it's leaving them vulnerable to cyberattack.
We are rapidly moving to a point where all websites will be marked either red or green - safe or unsafe. And at that point, if you are still holding onto a non-https website, you will lose most of your website traffic. The time to make the switch is now.
On the positive side, secure https websites are shown with a happy green lock and an inviting green 'Secure' label next to their web address, which welcomes and assures visitors, making your business appear instantly trustworthy. That kind of trust is hard to earn, especially online, so when the opportunity arises, smart businesses grab it. Be smart, grab it.
In addition to the reputation boost that comes from moving to a secure https website, Google is now also actively rewarding https websites with higher rankings. They have also announced that they will be penalizing non-https websites in the future by lowering their Google rankings. That means a switch to https comes with immediate SEO benefits and avoidance of Google penalties in the future. It's no coincidence that nearly 70% of page one results (Top 10 ranking) are https secure websites. Staying on Google's good side has its benefits.
If you do a Google search for your own important search terms, you'll realize that most of your competition has already made the switch - especially those who appear in the page one results. Trying to copy the competition isn't always a smart business move, but in this case it is most certainly the way to go. If most of your competition is displaying a secure website, and you are one of the few who are not, you are simply handing them your fair share of new customers. In this case, it's important to keep up with the Joneses.
Secure websites load significantly faster that non-https websites, often two to ten times faster, shaving precious seconds off page loads. Fast loading not only improves visitor experience, but Google also ranks faster websites higher. Higher Google rankings and happier website visitors can result in more website conversions.
When you move to https, you also upgrade from a shared IP address to a dedicated IP address. Being on a shared IP addresses means you share your email server with thousands of other random domains. That inevitably includes some bad apples who violate spam rules and get your email server put on spam blacklists. That can lead to important emails bouncing back or disappearing and never getting to the recipient. And all of this is through no fault of your own.
However, when you have your own dedicated IP address, you are no longer subject to the consequences of someone else's poor behavior. That means you are far less likely to experience the frustration of sending an important email that never gets to an important client or contact.
Dedicated IP addresses are in limited supply, and only available at a premium. Luckily, they happen to be required for an https website. So for those whose email is critical to doing business, moving to https can be well worth it for the better email experience alone.
Without getting into the tech details, a secure https website encrypts information on a website. Obviously that's important for e-commerce, but don't forget that you may be asking visitors to share other sensitive information. If you have a contact form, you are asking for names, email addresses, phone numbers, and even addresses or locations. You may even be asking generally about finances (budgets), project or personal goals, or other private details. It's our responsibility as a business at minimum to take basic steps to protect that customer/client information.
A secure website requires a dedicated IP address and a secure SSL certificate. This bundle must be renewed annually, and costs $150 per year. There is a one-time fee for the website conversion, which is typically $500 depending on the size of the website.
Google has decided that a secure web is a better web for everyone, and they are actively pushing the world this way through a series of progressive penalties and rewards. Business owners must embrace this switch, both to avoid damaging their business and reputation, and to reap the many benefits of moving to a secure website.