Google is leading the push toward SSL Certificates for websites. What does that mean for your website?

Why SSL Websites?

Chrome, FireFox and other browsers show if a website is SECURE or NOT SECURE. This was a move to make using websites a safer experience for web visitors. E-commerce sites use SSL to collect payment information. Google has pushed for SSL for all websites that collect ANY information, such as names and email addresses. Having an SSL Certificate from a hosting company means information collected won’t be captured by an unscrupulous third party before it’s delivered to the website owner.

What Does A Secure SSL Website Look Like?

Technology and the Internet change frequently so it’s easy to forget some of the changes. A few years ago Google changed their web browser to an HTTPS site which was a move in keeping with their goal of moving everyone to a secure web experience. E-commerce sites like Amazon and Ebay are HTTPS, so we’re already used to seeing HTTPS in the browser bar.

SECURE and NOT SECURE is another designation. For the web visitor they see a green lock and the word “SECURE” before the website address in the Chrome browser bar. On Firefox the visitor sees just the green lock.

Example of unsecure site in Google Chrome
Example of unsecure site in Google Chrome browser.

The unsecure site in the example above has two forms on their site: one for customer contact and another for prospective employees. It’s likely they’ve seen their contacts diminish as consumers become more aware of web safety.

Example of secure website in Chrome
Example of secure site in Google Chrome browser.

How Will This Effect Your Site?

  • Cautious Visitors – Website visitors will see red and exit the site. This will show up a decrease in traffic in the site’s Analytics’ stats.
  • Fewer Contacts – As visitors become aware and educated on the differences of SECURE and NOT SECURE they will shy from completing forms on non SSL websites.
  • SEO Ranking – Since Google has the search engine and they like SECURE sites, their algorithm ranks SECURE sites above NOT SECURE sites, moving them to the top of the search results.
  • If you make your website SSL compliant, the web address changes from HTTP:// to HTTPS:// This can effect links throughout the site.
  • As SSL/HTTPS becomes the norm, will it be good practice to link to NOT SECURE sites? Will you lose incoming links to your site if you’re resistant to change? My prediction is “YES” and it will effect your site’s SEO ranking.

How to be SSL Compliant

You’ll need an SSL certificate. Hosting companies sell them and usually offer a means of installing it on the website. They cost around $50 to $100 per year. If the cost makes or breaks the move to SSL, there are hosting companies that offer free SSL. Of course that entails an initial move of the website to a new hosting company.

If you currently own a site without and SSL certificate, it’s uses links in the menu and for images. All of these should be updated to HTTPS.

Being A Good Web Neighbor

It may feel like Google is attempting stacking on an expense from small businesses. The bottom line is that the web is a community of links and connections and we should all care about security where we do business. Making the move to SSL for your website demonstrates you care about your web visitors security and their Internet experience.