What is HTTPS and why is it used?
Put simply, Hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) is the secure alternative to HTTP. What is HTTP, you ask? HTTP stands for hypertext transfer protocol. It is the main way that data moves between web pages over a network. For example, website pages stored on your web server are delivered to your visitors as soon as they access them. Without HTTP, we wouldn’t have the world wide web.
Consider HTTPS to be the evolution of HTTP with encryption-enhanced security. This encryption is essential for sensitive data transmissions. Examples include logging into your online bank account or customers entering payment information into your online store.
HTTPS should be on all websites, particularly those that collect login credentials. Modern web browsers like Chrome flag websites that don’t use HTTPS as unsafe. You can verify that a webpage is secure by looking for a padlock in your URL bar.
How does HTTPS work?
HTTPS uses a secure socket layer (SSL) certificate to establish a connection and confirm that the site is genuine. The SSL certificate creates an encrypted, secure layer between a browser and server. The additional layer of security helps better protect your data from third-party attackers.
Without SSL, a third party could scan the connection between the browser and your server. By doing so could compromise sensitive data such as personal details and credit card information etc.
What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?
HTTP connections have one big problem: the data they transfer isn’t encrypted. As mentioned above, third-party hackers could steal unencrypted data. HTTP data transmissions over a network are not secure. With that said, you should avoid entering credit cards and other sensitive information on HTTP pages.
In addition to the added layer of security, HTTPS helps build trust with your customers. People will be reluctant to use your site if they see it as a security threat to them. Accidentally leaking your customers’ data could cause irreparable damage to your business.
John Mueller, Search Advocate at Google, stated that HTTPS is a lightweight ranking factor. Having your website in HTTPS could help it rank better in search engines.
Is HTTPS necessary?
If you have read through this article so far, the answer should be pretty obvious.
Your website’s ability to generate leads might suffer without HTTPS. The Google Chrome web browser began showing a “Not Secure” warning in October 2017. This can happen when users fill out simple contact forms or enter data into search fields on non-HTTPS websites. Google Chrome started showing a “not secured” error when any website was not using the HTTPS protocol in July 2018.
From an SEO perspective, the jury is still out on how important HTTPS is in search rankings. However, research suggests that it’s becoming an even more substantial ranking factor. You’ll find that almost all page 1 results for any Google search start with an HTTPS URL.
All the popular sites on the internet are HTTPS. With that said, the most important reason to create an HTTPS website is perception. Hacking and data breaches are becoming ever more common in today’s world. That means people are becoming ever more conscious about their online security and privacy.
Even if your website doesn’t collect sensitive information, your visitors will be reassured to know they are on a HTTPS site. Seeing the padlock in their browser can give them confidence in your company and build trust with your brand.
How can I get HTTPS on my website?
You need an SSL certificate installed on your website’s domain name for it to become HTTPS. Many domain registrars and web hosting companies offer SSL certificates. These certificates can often be shared between many customers. Larger and more data-sensitive websites can purchase more expensive SSL certificates.
However, for most website owners, a free SSL certificate is all you need. Websites that use Cloudflare get HTTPS free by using a shared certificate. This is also known as a multi-domain SSL Certificate. A free account will ensure that your website is covered with HTTPS. For individual certificates and additional features, you can also look into their paid plans. A web-property can enjoy all the benefits of HTTPS in either case.