In October, Google will start labeling web pages without an SSL certificate as untrustworthy.
According to an article in Search Engine Land, Google will start to label a web page having a form but not an SSL certificate is untrusted by Google. This is part of Google’s ongoing campaign to characterize HTTP as unsecured and untrustworthy. Many small business owners don’t believe the expense and hassle of adding an SSL certificate to their website is worth it. Worse than that, many business owners are unaware of the difference between HTTP and HTTPS and don’t realize the potential loss of business down the road if action is not taken.
The fix is to migrate your website to HTTPS format. Here’s how it’s done.
- You must contact your website’s hosting organization. Many companies have their domain domiciled at one company, GoDaddy for example, but host the website elsewhere. An SSL certificate is a text file that is installed on the website server to encrypt communication between the site and user. The SSL certificate must originate with the hosting company.
- It is assigned to the domain. If you purchase another domain that you want to point to the website, a new SSL certificate must be assigned to the new domain. The old SSL cannot be transferred.
- The SSL certificate must be verified properly. Most hosting companies are competent and will do this for you. However, problems do arise. In March, Search Engine Watchreported that thousands of websites using Symantec were declared untrusted. According to the article “Symantec has not properly validated thousands of certificates. In fact, the Chrome team claims that an initial set of reportedly 127 [mis-issued] certificates has expanded to include at least 30,000 [mis-issued] certificates, issued over a period spanning several years.”
If you have forms on your website, having an SSL certificate is a good business practice in any event. Giving your customers and visitors the added assurance that their information is protected will encourage them to interact with your site more and can lead to greater trust and more business for you down the road.
SSL certificates and SEO
Finally, let’s not forget another big benefit to HTTPS. It is becoming a ranking factor in SEO. How important is open to debate. But if you’re curious, do a Google search sometime, it could be for almost anything. See how many high-ranking sites are HTTPS as opposed to HTTP. That should be all the proof you need.