The steady upgrades to programming and scripting languages. The “perpetual beta” state of most software platforms or systems. The gradual move to dynamic and mobile responsive websites. The changes to Search Engine Optimisation, Google search ranking or Facebook algorithms. These are just a few examples illustrating the fact that the World Wide Web is in a state of constant flux.
The rules and protocols that govern and regulate its inner workings are continually improving. The gradual move to “https” provides further evidence of this continuous improvement cycle towards increased encryption and security. This shift concerns all website owners.
Http vs https
Http (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) is the standard protocol on the internet which governs the transfer of data from web servers to browsers. Since the early days of the web, large e-commerce websites or government entities have been using an encrypted version of the protocol with “https” where the final “s” stands for “secure”.
Before entering credit card or login details, filling up a contact form or a survey requesting personal data, users should always check whether the page they are visiting is encrypted or not.
Depending on the nature and the size of a website, different levels of encryption are available. But as a rule of thumb for the end user, a green padlock and the word “Secure” in the address bar of a browser signal a secured and encrypted website.
Switching from http to https involves the installation of a SSL/TLS (Secure Socket Layer/ Transport Layer Security) Certificate.
How do I activate a security certificate on my website?
- Purchase a SSL Cert from a trusted certificate authority.
Launched in 2016, non-profit certificate authority Let’s Encrypt provides free and automated SSL/TLS certificates. Installation requires hosting providers with built-in support. Alternatively, all hosting providers sell them, and entry-level certificates start at €37/year approximately.
- Install and configure the certificate.
- Update all the internal links to tell search engines that your web address has changed.
- Monitor the switch on Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
What are the benefits?
- A digital certificate works like a stamp of approval on your website, it improves trust and credibility.
- A digital certificate increases privacy and security for both website owner and end user.
- Google is now using “https” as a ranking signal. Certain browsers are now starting to flag non-https websites as “not secure”.
January 2017 was a turning point as the number of active websites on the web using secure encryption reached 50%. Well over 60% of websites use https today.
Whether launching or upgrading, future-proof your website with a digital certificate.