Breaking News: Google To Punish Non-HTTPS Websites
Why You Need An SSL Certificate
For a few months Google has been changing its approach to sites that have any form of text input, like a contact form, but do not have SSL Certificates. It’s time to make sure that every page of your site has the certificate. Here’s what you need to know, what to look for, and how to make the change to avoid SEO penalties that could lower your rank.
Alphabet Soup: SSL and TLS and HTTPS
A Secure Socket Layer (SSL) provides an encrypted link between a server and a browser. It guarantees that any data passed on the conduit between server and browser remain private. The newer version of this is Transport Layer Security (TLS). The terms can be used interchangeably.
When a website starts with HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure or HTTP over SSL) users know that communications between you and them are secure.
Sites that have not been moved to https will include a warning.
Google and other search engines collect data on whether sites are https when crawling. While this may not have been on your radar previously, it’s time to take stock of your site’s security.
The New Google Warning
For any page that has a text input field — even those as innocuous as a store locator page — users will receive a warning that the page is not secure. The warning will appear in the address bar. Users may think twice before providing information, especially things like passwords and credit card information. While it’s not certain, it appears this warning is a sign that Google will begin to penalize these sites further when it comes to SEO. This can also indirectly affect your Adwords quality score due to a diminished landing page experience.
While difficult to measure, psychology will also likely play a role. In this day of massive data hacks, users are more hesitant to share their information. Don’t let this be a problem.
Will My Site Have The Google Security Warning Because I Have A Contact Form?
It’s quick and easy to determine whether your site will be labeled as safe or unsafe. Here’s how to do a quick assessment:
Is there a place for text input anywhere on your site? This can be store locator pages, email signups, contact forms – if they can type and click a button, it’s considered text input. Here’s a simple example, our audit form:
Don’t overlook small forms. Our page includes a small form at the bottom of every page. Do you have a form like this?
The second question to ask is: Do any pages show up as https:// in the address bar?
If both of these are true, even for only one page, you are at risk of a warning that you’re not on a secure server. Scan your site now to avoid losing traffic.
How Do I Get An SSL Certificate and Avoid The Warning?
Getting an SSL Certificate is free and easy. You and your visitors will have peace of mind knowing that your site is on a secure server and that their information is protected. There are a few ways to go about it.
Many hosts have a simple, one-click option to generate an SSL certificate. Make sure your developer, if you have one, moves all pages to https. You can find an incredibly thorough checklist on this migration here. Not working with a developer? Here’s how to get a free certificate. Free certificates are no less valuable than paid – the paid versions just offer support. If you have a large website that will require significant changes, it is worth considering.
Digital Firefly Marketing Can Help
Not sure where to begin? Worried about form inputs, http and a degraded rank in search results? Contact us for an SEO audit. We’ll also provide you with insight as to your site’s security and risk of being flagged as not secure.