For the average American, the internet is an essential aid in everyday life, affecting our working habits, shopping, and socialization. Across the States, 74 percent of the population go online on a regular basis, with an average of 66 hours spent in the digital world every month.
However, as much as we depend on the internet today, many users know little of its architecture. The behind-the-scenes aspects of websites we use every day may well be a mystery, but does the average consumer need to know what makes a particular domain tick?
Not necessarily. However, users familiar with shopping online are adept at identifying potential security risks, aware that certain unethical businesses may well be untrustworthy. A little doubt is enough to chase valuable customers away to your competitors.
For businesses, understanding the foundation of their own domain is important to maximize its efficiency. Companies large enough to build a dedicated web-development team will have an in-house band of experts able to create a powerful site, but for those without the budget or means for such an indispensable resource, alternatives are available. Services offer even the most technologically-unsavvy users the tools to build their own site.
One area of SEO and site-architecture a business has to consider is the security they choose, deciding between an HTTP or HTTPS site– but what does this mean?
What Is HTTPS?
HTTP is short for HyperText Transfer Protocol. This is basically a group of standards which give internet users the ability to exchange data on web pages, with the browser requesting the information to be displayed from the server hosting the site.
During this data exchange, HTTP makes no effort to retain information on previous online sessions, reducing the amount of data to be sent for faster load speeds. As crucial as quick-loading pages are, security is paramount, and users are willing to sacrifice a second or two for added peace of mind.
So, what is HTTPS? This is a secure variation of HTTP, built to offer users greater safety, particularly during transactions. For example, HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure is active on sites which display a padlock icon in the URL bar (which most users are likely familiar with) as an assurance of the site’s encryption.
With HTTPS, the connection between the browser and the site’s server is encrypted, protecting any payment details the user enters. Customers expect the very best security when visiting a site, especially if prepared to give money to the business.
Google caused waves in the SEO community when they announced sites with a HTTPS structure were to receive a slight rankings boost, though this was revealed to make less impact than other factors (such as quality content).
Beyond this, what other benefits does embracing an HTTPS domain offer.
Trust, Safety, Credibility: Building A Bond With Customers
Trust is everything between a business and its customers, and the presence of the green ‘secure’ symbol in the URL bar is proof positive that a company takes its clients’ security seriously. This is only a small part of good overall online service, but an important one nevertheless.
HTTPS also prevents any third-party apps and MiTM (Man in The Middle) attacks from tampering with your site, adding to its overall security profile. All information passing between a browser and server, including credit card numbers, browsing histories, and other sensitive data, is encrypted, not just passwords.
Any business deciding to switch from an HTTP site to one using HTTPS should be aware that a change handled poorly will affect traffic for the worse. Migrating your domain to HTTPS is similar to transferring it to a new URL – if done right, the repercussions are kept to a minimum.
Important steps in the process include:
- Direct all internal links to your new URL
- Remember to point links from social networks and other sites to the new HTTPS domain
- Take care that the URL for every page remains the same, except with an ‘HTTPS’ in place of ‘HTTP’
As time-consuming as this may appear, switching to HTTPS is a worthwhile endeavor, offering customers a more secure experience. An HTTPS set-up may be an advantage to new businesses with new websites, in that it can help to dispel doubts users may have about your company’s legitimacy.
By using this as a ranking signal, albeit a slight one, Google rewards websites prioritizing its users’ security. As complex as the inner-workings of websites are, and as difficult the HTTP VS HTTPS set-up might be for many of us, the thinking behind it is actually simple. Encrypting visitors’ personal information prevents problems further down the line, and greatly reduces the risk of unauthorized activity, which remains a common threat today.
From Tennessee to Orange County, digital marketing done right has the power to transform a business’s success. When combined with quality content, an eye-catching layout, and responsive functionality, HTTPS-level protection can help to make a site worth any user’s time, every time.
About the author:
Kyle McManus is a freelance writer for Nett Solutions