Which protocol should you use between the two HTTP vs HTTPS? It is not a secret anymore that secure websites will have a good chance of ranking higher in search. However, in some cases, you can use HTTP as well. For example when you don’t ask people to submit their personal details through forms. We will dig deeper into both of these protocols and how they could impact SEO.
As a small business, you should know the difference between HTTP and HTTPS so that you can use protocols according to your site needs.
It is important to learn why Google favors HTTPS over HTTP and gives it a slight privilege over the latter. But before we jump to choosing between the two protocols, let’s see what each protocol is generally used for.
What is HTTP?
In simple words, it is a process to encode information and transport it between a web browser and a web server. To transmit information across the Internet HTTP is a primary protocol. When a user opens their Internet browser, they are basically using the HTTP.
What is HTTPS?
On the other hand, HTTPS is a ‘secured’ extension of HTTP. It establishes the connection to website server over the same TCP/IP protocols, however, it adds an extra Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to safely transfer data over the servers in encrypted form. HTTPS allows authorization and to carry safe transaction over the internet such as online banking, credit card details or shopping carts.
HTTPS make websites more secure and it was intended to be used by banking websites, shopping sites, and sites where users share their private details such as social security number/driving license.
HTTPS or ‘secured HTTP’ main element is securely transmitting data. It is used on every other website that involves authorization such as your email clients, social media platforms, making online banking transactions or purchasing something on an e-commerce website using your credit card information.
The main benefit of using HTTPS is encryption. All the data being transmitted through HTTPS is encrypted. This data cannot be modified or corrupted during the transmission.
Most browser these days indicate secure/unsecured website in the address bar. Any website that is using HTTPS is considered secure and if it’s using HTTP, the browser will indicate it in the address bar.
Since Google’s emphasize on better user experience, therefore the obvious choice to make your website secure for users. It will also improve your brand reputation.
SEO benefit of switching to HTTPS
The most obvious reason for switching to HTTPS is ‘security’. After all, we really appreciate having our site appearing secure in the browser. But apart from security, there are a couple of more reasons to consider switching to HTTPS to reinforce your site rankings.
Boost SERP ranking
With Google’s announcement to give a slight bump to HTTPS sites, it can lead to persistent boost as secured sites receives more web traffic. It gives an assurance to the user that the site they are visiting is safe.
If you use plain HTTP site, the security data of referrer sources will not be preserved in Google analytics. Rather they will appear just as ‘direct traffic’. HTTPS increases the ability of Google Analytics in that the security data of the website that referred to your site is saved. That really seals the deal for HTTPS.
Privacy and Security
HTTPS helps in several ways such as with encrypted data, users’ data like passwords or credit card information is not at disposal of an intrusion. Additionally, the user builds confidence and trust with your site, knowing that their browsing history is preserved and any information they enter is not at risk. This potentially results in conversions from a visitor to a sales lead. HTTPS also prevents interfering by third parties.
SEO concerns with HTTPS Migration
While the switch to HTTPS is worth it, but there are some of the concerns which you should keep in mind while switching from HTTP to HTTPS.
Add HTTPS property to Google Search Console. If you are using HTTPS then you need to add your website property in Google Search Console.
Additional certificates. It’s not only just an SSL certificate that you need. There are a couple of other certificates necessary for the purpose. These include:
1. Single Domain certificate, issued for one domain or subdomain.
2. Multiple Domain certificates, also known as a Unified Communications certificate, enable securing a primary domain name and upwards of 99 additional Subject Alternative Names.
3. Wildcard certificate secure website URL as well as unlimited subdomains.
Allow Google to crawl up your website. If Google is unable to do so using robots.txt for the purpose, this could seriously jeopardize your site ranking. Therefore, you must update your test server to allow bots to crawl up your website.
Smooth transition. You must analyze the switching process from HTTP to HTTPS via Google Search Console to make sure everything goes smoothly and resolve issues as soon as they occur during the process.
Migration to HTTPS is a careful job but it’s worth the effort to improve your site ratings. Just make sure that you try out every link on the site to check that everything works properly. Any poor user experience will impact your site rankings the other way around.