Google Focus Secure Websites (HTTPS)

Google wants a safer and more secure web and hopes one day (soon) that every single website page will be served by HTTPS. Since 2014, when Google made HTTPS a small positive signal for search rankings, Google has been taking steps to help push websites toward HTTPS and in January 2017 they will take another.


Let us explain what HTTPS is. HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is basically an encrypted HTTP connection. The “S” in HTTPS means HTTP has included a “Secure” layer that is either a “Secure Sockets Layer” (also known as “SSL”) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) whose function is to encrypt the data that is exchanged between a website and a visitor (with the use of a security certificate) so that only that specific visitor and that specific web server can read the shared information.

HTTPS will show a green lock icon in the address bar that should convey to the visitor that they are communicating with the “real” domain and with confidentiality and integrity, meaning an intermediary (hacker or other unscrupulous character) can’t tamper with the data being sent back and forth between the server and the site visitor.

Google’s Next Step

If you are a Google Chrome user, starting in January 2017, Google will start to label any HTTP website page that has password or credit card form fields with a “Not secure” label in the address bar and eventually would like to add the caution triangle icon along with the “Not secure” label and color them both in red (see examples below).

HTTPS Ranking Factor

One of Google’s first steps toward HTTPS (in 2014) was to make HTTPS one (of many) search ranking factors. This is considered a positive ranking factor which rewards websites that use HTTPS with a “slight” boost in ranking. Of course the HTTPS factor alone doesn’t promise you top ranking but every little advantage can put you on the path to the success you’re looking for. Currently this is a simple check to see whether or not your URL starts with HTTPS but we get the feeling that Google is looking at implementing more checks and increasing the importance of HTTPS in ranking.

HTTPS is Becoming Increasingly Important

HTTPS is becoming an increasingly important component of the user experience and is no longer used simply for privacy and security. HTTPS ensures that the communication between you and your users stays between you and your users and is not hijacked and altered by some intermediary. If you wish to use certain features and provide your users with particular experiences, you will start to find that HTTPS is being required more and more. This is a trend that will gain momentum until it is ubiquitous. Some examples of these features and experiences are as follows:
These are examples in the Google software environment, but most other major players are moving toward similar restrictions.

If you are unsure as to what Service Workers are, they sit between the browser and the network and manage every request that comes through which enables performance on progressive web applications in less than desirable network conditions. Service workers require HTTPS.

We don’t want you to get left out in the cold so we encourage you to think about implementing HTTPS now. Don’t wait until this becomes an issue or (hopefully not) an emergency. Implement HTTPS for your own peace of mind but more importantly for your visitor’s peace of mind, privacy, and security.

Call your OPG Account Manager today @1.800.897.5709 and find out how we can help you implement HTTPS and also enrich your user’s experience once HTTPS is installed.