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HTTPS – Secure Website

A timely (see below) post but one which had been in the eapb blog pipeline for a number of months! The advantages and potential disadvantages of making you website secure.

Google to Give Secure Sites a Ranking Boost
We were very interested to read over the last 24 hours that Google searchers will begin to find more and more website pages beginning with HTTPS. This is because Google has decided to rank higher in their organic or SERPS listings websites that are proven to be more secure.

The Google algorithm contains over 200 factors which combine to determine the ranking of a web page. It is clear now that Google is factoring into its algorithm and attributing value to the fact of whether a web page utilises HTTPS. “We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal,” Google said.

Firstly, what is HTTPS?
HTTPS is the Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol with SSL Encryption. It is the most popular network protocol for establishing secure connections for exchanging documents on the World-Wide Web. It is basically HTTP carried over a TCP socket, which has been secured using SSL.

The address of pages viewed over SSL normally starts with https://, instead of http://.

Secure Web Hosting
A secure web hosting package will provide you with the web hosting environment that you require to host a website that may be processing or handling the personal data of your visitors.

Do I Need to Make My Website Secure?
If you are transmitting sensitive private data over the internet, SSL is an important additional security layer. Although eavesdropping may be a less common form of attack on the website, there is no reason not to protect against it if the consequences are serious.

If you run a web based e-commerce/shop, or any sort of website where you ask users to input sensitive details, an SSL certificate will boost your site’s credibility and user confidence by verifying your identity and encrypting sensitive data transmissions.

What is an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate?
SSL Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organisation’s details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the https protocol (over port 443), and SSL encrypts information sent between your website and a visitor’s web browser so that it cannot be read as it is sent across the Internet.

Summary
If you run or are involved in a business that trades over the Internet then you owe a duty of care to your online customers to provide a safe and secure environment for holding their information and/or completing web based transactions.

In particular, if you operate an online store and utilise e-commerce then you should already be aware of the above and be utilising SSL encryption as a standard procedure. TRUST is THE byword that all online retailers should be seeking to establish with their customers. The more trust the higher your website conversion rates will be! 

If you don’t sell online and your website is more akin to a brochureware site then quite possibly adding encryption has to this point been an additional burden in terms of time and costs. This is understandable. However, with Google now prioritising secure sites it could be in your best SEO interests to ensure your web pages are encrypted!

Paul Brewster, August 2014