Your website is the hub of all you do. It’s a representation of you and your business. Because your reputation stakes on not only the credibility of your content, but the trustworthiness of your website, your internet safety settings matter.
Have you ever noticed that web addresses start with either HTTP or HTTPS? This subtle difference has a big impact on your website’s safety and functionality. As you know from our articles on domain authority & SEO best practices, safety and functionality are important for great search engine optimization.
HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and has to do with how your website communicates with your visitors’ devices. The extra “S” in HTTPS means “secure,” and adds a layer of much-needed defense for your readers. Many websites keep the simple HTTP, but more and more are obtaining that extra letter for its impact on user experience and SEO.
If technical jargon is not your thing, that’s okay. We’re here to help creatives like you understand the differences between HTTP and HTTPS and why it matters. Below is our breakdown of HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) for your blog!
HTTP vs HTTPS: Is Your Website Secure?
You spent a lot of time thinking about your website URL, but you probably paid little attention to those first four letters. This is a common mistake among bloggers and new website holders, and it can influence your bounce rate, your website’s security, and your ranking on SERPs.
But what is HTTP and HTTPS, really? Explain it to me like I am a blogger, not a computer science major, right? That’s exactly what we’ll do!
What is HTTP?
HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It’s the connective tissue between the hosting side and user side of your website. This is essentially the back-end communication process for the web servers.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPs protocol is slightly different and adds the word “secure.” Just like HTTP, HTTPS helps the server and website talk to each other. HTTPS, though, offers a secure encrypted connection with a coded language that allows for a smooth and safe user experience.
Difference Between HTTP and HTTPS
HTTP and HTTPS have several important differences. The HTTPS process, though tedious, will provide a better UX. Here are the key variations between HTTP and HTTPS.
The most obvious difference is how the letters will appear on the address bar. If marked as HTTPS, it’ll alert your visitors that their sensitive data is safe and your website is trustworthy.
Port and Encryption
HTTP uses plaintext to communicate. This is also known as “Port 80.” That means anyone between you and your readers could view the connection and see plain as day what information is being entered and processed. This clear and open dialogue makes stealing your visitor’s personal information relatively easy for internet thieves.
Conversely, HTTPS has a Port 443 connection, which makes the information difficult to steal. Instead of showing up in plaintext, the information appears as random characters. The “key” to solve this puzzle only exists safely on your side of the connection. This way, your users never have to be afraid of their email or credit card information ending up on the wrong side of the web.
TLS Certificates and Domain Validation
HTTPS provides a TLS Certificate, also known as SSL Certificate, that essentially verifies that your website is what it says it is. Domain validation is another term for having this TLS certification, and it validates your website’s credibility and level of security.
There are three options for TSL Certification depending on the amount of protection you need. If you’re simply taking contact information, you can opt for what’s called a “Domain Validation SSL Certificate.” “Organization Validation SSL” and “Extended Validation SSL Certificates” are more secure.
Not only do these tiers of certificates provide you with security, but they give confidence to your reader, too. Each level of certification involves more vetting, which makes the website more trustworthy the higher the domain validation certificate. That in mind, each level of certification will be more difficult to attain for you as the website owner.
The key here is security. HTTPS provides multiple layers of security where HTTP provides none. Though you may not feel like security is a big deal for your blog at this stage, understanding how this affects your search engine optimization might change your priorities.
HTTPS and SEO
You know your blog’s SEO is one key to its future success. Switching to HTTPS is another way to increase your domain authority and rank higher on those SERPs.
SERPs and Security
Google announced in 2015 that analytics favor secure HTTPS websites over HTTP. This is because Google knows their users value trusted sites, and a website without security populating on their SERPs could reflect poorly on them as a search engine.
HTTPS also prevents third-party interference from affecting your overall domain authority score. It secures the communication between website and server, therefore keeping the analysis process clean and accurate.
Trust from Users
If users don’t feel safe on a website, not only will they not make a purchase or enter their sensitive information, they might not even stick around for more than a few seconds! A study even found that 68% of internet users don’t think there are enough protections in place for their online data.
Users have become more aware in recent years of HTTP vs HTTPS trustworthiness with an added Google Chrome feature. Chrome and some other web browsers label HTTP sites as “Not Secure,” which means many users might scroll past your website and opt for the competition, reducing your traffic and your chances of good digital marketing.
HTTPS, though it adds steps to the communication process, actually makes your website load speed faster. HTTPS transfers data faster, anticipates user requests, and compresses data to boost your load speeds. This is great for SEO!
As mentioned, HTTPS protects your reader’s data! HTTPS will make sure, through encryption, your reader’s usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and other information is safe on your website.
How to Switch from HTTP to HTTPS
I am sure by now you see your need for the HTTPS option, but maybe you’re nervous about gaining your certificate authority. Don’t fret! You don’t need a programmer to gain or switch to HTTPS. Follow these simple steps:
Step One: Have a Dedicated IP Address
You’ll need to first ensure you have your own IP address. Many hosting sites provide this, but if it doesn’t for free, you’ll need to upgrade with them to a virtual private server or dedicated server.
Step Two: Verify Your Website Info on ICANN
Next, you’ll want to make sure that your website is registered accurately. Through the ICANN Lookup tool, you can confirm all of your website’s data is accurate for the certification process.
Step Three: Buy an SSL Certificate
Once you know your information is correct, it’s time to purchase your SSL certificate. Remember, you’ll need to choose what level of security you want between domain validation, organizational validation, and extended validation. You’ll typically be able to purchase these through your website hosting provider. Or a trusted certificate authority retailer like Digicert and Comodo. Some hosting providers even provide SSL certificates and install them for free.
Step Four: Install the Certificate
Through your hosting site’s cPanel, look for a button that says SSL/TLS. This will allow you to install the certificate, and you’ll gain your HTTPS standing! Easy peasy!
Keep in mind that sometimes based on your web design and the resources, plugins, and widgets you have on your site, you’ll need to manually configure various aspects of your site’s security. This typically requires a developer. In fact, one of the main site health errors we see on bloggers’ websites are related to improperly installed SSL certificates. They shot up as mixed content & HTTP links on HTTPs sites. These errors bring down the overall value of your SEO. So it’s important to check these.
If you’re unsure if your SSL certificate is installed correctly, we offer a free evaluation HERE.
Making the switch to HTTPS, despite the hassle, will be well-worth the added security and SEO benefits that come with this encrypted option.
Take some time to weigh your certificate options and select which is best for you. Then, follow our steps to change your HTTP to an HTTPS and get that padlock icon your readers are looking for. If you’re looking for more ways to increase your blog’s SEO, but this technical world wide web stuff isn’t your forte, check out our SEO services. We are also able to assist clients enrolled in the InfluencerSEO Strategize package with adding an SSL certificate to their site! Boosting your ranking on the SERPs is one of the most important factors in the future success of your blog. Make sure SSL certificates are a part of your game plan!