Despite the fact that HTTPS is standard practice, nearly 30% of websites still do not use it. That number, in my opinion, is quite high. If that describes you, I’ll explain what is HTTPS encryption, why it is needed, and how to get a HTTPS certificate for your website.
Security should be a top priority for all websites. However, I do see a lot of websites that aren’t using HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). That is what prompted me to write this article.
If you haven’t been using HTTPS, you should start doing so right away. You have been misinformed if you don’t believe it’s appropriate or important.
The reality is that website security has an effect on its performance. HTTPS is also used by almost every high-quality website on the internet. Consider it a hard and fast rule for your website.
People don’t feel secure making purchases from unsecured eCommerce sites. Many internet users would not even visit a website that isn’t safe.
HTTPS is also becoming more common nowadays.
It’s important to remember that website encryption is all about building trust. You want the audience to feel safe and comfortable when they visit your website. They won’t feel secure enough to buy something if they don’t.
HTTPS helps in building trust and makes them feel secure.
What Is HTTPS Encryption?
The rules for transferring information from a server to a web browser are known as hypertext transfer protocols.
When a user gets to a URL, their browser establishes a contact channel with the website’s server. The browser obtains the data needed to display the particular web page.
For HTTP, this communication takes place in plain text, which means that a third party may view the communication between the browser and the server. Personal and confidential information may be compromised if this occurs.
HTTPS is used for websites to keep communication private. The same communication takes place between a web browser and a server using HTTPS, except the data is encrypted using TLS/SSL [Transport Layer Security/Secure Sockets Layer].
Consumers and web developers now place a higher priority on internet security than ever before. This became even clearer years ago when Google started labeling non-HTTPS websites as insecure to their users, as well as factoring it into search rankings.
Furthermore, with cybersecurity threats being more frequent than ever, it is critical for companies large and small to put in place as many safeguards as possible to protect themselves and their customers. It’s time to move on from the thought that it might not happen to you.
Why Is HTTPS Required?
HTTPS isn’t just a “good to have” feature. If you want to create and maintain a profitable website for your business, it’s a must-have. This is particularly true if you operate an eCommerce site or need to collect personal data from customers and visitors.
But gaining the users’ confidence isn’t the only goal (though it is arguably the most crucial aspect). The following are the most significant advantages of using HTTPS on your site.
Conversions And Lead Generation
This follows from my previous point about building trust. Users would be hesitant to access your website if it does not use HTTPS. And if they do find your website, they are unlikely to fill out any forms that you use for lead generation.
Although it can be as easy as sharing an email address, users would be hesitant if they believe their information would be shared with a third party. Especially because those parties can send them spam emails that look like it’s coming from your website.
With HTTPS, they’ll feel more at ease filling out forms and turning into leads. People are very concerned about credit card scams, so it’s your job to reassure them that the connection is secure.
From the Nike website, here’s an example of a secure registration page.
As you might have noticed, HTTPS shows up in the domain. There is also a lock icon next to it, which is used by Chrome, Safari, and Firefox to indicate that the site is safe.
If you were to click the icon, you’ll see a more detailed description of the website’s security. It also states that credit card information and passwords are safe and are transmitted over a secure network.
If you use HTTPS, visitors to your site would feel more secure and protected as they complete the purchase process.
Protection For Users
As mentioned earlier, without HTTPS, your server may be at risk of a cyber attack from a third party pretending to be a user’s web browser. Obviously, you do not want to expose your server or site to such a threat.
What’s more critical, though, is the security, privacy, and safety of your website’s users. It is your duty as a webmaster to safeguard these individuals.
In the end, what you don’t want is for your website to be compromised or for confidential information to be stolen as a result of people using it. It’s not only damaging for your users and bad for your reputation; it’s also an issue that could have been prevented if you’d taken a few basic security precautions.
So, if you want to manage your online credibility, you should use HTTPS.
This is particularly true if you’re gathering personal data such as names, credit card information, and addresses.
Other forms of websites, even if they don’t process credit card numbers, are required by law to keep user data safe. For instance, if you don’t use HTTPS to protect medical or health information collected via form sections on your site, you may be in violation of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).
HTTPS For SEO
Each time you make changes to your site, you should consider how that course of action will affect your SEO results. Clearly, it’s one of the most effective ways to get in new customers and visitors.
When it comes to HTTPS for SEO and search engines, Google should be at the forefront of your strategy. Years ago, Google revealed that HTTPS would be factored into its search algorithms.
Essentially, Google was informing all webmasters that HTTPS is encouraged and that websites that use it will be rewarded.
This fact alone should persuade you to make the change. You’ll have a hard time getting visitors to your site if you don’t prioritize SEO. Google ultimately can increase your search ranking simply by switching to HTTPS from HTTP.
According to Gary Illyes, a Google trends researcher, HTTPS will also break a tie between 2 websites with all other metrics being equal. As a result, switching to HTTPS is a must.
It could mean the difference between your website being on Google’s first or second page, which gives a considerable advantage.
You want visitors to be able to trust your site. HTTPS plays a great role in establishing credibility.
This is the case because unsecured websites are flagged by web browsers. Google Chrome also warns you when you visit a website that isn’t safe. These notifications give the impression that the website is not trustworthy.
Will you visit the website if you saw an insecure warning message? Most likely not. It’d be like going around a large sign on the side of the lane that says “Danger ahead! Do not drive.”
If people encounter this message when attempting to access your website, there’s a fair chance they won’t proceed. They are also unlikely to return in the future.
Chrome is not the only browser that displays this message. Safari users may see a similar notification for unsecured sites when browsing the web.
You can also check what happens if you are using Firefox and visit a website that doesn’t use HTTPS.
Every one of these warnings is simply a cautionary note, advising the user to avoid the particular website. This has a direct effect on the ability of your website to generate leads and, as a result, your profits (more details later).
The lack of confidence that this barrier develops in potential users is eliminated with HTTPS.
How Is HTTPS Secure?
By using 2 “keys”, the technology makes the information transmitted from a visitor’s browser to the server unreadable for hackers (algorithms to encrypt information):
The key to encrypting the details of a user who tries to access the server and the sites on it.
The information encrypted by the public key is decrypted by this key. This key is only accessible to the owners of the website.
The term “authentication” refers to the process of encryption and decryption of data.
When a server sends a page on the web to a browser, it includes a digital signature that indicates if the page has been viewed by hackers.
As a result, a third party is unable to steal private data such as the visitor’s financial transactions or location.
How To Get A HTTPS Certificate
Now that we know how important HTTPS is, it’s time to configure it on your website.
But where do you even begin? Fortunately, configuring HTTPS on your website is a relatively easy and straightforward procedure.
Here are the 4 steps you should take right now to get it set up:
1. Purchase An SSL Certificate
To begin, you’ll need to buy an SSL certificate. This can be done on sites like NameCheap or SSLs.com. SSL certificates are available for below $10 a year on each of these platforms. They also have different pricing options based on your needs and the number of websites you have.
A free SSL certificate is normally included with the best web hosting sites. This is advantageous since they are usually more hands-off. Besides, it’s included with your web host, so you don’t have to pay for it separately.
Depending on the type of business, the organization might need a different credential. For example, an eCommerce business doing a large volume of sales would need an extended certificate for validation that your hosting provider may not offer.
That gives webmasters another reason to use those services. Whether you’re building a new website or switching hosting services, this is something you can bear in mind.
2. Configure The Certificate
After that, you’ll need to set up your website and install the SSL certificate on your server.
I wouldn’t suggest doing this on your own unless you have prior web development experience. It necessitates a comprehensive understanding of managing the backend of your website. If you make a mistake, you might also encounter mixed content issues (see next step).
Of course, if your web hosting includes an SSL certificate, you don’t have to be concerned about installation.
Aside from web hosting, the best site builders and platforms for eCommerce will almost always have a free SSL certificate. For example, platforms such as Shopify, Wix, Weebly, BigCommerce, and Squarespace provide SSL certificates when you sign up.
3. Verify And Fix Errors
After you’ve installed the certificate, double-check all the web pages and make sure everything is working properly. Search for mixed content errors, which occur when non-HTTPS elements are referenced on a web page.
For the most part, these are simple to fix. It can, however, be a little more complex at times. That is why it is important to use a developer to manage the HTTPS conversion rather than attempting it yourself.
If you work with an IT professional, make sure to talk about the mixed content errors before you purchase the SSL certificate.
4. Set Up With Google
Be responsible and inform Google once your website has been configured with HTTPS. This can be done using the Search Console. Add the latest HTTPS URL in your sitemap.
The search engine will crawl and re-index your HTTPS website in their database. This is usually done automatically, but you don’t need to wait for them to do it. The sooner you get this completed, the sooner you will be able to reap the benefits of SEO.
Bear in mind that switching your website to HTTPS can cause your search rankings to drop temporarily. That’s quite natural. However, once Google has had a chance to re-index all of the website content, you can expect your rankings to get back up to where it was (or go up even higher).
Other Factors To Consider
Of course, website security entails a great deal more than just HTTPS.
If you want to take additional precautions to ensure that your website is protected from hackers, keep the following points in mind:
Protect Your Personal And Personal Work
You and your staff must use a protected device to access your company’s site. If not, hackers can add malicious software to your device, allowing them to gain access to your website’s login details.
Then it’s just a matter of getting into your website and accessing potentially confidential information including your customers’ personal and financial information.
You will need to install effective antivirus software on your device to protect yourself from this attack. You can also search your device for viruses, adware, and spam on a regular basis.
Go a step further: Search for other useful software to assist you. You can get some endpoint security tools currently available in the market.
This is a never-ending operation. You cannot simply install something and forget about it. Hackers spend time attempting to get into websites and computers using innovative methods. To stay current, you must upgrade your antivirus program and inspect your device on a regular basis.
Select A Reputable Web Hosting Company
The foundation of a secure website is a secure web host. This is why, before you sign up for a web hosting service, you should do your homework and vet your choices for privacy and security.
The best web hosting providers have several layers of protection and security for their customers’ websites. However, this does not necessarily imply that your website is completely secure.
Shared hosting packages, for example, host multiple websites on a single server. While this will lower your hosting costs, it also makes your website prone to attacks.
Perhaps, if another website on the server is targeted, hackers might be able to affect yours as well, even if you aren’t the intended target.
This isn’t to say that shared web hosting is a bad option. If you’re serious about your website’s security, however, you should consider upgrading to VPS, Cloud, or even dedicated hosting plans.
Back-Up Your Website On A Regular Basis
Sometimes, even a well-thought-out plan may not work as expected. The same can be said for your site.
Even if you have the best protection plugins and a diligent team of developers overseeing it, you can still be hacked. Your website could be brought down as a result, and you could lose all the work that you had put in.
Therefore, it is essential to frequently back up your website. This will prevent you from losing all the hard work due to a single security breach.
There are several backup plugins available to assist. BackupBuddy is a plugin that I suggest using. It’s one of the top WordPress backup plugins available today.
Take Advantage Of Security Plugins
Your website’s content management system (CMS) most likely includes downloadable plugins that aid in the battle against viruses and bots. These tools assist you in monitoring your site and preventing attacks before they happen.
If you’re a WordPress user, there are many WordPress protection plugins. By constructing a solid firewall for your website, the plugins assist you in combating spam, malware, and other risks.
If your website doesn’t use WordPress, see what privacy and security plugins your website’s CMS has to offer. You may have to pay for some, but the peace of mind and security for your website’s users is well worth it.
Make Sure That The Software Is Updated
Your personal device, content management system (CMS), plugins, and antivirus program, all need to be updated. This means that it should have the most up-to-date security features to keep you safe from hackers.
Remember that the internet’s evildoers are working hard every day devising new and innovative methods to gain access to your digital data. That is why you must ensure that you have the checks in place to combat them.
This is critical now that the majority of cybercrime is automated. Hackers use bots to attack websites that have outdated or missing security measures.
So, search for updates on any piece of hardware and software that interacts with your website’s infrastructure on a regular basis. It will take time and effort, but it will save you a lot of money and issues in the long run.
I hope you’ve understood what is HTTPS encryption and why it is required for all websites.
It’s a must-have for any website, but particularly for eCommerce businesses looking to increase conversions and sales. This isn’t something you should take for granted.
We’ve also covered how is HTTPS secure. If you don’t do this, users may leave your website and go with another competitor who prioritizes website security and privacy.
It’s also easy to add HTTPS to your website. Simply follow the procedure outlined in this article on how to get a HTTPS certificate. It will take some time to do so, but the rewards will be worth it.
The best thing is that you can configure it and let it do its work. You can congratulate yourself once you’ve set up HTTPS. It is not something that you need to be constantly monitoring.