We’ve all noticed that little green lock icon in our browser at some point when we are on the internet. That lock icon means you are browsing the site via HTTPS, which assures us that our personal information is safe while are on the website. When a website is using standard HTTP, the data that is submitted between your computer and the webserver is transmitted in plain text and can be easily read and stolen by criminals. When using HTTPS, not only is the data is coded while transferred, but it also verifies that the content you’re downloading is coming from the people you expect it to be coming from.
Over the past year or so, major social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have adopted an HTTPS-everywhere policy so that every action you take on their site is secure. Sounds great. Why doesn’t every site do this? Well, you’ll be seeing HTTPS-everywhere popping up more and more throughout the internet, and here are five good reasons why:
1. SECURITY AND PRIVACY
Duh. If the security of your user’s information is important to you (it should be), using HTTPS is the best way to go. As stated above, HTTPS:
- Verifies that the website is the one the server it is supposed to be talking to.
- Encrypts all communication, including URLs, which protects things like browsing history and credit card numbers.
- Provides integrity so your site can’t be modified (some ISPs can inject ads into your site if it only uses HTTP)
2. SEARCH ENGINE RANKING (SEO)
In 2014, Google announced that HTTPS will be a factor in its ranking when showing results. While it won’t be a “silver bullet” to increase your rankings, it will give it a slight bump. However, over time, Google may decide to strengthen it because they’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.
3. HTTP WILL SOON BE MARKED AS INSECURE
If you like that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when your see that lock icon on a secure site, just imagine the opposite when you are browsing a site that is blatenly marked as insecure. Both Google & Firefox plan to mark HTTP sites as insecure in the near future. This means when a potential client goes to your site, they’ll see that it’s marked as insecure, thus greatly decreasing their trust in your site.
4. BETTER ANALYTICS ACCURACY WITH HTTPS REFERRERS
As of today, when traffic passes from a secure HTTPS site to a HTTP site, the referral data gets stripped away. This traffic shows up in your analytics report as ‘Direct’, which is certainly not the case. Fortunately, the referring data is not stripped away when going from either HTTP or HTTPS site to a HTTPS site, meaning your referral analytics will be more accurate.
5. IT’S EASY AND INEXPENSIVE
Most people don’t jump on board the HTTPS train because they don’t know how to do it or it’s too expensive. This is just simply not a viable excuse. Most webhosts provide an SSL installation service for a very affordable price (or free!), and some even come packaged in when you buy a hosting plan. Once you have your SSL installed, most content management systems have an easy “always use HTTPS” toggle to turn it on across your entire site.