What is HTTPS?
When creating a website you have the decision on whether to host it over HTTP or HTTPS, this is the data connection your website will have with the World Wide Web.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the standard connection your website has with the web, however, Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) protects the confidentiality of the data between a user’s computer and the website they are viewing.
Originally this type of connection was the domain of e-commerce or member area websites which required this to be implemented for legal reasons. However, Google now actively encourages you to adopt HTTPS in order to protect your user’s connection, regardless of the website content.
Why should I move to HTTPS?
If your website has a sign-in area or password field used anywhere on site, Google will now highlight this as something that needs to be secured by the implementation of an SSL certificate. If these changes are not put in place, Google will now show an alert on the URL window and within the page in the latest versions of its Chrome browser.
This now means you should actively look at adopting an SSL/TLS certificate on your website in an effort to make it safer for users. Google have been issuing warnings on some websites that have yet to adopt an SSL certificate, highlighting to the user that the site does not include a secure HTTPS connection. Although this does not affect the website in general as the user can still proceed on their own to the website, it will affect the trust the user will have in the website content.
How can I be prepared?
If you know your website has these specific features – a sign-in area or password field – then you need to make the necessary changes, which will also likely require you to check any external links and channels to ensure they are also linking to your site using the updated URL. Google has hinted that moving your website onto HTTPS may benefit your visibility in the SERPs, compared to non-HTTPS websites.
Currently this alert is only implemented on the latest version of Chrome and Firefox browsers, however, it’s likely only a matter of time before other browsers implement the same changes and alerts.
You can determine the details of your website when using Chrome or Firefox by looking at the web address and seeing what the security status says.
More details on these results can be found here.