Does your website have customer contact forms, login fields and other input sections? If so, you will soon need to apply an SSL certificate to your website to secure it as HTTPS
In the past few days, Google has released an update to their previous notification back in May 2017 which stated all websites that load as HTTP, rather than HTTPS and include web page elements such as contact forms, login fields and other input sections will now start to display more obvious ‘not secure’ warnings to your users when they are browsing your website using the Google Chrome browser.
It all started long before May though – right back in August 2014 to be exact. Google begun to show a preference to websites that were secured by HTTPS (meaning the website had an SSL certificate installed to secure any transmission of data – be it contact form submissions, signing up to newsletters, logging into a website user area or other user input sections), and at that point adding SSL security to your website was rewarded by a small ranking benefit from a Search Engine Optimisation perspective – simply put, those websites that went to the effort of installing an SSL Certificate saw a small boost in ranked positions on Google search results pages.
Back then for Google, it was more a case of ‘add an SSL certificate to your website and we will give you a little reward for your troubles by way of a small ranking boost’ but this notion was also underpinned by the need to secure everyone that browses the web over the long-term.
Around March 2014, Matt Cutts (Googles head of search spam back then) said he’d like to make adding an SSL certificate to a website to secure it as HTTPS part of an SEO ranking factor; and less than 5 months after that announcement, Google began to make this a reality.
In the years since, Google has gained pace with this change, and now requires all websites that do include any type of login section, contact/feedback or other type of form, or any input field where user data is transmitted to be secured by HTTPS; otherwise more obvious ‘not secure’ user warnings will display in the Google Chrome browser.
So, that’s the brief history of HTTPS and I am guessing you are now wondering what this all means for you. If so, please read on.
What does this mean for my website?
In a nutshell, your website will eventually need to be secured with an SSL certificate, so it displays as HTTPS on all pages – not just those that include contact forms or user input sections that allow your customers to submit details to you. Adding an SSL certificate to a website is generally considered an additional ‘add-on’ service to a web and email hosting plan.
Why is it that people have been able to send their enquiry on a contact form or log into a user area without any problem before Google announced this? What’s changed now?
Whilst this update by Google only affects their Browser (Chrome) at the moment, historically, a website that hasn’t got an SSL applied (and only shows as HTTP rather than HTTPS) has still been able to send data from forms, login fields and other data-input areas without any problem and the other biggest browser, Mozilla FireFox, has always indicated any pages that aren’t secure to its users by clicking on the globe icon next to the search bar at the top left, and this has also been the same with Google Chrome (clicking on the info icon also next to the search bar).
However, the biggest change is that Google is now going to make this a more obvious factor by actually showing users a ‘not secure’ notification in the search bar and bringing it to the attention of those browsing your website on Chrome without the need to click on an icon to find out whether a website or page is secured by HTTPS or not.
For any of your customers that aren’t so web-savvy and happen to notice the new, more obvious ‘not secure’ notification in the Chrome browser, this could raise concerns and confusion as to whether or not they should send an enquiry to you or submit their details, log into your website or even sign up to a newsletter.
What should I do?
Ultimately, Google wants to mark any web page that loads as just HTTP as insecure, and whilst we feel this will take quite some time to accomplish, the internet will only continue to evolve into a progressively more and more secure environment, with the crux of the matter hinging around SSL security amongst other positive shifts in online security.
Our advice is to get your website secured with an SSL Certificate sooner rather than later. We can supply and install the certificate for you. If you would like to find out more information including what’s involved and the cost or if you have any questions, please contact us on 020 8776 0400, or you can contact us here for further details.