When it comes to ranking higher on local search results, it could all come down to one letter: an “S”. If you and a rival are battling it out for a prime search keyword position, having https instead of http before the www. in your domain could be all it takes to tip you over the edge and claim top billing.
So says Google’s Gary Illyes, who told Bruce Clay in 2015 that when two web pages are otherwise equal, the search engine prefers HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) sites, pushing the secure domain to the head of the line.
In addition to the potential boost in search rankings, there are lots of reasons why you should consider switching your site from http to https. Here are three reasons why switching your site to the secure protocol is a smart move.
What is HTTPS? Why Use HTTPS vs. HTTP? And What Are the Benefits of Switching?
Hubspot senior staff writer Amanda Zantel Wiener has a handy definition of what https means, “If you’re anything like me, there’s been a time in your life when you’ve asked, “What the heck is https?”
“What’s that extra “S” for? Well, it turns out that the “s” stands for “SSL”, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer. This is the technology that encrypts your connection to a website, so that hackers can’t intercept any of your data.”
Essentially the “S” is an internet security measure and a way to keep your site and any sensitive information, like customer payment details or account login information, secure.
Here are three reasons why switching to a secure site will benefit your local business.
1. HTTPS can help with SEO
The security tiebreaker approach means that if your site and another site are essentially comparable and vying for top ranking for a particular keyword, the addition of https in your domain could be enough to give you the edge and secure the top spot. It’s thought that this particular algorithm ties into the nexus of what makes most of Google’s algorithms tick – the desire to offer its users the best possible user experience. And a secure experience is generally preferred over a non-secure experience.
2. It helps keep your website secure
Kayce Basques, a technical writer at Google, says all websites, even those not handling sensitive data, should use https for protection purposes, saying “One common misconception about HTTPS is that the only websites that need HTTPS are those that handle sensitive communications. Every unprotected HTTP request can potentially reveal information about the behaviors and identities of your users.”
The security protocol protects the integrity of the website by helping to prevent intruders tampering with communications between the site and the visitors browsing (a common tactic here is injecting malware) as well as safeguarding privacy and security.
It makes sense that there are a host of benefits for making a site more secure, chief among them is the ability to safeguard sensitive data and the peace of mind that comes from knowing the domain is protected from disasters such as malicious ads or spyware being injected into the site and displayed to users when communications aren’t protected. There are a few other compelling reasons why you’d be wise to protect your small business website, and chief among them is the switch to a mobile-first mentality.
3. AMP requires https
If you’re serious about search, selling or being found online, you have to jump on the mobile revolution bandwagon. Much has been said and written about the need to make websites mobile responsive and mobile friendly. Technical considerations such as page loading speed are par for the course. The advent of Google’s mobile friendly index has shone the spotlight on AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) once again.
Google developed AMP to ensure that content loads faster on mobile devices. AMP content appears prominently in the search results and is designed for the users who go online on a mobile device. AMP has an important role to play in optimizing for mobile and it needs https to work.
Increasingly, modern browsers and most progressive web apps require https to perform properly, so if you haven’t yet added https to your website, it could be only a matter of time before you have little choice in the matter.
Digital marketing expert Neil Patel of QuickSprout.com has a detailed post which outlines how to make the switch from a standard http to the more secure https if you’re ready to take the next step. You should also reach out to your hosting company before making the change because they’ll be able to provide you with expert guidance based on what they know about your site.
What do you think?
Are you convinced to add https to your small business website? Have you already made the switch? If so, what benefits have you experienced? We’d love to hear your comments so please do share your experiences with us.