In January, you might have heard that Google was implementing a mandatory requirement for all websites that appear in its Chrome search engine to have an SSL certificate applied.
The protocol uses an SSL Certificate (Secure Sockets Layer), which encrypts information sent between your website and its server. Even if you have a sharefile, dropbox, portal, etc., on your site, SSL is an additional layer of protection for any forms that may be completed (e.g., contact us), emails that may be sent, and more.
What do SSL Certificates do?
- Protect your website and user information;
- Prevent “eavesdropping” and “phishing” via wifi connections;
- Add SEO “credits” to sites that are professionally maintained;
- Ensure encryption is applied to any site that takes payment transactions; and
- ets the foundation for future eCommerce for sites not yet selling online.
What will this do to my site URL?
Once the SSL certificate is installed, your site’s domain will use https:// versus http://.
Do I have to change all the previous links I’ve shared with clients, in email, and on social media? No. Most hosting companies will use a 301 redirect to redirect traffic from the http:// domain to the https:// domain. This should happen instantaneously so the visitor doesn’t notice. However, begin using the https:// domain once the SSL Certificate is installed and your hosting company has alerted you to the change.
What will happen if I don’t do this?
Your website will continue to work. However, if searchers come across your site on Chrome, they will see a notification that the site is not secure. Also, your site will be downgraded in search. Finally, a notice will be sent to you and/or your site admin, about the insecure issue, along with a notification on the searcher’s results page, something like this:
Notice to the site admin: The new warning is the first stage of a long-term plan to mark all pages served over the non-encrypted HTTP protocol as “Not Secure”.
Search result notice:
In addition to implementing an SSL Certificate, if you have the option to use a site lock on your hosting server, consider asking your provider to implement that as well. Costs for both these options will vary from provider to provider.
For more information, please visit the Google Security blog about this change.