There are the age-old concerns of most businesses: competition, emerging trends, labor markets, sales and marketing, escalating material costs, etc. But in the digital age, the #1 concern for many businesses is data security. With data breaches making headlines on a weekly basis, building confidence with wary consumers and the public as a whole is increasingly important.
While many organizations are implementing robust measures to secure their internal servers, printers, computers, software systems and other networks, some are overlooking an otherwise glaring vulnerability: their websites.
To stay engaged with customers and to attract qualified leads in today’s marketplace requires a strong online presence that allows them to interact through website contact forms, downloads and more. All that data flowing back and forth, however, is a prime target for cybercriminals, and emphasizes the importance of migrating your website to HTTPS.
The Basics of HTTPS
The extra “S” at the end of HTTP in a website’s url stands for “secure.” To obtain that extra “S” requires an SSL certificate, which authenticates a website’s identity and encrypts any data exchanged through it. There are different SSL levels featuring varying degrees of security, with the highest validation being used for large e-commerce sites and those collecting highly sensitive data such as social security numbers and personal identifying information.
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But surprisingly, some organizations have been slow to adopt these measures. Even notable companies such as Forbes only recently took steps to implement HTTPS, and it speaks to some of the technical challenges surrounding the practice. Migrating a website to HTTPS takes lots of planning and preparation, especially for those that have hundreds and possibly thousands of pages. Migration to HTTPS for these sites often happens in phases, with the most critical pages having security measures put in place first.
For those building a new website from the ground up, the challenge is less daunting. Some website platforms, such as Hubspot, make securing an SSL license easy and have included the service as an add-on feature.
How Does HTTPS Protect Visitors?
Scammers can install code on an unsecure site that exploits a visitor’s browser without the knowledge of the user or the owner of the domain. These hackers can then access information shared through the site and even gain access to a visitor’s computer to install malware and retrieve even more data. An SSL certificate helps authenticate your website and prevent hackers from tricking visitors into unknowingly providing data to them instead of your company.
There are many other benefits of implementing HTTPS on your site beyond protecting your customers from cyber criminals. Consider the following:
Despite efforts from Bing, Yahoo and others, Google continues to be the number one search engine. Ranking among the first couple pages in a Google keyword search will help ensure your company and its content is found. If your site still has an HTTP extension, however, you can expect a lower ranking. Google incentivizes the use of HTTPS and accordingly ranks secure sites more highly with improved SEO.
Improved Visitor Confidence
As consumers become more astute about protecting their personal information — whether a simple email address or detailed financial information — they’re increasingly looking for that little padlock symbol that precedes a website’s url in the navigation bar. It indicates that a website is secure and that the owner of that domain has taken measures to encrypt data by securing an SSL license and implementing HTTPS.
Faster Load Times
How many times have you clicked on a website from your mobile device and waited..and waited? The website likely doesn’t have HTTPS enabled. If it did, it would allow for Accelerated Mobile Pages, also known as AMP. This technology, which is indicated by a small lightning bolt icon in Google searches, means a website will load quickly. AMP can only be implemented on SSL sites and, once again, Google will rank sites with AMP more highly to encourage better user experiences.
Preferred Mobile Ranking
An average of 52% of users access the internet via their mobile devices, and that number will continue to escalate as technology advances in coming years. Once again, since AMP-enabled mobile sites rank higher, the migration to HTTPS sites needs to be a strategic initiative of any forward-thinking organization.
Be sure to take the necessary steps to secure your SSL certification and proudly display HTTPS as part of your domain name. As potential customers seek information online, you’ll be better positioned to attract them through online searches and provide assurance that their personal information is secure.
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