HTTP vs. HTTPS and SEO: Why You Need to Switch to HTTPS

Last August, Google launched an announcement of giving a ranking boost to secure HTTPS/SSL sites so as to keep everyone safe on the web.

For most website owners, it is not a tough thing to understand and complete. But as a normal netizen, you may wonder what’s the difference between HTTP and HTTPS, how to make the switch, and if switching to HTTPS can bring with higher ranking on search engine results page (SERP).

Glad you asked! The article will give detailed information on the basic knowledge of HTTP and HTTPS, the SEO benefits of HTTPS, and some SEO concerns to consider when moving to HTTPS.

What’s the Difference Between HTTP and HTTPS?

No matter who you are, a website user or a developer, you would expect a good online experience, which usually involves a trusted third party encryption.

In order to make clear the reason why Google puts weight on the website elements, it’s necessary to learn the basics of HTTP and HTTPS first.

HTTP, short for HyperText Transfer Protocol, refers to a system of information transmitting and receiving across the internet. Instead of focusing on how data gets from Point A to Point B, HTTP is more likely to explain how information is presented to the user.

Since HTTP does not remember previous web session related information, it has less data to send, therefore optimizing speed. Most often, HTTP is used to access html pages, but other resourcessfer Protocol, was designed to enable authorization and secured transactions. In other words, HTTPS makes it possible to prevent confidential information from unauthorized access.

HTTP and HTTPS both follow the same basic protocols, so they are exactly the same thing in many ways. However, as HTTPS makes use of SSL to move data, it is able to provide an extra layer of security.

How HTTPS Impacts SEO?

Here is a list of quick facts you should know about secure sites:

  1. 84% of users would abandon a purchase if data was sent over an insecure connection, indicating that website insecurely could potentially impact sales.
  2. Google has hinted at a fully secure web in the future by saying they’ll “continue working towards a web that’s secure by default.”
  3. Google Chrome labels HTTP sites as insecure, warning users that the connection is not secure.
  4. HTTPS websites load much faster than HTTP sites, and sites with faster speeds are more likely to rank better.
  5. According to Google, more than 50% of all desktop page loads are HTTPS connections, which is an all-time high.
  6. Multiple studies proved that there is a correlation between HTTPS and better rankings in SERPs.
  7. About 40% of Google page one organic listings are HTTPS.
  8. HTTPS has been a signal in Google’s ranking algorithm since 2014.

In addition to onsite content, the website security can also have a positive impact on your rankings, traffic, and conversions.

Rankings

Google has encouraged webmasters to migrate to a secure site since 2014, when an updated algorithm in favor of HTTPS websites is rolled out. Two years later, the importance of HTTPS websites in boosting rankings seems more obvious. It’s easy to found out that sites displayed in the first one page of Google are those strictly following the search engine’s suggestion on a secure site.

The correlation between HTTPS and higher search rankings was also proved by SEMRush, Ahrefs, Brian Dean, MarketMuse, and SimilarWeb in a study of We Analyzed 1 Million Google Search Results. Here’s What We Learned About SEO.

Traffic

If you are not a newbie to internet, you may be aware that better rankings often lead to more traffic. People nowadays tend to clicking a secure website over a non-secure site, because the former in some way is seen as a signal of trust and authority. When your sites click-through-rate is improved, your website traffic is increasing.

Conversions

It has been acknowledged that Google ranks better for sites following the best practices for user experience. And a secure connection must be one of the most important practices. A GlobalSign survey shows that over 80% of users will choose to abandon a purchase if they find that their data are sent over an insecure connection. As a result of frequent information leakage, a large majority of netizens are worrying about their data being misused or intercepted online, however. So, it seems quite important to give your customers the peace of mind when they purchasing in your store, instead of worrying about if their private information are being well protected.

Some SEO Concerns in Switching to HTTPS

To be honest, there is no need to concern much about switching from HTTP to HTTPS in terms of SEO since Google has promised that for years. But for you, as a webmaster or site owner, you are required to make sure your traffic won’t suffer.

The first thing you need to do when finish moving your site from HTTP to HTTPS is communicating to Google.

Google also offers some useful tips for best practices you can keep in mind when switching to HTTPS:

Besides taking advantage of the Google Support resources, reading a condensed introduction to HTTP/HTTPS as well as some tips on changing over SSL/HTTPS is also a strongly recommended option before getting started.

If you are an IT professional, it may not even a difficulty for you to get it done. However, if you don’t have any IT background, you may get overwhelmed, seriously.

The Takeaway

As you can see, Chrome has been starting labeling all HTTP pages as non-secure. Switching to HTTPS is an inevitable choice in terms of not only a more secure site but also higher rankings in Google results page. Likewise, when you are making a decision, you should not only focus on how to better follow the latest algorithm changes, at the same time, you need to pay attention to improving your user experience as well as optimizing the business needs. If you are still curious about how to get better SEO effect, please check out our Webmaster Blog section, where a lot of SEO guidance and tutorials are located.

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