Is 2017 the time to go HTTPS with an SSL certificate?

We first wrote about SSL certificates way back in 2014. That was when Google first announced that they would be starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal in their algorithms.

In 2015, we talked about the subject again, after Firefox announced they would stop displaying sites that were not secure.

Back then, we concluded it wasn’t essential to install an SSL certificate if you didn’t run an ecommerce website. Now, things have moved on, so it may be worth reconsidering an SSL certificate for your business.

What is an SSL certificate again?

A SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate helps provide more security for website visitors. Websites with an SSL certificate are secure, meaning data sent between the website and the server (such as payment information) is encrypted and harder to intercept. Websites that are secure will have the address HTTPS rather than HTTP.

What’s changed?

Later this month, the new version of Google’s web browser, Chrome, will be released. The updated version will continue Google’s emphasis on making the web secure and encouraging all websites to use HTTPS. When the new browser is released, it will alert users if a site is not secure (i.e. uses HTTP not HTTPS) on all pages that include passwords or payment information.

While previously there was no hurry for sites that didn’t collect payment information to switch to HTTPS, this new update means that if you have a login area, you may want to consider securing your website. Although the message won’t stop users from using your site, it may make people feel uncomfortable about continuing.

At the moment this update doesn’t include websites with forms, but as forms often contain personal information, it is rumoured that it won’t be long before Chrome also starts to highlight insecure forms. This would have a significant impact, as the vast majority of business websites contain a contact form.

There have also been a few other developments that might increase your desire to get that SSL certificate sorted. For example, if you want to list your products on Google Shopping, you’ll now need an SSL certificate, even if you don’t take payment information on your site.

So does my business need an SSL certificate now?

If you have an ecommerce website you should already have an SSL certificate. If your website has a login or contact form we definitely think it is worth considering this year. However, it can be a little complicated to smoothly install an SSL certificate, so it’s still something we wouldn’t advise rushing into.

If you’d like help with this or to find out more about getting a new secure website, please get in touch.

James PattenTechnical Director

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