Late last year, we began moving all of the websites that we manage for our clients to secure socket layer (SSL). Running sites on SSL is becoming the new standard for all sites for three important reasons:
- It makes sites more secure
- Google is likely to give you higher search ranking
- It will make your site load faster
This change is largely transparent to your site visitors, but it has numerous benefits for them and for you (which is why Google is recommending it).
You may be familiar with the green padlock that appears in the address bar of a website when it is using HTTPS instead of HTTP, which means it is secure. This indicates that a site is running on SSL. SSL is essentially required for sites that conduct financial transactions, and is common for sites that collect personal information.
Moving all sites to SSL, whether they collect sensitive data or not, is becoming the new standard for several reasons:
- Starting in 2017, Google will flag sites collecting data (like passwords or credit card info) that aren’t SSL certified. This is Google’s first step in red-flagging non-secure sites in order to protect web safety.
- Google has also indicated that they will give search rank preference to secure sites beginning in 2017.
- Our preferred web hosting company, WP Engine, enables HTTP/2 for secure sites, which speeds up site loading times, which is great for site visitors.
- Faster site loading times also helps search engine rankings.
- SSL certificates used to cost between $50 and $100 a year, but there’s a new fee-free certificate called Let’s Encrypt. WP Engine makes adding these certificates simple for sites they host.
Other than setting up the certificate—which is exceedingly simple with WP Engine, a little more work with other hosts—our SSL upgrade includes troubleshooting any residual HTTP links in your site, making sure that all images, scripts, and files use the HTTPS protocol, setting 301 redirects and canonical links, and updating the HTTPS protocol in your analytics tools.
The fee for upgrading your site to SSL depends on a few variables, including your site host, which SSL certificate you choose, and what software your site runs on. Whatever your factors, making the switch to SSL is a quick and affordable upgrade with clear benefits to you and your site users.