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Simply put, HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) allows communication between different systems.  For example, it is how data from a web server is transferred to your browser to view web pages. Without the “S”, the data is not encrypted and it can be intercepted by hackers or other 3rd parties to steal information being passed between the two systems.  The fix is enabling a secure version of HTTP called HTTPS.  The “S” stands for secure.  To implement HTTPS, an SSL certificate can be put into place on your site encrypting the connection between the web server and the web browser. 

Top 2 Reasons Why the “S” Makes All the Difference

 1. Google Likes It.

It has been quite some time since Google announced that HTTPS would become a ranking signal.  

Webmaster Central Blog – Wednesday, August 06, 2014 For now it’s only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.1

The time when Google will strengthen the ranking signal has come.   It has now become increasingly important for all sites, including smaller B2B sites to adopt HTTPS.  As a website owner, you are always striving to get to the top of the google results page.  That’s where the hits are, right?.  Well, if you have Https enabled, Google may give you a little bump.  Let’s say that you and a competitor rank exactly the same for a certain keyword.  You are tied in the competition for the top spot in the SERP.  What’s the tiebreaker; the determining factor in who gets the prized spot?  Well, if one of you is secure and the other is not, the one who is secure will get the bump.  You can never forget that Google is always looking for the site that offers the most benefit to the user.  Not only in finding the most relevant result to your search but also the website that offers the most protection for the user and their data.

It’s also important to note that SSL is required for AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP, the technology that allows mobile pages to load instantaneously, is a major player in the optimization of mobile sites. And because Google’s algorithms now primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site HTTPS will have a direct effect on ranking.  Are you still with me?

Obviously, this is going to be of real value to users accessing your site through a mobile device.  Google will notice and they will reward you for your efforts in making the best user experience possible.  SSL+AMP+Mobile-first indexing= Happy Google.

2. Your Visitors Will Trust You More

With more and more hacking incidents where user data is being stolen, there has been much emphasis in the media regarding privacy and protection of data.  The general public is now more savvy and aware when it comes to companies offering them security.  People know what to look for and they now value companies who are seeming to care about their data.  They are paying attention to which sites display the padlock in the corner of the browser bar and which are labeled “Not Secure”. It is simple to see how HTTPS can keep you from losing revenue. And, it’s not only true for e-commerce sites. Your visitors are also less likely to abandon your site’s contact form for fear of the non-secure” warnings. Studies show that the use of security seals can improve lead generation by over 40%.2

The bottom line is that if you want to retain your customers, you need to show them you care.  The cost of putting a SSL certificate in place is minimal in terms of time and money although it is recommended that you have an experienced web developer install it and subsequently configure your website.   Don’t worry if you experience a short term decrease in rankings, once your site is re-indexed by Google, your search ranking should return to their previous levels or even better.

1. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2014/08/https-as-ranking-signal.html
2. https://www.bluefountainmedia.com/blog/verisign-seal-increase-conversions/