Google announced earlier this month that starting in July 2018, users and SEO experts will notice several changes as part of the Chrome 68 release. Starting in July, when browsing the internet using Google search and Chrome, not only will page speed affect mobile search rankings, but more importantly, non-secure (http://) websites will now be labeled as “not secure.” This matters!
The ladder is huge for companies who have not yet upgraded their websites to a secure (https://) instance. This change will impact companies from an SEO standpoint and a UX perspective.
Currently, if your site is a non-secure site, you are being “penalized” within the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), and your organic rankings are being decreased, even if your entire website is optimized perfectly. On top of that, when a user visits your website, there is a lowercase “i” in a circle in the URL bar informing users that your site has not been secured.
Starting in July, not only will you receive the SEO “penalty,” but users will see front and center that your page isn’t secure. There is a catch, your entire site must be protected, not just a few select pages.
Businesses, take note! This is an important shift because according to Statcounter.com, Google Chrome has over a 56% market share for browsers as of when this was written (2/27/18), growing from 51.8% this time last year. That’s a huge audience base!
So what exactly does a “secure” website mean? And how do you make the update? Well, there are two ways to secure your website.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is an industry standard technology for ensuring and protecting a secure internet connection and protecting your personal information. It does this by using public/private key encryption on the data making the data transferred between you and the website impossible to read. TLS stands for Transport Layer Security. This is an updated version of SSL that is even more secure. TLS uses a stronger encryption algorithm and can work off different ports.
Until July, the way to know if a website is secure is by referencing the URL bar of the website you’re on and if you see a lock with the word secure, you know you’re safe.
According to Google, “Developers have been transitioning their sites to HTTPS and making the web safer for everyone.” Progress last year was incredible, and it has continued since then:
- Over 68% of Chrome traffic on both Android and Windows is now protected
- Over 78% of Chrome traffic on both Chrome OS and Mac is now protected
- 81 of the top 100 sites on the web use HTTPS by default
The second part of the July release is the page speed impact on mobile search. For years now, Google has been hinting at the importance of page speed. They’ve released tools such as Google Page Speed Insights and added tools in Google Analytics to help track page speed load times, however in the past, the thought was that page speed directly affected rankings on desktop searches, and mobile was immune to this. However, with the announcement of AMP pages (Accelerated Mobile Pages), and the upcoming release, it appears that mobile pages will now be impacted by page speed as well. The need to optimize and build mobile friendly pages has just become even more important. Mobile and tablet search makes up nearly 57% of all searches (http://gs.statcounter.com/platform-market-share/desktop-mobile-tablet).
The process to get your site secure is not a complicated or a long one. Questions about how this could affect your website and organic rankings? We’re happy to help! If you are interested, give us a call at 301-725-8000 or email us for a website evaluation.