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Since October last year, Google has been hitting hard on unsecured websites. Therefore, you need to protect your website and your visitors by making the necessary changes. But what do you really need to take care of to make your website safe in the eyes of Google?
Periodically, Google changes the algorithm it uses to control which pages appear at the top of the search result. Most websites do not notice these small adjustments, but occasionally there are major changes that should be noted.
Earlier, major changes have been, among other things, compatibility for mobile and the quality of content found on the website. The update which started in October 2017 is major, and you should be ready to address it.
Why? Because it's about online security – and because Google is going to punish your website if you don’t figure it out.
You must focus on having the right URL as well as an SSL certificate.
Google has started displaying a new alert on pages in the search result that doesn’t have a URL that begins with HTTPS, a so-called "non-secure" notification. This will greatly affect how many people dare to click on your website if you don’t have everything in order.
What is HTTPS?
HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) are ways to send information between the servers and clients. The difference? One is safe, the other is not.
With HTTP, it’s possible for unauthorized parties to observe communication between your computer and the site. An HTTPS connection adds a sort of veil of security by encrypting the information with an SSL certificate.
Why is this so important? Today, those who find themselves online are expecting a safe and private experience. Without HTTPS, sensitive information can easily go into the wrong hands.
Google already announced in 2014 that it would give priority to websites that have HTTPS in place when ranking sites in the search result. Because many didn’t take the hint at the time, Google has now decided to take it one step further.
Download: Checklist for SEO
What should you do now?
Are you unsure whether you have an SSL certificate?
You can use Website Grader to check this, as well as other important elements of the website.
If you haven’t already done so, we recommend protecting your website and visitors with an SSL certificate and HTTPS. This is especially important if you are in the process of, or thinking about, starting with inbound marketing.
Landing pages with non-HTTPS forms will be perceived as unsafe, and few people will want to leave information on a page marked as unsecured of Google.
If you also have pages where people can log in or where you can leave payment information, it will be critical that you have HTTPS in place. Google started sending alerts about such pages through Google Search Console already last winter. If your company has such a site, you may want to check if you have received a notice.
It may sound like there’s a lot to set up, but fortunately, it’s not too complicated. For example, if you use HubSpot, you have the option to purchase an SSL certificate and enable HTTPS directly in the portal with just a few simple clicks.