For the last year or so, Google has been gently urging Web sites to begin using the secured transport protocol. Their prodding was at first a suggestion followed by letting us all know that their search algorithm views HTTPS as a ranking signal. Sites without the added layer of security have started to move down in search results, meaning your site rankings could take a hit.
HTTP stands for hypertext transfer protocol and it allows communication between different systems. Most commonly, it’s used for transferring data from a web server to a browser to view web pages. The problem is that HTTP (note: no “s” on the end) data is not encrypted, and can be intercepted by third parties to gather data being passed between the two systems.
This can be addressed by using a secure version called HTTPS, where the “S” stands for secure and involves the use of an SSL certificate — “SSL” stands for secure sockets layer — which creates a secure encrypted connection between the web server and the web browser.
This might not be a big deal for non e-commerce sites like most ham radio related Web pages. And it won’t affect many blogs — Blogger and sites hosted on WordPress.com switched over to HTTPS long ago, though self-hosted WordPress blogs are subject to settings on the local server.
But changes are coming.
Google’s Chrome 56 browser as of January 2017 will flag as “not secure” any non-HTTPS sites that transmit password and credit-card information. Currently, Chrome delivers HTTP connections with its neutral indicator, which Google says doesn’t reflect the real lack of security in HTTP environments.
According to Google, “eventually, we plan to label all HTTP pages as non-secure, and change the HTTP security indicator to the red triangle that we use for broken HTTPS.”
Will that impact traffic to your site? Probably not though it’s certainly something to consider. If not now, then soon.
No Website owner wants to have their visitors presented with some type of scary warning about using their website, and this will likely encourage those that are still being actively curated to move to HTTPS.