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‘Not Secure’ Warnings: Why SEOs Must Take Site Security Seriously
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Web masters, content developers, and website owners generally take site security seriously. Search engine optimization (SEO) professionals do, too. Having a secure site that meets all current standards is beneficial from a search engine perspective; Google and other search engines rank secure sites higher than sites with security issues.

Google recently announced that its Chrome browser will begin to display “Not secure” warnings on certain web pages. The three types of pages that will see the warnings are:

  1. Pages with search boxes or forms for site visitors to fill out

  2. Any HTTP page where users can enter data

  3. All HTTP pages visited in Chrome’s Incognito mode

The simple fix, according to Google, is for site owners to move their sites to HTTPS, the secure communication version of the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP). HTTPS means that traffic between site and visitor is encrypted. Moving the site to HTTPS is a process that most SEO professionals are familiar with, and this step is crucial in keeping quality websites at the top of their respective search results pages.

Why HTTPS?

Google has already begun rolling out security warnings on certain page types and will continue to do so through October 2017. Currently, the browser requires that any pages with logins must be sent over HTTPS. The company has been ranking secure sites on HTTPS higher than unsecured pages since 2014. This was done in an effort to make the Web a more secure place for users and site owners alike. Now, with the “HTTPS Everywhere” campaign, the company is serious about getting site owners into compliance.

As of 2016, only 0.1% or less of all sites on the Web were regarded as secure. Google’s campaign is part of the global effort to improve Web security, and it is paying off. By January 2017, a major tech magazine reported that about half of all website were regarded as meeting current security standards.

What are the Benefits of HTTPS?

Google and other major search engines list several reasons why the HTTPS standard offers more security for website owners and their users. These benefits include:

  • Data integrity – the data that moves between site and user cannot be modified or corrupted during the transfer process without being detected by the browser.

  • Authentication – this demonstrates proof that a user is connected with the intended website. HTTPS helps to protect against browser hijacks and “man in the middle” attacks, which serves to improve user trust with the Web properties they visit.

  • Encryption – data transferred in the exchange between site and user is encrypted end-to-end. Eliminating snooping, activity tracking, and theft of data during transfer.

It is important for SEO professionals to instruct their clients on the benefits of shifting to secure HTTPS protocols. By doing so, all of your hard work in optimizing your clients’ sites for search will continue to pay dividends. A secure Web is a better web, improving user trust – which can translate into increased business opportunities for website owners.