Google’s Secure Search Objective

Why Must Your Website Be Secure?

If you own a business, you are likely to have a website for your business. As a business owner, you know that your website has to be purposeful. That purpose may be transactional, informational or navigational. Regardless of the website purpose, the one factor that every business owner must ask themselves is, “Is my website safe?”.

Is My Website Safe

The easiest way to find this out is to ask your web developer or domain host if the website has an SSL certificate. This certificate will add a secure encrypted link between the web server and browser. This makes sure that all data processed between the two remains private. You would easily be able to tell if your website has an SSL, if you see https:// in front of your URL rather than http://.

This History Of Safe Browsing

  • 2014: Google introduced the importance of secure browsing. They announced that by adding an SSL to your website, Google would give you a minor rank boost. Additionally, Google announced in that same release, that they “like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web”.
  • Early 2016: Google stated that the future of the web is a secure one, and so make sure people in your organization understand HTTPS, and it should be on the roadmap”  -Thao Tran of Google @ Share16.
  • Late 2016: Chrome released version 56 of the Chrome web browser. This release means that: for websites that are not using HTTPS, all pages collecting credit card information or passwords will now display a message in the location bar that will identify the page as “not secure”. Google Chrome also announced that they will be rolling out updates over time that will eventually label all HTTP sites as “not secure”.

How Does Safe Browsing Effect My Website?

If your website requires a login or allows users to make purchases or establish subscriptions, then an SSL is essential. Without an SSL, aka HTTPS, this new update could display the message stating the website is unsafe. To your users, this is a potentially confusing and alarming message. It could mean lost sales or leads.

It is also highly recommended that even if you are not an e-commerce site that you find out how to set up SSL on your hosting provider’s system. It will only be a matter of time before the update is rolled out beyond e-commerce sites.

SEO & Safe Browsing

  • What we know: We already know, from previous Google announcements, that secure sites are already receiving a rank boost. We also know that Google Chrome makes up 44.5% of browser uses according to DAP, a federal digital analytics program. Google Chrome also makes up 85% of desktop browser market share.
  • What we can predict: Due to the Chrome release we can predict that other browsers may follow suit, first with e-commerce sites, then with all websites. This would mean that Google could release more algorithm changes to further increase rank for those websites that are secure.
  • What could happen: While we cannot be certain when, we can reasonably guess that in time, penalties towards non-secure sites could become a finalizing step to rid them from users search results.

Key Takeaways

  1. If you are a business owner, it is now more important than ever for you to find out if your website is secure.
  2. The history of web security has shown that Google has their efforts towards secure browsing at the forefront of their company objectives. For example, Google gives slight ranking boosts to secure websites over non-secure websites.
  3. The Google Chrome update will now show users if an e-commerce or password driven site is not secure. Other types of websites are soon to follow. It is a reasonable prediction that other browsers will follow suit.
  4. Security will continue to affect search ranking, due to usability, user experience, and authority.