The Trend Toward HTTPS
Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, aka HTTPS, is the future of the web. Large providers, including Google, are asserting that HTTPS is mandatory for supporting new web features. In fact, web and security providers and technology organizations are launching major awareness and implementation programs to incentivize HTTPS use.
HTTPS is the secure form of HTTP. Both protocols implement necessary steps for data to flow between network nodes and clients and to access HTML pages. HTTP communications are in plain text, and can be used to obtain financial and personal identity information if the connection is broken into. With HTTPS, however, all information is encrypted so that it cannot be read by hackers. In addition, HTTPS ensures that the user is not connecting to fraudulent sites set up by hackers and protects against malware. A padlock icon is displayed in the browser address bar when a trusted SSL digital certificate is found during a HTTPS connection, and the address bar becomes completely green when an extended validation certificate is installed on a website. HTTPS monitoring tools and services can test the availability and response time of websites from multiple locations around the world.
HTTPS and SEO
Google has added HTTPS as a “light ranking factor” and indicated that it will be a stronger ranking signal in the future. Also, HTTPS is viewed by Google as the preferred protocol, meaning HTTPS pages will be indexed before any HTTP versions.
Overall, there is a multipronged effort to communicate to website owners and developers that HTTPS adds trust and legitimacy to a site, generates better referral data in Google Analytics, and will result in better conversion rates.
HTTPS has been primarily used by websites that involve money exchange, such as banking or ecommerce sites. Or, sites have used HTTPS only for site subsets like shopping carts that were considered vulnerable. As new technology trends and awareness initiatives emerge, the fact that a relatively small number of sites uses HTTPS has become a concern. The migration to HTTPS is relatively easy, although large sites with many HTTPS-use scenarios (for example, separate flows and links for ads or third-party content) may require a larger effort.
In 2015, Mozilla announced plans to utilize the HTTPS protocol in Firefox in favor of HTTP, and Apple and the US government have also taken steps to expedite HTTPS implementation.
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