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Your Website Needs HTTPS – But Add It Incorrectly, and Your Rankings Suffer

15 Dec

Is your website in danger of falling rankings due to Google’s latest update? 

HTTPS is now a MUST on all websites. 

So what is it, and how can you fix it? You haven’t much time to waste. In fact, your rankings may already be suffering. Read on to learn more.

What is HTTPS and why do I need it?

HTTPS itself stands for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure”. It is the secure version of HTTP, and protects data when it is sent between a browser and a website.

Google’s changed its approach to warn website and business owners to install HTTPS on their sites.

Why is Google doing this?

The bottom line is that this HTTPS change, as with almost any other change Google makes, benefits the user.

It provides them a more secure experience when submitting information – from an email address to credit card details – online. This fosters trust, while correct HTTPS application can also improve site speed and boost your rankings.


I don’t sell products online… do I really need HTTPS?

Google says any website which collects information from a user requires HTTPS… and while your mind might automatically jump to credit card transactions and an e-commerce store, you also must remember that any old contact form collects information, too.

We can’t think of a single website that doesn’t, at absolute minimum, have a contact form or newsletter subscription form. That means almost every single website will require HTTPS.

The bottom line is that this change is happening, so for the sake of your website – and business – you’re better off addressing it now rather than later.


What is the issue?

The issue can actually be broken down into two phases. First, we begin with Google’s explanation as well as the warnings users are set to see:

1. Google requires all website to have HTTPS

Google now requires ALL websites to have HTTPS. One of the earliest stages they started talking about HTTPS was back in August 2014.

There didn’t seem to be a whole heap of traction back then, though. You’d possibly (not definitely) enjoy a very small boost in rankings, but that ambiguous benefit apparently didn’t make the process seem pressing enough. So, many people just left it.

Now, though, Google has started sending a more dire notice: sites without HTTPS will greet visitors with a warning that your site is insecure. These warnings are set to start in January for Chrome users. With only a few days left in December, there’s not much time to address and correct this!

This is the kind of warning a Chrome user will see when they visit a website that does not have HTTPS:

connection not private

Not quite the best way to develop trust with a visitor.

2. Some hosting companies are automatically applying HTTPS to their websites

“Why is this bad?” you think.

The alarming thing you need to know is that while some hosting companies are doing this, they’re doing it without telling the client and without doing the required work. This means duplicate content – from both HTTP and HTTPS sites – is being noticed by Google.

And that, as you probably already know, has resulted in a dramatic drop in rankings for some businesses. Without them knowing the cause, business owners have panicked, wondering why and how their rankings dropped.

The drop is concerning and the domino effect is quickly felt: as rankings drop, so too do traffic, leads, and sales. Some businesses have been hit hard, even in a short period of time, especially if HTTPS has been applied poorly.


What will it do to your site and rankings?

Without HTTPS, users will be presented a warning (like the screenshot above) when they click to visit your site. You may also experience a significant drop in rankings as Google prioritises sites that do have HTTPS (that is, your competition!)


How do I fix it?

a) My website does not have HTTPS… but I need it

Encrypting your site with the secure HTTPS will maintain your good rankings; Google will not “shame” your website to visitors.

Addressing and fixing this error now removes the risk of affected rankings in the very near future.

If your website is on WordPress, tell us now. We will correctly apply HTTPS to your website, removing the risk of warnings and any ranking penalties.

b) I think my hosting company may have applied HTTPS… it looks like my rankings have dropped

If you’ve noticed a drop in rankings and you cant quite explain it, it’s possible that your hosting company has automatically applied HTTPS to your website. The dramatic drop indicates that it was not done properly and that the process was not correctly followed. That means your rankings are currently suffering.

Why you should fix this NOW

Avoid the challenging task of clawing back and working towards improving affected rankings; get the issue fixed now – before your rankings take a hit.


How long will the fix take?

The time it takes to obtain your SSL certificate, successfully apply HTTPS to your website (and its subdomains), and update Google’s Search Console is dependent on the size of your site. The best thing to do is contact us now and we can provide you an estimate.


Is your website hosted on Adobe Business Catalyst?

NOTE: Adobe Business Catalyst has not and will not allow us to have websites on HTTPS.

That means if your site is hosted on Adobe BC, you need to carefully consider whether you need to move away. Google will begin warning you in the near future too, so it’s something you need to start thinking about right now.

If your website is hosted on BC, call us now or fill in this form. We can advise you on whether you should consider moving away.