Google is clamping down on unsecure websites – time for an SSL certificate

12 September 2017

You may have heard you need an SSL certificate for your website. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates are seen the https:// in front of websites with the green padlock and show customers your website are protected online. SSL has actually been around for over 20 years but has been pushed recently in order to keep the transfer of online data more secure. Google in particular have been advocating this technology by using it as a ranking factor for their search engine results.

Now Google are ramping it up even further! They recently started informing webmasters that whenever any form on a website is filled out the page will be flagged as ‘not secure’ on Google Chrome, unless the site has an SSL license. This will start taking place as soon as October 2017 and we expect other browsers to follow suit shortly after.

Message to webmaster from Google:

“Starting October 2017, Chrome (version 62) will show a ‘NOT SECURE’ warning when users enter text in a form on an HTTP page, and for all HTTP pages in Incognito mode.

The following URLs on your site include text input fields (such as < input type=”text” > or < input type=”email” >) that will trigger the new Chrome warning. Review these examples to see where these warnings will appear, so that you can take action to help protect users’ data. This list is not exhaustive.

The new warning is part of a long term plan to mark all pages served over HTTP as ‘not secure’.”

padlock showing an SSL certificate on a website

Does this change affect you?

There are a couple of very basic questions to ask yourself:

Do you already have an SSL certificate installed (check the address bar for https://)?

Does your website have any forms (contact, search, login, etc.)

If you don’t have an SSL but do have a form then the answer is ‘Yes’. Any sites without an SSL certificate will still be functional as usual and forms will still be sent. However, with people still being wary of entering data on the web, anything that deters a potential customer sending a form needs careful consideration as you may be losing customers.

How will your website be affected?

It’s important to note that this doesn’t add any extra protection to your website to prevent hacks, it only makes the users data more secure.

As mentioned earlier though there are SEO benefits, with SSL being a ranking factor by Google. As more sites become secure obviously the benefit becomes less, however then it becomes a disadvantage to not be secure.

Google is showing no signs of slowing down in its hunt for a totally secure web so we wouldn’t be surprised if they introduce further incentives to website owners in the coming years, including potentially blacklisting unsecure sites.

So what next?

Your SSL certificate has annual fees on-top of domains and hosting but are generally fairly easy to install, depending on your website platform. Our advice is to discuss this with your website host to see what the next steps are.

For more information visit https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6073543

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