What if your ideal prospect landed on your website, right now? Are you confident you have a fair chance at gaining their business? How would you feel if you knew that by the time you read this sentence, that prospect has already bailed out through no fault of your content. WHAT?! Why?
Beginning this month (July 2018) the Google Chrome browser is sending a shock wave throughout the Internet as it will affect the visitors’ confidence level in all websites that are not displaying as https://.
What are visitors to my website seeing?
At this time Chrome is displaying the website URLs in one of 3 ways. The first show the “i” within a circle which indicates the site is not using an SSL Certificate; the second shows a green lock and the word “Secure” to the left of the URL (which may be going away) and the last is Not Secure. Shortly, other browsers will follow with similar changes.
So what do HTTPS and SSL mean, and why should I care?
In a nutshell, it’s all about visitor perception and increased confidence in your website or brand.
Using HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure), the website server and visitor browser agree on an encrypted “code” to use between them that scrambles the data and prevents anyone trying to intercept that data from getting clear, readable text.
SSL is short for Secure Sockets Layer which is a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a website server and a visitor’s browser. This encrypted link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browser remains private (no middle man attacker can obtain the data easily).
Does this mean my website is secure?
SSL does not actually provide any security once the data is on the server. You will want to continue to keep your website core files and plugins up to date. SSL only secures the connection between the website server and client browser, although visitor confidence is increased.
What to do if your website is not using https://
If you are NOT technical:
- Reach out to your website hosting provider and ask about them installing an SSL Certificate on your site.
- Contact your webmaster or a competent website designer. You will need to supply them with your website access and hosting control panel credentials so the required files can be uploaded and the appropriate changes made to your site.
- If your website is older and getting outdated, consider this the perfect time for a website refresh. If going this route, insist our new design is mobile friendly and your hosting includes an SSL Certificate.
If you ARE technical you will first need to decide which way to go:
- Purchase an SSL certificate for one or more years. You will need to renew upon expiration.
- Free SSL – these expire every 90 days and need to be regenerated, unless your hosting provider supports auto-renewal (most shared hosting environments do not).
Steps to obtaining and installing an SSL Certificate on your site:
Step 1: Confirm if your website hosting company requires the use of a dedicated IP address and purchase that from them, if necessary.
Step 2: Buy an SSL Certificate from a reseller or direct from the issuing authority (will cost more). Be prepared to evaluate the different types of certificates ranging from free to Extended Validation (EV), Organization Validated, Domain Validates, etc. If you are not doing eCommerce or secure transactions than a basic SSL might be all you need.
Step 3: Activate the SSL Certificate (if validating EV or organization level it may take a few days, others may be immediate).
Step 4: Install the SSL Certificate by uploading the files to the website server (special directories) and making any specific server adjustments needed.
Step 5: Update/force your site to use HTTPS. In WordPress there are plugins to do this, or you can modify the database.
Part 2 of this article will discuss how Google rewards websites with HTTPS://.
Is your website ready for Chrome?