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The importance of using SSL on your website.

Many of you may have heard the phase SSL when it comes to websites, many of you may not have; for those that have you’ll probably know that SSL is to do with a website’s security and for encrypting details which are transmitted between your computer and the ‘internet’ when viewing a website page. I would also suspect that when you think of SSL you will traditionally think of it only in respect to e-commerce websites and making purchases online? Although predominately true SSL is becoming an increasingly important element of every website and it will only continue to become more and more important as time goes by.

First of all…

What is SSL?

SSL stands for ‘Secure Sockets Layer’. SSL is a protocol that enables encrypted communication between your web browser and a website, or more specifically between your browser and the web server upon which the website resides.

When you view a website page in your web browser there is actually a process that takes place behind the scenes where information is flying back and forth across the internet to complete the task of delivering the page you want to see to your device’s screen, whether that’s on a desktop PC or on your mobile phone. In simple terms the following happens when you view a website page:

In a non SSL environment all the above communications are done in ‘plain english’ so to speak. That is to say that anyone who is able to intercept or view the communications that are happening as your browser is taking its journey out into the wilds of the internet can clearly identify what is being ‘spoken’ about along with any details your browser may be carrying along the way… perhaps you’ve just completed a general enquiry form on a local businesses website, you’ll have no doubt filled out your name, telephone number and email address as a minimum… well that is all there, clear as day for anyone to see if they intercept the communication! Ever wondered how your email addresses end up on so many spam email lists so quickly?!

In an SSL environment all the details of the communication are encrypted, although the data of the content can still be seen in its raw form, as it can be in the non SSL environment, the data itself is now encrypted so it can’t simply be read in its ‘plain English’ format. In fact it is encrypted using a 256 bit encryption key and without that key being available to un-encrypt the data it is calculated that it would take many times longer than the age of the universe to break the encryption by brute force!!… and no, I’m not joking either!

Why should your website be using SSL?

SSL has long been a fundamental element of ecommerce stores and hopefully the reasoning behind that is now clearly obvious… you would never want to send your credit card details out across the internet in plain view for anyone to see, intercept and ultimately misuse would you. Strangely though SSL has traditionally only ever really been used by e-commerce providers and hasn’t really become a mainstream characteristic of ‘day-to-day’ websites, however moving forward that is going to change, in fact it already is beginning to and it’s the perfect opportunity to get ahead of your competitors.

It’s unlike Google to reveal any specifics of how its ranking algorithms actually work but in mid to late 2014 Google announced websites delivered using HTTPS encryption (generated through the use of SSL certificates) would be used as a ranking signal and even went as far as suggesting that over time the importance of this particular ranking signal is likely to be strengthened in their algorithm.

Earlier in 2014, at their Google I/O convention, google ran a presentation about why HTTPS matters and why they want to convince us “that all communication should be secure by default”. This clearly shows Google’s intention for the future and it’s safe to say that if that is where they want to head towards we will have to follow their lead.

What are the benefits of using SSL?

Well, given what we have just written above, using SSL on your website to ensure all communications are encrypted and secure is going to provide you with a number of key benefits:

Increased trust of your customers

Using HTTPS / SSL displays the ‘green padlock’ symbol in a visitor’s browser when they view your website, a small detail that helps generate a greater level of trust with your audience. It is showing them you take their security, and your offerings to them seriously which instantly helps to promote yourself as a ‘trustworthy’ service… both in terms of viewing your website but also as a knock on effect it increases the ‘trustworthiness’ and professionalism of the actual products and services you’re selling.

Improvement in Search Engine Rankings

As Google has stated, they have begun to include the use of HTTPS / SSL as an indicator in their ranking algorithms. Simply put this means that if you are using HTTPS / SSL for your website you are likely to appear higher up the rankings than you would do without using HTTPS / SSL. It is safe to say that this indicator will continue to rise in importance as time passes and will therefore have a greater impact on where your website pages rank for particular search terms.

Getting ahead of your competitors

According to builtwith.com just 1.9% of the top 1 million websites on the internet redirect visitors to a HTTPS / SSL version of their web pages… and Quantcast say only a minor 4.2% of the top 10,000 websites use a secure website version… From this data Neil Patel states that less than 1% of the websites on the internet are secure! That, I think, is quite staggering really! But if we consider this from an opportunistic point of view the likelihood that your competition is using HTTPS / SSL for their website is currently very, very low and therefore it is an easy opportunity to steal a march on them and help yourself to rank higher than them in search results… and doing so will have a compound effect going into the future as your website receives greater levels of traffic and the importance of HTTPS continues to be strengthened in the eyes of Google and its algorithms!

 

If you are looking to have a new website built or your existing website re-developed and would be interested in incorporating the advantages available from utilising HTTPS / SSL then please contact us at Worth Developing for further information. All our websites are constructed to the highest quality with a bespoke approach to ensure we deliver the most appropriate solution for your project.

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