If you’ve been around the internet for a while you’ve probably noticed something:
Some URLs start with the HTTP and others start with HTTPS.
Now this might not mean much to you in your day-to-day browsing because you can’t really feel the difference between a HTTP or a HTTPS website.
But there are some important differences you need to understand.
But if you want to start performing SEO on your website or for clients…
They carry a lot of significance.
Bottom line: If you haven’t already migrated to HTTPS, you should do it as soon as possible.
What Will I Learn?
HTTP vs HTTPS: What’s The Difference?
Let’s start by answering an important question…
What does https stand for, and what does HTTP stand for?
HTTPS stands for Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol.
Without getting caught up in the jargon of it…
It’s a system for transferring information across the internet.
It’s especially effective for HTML, which forms the basis of most of the internet we use.
HTTPS signifies that the website owner has secured their website with an SSL certificate.
Meaning information transmitted to or from the site is encrypted and a user’s data is safe.
HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol.
This is the same system as HTTPS…
Only the site owner hasn’t got an SSL certificate to secure their site.
How HTTPS Works: The Simplified Version
HTTPS was created to encrypt data that is transmitted to, or from a website.
It uses the same system as it’s alternative, HTTP.
The protocol (the P in HTTPS) works by using your web browser to establish a connection to a server and then it transmits the data to the target URL.
When that data is being transmitted it adds an extra layer of encryption so that no outsiders can access that information. Hence the “secure” in the name.
Let’s say you were buying a product on Amazon.
You enter your card details to purchase and click “buy now”.
- Your details are then transferred to the bank for approval
- Then back to the site
As that information leaves the sites and as the approval comes back, your information is secured by this encryption.
HTTPS also communicates through TCP Port 433.
All that means is it communicates on a different level to HTTPS.
Think of them as to radios but one’s transmitting on a secure frequency, the other isn’t.
Why HTTPS Is Important For SEO
Sites using HTTPS would get priority over sites who are still using HTTPS.
It’s an official ranking factor that they’re taking seriously.
It allows Google to verify the site is secure and their user’s information will be safe. So you can see why HTTPS is mega important for SEO.
It’s a good default system…
Getting an SSL certificate for your site can’t be done without third-party verification.
This means a company like Thawte has to verify the code on your site before approving it.
In fact, if you use a browser like Chrome or Firefox you’ll find that, if you try and access a site without an SSL certificate you’ll often be greeted with a warning message:
This is further proof that HTTPS is important to search engines and will have a real influence on your website’s rankings.
If you want to improve the rankings of your site or your client’s site…
You should be considering moving to HTTPS.
Before you decide though, let’s look at the pros and cons of using HTTPS.
The Pros and Cons Of HTTPS
Using HTTPS is starting to look like a bit of a no-brainer.
But, for the sake of balance…
I want to show you the pros and cons side by side to help you make your own mind up.
Advantages of HTTPS
- Priority over HTTP links in search engines
- High rankings in search engines
- Increased security for your site users
- Higher levels of trust (from users and search engines)
- Avoid errors like the “your connection is not private” pop up in browsers
- It’s free and easy to set up
Disadvantages of HTTPS
- Your site speed may take a minor hit due to the extra layer of code
- Moving your site is a complex process
But as time goes on Google and other search engines are going to want more security.
If you don’t want to get flagged as “not secure” every time someone tries to visit your site…
You’re going to need to do this at some point.
How Do You Go About Moving From HTTP To HTTPS?
The first place I’d suggest you look when it comes to moving to from HTTP to HTTPS is to your hosting company.
My provider Kinsta has a “one-click” option which allows for instant, seamless migration.
This means you will avoid any of the tricky problems you could face with migration.
WPX Hosting also offer an upgrade to HTTPS that takes less than 10-second to approve.
Your hosting provider may offer a similar service.
If they don’t, you may want to consider swapping to one of these hosts and taking advantage of their simple system.
If you don’t have this option available to you, I’d recommend you hire a professional.
Doing this type of work on your own is high-risk.
It pays to have someone who knows what they’re doing take care of it.
Finally, if you do want to do this on your own, you can use the website Let’s Encrypt.
They’re an open certificate authority that can help you to obtain the the SSL certificate for your site. You can read more about them on their getting started page, here.
And you can learn how to do a complete HTTP to HTTPS migration here if you want to take a crack at it yourself.
Wrapping It Up
HTTPS stands for Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol.
It’s a way of securely transmitting data through websites using encryption.
Having this is an official ranking factor for Google.
Although it’s the same system as HTTP, sites that are no longer HTTPS with be flagged as “not secure” when you try to access them.
Updating your site to HTTPS then is a no-brainer.
So that’s the end of the On Page SEO part of the guide.
We are now going to take a much deeper look at link building, starting with a very important question – what is link building?