When asked about HTTPS and its benefits, people often believe that the only purpose of the HTTPS is to protect user’s sensitive data or password. The reality is actually much more complex. Indeed, the benefits of supporting HTTPS on your website go far beyond “just” protecting user’s sensitive data or password. We will go through the main benefits of supporting HTTPS in this article and prove you that it has so much more to offer than everything related to the privacy of your data.
HTTPS makes your website faster.
The speed of a website has become more and more important for the users as people are expecting a website to be fast, easy and efficient. This is even more through on mobile where people tend to leave a page if this one is not loaded within 3 seconds. We have also seen lately that page speed has become an increasingly important matter when it comes to SEO as it is an ever growing ranking factor of Google’s algorithm.
But let’s come back to why HTTPS can help you get your site faster. There are tons of tools out there comparing the speed of a webpage that is supporting HTTPS versus the same exact page that doesn’t. If we take the example of httpvshttps.com (a test comparing two identical pages containing 360 unique, non-cache images), the results are irrevocable as the HTTPS page will always be around 90% faster than the HTTP version.
Even if this test does not compare two complicated websites, the difference in speed in this example is still significant.
You will be able to use HTTP/2
After more than a decade using the old HTTP1.1 protocol, there is finally a worthy update out there named HTTP/2. Among all the benefits of using HTTP/2 are things like header compression, a multiplexed connexion, request priority, etc.
The main change is the way data is framed and transported between the client and the server. To help you picture it, think of the old HTTP/1.1 as a supermarket were only one cashier was available. If you are in the line and one of the many person before you has a cart full of items, you will have no choice but to wait until the persons before you are done to finalise your purchase, no matter how many items you had. The same goes for the HTTP/1.1 as only one request can be sent at the time. HTTP/2 allows you to send multiple requests and receive multiple responses at the time (inspired by this video).
The key is that all major browser vendors (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) only support the HTTP/2 protocol over a secure connection, meaning that you have to use HTTPS in order to benefit from HTTP/2. This can only be another motivating factor for you to go for HTTPS.
HTTPS is good for your SEO ranking
As we mentioned earlier, supporting HTTPS can be positive for your SEO as it will most probably make your website faster. Moreover, since 2014, the HTTPS has been introduced as a ranking factor by Google. Emily Scherter (product manager for Google Chrome Security) recently commented on the introduction of HTTPS in the SEO ranking factor: ”Don’t wait to get started moving to HTTPS. HTTPS is easier and cheaper than ever before, and enables both the best performances the web offers and the powerful new features that are too sensitive for HTTP.” The importance of the HTTPS as a ranking factor is expected to grow in the coming months or years and this should definitely encourage you to start moving to HTTPS.
Google Chrome will soon warn the users you don’t use HTTPS
As we just saw, Google is pushing any website to use an HTTPS connection. Chrome has the intention to go even further in the near future. Indeed, it is expected that the users on Chrome will see a red warning at the start of the URL when the website does not support HTTPS.
As you can see in the example here (source: thesempost.com), the user will most probably have a bad perception of your website and this could impact your performances badly.
Moreover, it is expected that all the other large browser vendors will follow the lead of Google Chrome.
Industry leaders are pushing for HTTPS connections
We just saw that Google, via its browser was pushing towards the use of secured connections. Well, Google on Android and Apple on IOS are both pushing mobile apps towards using encrypted communications. Apple goes one step further as the encrypted connection required is a default setting. The standard is thus set high in terms of secured connections and if you want your content to be consumed by mobile apps, HTTPS is going to be required.
Encryption is not expensive anymore
As Emily Scherter mentioned, HTTPS is cheaper than ever before. With the rise of actors such as Let’s Encrypt, moving towards HTTPS can only become easier and painless. Indeed, Going for a secured connection was too often postponed by companies because of the associated costs and the hassle of renewing your certificate every year. Those two issues are behind us as more and more organizations such as Let’s Encrypt offers a free and easy certificate to anyone that wants one so you can setup HTTPS on your site.
What’s next ?
It seems like it is only a matter of time before all the web goes encrypted as all the major industry leaders are pushing it. What’s more is that going for a secured connection can only benefit your website as it will allow you to use the new HTTP/2 protocol. You will thus be able to further optimise your website in order to improve its performances and with it, your SEO ranking. Do not wait for most of the web to go for HTTPS before considering it and start planning it today.
Author: Grégoire le Hardy