Does your business have a website? If “yes,” you were given the choice to set up HTTP vs HTTPS protocol for your site (…and if “no” – click here). But not everyone knows what the difference between HTTP and HTTPS is, or how HTTPS works – and if you chose a non-secure protocol, it could be affecting the digital health and status of your brand. In this article, we’ll walk through the differences between the two protocols and how investing in better website security can help your business.

HTTP vs. HTTPS

Let’s get right to the point: all websites should be using HTTPS – especially those that require login credentials. But what does HTTPS stand for? If you don’t know and you were faced with the choice between HTTP vs HTTPS, you may have selected the budget-friendly option – but that “S” makes all the difference.

Hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP.

Hypertext transfer protocol is the way in which information is sent between a web browser and a website. If the connection is not secure (HTTP), the user is put at risk. That’s because information sent over an HTTP connection is not encrypted, so it can be intercepted by third parties.

HTTP Risks

  • Data interception
  • Personal information leakage
  • DNS spoofing
  • Eavesdropping on public networks
  • Remotely hacking equipment

So when setting up a new website or redesigning your website and you’re faced with the choice between HTTP vs HTTPS, do yourself a favor and opt for HTTPS.

How HTTPS Works           

Want to know how HTTPS works? HTTPS is encrypted with an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security) layer that masks the information being sent to and from web browsers and devices. Encryption scrambles data into what’s known as “ciphertext,” so that only authorized parties can understand the information. If an unauthorized user attempts an attack, they’ll get served a string of symbols, letters, and numbers that are highly unlikely to decrypt.

Why Invest in HTTPS

How does HTTPS work to protect your business? Encryption helps keep emails, passwords, messages, and credit card details safe when a user accesses your site. By using a secure connection, you’re reducing the risk of a data breach. It shows website visitors that they can trust your brand with their personal information. A secure connection will also help boost your position in search engine results pages.

HTTPS SEO Impact

Search engines also favor websites that use HTTPS – especially Google. In 2014, Google updated its search engine ranking signals to include HTTPS as a lightweight ranking factor.

Not sure how HTTPS works as a lightweight ranking signal? If you’ve got an HTTP site and your HTTPS competitor is cranking out similar content at the same rate as you, they’ll outrank you in search results every time. So swapping to HTTPS won’t make your content skyrocket to the top of search results, but it’ll certainly give you a more competitive edge.

However, user beware: if you try to swap to HTTPS on your own, you might end up with duplicate content issues. This means both HTTP and HTTPS versions of your web pages are getting indexed by Google – and no, “the more the merrier” does not apply here. If Google is seeing double, you could get flagged with mixed media errors, buried in search engine results, or even blacklisted.

When setting up a new website or swapping from HTTP to HTTPS, you should consult an experienced web development agency and web hosting provider. The teams can work together to ensure your content is being properly conveyed to both users and search engines.

Graphic that shows two URL fields displaying the difference between HTTP vs HTTPS with a green secure padlock and an open red padlock.

Check Your HTTP(S)

If you’re not sure whether or not you have a secure connection or not, you can check it pretty easily. For this example, we’ll use a Chrome browser. First, open the Chrome browser. Next, go to your website. If your site has a lock icon next to your domain name (see below), you’re looking at a secure website.

If it makes you feel uneasy that you can’t see the HTTPS, there’s an easy way to double-check. Click into the browser URL field, highlight your domain, copy it, and paste it back into the browser URL field. It’ll automatically reveal the hidden protocol string – and it should say HTTPS.

Final Word: HTTP vs HTTPS

Investing in better website security to protect your business is always worthwhile. If you ran the above test and found that you have a site that is “Not Secure” or doesn’t have a padlock next to your domain name, contact Next Horizon today. Our expert IT service professionals and web developers can get your website set up on a secure connection that you and your customers can trust.

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