Do you have a secure site?
If you run a website and have looked into SEO, you probably hear a lot of rumors. You know that Google gives a traffic bump to a secure site over one that does not have SSL or secure socket layers.
TLS stands for transport layer security. You may know it as SSL or secure socket layers. TLS is the new term that supersedes SSL encryption security system. The term used doesn’t matter, it means data from your site is scrambled between your browser and the server.
How important is it for you to secure your website?
Does all this stuff about site security have anything to do with you? You have a small blog, or online business all that security is meant for the big sites, right?
For some bloggers, the point of having a blog is to build a list and make a little money while helping others. Most blogs don’t make a lot of money, and they’re content right where they are. A lot of the mom blogs, for example, are looking for a way to supplemental income and still spend time with their kids. Paying to have a secure site, for a mom blog would wipe away some of that extra income.
Is securing your website worth the cost?
The money that a tiny blog has to dish out to have a secure site brings me to another issue. Is paying for a secure site worth it for small websites and blogs? The biggest benefit to paying for a secure site is that your visitors are comfortable. It’s important to make your followers feel at ease when visiting your blog, but I’m not sure if they even notice.
The second benefit to paying for site security is a pat on the back from Google. Google gives you a small bump in organic traffic if you have a secure site but not much.
Suppose you use your site for list building. Your collecting information about your visitors on your site. You may have to think about site security, even if the only information you collect is a name and email address. Google is already flagging sites in the top corner of the browser.
Is Google Branding your site?
In January of 2017 Google Chrome began displaying a warning on pages that collect personal information. It could be just an email address that’s being collected. Chrome will put the warning in the header of the site like the image above.
I have this message in the corner of my site. Although I don’t collect payments on my site, I do collect a name and email address for my list building efforts.
I notice this message every time I visit my site, and now I’ve been noticing it more and more around the web. Perhaps, it’s because I already know what it is but, it doesn’t bother me.
How will blog visitors react?
Someone who doesn’t understand why the message is there may be frightened away by it. The reaction might be to leave the site or not opt in when they otherwise would have. Any possible deterrent from my site is worth looking into if I can help it.
At some point, Chrome will make the fact that you don’t have a secure site very visible. Any web page that collects information and does not have TLS or SSL encryption will wear the badge.
Here is what is rumored to be expected on a non-secure site in the future:
How to spot a secure site
You know you’re on a TLS connection when the URL is HTTPS rather than HTTP, here are some examples:
http://www.example.com (not secure)
The Google main search page looks like this:
How to get your site TLS encrypted
Here are a couple of articles about site security from the Google blog. Use these links for more information on what Google is doing about TLS and what to expect in the future.
If cost is a factor in your decision, you do have an option. Let’s Encrypt is an open source program that will give you an SSL certificate for free. This program has a lot of big-name backing. Facebook, Chrome, Cisco and Shopify all sponsor the program.
There is a downside. If you don’t know what you’re doing it’s difficult to set up. Your hosting company may have a fee for using the certificate. If you’re running more than one site on one hosting plan, you may be required to have a unique IP address for each domain using an SSL certificate. Most likely, there will be an additional fee for this as well.
I recommend checking with your hosting company to weigh the pros and cons of going this route. Buying a certificate from your host will most likely be the smoothest transition. However, Let’s Encrypt is a valid option. You can’t beat free.
Other concerns about leaping to a secure site
In all honesty, as a small-time blogger, I work hard for every link I’ve built. Naturally, I’m concerned about losing links due to a change in my URL.
According to an article, I read at Branded3.com switching to SSL may affect ranking. It’s a good idea to do some serious research before moving forward with the URL changes.
“You are changing every single URL on your website, so you have to be very careful to get things right to avoid damaging your rankings.”
If your only concern is that you’ll have an ugly red flag at the top corner of your page, it might be better to do nothing. Doing nothing is an option if it doesn’t cause problems with readership or the traffic on your blog. Again, this is personal preference. Of course, if the site is selling and taking payments you need to secure it!
In the end, unless your site is receiving payments you still have some time to plan for this. Deciding to pay up to have a secure site is one decision among many that all small-time bloggers and web owners will have to make sooner or later.
All signs point to Google pressuring even small and low traffic sites to move toward securing their little space on the web. So it might be time to do a little research on how to get it done. Here’s an excellent guide to making the switch from Search Engine Land.
No one likes change in the beginning, but there are some benefits to leaping into creating a secure site for your visitors. You may not be ready for the change just yet, but when you are at least, you’ll be ready for it.
By the way, if you like this post or know someone who might find it interesting help them out and share it with them!
Until next time keep moving forward!