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What is HTTPS and Why It Matters for Businesses

Written by Ben Wall

Written by Ben Wall

Table of Contents

In today’s digital age, cybersecurity is paramount. For businesses, ensuring the safety of their website and user data is not just a necessity but a competitive advantage. HTTPS, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, plays a vital role in this regard. By encrypting the data between your browser and the website, HTTPS protects sensitive information from hackers and cyber threats. But what exactly is HTTPS, and why should businesses care about it? Let’s dive in to understand its significance and practical benefits for your business.

Understanding HTTPS

HTTPS is an extension of HTTP, the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the website you’re connected to. The ‘S’ at the end of HTTPS stands for ‘Secure’. It means that all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted, adding an extra layer of security. This encryption is achieved using a protocol called Transport Layer Security (TLS), previously known as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

Why HTTPS Matters

1. Security and Data Integrity

HTTPS ensures that any data sent between the user’s browser and the website is encrypted. This means that sensitive information, such as credit card details, personal information, and login credentials, is protected from eavesdroppers and man-in-the-middle attacks.

Example: E-commerce giant Amazon uses HTTPS to secure its transactions, ensuring that customers can shop with confidence, knowing their payment information is safe.

2. Trust and Credibility

Modern browsers like Chrome and Firefox mark non-HTTPS websites as ‘Not Secure’. This can deter visitors from engaging with your site, fearing their data may be at risk. HTTPS builds trust and credibility, showing that you prioritise your users’ security.

Example: Online banking services, like those offered by HSBC, rely on HTTPS to instil trust among users who access their accounts online.

3. SEO Benefits

Google uses HTTPS as a ranking signal. Websites with HTTPS are likely to rank higher in search engine results than their HTTP counterparts. This can lead to increased visibility and more traffic to your site.

Example: TechCrunch, a leading technology media property, uses HTTPS to enhance its SEO efforts, ensuring better visibility and higher rankings in search results.

4. Improved Performance with HTTP/2

HTTPS is required for HTTP/2, a major revision of the HTTP network protocol. HTTP/2 improves website performance by enabling faster load times, which can lead to a better user experience.

Example: Facebook employs HTTPS and HTTP/2 to enhance performance and security, providing users with a seamless and secure browsing experience.

Real-Life Examples of HTTPS Implementation

Case Study: Adoption by The Guardian

The Guardian, a renowned British news website, transitioned to HTTPS to ensure the security and privacy of its readers. This move not only protected user data but also improved the website’s credibility and search engine ranking. The transition process involved obtaining an SSL certificate, configuring servers, and testing to ensure seamless implementation.

Case Study: E-commerce Site - ASOS

ASOS, a popular online fashion retailer, implemented HTTPS across its platform to safeguard customer transactions and personal information. This not only enhanced customer trust but also aligned with GDPR compliance, protecting user data and boosting the site’s SEO performance.

How to Implement HTTPS

1. Obtain an SSL Certificate

The first step is to purchase an SSL certificate from a trusted Certificate Authority (CA). Some options include Let’s Encrypt (free), Symantec, and Comodo.

2. Install the SSL Certificate

Follow the instructions provided by your CA to install the SSL certificate on your web server. This process varies depending on your hosting provider and server type.

3. Update Website Links

Ensure that all internal links, images, scripts, and resources are updated to use HTTPS. This may involve updating URLs in your CMS, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files.

4. Set Up 301 Redirects

Configure 301 redirects to ensure that all HTTP traffic is redirected to HTTPS. This helps preserve SEO rankings and ensures a smooth transition for users.

5. Update Google Search Console

Add the HTTPS version of your website to Google Search Console to monitor search performance and indexing.

Conclusion

HTTPS is no longer optional for businesses; it’s a necessity. From protecting sensitive data and building trust to improving SEO and website performance, HTTPS offers numerous benefits. By transitioning to HTTPS, businesses can ensure a secure, trustworthy, and competitive online presence.

Value Addition

To get started with HTTPS, assess your current website’s security needs and consult with your web hosting provider or a cybersecurity expert. Implementing HTTPS is a straightforward process that can yield significant benefits for your business. Prioritise your customers’ security and enhance your digital presence by making the switch to HTTPS today.

By understanding and applying these insights, your business can not only protect itself from cyber threats but also foster trust and credibility among your audience, driving growth and success in the digital landscape.

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