Google has announced they will be giving preferential ranking to secure websites over sites that it considers insecure and those having “mixed content” or secure and insecure items.
- How do I know if this affects my website?
- If you have a HTTP based website it affects your site.
One indicator is seeing an icon of the letter “i” in a circle in your url address bar at the top of your web browser. This indicates a website is insecure according to Google’s new ranking criteria. The traditional “http” website prefix will also be different on a secure website. A secure site is indicated by the prefix “https” vs. “http”. This issue is easiest to fix in WordPress based websites by locating and installing particular plug-ins and the understanding of how to configure them.
Google’s intention is to increase security for users of the Internet. One disadvantage is the change may cause problems with a website’s previously established search engine rankings. This is particularly true in the area of social media popularity and traffic rankings. Either choice creates problems:
- Make the change to a secure website and meet the new Google security standard, but potentially hurt previous SEO efforts
- Ignore the new security requirements and keep previous social media SEO, yet have your website appear insecure.
I personally feel the benefit in my particular situation lies in following the path of security laid out by Google. Since they dominate the SEO and Search markets, they will set the standard and eventually the benefits of keeping those social media benefits will be outweighed by the loss of SEO benefits and customer confidence that your website is secure.
*A safe middle ground might be devising a strategy to inform your social media channels of this change and start planning on ways to circumvent some of the social media dropoff. Consult with your digital marketing and web development consultant on creating a plan to inform, prepare and then make the leap from insecure HTTP over to a certified and secure HTTPS website.