Should my site use HTTPS?

Apologies for a more technical post this time (we’re web geeks after all!). In this post we’ll be looking at the type of server your website sits on.

Around 85% [revised 2020] of the world’s websites use the HTTPS protocol and this figure is only ever going to grow. The HTTPS protocol is considered essential for ecommerce and other sites sharing personal information. It gives a layer of security over and above the more common HTTP protocol. For the latest version of our own Reverse Delta site launched recently, HTTPS was a key criteria in the design.

What does it mean in practice?

The extra security layer means data is transmitted in encrypted form across the internet, making it unintelligible to anyone that might want to intercept it. A non-issue you might think for information that is by definition public — your website is on plain view for anyone to see after all. You want it to be seen.

Where it becomes more important is where you’re transmitting more sensitive data across the web — contact form submissions, etc. Some of our clients use online reference forms — that information definitely needs encrypting.

Our recruitment websites all feature candidate logins and personal dashboards, so this is a strong pointer towards adding the security layer. It looks like the Chrome browser will start adding a warning flag for non-HTTPS sites asking for a login, which may ring alarm bells for candidates. [Update: these warning are now being shown and causing a gradual erosion of confidence from site visitors.]

Will it help with search?

It is likely that moving to HTTPS will give you a small but noticeable SEO boost, certainly with Google …and Google is almost synonymous with search for most of us.

This SEO effect will become more significant in the future. Not so much that you’ll gain bonus points for using HTTPS but rather the more common HTTP protocol is likely to be gradually marked down. Which largely amounts to the same thing.

There’s an analogy here with the way mobile-friendly sites are now identified as more attractive by Google. Nowadays, it’s a given that your site should be mobile-friendly. We see use of the HTTPS protocol going the same way in the future.

How do I do it?

We don’t expect you to do all this yourself, but this is the process in outline:

  1. Purchase and install an SSL certificate at the hosting end
  2. Create a dedicated ip address at the server for your site
  3. Change the DNS settings of your domain control panel
  4. Ask us to put the site behind HTTPS

It’s not super-technical but does need co-ordinating carefully to avoid downtime. Let us know if we can help.


Revised 2020: 82% of internet users won’t even browse a website that’s not secure – one without an SSL certficate.