Why Does Google Label Some Websites ‘Not Secure’?

You may have noticed that some websites are flagged as ‘Not Secure’ when you type their domain name into your browser. Since 2017, there have been rumbles about Google doing this. Then in February 2018 they made an official announcement about “strongly advocating” HTTPS encryption. Let’s look at what this is all about.

What is HTTPS Encryption?

This is a very techie way of saying SSL Certificate, which is something most people will have heard about when setting up any kind of website. The way HTTPS encryption works is whenever you visit a website online, it kicks in to protect you. An SSL makes sure that any interaction between you and the website owner is kept private. No hackers or other shady types can cut in on the connection. This is especially important for ecommerce websites, where customers are supplying personal details like their address, phone number and credit card number. You really don’t want that kind of info getting into the hands of people you don’t know or trust, right?! So you can think of SSL Certificates as warriors guarding a door. They’re the muscle that makes sure bad types don’t get in to steal stuff. We can also say that HTTPS encryption is what an SSL Certificate does. They’re one and the same. For the techie-minded, SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. It’s a security authentication technology that creates a safe connection between a web server (website) and client (browser). Another thing to point out is: don’t let marketers fool you. All SSLs from legitimate providers (called Certificate Authorities) have the same level of encryption protection. But they do differ in other ways, which is why you’ll find a range to choose from in the online marketplace.

Why Are SSL Certificates Important?

The encryption that comes with an SSL boils down to security protection and trust. If customers don’t feel they’re safe on your website, they won’t want to spend time there, let alone give you their personal information to make purchases. This is why HTTPS encryption is super important for ecommerce sites. And when it comes to trust, there’s another key factor that gives rise to the different types of SSL Certificates. It’s called Validation, and it could cover an article or more all on its own. But to sum it up, Validation is about the checks that the Certificate Authority carries out before issuing your SSL. These checks range from the basic called Domain Validation (DV), to Organization (OV) and Extended Validation (EV) where they look at your official business data on public directories. Large ecommerce sites tend to buy OV or EV because it lets customers know they’re dealing with a serious, legit business.

Why Does Google Care about HTTPS Encryption?

Google wants to keep the Internet safe for people, so they keep doing their thing online. This is why they made the decision, beginning July 2018, that with the release of Chrome 68 they will mark all HTTP sites (meaning sites without HTTPS encryption or SSL Certificates) as ‘Not Secure’. Here’s Google’s full post on their Forum: A secure web is here to stay. You’ll also see in the post that while many people are moving to the secure HTTPS, there are those that haven’t gotten looped in yet. This is probably because some people don’t yet fully understand what SSL encryption is or why it matters. It’s also important to know that Google ranks sites they flag as ‘Not Secure’ lower than secured sites. The difference in ranking isn’t huge, but even a small margin can make a dent in your pocket in terms of losing customers to your competitors.

Take Away

Call it HTTPS Encryption or SSL Certificate. The main thing to understand is that this security technology keeps your website safe for visitors. And with ecommerce sites, SSLs also give you a trust boost with customers. Especially OV or EV Certificates, because they let people know your business is completely legit.
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