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Google has a way of gently nudging website owners to do what it thinks is best for the future of the Internet. Just think of how the Silicon Valley giant provoked widespread panic by asking website owners to optimize their pages for mobile. And now comes another big move by Google – the decision to force websites to update to HTTPS from HTTP.
Google Chrome and HTTPS
That might not seem like a major change – but that one “S” in HTTPS is what’s key. The “S” stands for “Secure” and it’s a way of making the entire Internet safer. HTTPS itself stands for “HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure.” It’s what keeps hackers from stealing your passwords and website credentials. When you enter your credit card details into an order form on an e-commerce site, you want to know that they are secure, right?
And so Google is updating the new version of Chrome to penalize website owners still sticking to the unsecure HTTP protocol. Starting in October, Google Chrome will show a “Not Secure” warning to any website visitors who enter text in a form on an HTTP page or try to view a non-HTTPS page while in incognito mode.
The “Not Secure” warning
Thankfully, the “Not Secure” warning won’t flash in the very center of the screen, causing a heart attack for any shoppers who happen to be checking out on your e-commerce store. Instead, the “Not Secure” message will be more subtle – instead of seeing a green padlock symbol and the word “secure” next to the website address at the very top of the screen, you will see that dreaded “Not Secure” message.
The idea, of course, is that as a website owner, you won’t want to alienate or scare off potential website visitors, so you will be incentivized to upgrade to the more secure HTTPS. According to estimates from Internet security experts, the “Not Secure” message will impact up to 45-50% of all Internet site visitors using Google Chrome. Of course, if they are using a different Internet browser, you won’t have to worry about that message appearing on the screen. But sooner or later, you can bet the word will get out and people will start checking to see if your site is secure.
Fixing the HTTPS problem
In some cases, you might not have to make any changes whatsoever. Just type your website address into Google Chrome and see what pops up. Right now, though, it appears that this problem might be far more extensive than anyone might have thought just a few months ago. One search optimization firm looked at the Page 1 search results for Google and found that approximately one-half of the results are HTTPS pages.
You can bet that, just as Google penalized websites that weren’t mobile optimized, it will begin to penalize websites that aren’t optimized for Internet security. While the change may be annoying (or even downright painful if you don’t have an IT guy who can handle it for you), think of it this way: it’s for your own good. So if you’ve been putting off this change, it’s time to update to HTTPS sooner rather than later.