HTTPS & SSL Certificate: An Absolute Must for Your Online Shop

Since the launch of Google Chrome 68 in July 2018, the browser has been identifying all websites using the HTTP transfer protocol and assessed them as insecure. This means that Google only supports websites that have the HTTPS encryption system integrated and is sending a clear signal to all website operators who have thus far rejected HTTPS.

As an online shop owner, one of the optimization changes you should make to your website, if you haven’t done so yet, is to make your website HTTPS compliant. Keep reading to find out how to do that!Google uses hundreds of factors to determine the ranking (and visibility) of webpages in their search results, and HTTPS is definitely one of them. That's the reason why many marketers have been using this safe standard for a long time now. When it comes to Google, you might be seeing error messages like this when visiting a website that isn’t safe.

SSL certificate HTTPS Unsafe connection

Example Screenshot of a faulty connection (unsafe SHA1 certificate)

This warning appears on “not secure” websites that are being classified as not secure, whether they have already been visited before or not.

“Not secure” is in italics because Google’s evaluation is solely based on the assumption that all websites without HTTPS are unsafe.

What is an SSL certificate?

Without diving too far into the technical details of HTTPS, it’s still important to understand the basics.

“Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure” (HTTPS), is a protocol based on HTTP, while the "S" indicates that the website that has been accessed uses an extra security measure, an SSL certificate (Secure Sockets Layer).

The new standard was created to make websites safer for visitors or, to be more specific, to make the transmission of user data more secure (e.g. credit card information).

The SSL certificate encrypts all the information that users transmit to the website. This way, the data is made indecipherable in order to avoid hacking attacks.

The data that is protected by the SSL encryption protocol:

  • Your customers’ registration information: name, address, e-mail address, telephone number
  • Your customers’ identification data: e-mail address, password
  • Your customers’ payment/bank information: credit card number, bank account number

When it comes to e-commerce, the implementation of an SSL certificate is essential as confidential data is transmitted and you want your potential customers to have trust in your shop and your brand.

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It’s essential to have an SSL certificate for every page of a website where visitors enter payment information and / or personal data so that this data is transmitted securely.

However, it makes sense to activate HTTPS directly on each page of the shop, since it has no drawbacks.

The full potential of HTTPS doesn’t unfold until a user actually sends data to you. The data sent is protected in several ways.

Encryption: If someone succeeds in capturing the data after it was sent, it can’t be read because the hacker cannot decrypt it.

Authentication: The SSL certificate (an essential part of HTTPS) prevents so-called man-in-the-middle attacks, where a scammer pretends to be you (or your shop) and gets a hold of the sensitive data.

Other than that, there are three other reasons why you should change your shop to HTTPS:

  • Google has indicated that every unencrypted web page will be classified as “not secure” whether the page asks for user data or not. Statistically, Google’s Chrome browser is the most-used browser in the world.
  • Websites that properly encrypt data can look forward to having a green lock displayed in front of their URL. This increases your visitor’s confidence in your shop. As an experienced shop operator, you already know that trust is one of the most important conversion factors.

Secure Connection

Example screenshot of a secure website

  • As mentioned earlier, using HTTPS has a positive influence on your ranking in search results. Even though many online marketers couldn’t see a direct improvement in rankings, it has been proven that HTTPS has a positive influence on a page’s visibility in the search results.

Overall Page Visibility Chart

Observations from Cloudtech

SSL Certificate - Let's Encrypt

Today, almost every quality hosting provider offers the SSL Let’s Encrypt certificate for free. This is the standard certificate that most websites use.

Let’s Encrypt, originated in 2016, was promoted by the Linux Foundation with the aim of guaranteeing security on websites. Since then, it has become a nice tool for those sites that want to improve the security of their online shop and prevent Google from classifying them as "not secure".

As you can see in the following graph, the issuance of SSL Let’s Encrypt certificates has not stopped growing since it was launched.

SSL_certificate_HTTPS_Lets_encrypt

Source: LetsEncrypt

Apart from Let's Encrypt, there are other paid SSL certificates that differ, mainly, in the type of authentication they offer. As an online shop owner, you should explore some of these certificates because some may suit your needs better than others.

Where can I get the SSL certificate and how do I integrate it into my shop?

open padlock on a computer screen

Source: shutterstock.com/Brian A Jackson

The SSL certificate can be activated in the custom area settings of your hosting provider. Once the certificate is installed on your server and it’s ready for operation, it can be integrated or activated through the e-commerce platform you’re using for your online shop.

The steps to integrate HTTPS in your shop vary slightly from one e-commerce platform to another.

What does HTTPS look like in my shop?

As soon as you integrate the SSL certificate in your shop, users will see the HTTPS format in the URL and the small green lock on the left side of the URL (like the image shared a few paragraphs up).

The style in which the lock is displayed may vary from one browser to another, but the lock will always be visible. The consumer will therefore have the certainty that buying in your online shop is considered “safe”.

SSL certificate HTTPS info secure connection

Source: LetsEncrypt

However, if you don’t have the SSL certificate integrated in your shop, the term "not secure" will appear next to your URL and the user will surely not think twice about leaving it.

Benefits of implementing HTTPS for online shops

Integrating the HTTPS protocol in URLs offers online merchants the following advantages:

  • Increase of data security in your online shop. The information on your site is encrypted and therefore very difficult to manipulate or hijack.

  • Increase of trust in your shop and brand. When users see the little lock in the URL of your shop, they will feel safe when browsing through it.

  • Better conversions. By increasing trust, your visitors will have no doubts when taking certain actions such as registering or purchasing in your shop.

  • Better ranking in search engines. As Google announced in 2014, websites that have HTTPS integrated are more likely to rank higher in search results.

Conclusion

The URL is one of the aspects which users and potential customers look at first when accessing an online shop. If they feel like the URL and therefore the entire website might not be secure, they will get a bad impression of the shop and leave the webpage.

With the HTTPS protocol you can take the first step towards generating trust among your customers and they won't hesitate to continue browsing through your website. Additionally, your online shop will improve its organic ranking in search results. Also, your business will avoid security gaps.

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This article was translated and adapted from our German blog: Google & HTTPS: Ist Ihr Shop gefährdet?

12/02/21

Dan Heller

Dan Heller is an SEO specialist that studied Communication & Design. He is a passionate content creator with experience in many industries, including e-commerce, real estate, and fashion.

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