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The great https/SSL panic; keep calm and get prepared

shutterstock SSLcertAs of 31 January, the new Chrome browser may start flagging your website up as "Not secure".

Don't panic!

Your website is just as secure as it is today. It's not suddenly become vulnerable to cyber attacks or hackers.

It's just the new version of the browser (Chrome 56) noticing that your website has not got an SSL certificate. Your website therefore appears as an http:// address, not an https://.

However, you will need to take action within the next few months.

Here's our guide to how - and why.

What is an SSL certificate?

This is a digital certificate that says you own the site, and it is encrypted to a high standard. Most major online stores like Amazon.ca have one. That's why their address appears as https://www.amazon.ca/ in the browser bar, and there's a little padlock or similar symbol next to it.

amazon.ca https

Chances are, if you've got an e-commerce site, you've already got one too, and that's why your online shop has an https:// style address. If so, you can stop reading right now and go have a relaxing cup of coffee. The rest of you, bear with us for a bit!

I haven't got a shop. Why do I need an https address?

It's all to go with Google. (Isn't it always?) Back in 2014, the search engine company said it would use https / SSL Certification as a ranking signal. That means that it would prefer similar websites with https security over those without. This doesn't mean that https websites will suddenly sky-rocket to the top of search results. It'll just mean that those without are less likely to be at the top.

So, how do I switch this https / SSL on?

That depends on your website hosting. If your website is hosted with Akira, it's easy-peasy. Just call us, and we'll sort out an SSL certificate for you. This certificate allows your website to show off its https credentials (it's actually a bit more complex than this, but you get the idea.)

Just to say, your SSL certificate has to come via from authorised source, so there is usually a yearly charge for this, depending on the sort of website you have. It's not a lot in the scheme of things, and it's worth every cent.

Websites not hosted with Akira Studio

If your website is hosted elsewhere, your hosting company will have their own way of dealing with SSL certification. Most of them should be able to set up SSL for you. However, do be aware that the larger and more complex your website, the more implementing https might impact in unexpected ways. So, give us a call here at Akira, and we'll be happy to help you out, even if we don't host your website.

Help, that doesn't leave me much time!

Again, don't panic. Despite the much-touted January 31st turn-on, the "Not Secure" notice will initially only appear on any non-https page that has a credit card field or a password field. This will include any log-in pages for your website, by the way.

Don’t hurry, be happy

If the pace of uptake by major websites is anything to go by, they ain't in any raging hurry to adopt https. According to a blog at search experts moz.com, by August 2016, only 8% of websites had adopted https. Yes, 8%. Worldwide.

This is backed up by our own mini research: check out
http://www.ctvnews.ca 
http://toronto.bluejays.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=tor 
http://www.kijiji.ca/ 
http://diply.com/ 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ 
and even 
http://www.ebay.ca/  (woah!) 

The 50% tipping point

Interestingly, just under a third (32.8%) of all website results on the first page of Google SERPs used the https protocol. However, Moz reckon that in 18 months, the number of search results in the first page with https will reach 50%. When the odds tip into https favour, it's likely that Google will ramp up their algorithm, and really start being picky about https.

So, what should I do?

Breathe, keep calm and call us here at Akira Studio. We'll talk you through the process and advise what's best for your website, your hosting and your business. It might be a simple switch on process that'll take just a few days, or it might involve a little more preparation.

However, don't stick your head in the sand about this. The sooner you get your website sorted, the sooner your website can benefit from potential extra love from Google in the SERPs.

And that really is worth a lot.

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