HTTP site? The commercial argument for migrating to HTTPs

By Paul Martin

As you may have seen on Friday, Google sent messages out via Google Search Console to all websites that are on HTTP and have form elements present on the site, informing that in a few weeks’ time, Chrome will be showing warnings to users that the information they’re submitting is not secure.

Chrome will show warnings that information is not secure.

With Chrome at 45% market share for browser use in Australia, this an important development but do you need to panic?

Image credit: Stat Counter

Working out whether to panic is a matter of doing the maths.

For some websites, this is indeed a significant change as people are likely to be deterred from submitting information if they think it may be at risk, but not necessarily for others.  So it’s important to take a moment to analyse what it means for your business before throwing everything aside to migrate immediately to HTTPs.  Working out whether to panic is a matter of doing the maths.

What is Google doing?

From October 2017, any users on version 62+ Chrome will receive an in-browser warning when they use any form (contact form, account log-in, etc) elements on a site that is on HTTP (and not HTTPs), that the information they’re entering may not be secure.

What does it mean?

The consequences very much depend upon what forms are used for what purpose and the browser use profile of the user base.  This then needs to be weighed against the cost of performing a migration to HTTPs and the lost opportunity cost of not doing other things.

For example, if you only have an email sign up with a low conversion rate and a low number of visitors using the latest version of Chrome, the message will be triggered very infrequently and may not be of great concern.

Conversely, sites using landing pages and a range of form elements, from contact forms through to FAQ sections, will have many places where the message can be triggered. If conversion is also higher and more visitors use the latest version of Chrome, the message will be triggered far more often, and may present a more significant issue.

Migrating to HTTPs is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’.

However, even if you are in the first camp, this does not mean you can afford to ignore the issue; HTTPs sites are already favoured in algorithms over HTTP websites and this announcement further shows the way things will be going forward.  So it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’.

Let’s say that having weighed up the potential for putting people off, the decision is that migration to HTTPs is necessary sooner rather than later.  It’s important to recognise that moving from HTTP to HTTPS isn’t a simple flick of the switch; if you do this, it’s likely to have other unintended consequences.

Even though the change is apparently simple, Google will not automatically recognise all of the new HTTPs URLs as it did the HTTP URLs.  The change, therefore, needs to be handled through a proper site migration process to avoid catastrophic overnight losses of organic visibility.  Site migration is a specialist discipline in its own right that is best undertaken by those who have been there and got the t-shirt previously – they’ll know all of the pitfalls and how to dodge them.

To understand site migration in more detail, request our free guide and be sure to do the maths before diverting attention from other revenue generating activity.

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Paul Martin
The author

Paul Martin

Digital Strategy Director

Paul is an accomplished digital marketer with highly specialised technical SEO skills and almost a decade of experience working on some of the World’s biggest and most high-profile ecommerce sites. Paul leads a team of technical, PR and content experts, working closely with paid media and design teams to deliver results and ROI focused SEO.