HTTP vs. HTTPS what does it really mean and why should you care about it?
Throughout the history of the internet, the majority of web traffic has been transferred using a protocol called HTTP, which stands for ‘Hypertext Transfer Protocol’. In 1994, Netscape (remember them?) introduced a new protocol for secure transmission of data, which they named HTTPS. HTTPS stands for HTTP Secure, and is a protocol that ensures that the information you send online cannot be intercepted by a man-in-the-middle attack. With the number of passwords, confidential emails, and private messaging being sent online, this has become a foundational tool in the management of privacy online.
Most of the websites we at WildWeb build are simple experiential websites which do not transmit sensitive information, so there has been little historical reason for us to specifically endorse HTTPS. That however has changed over recent years when Google announced that HTTPS is one of the ‘signals’ they utilize for search result rankings. Although it’s not as important a criterion as good content, good Search Engine Optimisation (which we recommend all our customers review biannually) and organic link exchanges, it’s still a factor in how Google perceives your site’s worth.
To enable HTTPS on your website, you need to obtain something called a SSL/TLS Certificate. Previously this was quite an expensive purchase, which contributed to the slow adoption of HTTPS. In 2016, a foundation called Let’s Encrypt was started with an aim to make secure connections online ubiquitous. They have achieved this by making the management of certificates automatic, the authorization less complicated, and most importantly… they are issued for free. As a rule, all new websites we at WildWeb build now include a Let’s Encrypt certificate and have HTTPS enabled by default. If your site was built a while back, we recommend you upgrade your site to take advantage of HTTPS.