In your everyday Internet life, you might have noticed that some URLs begin with HTTP while others begin with HTTPS. However, since you can’t see the difference between an HTTP and an HTTPS website in your day-to-day browsing, you might not think they are different.
They are different. And understanding the difference is critical if you want to improve your SEO.
Before we start looking at the importance of HTTPS SEO, you need to first understand how HTTPS is different from HTTP.
What is HTTP?
The cornerstone of the World Wide Web is HTTP, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. The main purpose of HTTP is that it is utilized for loading web pages via hypertext links.
It is an application layer protocol that operates on top of the other levels of the network protocol stack to convey data between connected devices. A typical HTTP cycle entails a client computer sending a request to the server, which then replies.
The Basic Features Of HTTP
What are the basic features of HTTP?
The HTTP client, which is often a browser, starts an HTTP request and then awaits the reply. The client disconnects the connection once the server executes the request and returns a reply.
As a result, the client and server are only aware of each other during the particular request and answer. As the client and the server are unfamiliar with each other, more requests are performed on the new connection.
It means that HTTP can send any sort of data, provided both the client and server understand how to process the data. Both the client and the server must define the type of content using the proper MIME (also known as a Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) type.
HTTP is connectionless, as previously stated, and this is due to HTTP’s statelessness. Only during this request, the client and the server are aware of each other.
They do not remember each other after that. Because of the protocol’s nature, keeping track of data across web pages is impossible for both client and the browser.
What Is HTTPS?
HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, and it is a safe and secure variation of the HTTP protocol. HTTPS encrypts and authenticates data using the SSL/TLS protocol. The HTTPS protocol allows website visitors to safely transfer personal information such as banking details, credit card details, and login passwords across the internet.
HTTPS is therefore particularly vital for safeguarding online activities including shopping, banking, and online work. Regardless of whether or not companies communicate sensitive data with consumers, HTTPS has gradually become the standard protocol.
The Benefits of HTTPS
HTTPS is more preferred today because of the many benefits it brings the online world, including:
- Communication Security: HTTPS is capable of establishing a secure and safe connection between the server and the browser.
- Security And Privacy: By prohibiting cybercriminals from paying attention to the communication between the server and the browser, HTTPS safeguards website visitors’ safety and confidentiality.
- Authenticity Of Data: HTTPS ensures the authenticity of data by encrypting it, making it virtually impossible for cybercriminals to access or modify the information.
- Improved Efficiency: By encrypting and compressing the data, HTTPS speeds up data transmission when compared to HTTP.
- SEO: The use of HTTPS improves your SEO ranking. When users’ data is acquired over HTTP, Google Chrome displays a “Not Secure” badge in the browser.
Difference Between HTTP And HTTPS
HTTPS enhances the HTTP protocol by adding encryption, authentication, and integrity. Let’s discuss each of these differences between the two in more detail.
Since HTTP was designed as a clear text protocol, it is susceptible to espionage. SSL/TLS encryption protects data transported over the internet from being read and viewed by a third party.
An encrypted messaging session can be established safely between two people who have never met in personal using the SSL/TLS handshake and public-key cryptography by creating a shared private key.
HTTPS, unlike HTTP, employs the SSL/TLS protocol for secure authentication. A browser can validate the data delivered by a server, which have been digitally authenticated by the certificate authority (CA) with the corresponding private key. The SSL certificate can be of many types including wildcard SSL, multi-domain SSL certificate, single domain, etc.
The browser will assume that any personally-identifiable information contained in the server’s certificate has been verified by a trustworthy third party CA.
Each document sent to a browser by an HTTPS web server includes a digital signature. The browser utilizes these documents to authenticate that the content has not been altered with or modified during transmission.
The server generates a hash code of the contents of the document, which the browser can use to verify the integrity of that document.
Now that you understand the differences between HTTP and HTTPS, and the benefits of HTTPS, it’s time to understand the connection between HTTPS and SEO.
Technical SEO And Website Security
Technical SEO is the process of upgrading a website’s technical elements to improve its ranking on search engine result pages. The fundamentals of technical optimization are making your website quicker, easier to scan for Google’s robots, and comprehensible for search engines.
A safe and secure website is one which has been properly technically optimized. If you have an eCommerce website, making it secure for users and ensuring their confidentiality is a must today. There are numerous features that you can implement to safeguard your website, but one of the most important is to use HTTPS.
As we mentioned earlier, HTTPS ensures that nobody can read the information transferred between the website and the browser. As a result, when users check in to your website, their information is safe. All this is enabled through the SSL certificate which you implement on your website.
Because Google recognizes the need for security, it has made HTTPS one of its ranking signals: secure websites are ranked higher than their unsecured counterparts.
Not sure if your website is HTTP or HTTPS? In most web browsers, you can quickly determine whether your website is HTTPS. If it’s secure, you’ll notice a lock on the left side of your browser’s search box. If you don’t have the lock, it indicates that your website is “not secure”, and you should fix it immediately.
Further Reading: The Ultimate Guide to SEO for eCommerce Websites
Why HTTPS is Essential for Good SEO
Now let’s take a look at how important HTTPS is for good SEO.
It Ensures Website Security
To ensure that visitors enjoy a secure surfing experience, HTTPS is always preferred by Google over HTTP. Hackers are continuously on the lookout for insecure websites to exploit, with small businesses and start-ups being the most common targets.
HTTPS encrypts data such as personal details, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information. It is critical for customers to keep everything safe and protected.
On a search results page, you have probably seen a lightning bolt or a thunderous sign. That sign denotes the AMP-optimized version of your website or specific webpage. The main benefit of AMP-optimized web pages is that they are faster to load, have a lower bounce rate, and are cell phone-friendly, thus helping you improve SEO.
Having an HTTPS or SSL certificate is required if you wish to activate AMP on your website. This demonstrates how critical it is for your site to be safe, not only for protection but also for better functionality.
Better Google Rankings
On the first search result page, almost every search result is HTTPS. This isn’t surprising, given Google’s announcement that HTTPS websites will be prioritized in search results.
The goal of this shift was to provide the greatest possible experience for users. Google avoids displaying insecure connections to users. If your rivals’ website is more secure than yours, you’re likely to lose ground.
Further Reading: Looking for a Google SEO Checker? Here’s 15 to Check Out
Assists With Trust Building
Your web browser will indicate whether the website you are visiting ensures a safe connection. On an unsafe webpage, no one would conduct business. That is self-evident since no one wants their private, financial, or credit card information to be compromised.
On the other side, providing a stable and secure connection on a website increases customer confidence in shopping. If the customers know that their personal information is secured, it helps in building trust.
CTR And Conversions
When a person comes across an unsafe version of a webpage on a search engine results page, the likelihood of them clicking on it drops dramatically.
The rationale is that rivals with a safe connection are readily available. While this increases impressions, it reduces clicks, resulting in a low CTR. Because they are more credible, a protected website will convert at a higher rate than an unsecured counterpart.
Further Reading: The Definitive 30-Step Basic SEO Checklist for 2024
HTTPS As an SEO Ranking Indicator
Google explicitly states that security is a key priority of theirs, as the company spends a significant amount of money, time, human capital, and other resources to ensure that the services they offer are the best in the business, by default employing amazing security, such as strong HTTPS encryption.
When utilizing Google’s services, such as Gmail and Google Drive, a secure connection is immediately established. Google is in an attempt to make sure that the Internet is a safer place in general, in addition to their own programs. A big part of that is making sure that the websites you visit through Google are safe.
It is estimated that Google began to include HTTPS as a ranking indicator back in 2014, when only an estimated 1% of websites actually used it. For all of the reasons above, including better SEO, today 95% of website owners have already made the switch to HTTPS. If you are in the 95%, congratulations! If you are in the 5% minority, hopefully this article helped you see the light and will inspire you to make the change to HTTPS a top priority.
Further Reading: The 15 Best Free SEO Tools You Need to Know 
Final Thoughts on HTTPS SEO
The importance of HTTPS in SEO has been repeatedly emphasized by Google in tweets and other platforms, and the overwhelming majority that have made the transition is a testament to its importance and benefits.
Having an insecure version of a website will impact your search engine rankings and provide you with fewer CTRs. While an HTTPS website will improve your SEO, please also remember that a secure connection will provide you with greater security while also boosting user experience and generating increased trust with your customers, the public, and search engines like Google.
Further Reading: 11 SEO Trends Every Marketer Should Know in 2024
Gunjan Tripathi is a Digital Marketing Executive at CheapSSLShop. He writes cybersecurity articles along with digital marketing technique blogs.
Hero Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash
HTTPS SEO FAQs
HTTPS SEO is a secure protocol made to protect users’ sensitive information from hackers by encrypting data transmitted between the website and the user’s device. It stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure and is a necessity for any website looking to rank higher in search engines like Google. Having a secure website indicates to both search engines and users that you care about their safety and trustworthiness.
Yes. HTTPS, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, is a secure version of the HTTP protocol that encrypts all communication between a user’s browser and the server hosting the website they are visiting. This added security is important to Google and other search engines, as it helps to protect the user’s sensitive data. When a website uses HTTPS, it is seen as being more trustworthy and secure, which can ultimately help it rank higher in search engine results pages.
Essentially, HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, while HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. The main difference between the two is that HTTPS utilizes SSL (Secure Socket Layer) to encrypt data transferred between a server and a user’s browser, making it a more secure option. From an SEO standpoint, having an HTTPS website can have benefits such as increased user trust and potentially better search engine rankings.
Some experts argue that HTTPS is indeed a ranking factor, as it demonstrates a website’s commitment to security and trustworthiness. However, others argue that its impact on rankings is minimal. Regardless of its ranking influence, implementing HTTPS is a crucial step towards ensuring the safety and privacy of both consumers and businesses alike.
Using SEO, or search engine optimization, can help your website rise to the top of search engine results, making it easier for potential customers to find you. With proper use of keywords, meta descriptions, and optimized content, SEO can bring targeted traffic to your website and increase your online visibility. Not only does this mean more potential customers, but it also means building trust and credibility with search engine users.