20+ days till Google start penalizing websites without HTTPS


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20+ days till Google start penalizing websites without HTTPS

So, just yet another thing for a final countdown.

First, it was infamous GDPR (btw, does anyone hears ‘bout it after the 25th May, or is just us who hear the community silence?)

Now, Google takes its turn. And, as we all hear, the web is officially going full HTTPS only, and yes, it has been going there for many years. We’ve seen an acceleration in the progress in recent months but we still have a long way to go on our journey of securing all traffic on the internet. Despite the great progress we’re making, and all the valid reasons we should continue to do so, there are people who believe having a secure web is not the right thing to do.

Less than one month from today, on July 23, out beloved Google will start prominently labeling any site loaded in Chrome without HTTPS as “Not Secure”.

Google has announced its plans back in February, and back then, the percent of sites loaded over HTTPS clocked in at 69.7%. Just one year prior to that only 52.5% of sites were loaded using SSL/TLS—the encryption protocol behind HTTPS — tremendous progress has been made!

Unfortunately, quite a few popular sites on the web still don’t support HTTPS (or fail to redirect insecure requests) and will soon be flagged by Google.

HTTPS is the new black

Just go and scan Alexa Top 1 Million, the million largest sites on the wild wide web, and measure many different metrics about their security. The growth of HTTPS is not only being maintained but it’s actually accelerating.

No matter which way you look at the data, and no matter which way you measure it, usage of HTTPS is going through a huge growth phase right now. In the 6 months up to that report, we saw a 32% growth in the use of HTTPS in the top 1 million sites.

Mozilla tracks anonymous telemetry from Firefox browser and they have seen a staggering growth in the rate of pages being loaded over HTTPS.

The data shows that 75% of page loads in Firefox now take place using HTTPS instead of HTTP. 

Last but certainly not the least, the biggest browser of them all also reports the exact same thing. Chrome telemetry puts the figures pretty much right on 75% too.

This trend has been showing for a long time. In fact, there isn’t any data I can find that shows there was ever a decrease in the amount of HTTPS on the web. It has always been increasing since as far back as data goes so this is nothing new, we’re just making much better progress in recent years.

Cloudflare people spent some time scanning the top one million sites too, and here’s what they learned about the 946,039 reachable over plaintext (unencrypted) HTTP.

If you were to ask the operators of these sites why they don’t protect themselves and their visitors with HTTPS, the responses you’d get could be bucketed into the following three groups: “I don’t need it”, “it’s difficult to do”, or “It’s slow”.

And guess what? None of these are legitimate answers, but yes — they’re common misconceptions so let’s take each in turn.

Myth #1: “HTTPS is difficult to deploy”

This was true.. in the mid-1990s. But hey, today, in2018, we can all honestly say that things have changed for the better.

Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then. Today, you can protect your site with HTTPS in a matter of seconds, for free, either by signing up for Cloudflare or using a CA such as Let’s Encrypt.

We at AltusHost provide FREE SSL with *all* our web hosting packages because we care about our collective online privacy and security.

Myth #2: “I don’t need HTTPS”

This argument is the most puzzling, especially when spouted by people who should know better. Even if you don’t care about performance (see myth #3), surely you care about the safety and privacy of those visiting your site.

Without HTTPS, anyone in the path between your visitor’s browser and your site or API can snoop on (or modify) your content without your consent. This includes governments, employers, and even especially internet service providers.

If you care about your users receiving your content unmodified and being safe from maliciously injected advertisements or malware, you care about — and must use — HTTPS.

Besides safety, there are additional benefits such as SEO and access to new web features: increasingly, the major browser vendors such as Apple, Google, Mozilla, and Microsoft, are restricting functionality to only work over HTTPS. As for mobile apps, Google will soon block unencrypted connections by default, in their upcoming version of Android. Apple also announced (and will soon hopefully follow through on their requirement) that apps must use HTTPS.

Myth #3: “HTTPS is slow”

Lastly, the other common myth about HTTPS is that it’s “slow”. This belief is a holdover from an era when SSL/TLS could actually have a negative performance impact on a site, but that’s no longer the case today. In fact, HTTPS is required to enable and enjoy the performance benefits of HTTP/2.

Detractors typically think HTTPS is slow for two primary reasons:

1) It takes marginally more CPU power to encrypt and decrypt data; and

2) establishing a TLS session takes two network round trips between the browser and the server.

When HTTPS content is served from the edge, typically 10-20 milliseconds away from your users in the case of Cloudflare, SSL/TLS enabled sites are incredibly fast and performant. And even when they are not served from an edge provider it bears repeating that SSL/TLS is not a performance burden! There’s really no excuse not to use it.

Pro tip: Advanced users should also consider using HSTS to instruct the browser to always load your content over HTTPS, saving it a round trip (and page load time) on subsequent requests.

If you’re trying to protect your and your customers’ online privacy and security, reach out and we can help you with this process.

Leveraging the “Brand Factor” Feature to Rank Higher in Google Search Results

Google constantly changes its algorithms in order to improve the quality of their service. Webmasters will figure out that something changed the moment when:

1. Their site’s rankings drop

2. Google makes changes and updates to its algorithms

Everyone’s chasing for better Google search rankings, yet very few businesses can ever reach the 1st results page. Nevertheless, established brands seem to have a better “relationship” with Google, as the search engine favors them over the small, poorly established businesses that compete over the same thing – rankings.

In today’s post, we’ll be talking about the special relationship between Google and the established brands who send “special signals” to differentiate themselves from the crowd and to improve performance. Google sees. Google rewards. Let’s begin.

Customer Trust, Loyalty, and Engagement

A brand is always dependent on its customers. This could be a good and a bad thing. From an SEO perspective, loyal customers can only bring you benefits, as the more loyal they are to your brand they will engage with your website and social channels. Big brands work hard to consistently optimize their relationships with their customers, and they’re doing it for a very good reason: it’s profitable and productive.

Content Optimized for Both the User and Google

Unlike most of today’s “small players”, true brands create content that serves their customers more than it serves Google. An established brand won’t need to manipulate Google’s algorithms and ranking factors in order to rank. They invest time, energy, and money into their customer base, making them satisfied and ready to buy again.

However, that doesn’t mean that they totally neglect SEO. Not at all. It means that their content is optimized for Google in a very natural way and the emphasis is put on the user. Media Coverage

What do most of today’s news sites write about? Brands. Whether they publish instructional articles, updates, or general news, one or more brand names are always mentioned if not presented.

Phillip Johnson, SEO Specialist at ResumesPlanet, suggests that “Google pays close attention to the news coverage sites, giving them “indexing benefits”. Whenever an established news organization publishes something, Google will immediately index and rank that post. If your brand name is mentioned in a post that ranks high in the SERPs, your site will receive ranking benefits.”

Backlinks Coming from New Sites

If you’re an established, authoritative brand in your niche, most of the “new players” will feel safe to lead their prospects to your site for further information. A website that attracts new backlinks from new domains on a consistent basis will do very well in the eyes of Google.

Authorship Coverage

Google plans to make the “authorship” factor a ranking factor. This is basically a measure that is meant to reduce spam. The reason is simple: most people will feel uncomfortable spamming under their personal name as it’ll hurt their reputation.

Google uses its child platform, Google+, to identify the publishers who are truly trusted and respected in their particular niche. A brand mention that comes from a reputable author will severely improve your image in the eyes of the search engines.

The Power of Mentions

If you haven’t heard of linkless mentions already, you should definitely give it a read. It is predicted that Google will soon adopt a new method of identifying, measuring, and ranking the interlinking signals between sites. Simply put, you’ll no longer have to use a hyperlink to make Google see that you’re mentioning another brand. It will be enough just to mention it like I’m mentioning “Google” countless times without linking to it.

Brand Related Searches

Google can easily understand which brands are truly relevant to the customers by identifying the brand related searches. In simple words, every time your brand’s name is inserted in Google’s search string, the search engine understands that “there must be something” with it. A trend, a buzz, or simply high relevance – it counts, and it counts in a positive way.

More UX and Brand Loyalty and Less Link Creation

Most of the advanced brands don’t need a team of content writers and rewriters to earn backlinks. Instead of paying big bucks for developing guest posting content (backlinking strategy), they use their budget to improve their customer’s experience:

– A well-optimized website is critical in today’s times. The user experience you’re providing to your users will highly affect your SEO performance.

– Improving your products, services, or customer service instead of paying writers for average-quality articles will pay off better in the long term.

– Analyzing, measuring, and optimizing the brand’s operations is critical to a steady growth in performance. This refers to analytics on SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, and so on.

Takeaways

Publish like a brand and you’ll be treated like a brand. Simple as that. Take our tips into consideration and start optimizing your strategy and content. Don’t forget that what will set you aside and make you a better option than the competition is the value that your company brings to the marketplace. The best way to improve your business long-term success is to improve the trust of both your customers and Google.

About the author: Warren’s lifestyle is full of hiking adventures. When he’s not busy with his guitar or enjoying the sunny day outside, he excels at blogging skills and leaps through social media. You can meet him on Twitter and Facebook.

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