Website Not Secure: Avoiding Penalties from Google Chrome 62

Many webmasters woke up in October to an unpleasant surprise: a major drop in traffic and reports from friends or clients about their website not being secure. If you checked your website on Google Chrome and found that warning popping up then you’ve come to the right place. The Google Chrome 62 update was rumor for over half a year, and although rumors remain about how far Google is going to take these updates, there is a lot of information we have available right now. If you’re not up on what the most recent Chrome update has changed and what that means for the online landscape, then read on!

Why Does My Site Say Not Secure?

This was the major update with Google. An SSL is the product that turns a website that starts out with HTTP with one that starts with HTTPS. An SSL encrypts any data that is sent in to the website owner. In other words, it’s one of the best security measures out there for protecting the data of website users and locking out hackers. This has long been an important security measure that many websites collecting information or processing payments had, but now Google’s move shows they want to see the number of secure websites expand.

The update in October looked at any website collecting information, even e-mails for an e-mail list, and any site collecting information that didn’t have an SSL properly installed was marked as Non-Secure. The only way to fix this currently is to stop collecting information or make sure to get an SSL to switch over from HTTP to HTTPS.

What If I Don’t Collect Sensitive Data?

In this case it doesn’t matter. While having an SSL was always the recommended operating procedure for any website collecting information of any kind (including a simple e-mail sign up) and was a necessity if you were making sales online. Google wants to see that extra layer of security and anyone using Google Chrome is going to see that “Not Secure” mark on sites that don’t have it.

There are rumors that eventually Chrome will do this for all sites that don’t have an SSL regardless of whether they collect data or not.

Why Upgrade To HTTPS?

Aside from the obvious of not wanting to be labeled as “Not Secure” and avoid all the very real world effects that will come with that (less trust, loss of customers, lower conversion rates, etc.) there are still many great reasons to do the upgrade.

For one, Chrome currently has about 63% of the browser market so you’re giving yourself a big leg up over those who refuse. In addition to this, if someone bounces off a site that is marked “Not Secure” and finds yours, that is instantly going to put you on good ground with them since you’re providing what they’re looking for.

Then there’s the effects on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Google has straight out said that having an SSL is going to have an effect on ranking, and while many SEO specialists figured the effect would be minimal, many are beginning to notice some not insignificant movements in keyword rankings after successfully installing the SSL. An SEO boost to increase organic traffic is always a good thing, and many SEO specialists have also gone as far to say that between two websites that are more or less “tied” for a keyword ranking, the SSL is very likely going to be used as the tie-breaker.

On top of this, security is just a good thing. This is good online practice for webmasters and should be standard with most new blogs or business websites.

The Penalty For Not Upgrading

In addition to this, there could end up being SEO penalties for not using SSL. Not only are there the already listed effects on rankings but the fact people may see a “Not Secure” notice and leave means your bounce rate will jump. This is a negative in Google’s eyes and could cost you rankings and web traffic that you already have.

While there is no official penalty in SEO for not having an SSL, it’s not out of the question that Google might decide to add one in the future. Getting an SSL now not only helps you get benefits now but it helps you stay ahead of any potential changes in the future that could otherwise be harmful for your website.

Is there a downside to upgrading to SSL?

The biggest downside that may arise from upgrading to SSL is the fact that it may slow your site down.  Site speed is a big ranking factor, so the impact of a slower has some worried that the upgrade might not be worth the while.
Rest assured, we have heard it directly from the former head of search, Matt Cutts that this is not the case.  Googles browser has been built to reduce the impact that an SSL will have on site speed, and the algorithm takes this in to account when deciding where to show your site in the SERPS.  You can watch the interview below where you can hear it directly from Matt himself.

A Worthwhile Investment

Simply put, an SSL is definitely a worthwhile investment. Even if you are based on social media marketing or paid ads for traffic as opposed to SEO/organic traffic, you want to get the full conversion of everyone who visits and you don’t want to lose what natural traffic you get over something that can be fixed with a simple purchase.