HTTP or HTTPS – What Should I Use?

Few months ago, a new client asked me this question, should I use http or https for my new website? Honestly, as their SEO specialist I didn't mind which either of them you’ll use but I think this client heard and read about Google giving websites using https a boost in their ranking.

I don’t deny by the way but before I share with you why I don’t mind whichever of them, let’s know what are they.

What is HTTP and HTTPS?

One of the common question during oral and written exams question we got from high school and even college, is what is http? It stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, and yes both stand for the same except the “S” for https stands for Secure which was developed to be able allow authorized and secured transactions.

I won’t go technical too on what it does, and what’s this for but basically both is a way of communication, accessing html page but the difference between them is that http does not attempt to remember any previous session on your website but it sends less data which means it loads faster for your users comparing to https. Since https works with a Secured Socket Layers (SSL) to transfer data safely.

Who should use HTTPS?

So basically websites that lets users like us to login, provide our information on the website, should use the https. So check out your favorite online stores for example (e.g. amazon, with url, login, go to your account, and then you’ll see that they use https.
With that, if your website allows your users to login, provide information, especially financial transactions like credit cards, PayPal, etc. should use https as one of your way of providing security on your website.

What does https got to do with SEO?

So what does providing security or not to your visitors got to do with SEO? Well, Google announced that it does gives a better value and a boost on websites that uses https instead of http, and a number of websites that migrate from http to https also proves and noticed that they do get improvements on their ranking.

But then, if you’re doing the migration wrong, it will totally affect your website’s load time. Remember, http is the faster one comparing to https since https wants to make sure a secure transaction. If you’re able to get an at least good website developer, they can totally help you with this, in doing it right. It will affect your load time but a matter of seconds, but if it takes a number of seconds to load, you’ve got an issue. Google also cares about load time, not only Google but also your website visitors. Website visitors tend to leave the website if it takes too slow to load – take it from me, who have my travel blog as a testing ground and had a theme that loads too slow and affected my ranking, and also my visitors.

What do you suggest as a SEO specialist?

Now you might wonder why I let the client decide instead of suggesting which one to use. One thing I’ve considered is that the client’s website is just primarily an official website, not getting personal information from their customers, they offer services and customers need to contact them for further details, just like this site. I offer a SEO service, and if you want to hire me you can use the contact page or email me directly. You don’t need to register on the website to be able to buy or avail something from me, you don’t need to enter your credit card on my website to be able to pay. So http is just fine for this website, but if I want to show my prospective customers that I also do care about security, sure! Why not go for https.

But this website have been around for years, and migrating to https from http can give me a couple of issues for a number of months which I’ll discuss on a separate blog post when I have really experienced and tested these issues.

So the question is, is it really important for you to migrate to https? If you have a membership site, or an ecommerce site, and similar websites, yes you should. But if you’re a blog, or an official website then not necessary. But if your website is new, just starting out I do highly suggest to go for https right away, no matter what your website is. Because the issues I’ve heard about will take long for those websites that have been around a long time, with hundreds and thousands of pages.

But why I didn't mind whichever the client will want to use? Because their website does not involve transactions that requires private information from their prospective customers. It's just an official website. But of course I did inform the client the benefit in using https which are:

  • Providing security to the website visitors, which Google promotes and give a bit if boosts on websites who does.
  • More secured connection, preventing attacks that are automated.
  • Said to be in preparation for http 2

Also, their website is new. They're just starting out so it's the best time to grab this opportunity to start and include security not only for you but also for your customers. But if they did the redirection to https wrong, it may affect their load time, which will not only cost them ranking but also their website visitors engagement. I've also heard that the boost that Google give is not that huge of a difference. At the end, the client choose to go for https, since I also able to work with the developer to ensure the redirection and load time is good enough.

If you’re migrating to https from http, don’t forget to still continue your SEO campaigns to still give search engine signals that you should rank for the keywords that you wish to rank.
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