To HTTPS or Not to HTTPS – That is The Question

September 4, 2015 Stephanie Ewen



You may have heard recently about the potential connection between HTTPS secure websites and better SEO rankings as opposed to standard HTTP websites. If so, you may also have questions about whether or not you should make the switch. Before you decide, read up.

First, you need to know what HTTPS stands for. HTTPS or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure is the secure version of the standard HTTP and is the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the website.

In August 2014, Google posted on their Webmaster blog that HTTPS is a ranking signal. However, the truth is that for now, it is only a very lightweight signal affecting less than 1% of GLOBAL searches. Google also stated that over time, they may decide to strengthen the weight of this signal because they want to encourage all website owners to make the switch in an effort to keep everyone safe on the web.

Along with it being safer, there are some SEO advantages to moving your website from HTTP to HTTPS:

  • You will be able to see more referrer data in your Google Analytics report. Typically when traffic comes from an HTTPS website to an HTTP site, the referral information is stripped away.
  • Your agency website could get a small ranking boost. Google has confirmed the ranking boost of HTTPS. However, it is very likely you'll find the effect of any ranking influence very small. For more information, check out this study by Search Metrics in which it showed no detectable advantage to sites using HTTPS.
  • Your content will benefit from HTTPS/SSL encryption. HTTPS verifies that the website is the one the server is supposed to talk to. It prevents tampering by 3rd parties, and it encrypts all communication including URLs. This protects things like browsing history and credit card numbers.

Within a few years, it is possible that HTTPS may become standard. But for now, there are still some drawbacks to also consider when thinking of making the switch.

  • Slower speeds. HTTPS does make your website slower. And as we all know, site speed is a large factor in ranking and an even bigger factor than whether or not your website is HTTPS or HTTP.
  • Not everything is ready for HTTPS. HTTPS is new, so older web applications may have trouble with HTTPS URLs. Even Google's Search Console doesn't yet support HTTPS migration.

So in a nutshell: HTTPS poses both benefits and cons, and while switching to HTTPS isn't required right now, it could put you ahead of the curve for the future.

If you are thinking about talking to your webmaster about moving your insurance agency website to HTTPS, you should do your homework first and consider all the factors first.

Do you have a question about HTTPS vs HTTP? Leave it in the comments below.


About the Author

Stephanie Ewen

Stephanie Ewen helps ITC customers with the search engine optimization of their websites. She has been working in marketing for more than 10 years. Her specialties include web design and search engine optimization (SEO). To stay on top of the latest SEO trends and algorithm updates, Stephanie reads blog articles and participating in courses produced by some foremost experts in SEO. She is certified in inbound marketing, Google Analytics and fusion marketing. Stephanie is an avid softball fan and enjoys volunteering and spending time with her husband, kids and grandkids.

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