Google Chrome is a web browser used by 60% of website visitors and boasts well over 1 billion users per month on both desktop and mobile devices. With 3.7 billion Internet users worldwide and Android devices (which include Chrome as the default browser) making up to 80% of the global smartphone market, just imagine the number of people visiting your site via Google Chrome.
This is why there may be a HUGE negative impact to your website coming in October 2017.
Chrome Update DetailsGoogle announced in April 2017 Chrome version 62 was going to be developed and launched in October 2017. The intent of this update is to provide a more secure browsing environment while further protecting the privacy of its users.
This is great from a user perspective, however, the ranking and traffic implications for many websites are potentially significant. The reason: If your site is not under HTTPS, which shows your url as “https://yoursite.com”, users will be presented with the following warning:
The warning provided is not only strongly worded, but will make it difficult for users to physically navigate to the actual website.
What do you think the first thought will be for a user when they see this warning?
- Uh oh, this site has a virus!
- Oh no, my computer has a virus!
- I better not give any information or purchase anything from this site!
- Get me out of here as fast as possible!
This will have an impact on search engine rankings, website traffic, consumer trust, loyalty and ultimately conversions.
SEO Impact of HTTP vs HTTPSPreviously Certificates were only required for websites collecting sensitive personal or financial information.
Since 2014, it’s been proven sites using (HTTPS) perform better in search engine rankings. Many businesses have converted their websites over the years to HTTPS, however, there are still a significant portion of websites without a certificate applied or those which have been implemented incorrectly.
Regardless of the new Chrome update, it is simply best practice to have a certificate on your site as part of your successful SEO strategy.
A secondary SEO impact associated with the Chrome update is related to a component of the Google algorithm which measures and ranks sites based on “bounce rate”. If a user with the new Chrome browser comes across your site and receives a message about your site being “Not Secure”, the majority of users will likely hit the back button and go back to the search results. This is considered a bounce. The more times people bounce from your site, the more Google sees this as a bad user experience, which in turn, will negatively affect your rankings.
In short, this is all bad for those who are not prepared.
Website Traffic ImpactWe don’t have exact stats, but common sense states you can anticipate a significant drop in traffic if you do not have a secure site. A drop in rankings = a drop in visibility = less organic traffic.
Since the gShift software platform monitors thousands of sites and millions of keywords, there will be lots of data post-update to validate the impact to unprepared sites.
What the gShift platform is telling us today:
- 60% of sites monitored by gShift have indicate they use HTTPS
- Only 13% do indeed use HTTPS without errors
- 16% are simply re-directing from HTTP to HTTPS
- 10% are considered phantom sites with both HTTP and HTTPS live in the search engines (indicating duplication)
- Upwards of 50% of websites will be labeled “Not Secure” by Google Chrome resulting in a loss of both rank and traffic
- Rankings will be affected even more than anticipated as HTTPS becomes an even stronger Google algorithm signal
- Most business will not be proactive in making the switch to HTTPS
- Brand and reputation may become damaged long-term by the non-secure label
The BIGGEST Mistakes You Can Make When Moving to HTTPS
- Solely implementing a domain level redirect from HTTP to HTTPS on your Home page – this is not good enough
- Having HTTP resources on an HTTPS site (mixed content), e.g. iFrames, etc
- Leaving an HTTP version of your site live and not properly re-directed = duplicate content
- Getting the wrong protection for the type of site you have – there are options for regular vs. subdomains and other factors
- Not re-submitting your site map via Google Search Console to index the HTTPS version
What does this mean for you?
- Your web properties need a properly configured Certificate…Period.
- You must ensure your HTTP to HTTPS redirects are done correctly or you will not be found in Google
- Post re-direct implementation activities must be performed to ensure full indexing of your new HTTPS URLs. Be aware, once HTTPS has been enabled it will take time for Google to fully re-index your website, which will depend on how often Google crawls your site. Steps can be taken to ensure your site is re-crawled asap.
Warning: In case it isn’t obvious, simply applying a certificate to your site is not the final answer.
The GOOD News Is:
This is not a particularly difficult or costly fix (in fact there are free certificate options through services like letsencrypt.org), but one which should be handled with care and precision.
If you are not sure where to begin, want to double check your current certificate is installed properly or just have questions, the gShift Services team is here to help.
Our team of experts can help ensure this security update goes smoothly and does not impact your website or your current or potential customers.