What Is HTTPS?
Hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) is a safer and much more secure version of HTTP. HTTP has been the primary protocol that was always used to transfer data between a web browser and a website.
HTTPS is encrypted to make data transfer secure. This becomes all the more important when users send sensitive data like bank account credentials, email service, or details about insurance.
That said, any website that requires login credentials must have an HTTPS. To make it simple for you to spot it, websites that don’t use HTTPS are marked differently than those that are, on the Google Chrome web browser. You can see the green padlock in the URL bar to ensure that the webpage is secure.
In modern times, all web browsers put high emphasis on HTTPS. This is why all non-HTTPS websites are marked as non-secure by Google Chrome and other mostly used browsers.
Why Use HTTPS?
There are plenty of benefits of HTTPS. First and foremost, you get improves search engine listings and performance. HTTPS also enables you to have more functionalities in the browsers. Also, it is an integral element of web applications.
As mentioned above, websites without HTTPS are marked “non-secure” by browsers. Moreover, it is also used to avail several modern browser features like service workers and access to hardware like Bluetooth and APIs like WebUSB.
How Does It Work?
Now that we’ve covered the basic definition and the importance of HTTPS, let’s now answer the hot question, how does HTTPS work?
HTTPS requires an encryption protocol to safeguard all communications. This safety protocol is called Transport Layer Security (TLS). This was previously known as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Because the vast majority got used to using the SSL acronym, it’s still written and heard today. TLS and SSL are used interchangeably but the actual one is TLS.
The TLS protocol protects communications by using the asymmetric public key infrastructure. There are two different keys that are used to encrypt communications between two parties:
- The Private Key: controlled and used by the website owner and this is kept private. It is not shared with anyone. The private key remains on the webserver and its purpose is to decrypt information encrypted by the public key.
- The Public Key: Public key is available to everyone who safely interacts with the server. Information encrypted by the public key can only be decrypted by the private key.
The Importance Of HTTPS
HTTPS is a protective tool for websites. It stops websites from displaying their information that can be accessed by someone snooping on the network. When information is transmitted through the regular HTTP, the information is sent in the form of small packets of data. However, these packets of data can be conveniently “sniffed” with free tools. This is why it’s highly unsafe to communicate using unsecure mediums like public Wi-Fi as they can be intercepted quite easily. Every communication and data transmission on HTTP is in plain text and it’s always accessible to anyone who knows how to use the right tools.
On the other hand, with HTTPS, all information is encrypted. So even if the data packets are sniffed or intercepted, they will be seen as nonsensical characters.
To give you a better idea, here’s an example of information before and after encryption:
“String of text that is easy to understand and readable”
For websites that don’t use HTTPS, there’s a high possibility that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can put content on their web pages without getting any approval from the site owner. Mostly this is seen in the form of advertisements. You’d notice that ISPs or maybe other intermediaries, who want to top up their revenues, will put paid advertising on the web pages of their customers. What’s really unfortunate about this practice is the fact that no amount of money generated from these ads or their control is shared with the web owner.
To get rid of this, you use HTTPS. HTTPS eradicates the power of third parties and intermediaries to inject ads into web content.
Difference Between HTTPS and HTTP
When we talk about the HTTP request process. Cyber threats and attackers can easily get hold of sensitive information like login credentials and payment details. They can also dial in malicious code in the requested resources.
These network attacks can happen where there’s an ISP or a router that can’t be trusted. This is why public WiFi networks are very much vulnerable to these attacks. Thankfully, there is rising awareness regarding this issue and the general public is becoming increasingly aware of this problem, which is also why there’s a surge in the usage of VPNs.
That said, the responsibility of securing everyone’s web browser experience solely lies on the webmasters.
This is where HTTPS comes in handy.
With HTTPS you can encrypt HTTP requests and information, as mentioned above, and this is why even if an attacker intercepts information, they only see random characters.
While we talk about the differences, HTTPS is not a separate protocol from HTTP. It’s just that the former uses TLS encryption over the HTTP protocol. HTTPS functions on the basis of transference of TLS certificates that validate that a certain provider is who they claim to be.
So, when the user gets connected to a page, this webpage will send the TLS certificate that has a public key important to start the secure session. The two servers; the client and the server then run through the process known as “TLS handshake”. This handshake is basically the communication between the two computers used to build a secure connection.
How HTTPS Aids SEO
Almost all the benefits HTTPS offers are for improving your SEO. For example:
- Lightweight ranking signal
- Improved security
- Better privacy
- Maintain referral data
- Brings in all the protocols that enable site security and page load speed.
Let’s go through each of these factors.
Lightweight Ranking Signal
Back in 2014, Google made the announcement that HTTPS is an indirect or lightweight ranking factor. It won’t necessarily skyrocket your rankings, but would still make a small difference. You’d still need to take care of other important SEO elements.
Improved Security and Privacy
We’ve discussed this factor in quite a detail at the start. Let’s now brief you on how it impacts SEO. Whenever you open an unsecure webpage, you usually come across a message saying “Your connection to this site is not secure”.
As the first impression and a major touchpoint for your customers, you would never want any such message to appear on your website. Your potential customers will quickly lose trust and will never consider you a professional business.
By migrating to HTTPS, you can enhance the dwell time and prevent such issues.
Maintains Referral Data
You still have HTTP and you’re making use of Google Analytics? Know that no referral data will be transmitted from HTTPS to HTTP pages.
This makes your data messy. You also won’t be able to see your best referral sources, which will in turn prevent you from building strong links.
Protocols That Enhance Security and Site Speed
HTTPS enables you to use the latest security and web performance technology.
So, apart from doing its basic thing; provide safety, HTTPS also makes your website faster, especially when you use protocols like TLS 1.3 and HTTP/2. It must also be noted that Google considers page speed as an indirect ranking factor just like it marks HTTPS as a ranking signal.
HTTPS has immense importance when it comes to your website’s security and other factors. As mentioned above, it also ensures your SEO strategy works fine. If you haven’t yet incorporated it on your website, make sure you waste no time in doing so. Need professional help for your digital business? Head over to SEOHUB.pk today and get a complete secure WordPress or Shopify website.