Website security has always been serious, but will soon become mandatory if you want to appear in search results.
Google just announced that by July 2018, any non-SSL website on Chrome 68 will be flagged as “non-secure” in the search results. This is serious step up from Google’s previous announcement that only websites collecting financial information or passwords would be flagged.
Given that the Chrome browser accounts for nearly 45% of all search engine market share, this update will have major implications for businesses caught unaware. If your locations websites are out of date, Chrome 68 users will now see an ugly “non-secure” warning. This appears next to every one of their search results.
It’s pretty safe to assume that this will have a huge negative impact on click-through rates and user trust. Since Google is increasingly weighing in user behavior into local search engine rankings, you can expect this reduced CTR and site activity to have a negative impact on your SEO, as well.
How can you prepare each of your brand’s websites for this impending change?
Get to Know SSL
Security Socket Layers (SSL) is a standard security technology for establishing the encrypted link between a server and a client. This is the “s” in the “https” you see before a web address.
SSL provides an extra layer of security for both website visitors and the websites themselves. SSL is common for websites that collect and hold sensitive information such as credit card forms, medical information or personal identifying information such as date of birth or social security numbers.
Though they have SSL has been around since the mid-1990s, when Netscape created the protocol, you may not have been using it for location or franchise websites, especially if they weren’t collecting sensitive information online.
Google & SSL: A Bit of Background
On August 6, 2014, Google announced that having a SSL URL is a positive SEO signal, stating in part:
“…over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.
“For now it’s only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS.
“But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”
Given that Google has been pushing SSL for years, this latest update about Chrome 68 flagging non-SSL websites isn’t a great surprise. Still, it’s not something that would necessarily be on the minds of web and marketing teams that aren’t selling online or holding sensitive information.
How to Prepare YOUR Business for the SSL Update?
Cyber Security threats have the potential to seriously harm both consumers and the businesses that serve them. In fact, the forecast average loss for a breach of 1,000 records is between $52,000 and $87,000. (Verizon) What’s more, a security breach is damaging to the brand’s reputation, as well.
Updating your SSL technology will prevent your local listings from being labeled insecure by Google. This includes even where your locations are not gathering sensitive information or selling online.
Rio SEO recommends that enterprise brands take SSL implementation seriously. While it may require an investment of time and web development legwork, the future benefits will outweigh the costs.
Additionally, it’s critical that the information Google is gathering about each of your locations is accurate and current. This includes any number of social and review sites, directories, aggregators and other data sources.
Want to see how you’re doing with location data management? Talk with a Rio SEO local search expert today for a 1-on-1 consult.