This summer Google rolled out a new version of Chrome – Chrome 68 – which has had a drastic impact on millions of websites.
Any website still being served via HTTP will now receive a negative visual indicator that says “not secure” beside the URL in Chrome’s address bar.
For a lot of businesses, this could be severely damaging. Retailers, financial advisers, law firms, health professionals and many other types of businesses are built upon customers feeling safe and secure when interacting with their services. No business wants a customer’s first impression to be a notification that the website they are visiting is “not secure.” Unless businesses react to Google’s change, they could be unintentionally, even unwittingly, turning away business.
As with most repercussions of Google’s updates, there’s a fix – and a fairly easy one. Many websites have long ago moved from HTTP to HTTPS by using an SSL certificate. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is a digital certificate that is used to encrypt data transmitted between the end user and the server to ensure a secure private connection.
Without making things too technical, an SSL certificate ensures that data transmitted between a web browser and a site is kept private. This includes data entered into contact forms, credit card and other financial information, logins and more. The SSL certificate also remedies the issue of removing the “not secure” browser warnings in Chrome. Your website will also get an automatic SEO boost. Google uses the SSL certificate as a small ranking signal, so being an HTTPS website gives you an improvement in your search engine rankings.
The whole process takes a web company less than 15 minutes to complete and about $40 per year to maintain. The return on investment is a website that not only appears safe and secure, but that actually is.
The most important lesson that businesses need to learn from Google’s changes to Chrome is that a website is not something you can set and forget. It takes consistent checking in to make sure it’s functioning as designed and that updates regularly being rolled out by Google aren’t negatively impacting its performance. If you value your business website as a marketing tool, it’s critical to stay on top of changes taking place – or at least seek the advice of someone who can help.
Toby Valora is director of creative services for InfoQuest, an IT company in Swatara Township, Dauphin County. He can be reached via www.infoquest.com.