I spent my days surrounded by software developers.
In my day job, I work as a content marketer for Cronofy.
Our security features are important to us and our customers, and it’s one of our biggest selling points.
(I’m not going to go on about them here, but feel free to have a read if you like calendars.)
When I get home, I spend my time with Boyfriend, who also happens to be a software developer, albeit for a different software company…
…in the same building.
But that’s besides the point.
The point is that spending time around developers means that I’m involved in lots of techy conversations and I read a lot of security-focused content.
If you’ve ever found yourself pissed off by something auto-updating, you’ve found yourself caught out by a security update.
But please, don’t turn auto-updates off!
Auto-updates are crucial to keeping your devices protected from nasty viruses that can harm your computer. (WannaCry, anyone?)
But how can you protect your website?
And how can you protect the users of your website?
What is HTTPS?
In short, HTTPS is proof that visitors to your website are definitely talking to your website.
No one dodgy can get between a visitor and your website.
(When someone does this, it’s called a man in the middle attack.)
You can spot a secure site by the padlock on the top left.
Why do blogs need HTTPS?
Whatever kind of writer you are, you want to create a great experience for your visitors, right?
Securing your site proves to your visitors that they’re definitely communicating with you and not your evil twin.
This means that if they share any of their data with you, it won’t be intercepted by a third-party.
Even if your site is small, that doesn’t mean it’s not a potential target.
About ten years ago now, I ran a fan site for fantasy TV shows. It didn’t have a huge following but I enjoyed running it.
And then some bugger hacked it.
Google warned you if the site came up in search results and everything.
No website is immune to hacking.
While HTTPS doesn’t prevent your website from being hacked, it does offer greater protection for your users.
If you deal with any sort of data, from credit cards to email addresses, HTTPS offers users reassurance that nobody can intercept their private data.
A secure site is also a ranking factor for SEO.
While it’s only one of over 200 ranking factors, when it comes to rankings, it never hurts to be one step ahead of your competitors.
I’ll be keeping a close eye on my SEO over the next few weeks to see how my new SSL certificate affects traffic to the website.
So far, things are looking pretty good.
In the three weeks since I’ve added HTTPS to the site, sessions from organic search results are up by 60% compared to the previous period.
For a small website, this is a huge deal.
I can’t say for certain why there’s been a huge spike in organic traffic, but I have a theory.
Most blogs don’t bother with HTTPS: they don’t see the point.
But Google cares, no matter what kind of site you run.
Adding HTTPS gives you a competitive advantage, since most bloggers either don’t know what HTTPS is, or don’t feel it matters to them.
And who doesn’t love a competitive advantage?
What’s an SSL certificate?
In order to get HTTPS, you must have an SSL certificate.
They used to be expensive and therefore only used by big corporations, but now, a great project called Let’s Encrypt offers them for free.
The ability to add these to my websites with minimum hassle is one of the reasons I moved to Krystal Hosting last month.
Really, when it’s free to do, easy to incorporate, it reassures visitors to your website and improves your search rankings, how can you say no?
Still not convinced?
This is a very simplified version of what HTTPS is, and what it means for you and your users.
Blogs don’t need HTTPS to work or to for visitors to be able to read them.
However, with Google already penalising sites that don’t take advantage of HTTPS, it’s highly likely they’ll get stricter as time goes on.
This small change could reap big rewards for you if organic search is a big source of traffic to your site.
To find out more about HTTPS, security expert Troy Hunt has an excellent blog post on why life is about to get a whole lot harder for sites without HTTPS.
If Troy Hunt can’t convince you, nothing will.
Over to You
Do you have an SSL certificate for your blog?
Are you considering getting one?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!