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How The Creation of a More Secure Web May Affect your Business

With ever-increasing importance being placed upon web security, it’s no surprise that leading web browsers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are leading the charge to help ensure users’ online safety is maintained. But how will this affect your business online?

 

Don’t have time to read? Here’s what you need to know in a nutshell:

  • The importance of website security is becoming increasingly important;
  • New security messages will present to users if your website is not secured properly;
  • Security issues will likely mean drops in keyword rankings and traffic, reduced conversion rates and ultimately, drops in leads or sales if not rectified;
  • Ensure your website security is up to scratch by having a comprehensive SSL certificate, and by ensuring all elements being referenced on your website are also secure – your web developer can assist you with this.

 

What’s been happening

In January, Chrome began to improve how clearly it communicated the security of websites to users in a bid to help the public make more informed decisions around their online behaviour. This initially rolled out via the marking of unsecured pages served over HTTP as ‘not secure’ if they contain password or credit card fields, as shown below.

 

browser showing unsecured content

Image courtesy of Google Developers Updates Article

Over the past eight months, however, these measures have become increasingly more comprehensive, with Google Chrome finishing the rollout of version 62 in October, which will flag any unsecured website page requiring information input as ‘not secure’, in a similar manner to the below:

 HTTP Warning in Chrome 62

This kind of warning allows the user to easily identify that the website they’re on is not encrypted, and therefore any information they input into the site (for example, credit card details for a purchase, or sensitive personal information on a form) is more vulnerable to interception by an attack from a malicious third party.

The error like the one displayed above may be triggered simply by the absence of an SSL Certificate; however, could also be triggered by other smaller elements on a website that aren’t secured. These elements could include such things as:

  • Images pulling from a non-secured Content Delivery Network (CDN);
  • Font resources;
  • Analytics tracking tools, just to name a few.

Moving forward, these ramifications will likely get progressively severe, with Firefox moving toward blocking non-secured page elements from appearing on-page completely. For example, if an image is being pulled from a non-secured CDN, this may not appear, which could result in a significant impact on a website’s appearance and user experience.

Whilst these protective measures ensure people are more aware of the security status of any given website they are on; it also means that as a business, you need to ensure your website security is up to scratch and doesn’t flag a warning with users so you don’t suffer potential negative consequences.

 

Possible impacts to your business

If your website is fully secure, you’ll have nothing to worry about. However, if you do have either an issue with your SSL Certificate or unsecured element origins, you may notice an impact on how your website performs after the introduction of these more visible warnings. These could include:

 

1. Drops in leads or online sales

Simplified right down, leads or sales from your website are essentially a culmination of a few factors:

  • Getting traffic to your website;
  • Ensuring your website contains the right elements that will help guide the user toward completing a desired action;
  • Ensuring there are no barriers that will prevent this action from occurring.

A ‘not secure’ warning displayed to a user will likely reduce confidence, and hence act as a barrier to completion of the desired action on your website. As a result, we predict that conversion rates will drop, meaning fewer leads or sales will result from the same amount of traffic.

 

2. Drops in keyword rankings

The correlation between secure websites (running on a HTTPS protocol) and stronger keyword rankings is by no means breaking news, however, it does raise the question as to whether Google will start penalising websites that aren’t secure in the future.

Whilst we can never predict how Google will change the ranking algorithm, with an even larger emphasis being placed on user security it would not be surprising if this was a more significant rankings factor in the future, and just one more reason to ensure your website is secure.

 

3. Less Website Traffic

As a flow on effect from potential drops in keyword rankings (as mentioned above), there is naturally a risk that your website might lose Organic traffic. If you do start seeing drops in organic traffic, it means you’ll need to improve your conversion rate in order to maintain the same level of leads or sales, which will be challenging if security warnings are being displayed (as mentioned above).

 

4. Higher Bounce Rates

As users become savvier online, and browsers become increasingly assertive around blocking unsecured elements, warnings and blocked content will likely result in increases to bounce rates as users exit your website due to either a poor user experience or an intrusive warning.

These are just four examples showing the potential impact to website performance if your website is not secure, however, the effects could extend way beyond just these four things. Ultimately, you need to ensure your website is secure to maintain your current performance.

 

How you can protect your business

What you need to do to ensure your website is secured really depends on your site – unfortunately there’s no one-size-fits-all approach that will work for every website.

It might simply be a matter of adding or updating your SSL certificate, or it might mean your developer needs to change how some elements are referenced in the code of your website. Ultimately, it will highly depend on how your website is built, the platform it runs on, and any plugins and other integrations you are utilising.

The best bet is to get your web developer to run a check for you and put together an action plan as to how to rectify any security issues.

One important thing to remember: if you don’t currently have an SSL certificate, and plan to put one in place, ensure you migrate your HTTP site to your HTTPS site to avoid any SEO ramifications.

 

We’re here to help

If you’d like to talk further about your website’s security and how this might impact your business, we’re always available to help. Contact our office on 1300 714 146 and speak to one of our friendly consultants should you have any questions.

 

Sarah Hutcheon

Digital Marketing Consultant

Sarah Hutcheon is a Digital Marketing Consultant at Reload, specialising in SEO, Mobile Strategy, Website Usability and Email Automation. She has a passion for trying out new tactics and exploring new, innovative ways to help her clients achieve their digital…