No, Google is not forcing you to make your site secure, but it is definitely trying to encourage you to do so.
As you may already know, Google is making a change this month that will affect how URLs appear in the Chrome browser. Addressing this change is fairly simple, but there are a few technical things you will need to do and some review and testing required. Below is an outline of what the change is, how it impacts your organization’s website, and what can be done if any action needs to be taken.
What is changing?
Google is replacing the plain "information icon" that Chrome displays when you are on an insecure page (http:// vs. https://) with a clearer message that reads “Not Secure.” If, however, you are on an secure (https) site, you will continue to see the word “Secure,” and the green lock icon. Here are a few screenshots showing the difference.
Examples of an insecure site site:
Example of a propely secured site:
How does this impact your organization’s website?
The first step is to ask yourself the following questions:
- Does my site take any text input? This includes contact forms, search bars, log-ins, etc.
- Does my site's URL start with http:// (not secure)?
If the answer to both those questions is “yes,” it is best for you to implement SSL to avoid showing a “Not Secure” warning in visitors’ browsers. It is important to note that this is part of a larger effort by Google to encourage all pages, of all websites, to be secure. As such, there will be SEO impacts to sites that are not secure. Those impacts may include lower search rankings since Google has updated their algorithm to favor sites with SSL.
How can I implement SSL?
Don’t worry, it’s not a heavy lift! Below are the steps that need to be taken:
- Secure an SSL certificate. This is much simpler (and cheaper) than in the past!
- Depending on your content management system, some configuration changes may be required.
- Redirect all "http://" reqeusts to your website to the same URL but with "https://"
- All the pages on the site need to be reviewed for any absolute links that may have been added in the body content or other calls within the pages themselves. There is some automation that can help with this process, but there is a manual component that can impact the overall timeline of your switch.
Do you have questions about this change? We are happy to help!