At the end of the month, Google will release a new version of the Chrome web browser. In this release there will be a critical change in the way it displays sites that are not using HTTPS, or SSL. We were notified of this through WordFence, the security plugin we use on all our websites. There’s a good article about this on their blog.
What is HTTPS?
The ‘S’ at the end of HTTPS stands for ‘Secure’, meaning that communications between your browser and the website are encrypted. Browsers will display a lock icon in the address bar to show that HTTPS is in effect.
What does this mean for your site visitors?
If you are not using HTTPS on your website, this new release is going to be confusing for your site visitors on Chrome. Your website will have a message in the url bar that says “Not Secure” on pages that collect credit cards or login information.
Do you need to upgrade to HTTPS?
If your site doesn’t take credit card payments, and doesn’t give your customers the ability to login, this won’t affect you right away. However, you should still consider upgrading to HTTPS, because it is quickly becoming the new standard.
Google has been moving this direction since 2014 when they started giving a small rankings boost to sites with HTTPS. As of now, this is only a minor boost, but experts predict Google will strengthen this signal to encourage all sites to go HTTPS. The most recent Chrome update is a strong indicator of this.
If your site is not currently using HTTPS, most hosts offer SSL certificates. It’s generally an extra $100/year to add an SSL certificate to your hosting package.
This update needs to be coordinated with your web designer, because there are number of changes that need to be made to your WordPress site. Google has a good article about steps you need to take to implement SSL on your site.