Another Reason Your Website May Soon Fall Short in Search Rankings Just when you thought your elective surgery website was set on cruise control with effective SEO strategies in place, here comes another reason why your site may soon start to fall off search rankings. It’s your website’s security. If your website is served over HTTP, rather than the encrypted version HTTPS, your site is not considered secure by Google Chrome…and other browsers are going to follow this protocol very soon. In short, Google Chrome now requires that websites with sensitive information migrate to HTTPS. As HTTPS becomes the norm, websites that continue to use HTTP will drop out of search rankings because they will be considered untrustworthy by search engines. What is HTTPS? HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. It’s existed since 1990 and it allows for communication between web servers and browsers. The addition of S at the end of HTTPS stands for secure. It’s been around since 1995, mostly implemented for online payment transactions, but now the security benefits are more widespread. HTTPS provides for a safer distribution of communication between your website and the browser. By adding a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificate to your web server, your website becomes secured by HTTPS. When users type an HTTPS website address into the search bar, they will see a green lock and the word Secure next to the web address. It’s a small but significant symbol that signifies your practice has done everything possible to make your site as trustworthy as possible. Every page of your website should be HTTPS, not just forms that contain sensitive information. Why is HTTPS Preferred? HTTP activity can be obtained by outsiders in easy-to-read text. This means that others on your network, internet service provider or in an unsecured public network may be able to see your information. HTTPS encrypts the data, so if your information was breached, it would be rendered gibberish to an outsider that wants to do harm. For elective surgery websites that have patient or physician portals, having HTTPS will allow for more protected distribution of patient-sensitive information. HTTPS sites are more protected from hackers that may be out to steal sensitive patient information such as passwords, credit card details, social security numbers, medical treatment information and more. Even if your elective surgery website does not contain any patient-sensitive information, your site still needs to be HTTPS. Besides losing SEO ground, your site could be subject to hackers that simply want to mess with your content, add inappropriate images or any number of unfavorable activities that will ultimately shine a negative light on your practice. All information on your site is kept confidential including URLs, headers, etc. Another bonus: HTTPS encryption should not negatively impact your website load speed. What About Private Security? Websites that tout having private security setups, not supported by SSL/HTTPS, may be flagged as insecure by browsers when visitors attempt to log in with passwords or share other sensitive information. The simple truth is that HTTP sites can be hacked and information read in plain text form. Browsers have the right to warn users about the potential risks of communicating with non-secured websites. Is HTTPS Cost Scaring You Away? Your elective surgery practice cannot afford NOT to invest in HTTPS migration. For websites that do not need extended validation certificates, the cost can be minimal or even free in some cases (for domain validation certificates). Avoiding this process simply because of cost will ultimately lead to reduced lead flow and a negative impact on your revenue flow if your website is flagged as insecure and dropped from search engine results. Where Do You Start? If your elective surgery website is still living in the HTTP world, but you aren’t sure what steps to take to make it HTTPS, the elective surgery website experts at Fast Track Marketing can help. Contact Brandi Musgrave at 303-731-2634 or firstname.lastname@example.org to start the conversion process.