What Google’s SSL changes mean for your website

8 October 2017

Changes announced by Google plan to warn users of websites that do not feature SSL encryption before the end of 2017. Any website that fails to implement SSL encryption will likely see large warnings before users get to your site; being de-ranked from Google's index and/or being delisted entirely. We have listed below some common questions and answers relating to SSL encryption.

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Changes announced by Google are coming into effect that will impact a large number of websites. Before the end of the year (2017), Google plans to warn users of websites that do not feature SSL encryption. Any website that fails to implement SSL encryption will likely see large warnings before users get to your site; being de-ranked from Google’s index and/or being delisted entirely.

To help with this change, we have listed below some common questions and answers relating to SSL encryption.

What is SSL encryption?

SSL is an acronym of for Secure Sockets Layer and creates a secure communication channel between each user and the web-server. This protects users from ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks or from hackers capturing user data between them and the server. SSL encryption is enabled by purchasing a ‘security certificate’ which is then installed on the web server.

Why is Google forcing SSL encryption?

Google is trying to protect internet users from scammers or hackers that intercept data transmitted across the web. Known as ‘man in the middle attacks’, hackers try to intercept usernames, passwords or contact form details as users communicate with web servers. SSL certificates encrypt this communication between a user’s browser and the server making it harder for details to be stolen.

How do I know if my website already has SSL encryption?

There are several ways to check if your website is protected by SSL encryption.

  1. The easiest way is to look at the URL. If your website works with https:// and auto redirects from http:// to https:// than you are likely protected by an SSL certificate already. However if you cannot access your website by typing in https://[your-website-domain-name] then your website is likely not protected.
  2. The second way to check is by looking for the ‘padlock’ within your browser window when viewing your website. On chrome, a green padlock followed by the words ‘secure’ are located to the left of the address bar. The green padlock will confirm that you do have SSL already installed.

 

How do I know if I need SSL encryption on my website?

Not all websites need an SSL certificate – however Google recommends that all website install a SSL certificate if possible. However at a minimum, if a website collects user data; has contact forms or text entry boxes; or has text-entry search features – then your website will need a SSL.

For all other sites, you could get away without an SSL, however Google will still prioritise sites in its rankings that are encrypted and protected by SSL.

How long do I have before Google’s changes come into effect?

Google plans to role this update before the end of 2017.

What happens if I do nothing?

Google has recommended that all websites should be protected by SSL encryption, however if web masters choose to ignore Google’s warning, Google plans to publicly name and shame websites with a large and scary warning as people navigate to your website. This will not only turn users away from your site (in favour for more secure websites) but it also runs the risk of de-ranking your site or removing it from Google’s index completely.

I pay for hosting, why do I need to pay for an SSL certificate as well?

SSL certificates are purchased directly from governing security bodies that are in control of protecting the internet. Your web master or agency will need to pay to protect your site and this cost is on top of running a server; performing back ups; server patches etc.

What do I need to do to get my site secure?

To protect your site and to install an SSL certificate, speak with your web master or digital agency who will be able to help.