With Google’s continued push to convince all website owners that they need to secure their sites via SSL certificate, it’s easy to view the change as another burden, especially if your site is simple enough that it does not gather personal information on your site visitors.
But there are reasons other than transaction processing and PII — personally identifiable information – to use SSL to secure your site.
You Look Bad – to Your Prospects
The top of the list is perception. If Google is going to display a not-secure message on sites without https, you’ll be sending a negative message to site visitors, even if they don’t really understand the underlying issues. Depending on the sophistication of your audience, and the nature of your business, this could be a minor distraction or it could have a large impact on site traffic and engagement. I would expect most people would avoid filling out a subscription form or other call to action on a site they had any doubts about.
You Look Good – to Hackers
You never want to be the only house on the block with an alarm company sign on your lawn – and you never want to be the only house without one.
Only a few years ago a site that used an SSL certificate without an obvious need for one might attract unwanted attention from hackers. (Though most hacking is not done anymore in a way that has actual human hackers looking at websites one by one.) You would have been that house with the alarm company sign when no one else had one.
We’re now getting to a point where operating without SSL puts you in the distinct minority. We’ve recently seen data that suggests that more than 70% of sites in the U.S. are now SSL protected. So you’re not quite the only house on the block without the sign, but it’s getting close.
You Want to Be Found
Another reason to install an SSL certificate and migrate your site to answer at https rather than http is to help your SEO efforts. Google is now including SSL protection as ranking factor. So all things being equal, a protected site will rank higher.
There are different kinds of SSL certificates and selecting the best one for your site is a conversation to be had by your webmaster and your hosting provider or IT manager in charge of your web server. As a digital marketer, you’ll want a seat at the table because, as you’ve seen above, SSL certificates are an area where technology can impact marketing.