White Cobalt

White Cobalt

From July, Google will be 'naming and shaming' insecure websites

For many years now, Google’s policy has been to improve the internet experience for the consumer. By using their position as the market-leading search engine (~92% of all internet searches – globally), they can encourage website owners to pursue certain goals by rewarding them with better placement in their listings.

One such policy, which has been in place for several years, has been to prioritise pages and websites that load quickly. Especially on mobile devices where bandwidth and connectivity are limited.

So Google wants the internet to load faster, and website owners want to be ranked higher on Google. By making speed a factor in determining a website’s rank, website owners are motivated to invest time and energy optimising their site to load quickly, and the general consumer benefits from a faster internet. It’s a simple formula that works really well.

Since launching in 2008, the Chrome browser has gained over 50% market share. So now Google (who own the Chrome browser) have a second medium through which to affect their policies. By altering Chrome, Google can impact how a website is displayed and the perceptions of the user when viewing that site.

About three years ago, Google introduced a new policy; to make the internet more secure.

Principally this has taken the form of rewarding websites that use HTTPS* with improved placement in their listings, and a green “Secure” next to their web address in Chrome.

However, with updates to Chrome due in July this year, Google will be going much further. Rather than just incentivising websites to implement HTTPS with a more positive user experience, the next version will actively discourage users from visiting websites that do not. This will take the form of prominent warning messages to the user, that the website is insecure, and their data may be intercepted or stolen. Obviously, this will have an undesirable effect on the brand and reputation of the business behind the website.

What does that mean for me?

If you have a website that does not use HTTPS, expect to see a significant drop in traffic after this update.

How do I know if my website uses HTTPS?

Open your website and look for a green padlock symbol to the left of the address bar (or bottom-right of the screen if you’re using Internet Explorer).

It doesn’t, what should I do?

Contact your web developers or hosting company and tell them you would like to add an “SSL Certificate” to your website. They should be able to do the rest for you, although there is normally a small cost involved.

*HTTPS is the encrypted version of the protocol which is used to transfer website data from the where it is hosted to the internet browser. Preventing the data from being intercepted and read while in transit.

Steve Stovold - Director
Steve Stovold