Improving websites can be an endless ordeal. Spending hours upon hours working on improving search engine optimization results, choosing a great hosting provider, speed, image caching and optimization, and the list goes on. But there is one very simple and free way to improve your website today - by making sure your website is secure.
Green Padlock - What?
You've likely noticed in the URL bar a little green padlock to the left of the URL of whatever browser you're utilizing. Worse yet, you've been to a website (hopefully your website is not one of them) that does not have this tiny, but significant, green token and may even have a warning that says your connection and the website are not secure. This refers to the website's security certificate. And it's sort of a big deal.
Ok, so the little padlock either shows up on the website or not - what IS the big deal? Google announced on their blog back in 2018 that they were pushing for a more secure web. This is significant considering Google Chrome is the world's most popular browser (and it's not even close). We'll save you a click and summarize that a more secure web in this instance refers to utilizing HTTPS on your website. What is HTTPS? Basically it's a website security certificate that ensures that your website "traffic" is encrypted, meaning your users know that they are safe while browsing your website. You can read a much more detailed and nerdier explanation here.
Because Google prioritizes results that include HTTPS, it benefits SEO and also happens to add some extra security to your website. If you still need more convincing on the why, read Why HTTPS Matters.
So, if Google is saying that HTTPS is required, it's a necessity for your digital presence. So let's say your website doesn't currently take advantage of this modern web technology and have HTTPS enabled, how do we go about remedying this? There are a couple of different ways this can be done but first and foremost is to check with your hosting provider. Some hosting providers charge to enable HTTPS, which is unfortunate considering one of the largest issuers of security certificates to ensure HTTPS does it for free. Let's Encrypt is a free and open certificate authority, making it very simple to deploy HTTPS on any website. And did we mention - free? If your hosting provider doesn't have HTTPS automatically enabled, it's possible they charge for this and it might be necessary to upgrade your plan or add this through your cPanel.
We prefaced this post noting that it would be simple and free to achieve this site improvement, and Let's Encrypt accomplishes that task quite well. However, even more specifically our favorite hosting provider Netlify offers HTTPS for free with valid security certificates. Netlify utilizes Let's Encrypt to ensure that routes are HTTPS enabled and support SSL out of the box - absolutely no configuration required. It really doesn't get easier than that when it comes to making sure your website is more secure.
So a simple and even free way to improve your website today is to enable HTTPS. If you go to your website and don't see that little green padlock in your URL bar, we would really encourage you to resolve this. Because enabling HTTPS is free through amazing services like Let's Encrypt, there's really little reason not to get this up-and-running on your website today. This will not only improve the user experience for your customers on your website, but you'll contribute to a safer and more secure web.