WordPress founder, Matt Mullenweg, recently announced that the software will require all hosts to have HTTPS for certain WordPress features to function.
Don’t panic just yet. If you already have HTTPS, this shouldn’t affect you. But if you’re still using HTTP, you’ll need to upgrade soon. The good news is that the transition is not as difficult as you think it is and the benefits outweigh the assumed disadvantages.
This article will go over what the WordPress HTTPS mandate means for you as a site owner; the advantages; as well as how to upgrade to HTTPS if you haven’t already done so.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS adds a security layer to HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). HTTPS essentially encrypts data (using SSL or TSL) that is communicated between servers and clients until it reaches the intended recipient.
This prevents cybercriminals from accessing sensitive user information and also reduces the risk of tapping and modification of sensitive data. Although HTTPS is not completely foolproof, it undoubtedly has major security advantages.
HTTPS sites can be easily identified, as they have a locked padlock icon located on the link bar in most common browsers.
Why is WordPress Pushing HTTPS?
There’s mainly two reasons for this, so let’s quickly dive into them.
Google Prefers It
It is no secret that greater encryption and cyber security has made the Internet a safer place for users. As usual, a Google update signaled the necessity of HTTPS for user experience, SEO and internet security.
In 2014, Google suggested that enabling HTTPS on your site could result in higher search rankings. Although it still isn’t the only important factor in raising your site rankings, you shouldn’t underestimate its value. For example, if two sites are equal in all ways, but one site has HTTPS, that site would get a boost in rankings. In January of this year, Google released version 56 of Google Chrome. This new release brought about some changes, notably with how Google Chrome treats HTTPS vs. HTTP sites. The browser now clearly identifies sites that are not operating HTTPS on their systems. For example, a “Not Secure” message now appears on pages without HTTPS that try to collect passwords or sensitive information. You can expect that, eventually, all pages not using HTTPS will clearly be labeled as having insecure connections.
We can reasonably assume that Google’s preference for HTTPS has been a contributing factor for the changes implemented by WordPress.
Users Prefer HTTPS Too
A secure connection can make all the difference from a user’s perspective. Users see HTTPS as a positive signal that you are taking your site security seriously, for their benefit. So, having HTTPS could mean more traffic and longer usage times on your site.
HTTPS is particularly important if you are operating an e-commerce site. Simply seeing the padlock icon could make users more comfortable in entering their payment details and other personal information. Particularly with the new Chrome update (mentioned earlier) which shows a “Not Secure” label on e-commerce sites or sites that require a user login or credit card information, but don’t have HTTPS.
Both Google and user preference should be enough reason for you to upgrade your site to HTTPS. It is simply necessary to ensure watertight security for your users and to protect your online business reputation.
We know that you may be overwhelmed switching from HTTP to HTTPS. After all, change does takes time to get used to, but in this instance, you may need to quickly get on board. At this point, the advantages of HTTPS have greatly outnumbered the disadvantages. Plus, upgrading to HTTPS is no longer the costly, time consuming, and difficult process that it once was. In fact, getting an SSL certificate in 2017 is fast, sometimes free, and quite easy to implement.
What if You Just Don’t Want to Upgrade to HTTPS?
You could see a number of things happening to your site over time if you do not upgrade to HTTPS. The first may be facing the consequences set out by Google, i.e: lower rankings and having your users staring at a “Not Secure” warning when they try to access your site via Google Chrome.
The second is that you could struggle with WordPress updates and lose some or all functionality on specific WordPress plugins.
Third, your site may be an easier target for hacking.
Those are three consequences that require you to seriously reconsider if you really want to take the risk of not upgrading to HTTPS.
Let’s put it this way: you will simply have nothing to lose by adopting HTTPS. Yet, if you do not use HTTPS, you could risk leaving your site in the “dark ages” of the Internet.
But then again, if you’re a WordPress site owner, you have no choice. Take the plunge and let us know how it worked out for you!
How to Get HTTPS
Web Hosting Valdosta now provides a basic SSL certificate for all accounts, as of January 2018. Web Hosting Valdosta also can provide you with higher level SSL certificates such as EV / Greenbar for large company websites as well as eCommerce websites. These EV SSL / Advanced SSL certificated require business documentation and rigorous verification process, insuring your clients the greatest protection for use on your website. Web Hosting Valdosta believe all websites whether they use WordPress, Joomla, standard PHP, or Smarty Template design should have SSL enables, now with Google favoring the more, they web could get a little safer.