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Does Your Website Need an SSL Certificate?

http browser security message

In 2018 Google started the process of flagging websites as untrustworthy if they do not have an SSL certificate, and our Omaha web hosting team began making recommendations to all our clients to purchase and install and SSL certificate. If your website is not updated with an SSL certificate people who visit might see a red “Not Secure” message in their web address bar (URL), along with a full red screen warning them to advance at their own peril. As an Omaha web design and web hosting company we’re on the front lines and have a close up view of how this is affecting website owners. 

In addition to giving a dangerous impression, non-secure websites will suffer in Google search rankings making it increasingly difficult to find your website. The good news is it’s easy to get a SSL certificate and avoid having the dreaded red screen greet your visitors.

Who Needs an SSL Certificate?

After the release of Chrome 62, EVERY website with any kind of text input will need an SSL certificate. If your website has text inputs in the form of login panels, contact forms, search bars, etc., you’ll need the upgrade. If your website is on HTTP:// you’ll need the upgrade. There are very few websites that can get away with not having an SSL cert now. 

Benefits of an SSL Certificate

Secure Sensitive Information

If you don’t like the feeling of being “forced” to upgrade by Google, there are some benefits that come with the certificate. For starters, any information you send on the internet is passed from computer to computer and eventually arrives at the destination server. If you’re sending unsecure information any computer in between you and the server can see what your sending. Credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information are vulnerable. When you use an SSL certificate the information becomes unreadable to everyone except for the server you’re sending the information to. Securing sensitive information is always good practice.

Cybercriminal Defense

Cybercriminals are becoming more and more sophisticated. Not only do they put together scams, they are starting to use techniques that capture unsecured data that’s moving between destinations. More than ever an SSL certificate is necessary to ensure your sensitive information is secure from these tech criminals.

Trust

Perhaps the most significant benefit is trust. When visitors come to your website and it has an SSL certificate they will see visuals that signal trust. In the URL they’ll see a lock and a green address bar indicating that secured encryption is in use. When your visitors see this, they’ll feel at ease and will stay longer. Using HTTPS will give you a stronger Google ranking as well.

SEO Benefits

Switching to HTTPS moderately correlates with organic search engine rankings. While it’s not a major determining factor, Google has stated it could be a tie breaker in indexing, ranking an HTTPS website above the HTTP competitor.

How an SSL Certificate Works

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is standard security technology that establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. The link makes sure all the data passed between the web server and browsers remains private and secure. The process looks something like this: 

  1. A browser or server tries to connect to a website secured with an SSL certificate. The browser/server requests that web server identify itself.
  2. The web server sends the browser/server a copy of its SSL.
  3. The browser/server checks to see whether or not it trusts the SSL. If it does, it sends a message to the web server.
  4. The web server sends back a digitally signed agreement to start an SSL encrypted session.
  5. Encrypted data is then shared between the browser/server and the web server.

Don’t Get Flagged!

Having an SSL certificate is now a must have if you want visitors looking at your site – which you most certainly do. It’s important for SEO and user experience. If you don’t already have an SSL certificate you could be losing hundreds of potential customers every day – or more depending on the size of your business.

Make Your Website Faster: Tips to Increase Page Load Speed

In a time where Google puts its highest priority on user experience, and users are not willing to wait for much of anything… website load time is a critical factor for search engine rankings and retaining potential leads.

There are many factors to consider: browser, website host, device, page content, etc. But first, let’s start with YOUR website’s load time.

What’s my website loading speed?

You can check page load time through a couple avenues. If you use Chrome, you can use the Chrome extension “Page Load Time” or a separate tracker like Pingdom. You can also check if your website is loading fast enough for you visitors by checking your bounce rate. Bounce rate can be seen through Google Analytics. If the bounce rate is high, it can indicate load time is too slow. High bounce rate can also negatively impact Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Google Webmaster recommends a maximum of 2 second load time for an ecommerce website, but Google aims for a half a second. That’s fast.

Help Check my Website Speed

frustrated user waiting for website to load

How to make my website faster

Compress: The file size that the browser renders is king. The smaller the image the faster the load time. Here are some tips to optimize your images for faster website load time.

  • Resize your images before you upload them onto a page. Don’t load a 5000x3500px image when your image on the page displays at 500×300. Your browser needs to calculate this resizing, and this takes time.
  • Remove all the metadata from an image to reduce the image size. For example, you don’t need to know what camera was used, where the photo was taken, etc… This can bloat the filesize that the browser needs to render. This takes time.
  • Consider compressing your CSS and Javascript files so that they are condensed into fewer files and the overall bytes loaded is smaller. This can make future edits to your site tedious and time consuming, so be sure to consult your web developer and get their advice before doing this.
  • Consult your website hosting provider about how to utilize gzip to serve your website files to browsers. Compressing the resources that the browser requests can allow your browser to get information faster.

Help me Compress

Design, Coding & Content: The three main factors when building a website, all contributing to website load time. Here are some tips to optimize website design, coding and website content for fast website load time.

  • Remove the junk. Many prebuilt templates are built to sell and have ALL the features. By the time you have your content, images, page structure, etc. established, you’re left with a lot of dead weight you’re not using. Delete as much unnecessary data from your template as possible, including images, plugins and posts.
  • If speed is a top priority, consider getting a custom-built template. Often, prebuilt templates are built in a complex way to hide code, making it harder for others to “borrow” code. These hiding techniques are good at making it difficult to borrow, but they also sometimes make a browser load more files, or the structure of the code causes render blocking (some sections on the site cannot render until all the appropriate files are loaded). This can increase load time and create the illusion that the page loads extremely slow.
  • During the website design process, don’t force a ton of heavy elements into your design: Use fewer photos, host videos on YouTube, consider less “moving content” like ajax loading or lazy-load content.

Optimize my Design

Other Considerations: Consider utilizing the open source Accelerated Mobile Pages provided by Google. Basically, Google renders a snapshot of your site instead of reloading it for mobile users, so it loads lightning fast. But be sure to understand the problems with caching for this method of Google displaying your content.

How to design a fast website

The best route to go is to ditch the out-of-the-box solution and partner with a website design and SEO company. If you’re working with a team that builds websites to look beautiful with best SEO practices in mind, website load time will be considered through every step of the process.

Our website design and Search Engine Optimization Omaha team considers website load speed from the initial planning stages through our SEO strategy implementation. So, if you want to know how to design a fast website, let us know, or we can make it happen for you.

Make My Website Fast