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Google Security Updates Are Coming July 2018: What Does This Mean for Your Website?

Are TLS or SSL secure certificates relevant to my website?

Google Security Updates Are Coming July 2018: What Does This Mean for Your Website?

What are the Security updates that Google announced for July 2018?

Google make changes to their browser, to their security, to the algorithms they use literally hundreds of times a year, but every now and then, they roll out a new update that includes major changes that will affect users in a more substantial way. There has been a lot of focus on increasing security and improving user experience in 2018, with the upcoming general data protection regulations (GDPR) changes, new browsers, new algorithms, and the mobile-index updates these changes are forcing website owners and businesses to consider their responsibility to visitors in a more pragmatic way than in previous years.

The Security updates that Google will be implementing July 2018 are no exception. The aims are to increase security and prioritize user experience (UX). There has been much discussion and anticipation about how this update will affect Search Results. Google have confirmed that it will be necessary for ALL website owners to obtain and install a Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificate or a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate and migrate their websites to Https.

For those that are not aware, TLS certificates and SSL certificates are secure certificates that encrypt information sent between the user and the website, making the websites more secure. This means that visitors are safe to input data such as email addresses and bank details without fear of someone stealing this information, receiving viruses, becoming victims of fraud, or generally having to worry about bad things that can happen from using non-secure sites. The difference between TLS certificates and SSL certificates but TLS certificates use stronger encryption, making them more secure. Some SSL certificates will satisfy new algorithms and browser updates, but not all SSL certificates will be recognized by Google.

Google is not the only browser or search engine implementing changes 2018.

As well as the updates confirmed by Google, Bing have also been working on similar changes, and we can assume that other browsers and search engines will have to follow suit as well. The requirement that websites be more secure and are migrated to Https looks to be becoming an industry standard. It is safe to say anyone having a new website built should absolutely expect that the website be Https and not Http.

Why is this relevant to me?

As well as protecting your visitors obtaining a secure certificate and migrating your site, Https is a way for browsers to identify your website as a safe/secure website. Algorithms flag up non-secure websites and warn users that the website they are visiting does not appear to be secure according to their algorithm. At the moment, this warning does not appear prominently and has only really been relevant to websites and businesses that handle personal data such as email addresses and bank details, largely affecting e-commerce but having very little benefit to other websites. From July 2018, this will become a much more prominent warning that will appear on any site that has not obtained a secure certificate and migrated to Https. In short, secure certificates such as TLS or SSL ensures users, browsers, and search engines that the website they are visiting is secure.

In addition to the obvious implications, websites that have not obtained certificates and migrated to Https will find that this can have an impact on their search rankings and on their website's performance in terms of engagement and conversions. It doesn’t take a genius to then conclude that if you have not taken these steps and you have a website you will very quickly see this effecting your business. Most people will not be comfortable using your website if it is being warned by Google that doing so is not secure and may result in any number of terrible consequences for them. Users will certainly not want to input any personal details even if they have had a good experience of using the website in the past.

So as a Website owner, what should you do?

Contact your hosting provider or web developer and request that they obtain a secure certificate and migrate your site to Https as soon as possible. Most credible hosting providers, web designers and developers are contacting clients about this first so check to see if they have sent you any information about this.

Things to bear in mind when obtaining a secure certificate and migrating to Https;

Migrating your site can be a very straightforward, easy, fast, and cheap. It can also be a very complicated process that will require a lot of work and can be lengthy, therefore incurring higher costs. Whether the process is going to be simple or complicated will depend on several factors such as; the size of the website, the hosting provider, whether the site is custom bespoke or off the shelf, and so on. If your site was designed and built for under £600, it stands to reason that the necessary changes and migration will also be a very cheap and straightforward process. However, if you have a more expensive website that has higher performance and relies on more complex, customizable, and let's be honest, most likely better systems and code, then this could be a lengthier and more costly process.

Why? Because cheaper, lower quality websites don’t need to create their own code and don’t require much work to migrate. Whereas higher quality websites will require coders/developers to spend time going through complex migration processes for each page ensuring that, once the work is done, the site will perform well and be SEO friendly. Even though the costs may be higher to migrate custom, complex, or higher quality websites, it is important to check that the quote given is fair and the provider can account for a logical breakdown of these costs.

How are people reacting?

The update is generally considered a positive thing from a user point of view. Better security online is a hot topic and something users are becoming more concerned with. From a website owner's, developer's, and business's point of view, some feel frustrated at having to keep up with the changes and are concerned about being penalized if they do not. Either way, the changes are coming and being ahead of them is a definite advantage. If you have any comments, questions or would like to discuss anything relating to the upcoming changes or site migration I'd love to hear thoughts. 

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Google Security Updates Are Coming July 2018: What Does This Mean for Your Website?
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