Google has rolled out a new security standard this month, and site owners, as well as SEO experts, may notice a significant dip in their search ranking if they don’t make changes to their site now.
With the new Google Chrome 62 update, the search engine will mark any HTTP page that contains a form for information for a customer to fill out as ‘not secure.’ This is expected to have a massive effect on search rankings as it is difficult to think of a site that does not use a variation of a form on at least one page of their site.
Even blogs may allow users to log in to post comments and this type of page will not be immune to the warning. As such, basically every website online could be at risk of being impacted by this update.
Before we explore what this will mean for SEO experts, Pay Per Click specialists, AdWords consultants and site owners, it’s important to explore a previous update, Chrome 56.
Chrome 56 Security
In March, Google rolled out the Chrome 56 update which changed security protocol for websites online. Any website that requested a password from a user that was not encrypted received a ‘not secure’ label next to the site in the address bar.
Here is Pete LePage’s article & a video on what`s new with Chrome 56:
This was the first sign that websites would now need an SSL certificate. With an SSL certificate in place, any connection or data shared between the site and the user is completely secure. All information is encrypted and, as experts know, even hackers have a hard time breaking through this type of security. An SSL certificate also ensures that users know they are on an authentic site and this helps them avoid scams.
Security is important for website owners online, particularly if you or the client you work for are selling products. Approximately 84 percent of shoppers will abandon a website, and indeed a purchase if they discover that the site is not secure. As such, we can not assume that users will not notice this change.
Potential Impact of Chrome 62
Google’s official announcement for Chrome 62 included very little information on the new security protocol. However, this should not lull you into a false sense of security as it could be detrimental to your site.
According to Google, the official line on the update reads:
“Chrome will show the ‘not secure’ warning in two additional situations: when users enter data on an HTTP page, and on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode.”
You might feel secure in knowing that not every user online uses Chrome. However, a report in 2017 revealed that Chrome leads the market massively as the preferred search engine with 58.4 percent of the market share. As such, anything that impacts a site ranking on Chrome could have huge implications for the future of the business.
It’s clear then that without full security a website could start seeing a lower conversion rate and perhaps even lower numbers of visitors in general. But how will this update impact search rankings, directly or indirectly?
Impact on Search Rankings
HTTPS And SSL are both used by Google as a ranking signal and can even be used as a tiebreaker when deciding which site gets the top spot. Breaking this down, that means that by having a secure site as officially recognized by the new update, owners can ensure that their site is not hit and moved underneath a similar competitor. In fact, ensuring full SSL certification of a site could boost search rankings if the process is completed correctly.
Essentially, the security of a site will now have a far greater impact on where a site appears in the SERPs. It is certainly unlikely that any site without the full security will receive a place on page one of the SERPs or even page ten, particularly with competitive keyword and phrase results.
This is important, as research shows that websites on the first search engine results page do gain almost 95 percent of the web traffic. This leaves only five percent of the traffic for the remaining search results pages. In fact, many users never go beyond the first five results.
As such, anything that gives you an advantage against a competitor may be worth considering. It is worth pointing out that there are still sites that do not have the security to escape the damaging ‘not secure’ label. Thus, there is still a chance for you to gain an advantage over some competitors if you make the change today.
Indeed, since 2014, research has shown time and time again that sites with security in place perform better in the rankings. This update will only strengthen that effect. However, there is also an indirect impact to consider here.
The issue that you need to be aware of is ‘bounce rate.’ If a user clicks on a site and receives a warning of ‘not secure,’ they are far more likely to click off and leave the site completely. The number of users per clicks that do this is called the bounce rate, and it will almost certainly increase if the new ‘not secure’ label appears next to your site.
You should also be aware that this is just the beginning. In the future, it is speculated that Google will highlight the ‘not secure label’ in red and add an exclamation point in a bright red triangle. The implications of this type of action is clear. Google is clearly aiming to ensure that customers and users know that any site with the label is unsafe and should be avoided. This will certainly lead to a higher bounce rate.
Potential Impact of Changing Security on Ranking
It is crucial to be aware that changing security settings on your site to match the new requirements of the Chrome 62 update may also negatively impact your rankings.
However, this will either be brief or it may be avoided completely. If you switch your site to HTTPS by adding an SSL, then you may find that there is a slight dip in your rankings. More in depth information on this topic from Neil Patel at Quicksprout.
However, this is simply a sign that the indexes are adjusting to your new site. It will stabilize and to avoid this, you should carry your site over during a time when website traffic is low. To carry your site over, Google needs to crawl over it, and this will be a far quicker process if fewer people are using your site when they complete this check.
The other issue can occur with 301 redirects. If these are not properly in place, when users try to access pages on your site, they discover the SEO deadly ‘404’ errors. This is going to impact both your site ranking and your conversion rate because once they click on the site, users won’t be able to access it at all.
As mentioned, both issues can be rectified by ensuring that you are adding security site protocols in the right manner.
Adjusting a Site for Google Chrome Update 62
To adjust a site to the new Chrome Update 62, there are a few steps that must be taken. These can be completed either by the owner of the site or an SEO expert.
First, you need to make sure that the site in question has an SSL certificate. You must make sure that the SSL certificate is properly installed. Costs of an SSL certificate can vary. However, they can typically be purchased for a cost that is more than affordable for any site or business. These can be purchased from a hosting company.
The process of installing your SSL certificate will differ depending on the source of the site. For WordPress users, the process can be easy using a plugin like Really Simple SSL. You can install the SSL with the click of a button and make sure all URLs load with HTTPS.
Installing an SSL with other sites can be more complicated but will generally take less than a couple of hours. As such, you can make this change fairly quickly and ensure that any site you run is up to date.
You must make sure that all internal links on your site pages are also switched from HTTP to HTTPS and that the server you are using for the site is appropriately configured for the update.
As already mentioned, it is important to ensure that 301 redirects from the old HTTP links now send to the new HTTPS links for your site.
And again Pete LePage with his update on Chrome 62:
Finally, you need to make sure that any area of a profile linking to the site online is up to date with the change as well. The last thing you want is users from social media and other areas online trying to access your site and finding that the old HTTP pages are dead or seeing that ‘not secure’ label.
I hope you now see the importance of the new Google Chrome 62 update for your site ranking and ensure that you make the appropriate changes to any site you manage to ensure your client gets the best ranking possible.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.