By: Paul Rasp, SEO Supervisor, Response Mine Interactive.
Google recently sent out notifications through Search Console to indicate that a change in Chrome browsers will affect websites with HTTP pages beginning in October 2017. Will your website or site visitors be affected?
As of August 2017, Google Chrome users accounted for over 44% of the browser market share in the US, indicating that a significant portion of visitors might experience this updated display during their time on your website. That likelihood increases further if you don’t consider mobile traffic. So, what will be different? How can you tell if your website will be affected? Most importantly, what options are available to address the update for your site?
What is the change?
Beginning in October, Chrome (version 62) will display a “NOT SECURE” warning to users any time they enter data on an HTTP page, and for all HTTP pages (regardless of data entry) visited in Incognito mode.
Previously, these warnings have only been used for pages that have a password or credit card fields. This is part of Google’s stated efforts to urge all sites towards HTTPS adoption for all pages. Their statement indicates a plan to eventually show similar warnings for all pages regardless of any occurrence of data entry.
What is the impact to SEO?
Currently, there is no anticipated direct impact to organic rankings and visibility. The only change will be what Chrome users will see in their browser bar when entering data into text input fields on HTTP pages, or when visiting HTTP pages in Incognito mode. The impact that the warning may have on user experience is largely unknown.
What is the trigger for this warning?
Any text input fields (such as <input type=”text”> or <input type=”email”>) that exist on HTTP pages will trigger the new warning for Chrome users. The following elements may be potential triggers from standard website features and functions (others may exist):
- Live Chat
- Store Locator entry
- E-mail signup entry
- Lead form field entry
- Product Review Submission
What is the recommended action to avoid this warning?
Google’s explicit recommendation to avoid these warnings from appearing for Chrome users is to fully migrate to HTTPS. Other benefits of HTTPS may include:
- Increased visibility: Though the observed impact to rankings has been minimal, Google has stated that they now use HTTPS as a positive rankings signal. They have indicated intentions to make this a stronger signal in the future.
- Stronger security: HTTPS encrypts all communication, and ensures that third parties cannot hijack the connection through a “man-in-the-middle” attack.
- Improved credibility: Apart from avoiding a “Not Secure” warning, HTTPS migration results in a visible “Secure” label in most browsers that can help build consumer confidence in their website experience.
Will your website be affected?
If your website has been fully migrated to HTTPS, this change will not affect you. If your website still has HTTP pages, it’s possible that your Chrome users will experience this change. Check Google Search Console to see if you have received any messages regarding how this change will impact your website, or contact RMI for an evaluation and to assist with protecting your Organic Channel performance during a transition to HTTPS.