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Here’s the thing about SSL: you really need to enable it across every page. This is called Always on SSL or HTTPS everywhere.
A lot of website owners purchase an SSL certificate and then only configure the pages that require a user to transmit personal information – login screens, checkout pages – to be served over HTTPS.
That’s not a good way to operate. Let’s look at why.
We’re going to assume you already know what an SSL certificate is, but maybe you don’t know all of the specifics associated with one. SSL certificates get installed on web servers, but the site still has to be configured to allow encrypted connections. When a connection is encrypted over HTTP it creates HTTPS. When we say a site is configured to be served over HTTPS it means you’re enabling encryption on it and coding it to make encryption the default.
SSL used to be considered a product that only e-commerce businesses and websites that collected personal information needed. It’s that thinking that has led many site owners to only configure pages that collect personal information for HTTPS.
That logic is quickly going out of vogue though. The web browsers have decided that SSL should be standard across all sites. And that brings us to the first reason you should just go ahead and implement Always on SSL.
In 2014, back when the browsers were still incentivizing SSL instead of outright mandating it, Google announced it was making HTTPS a signal in its ranking algorithm. At this point, in 2017, experts estimate that having SSL can give your website up to a 5% boost.
Now let’s think about what happens to that ranking signal after everyone starts to migrate to HTTPS? Everyone gets it. It becomes a standard. And the boost functionally begins to flip, to change from a benefit for sites that have it to a penalty for sites that don’t. When everyone ranks 5% higher than you, you’re at a disadvantage.
Here’s the problem, only the pages that are configured for HTTPS get the boost. So, leaving huge portions of your website unencrypted also leaves those portions at a competitive disadvantage. You may have an amazing section on your website that is a phenomenal resource but it’s going to rank lower if it’s not encrypted.
SEO is vital to your online success, so if nothing else—at least embrace Always on SSL for the SEO juice.
Another reason for Always on SSL, and a better reason at that, is the holistic health of your site. For one, when users bounce between encrypted and unencrypted portions of your site it taxes your server more than it would if you had just encrypted every page.
Second, not unlike the ranking signal, web browsers are also making advanced features exclusive to encrypted websites and HTTP/2 requires encryption. So, if you want your website to function at peak capability and for users to have the best possible experience, then encryption is a requirement.
And then there’s just your visitors’ best interest. One of the more underrated reasons for SSL is to help uphold user privacy. You can’t be tracked when SSL is being used, but without it every page a person views can be documented, a surprising amount of information can still be intercepted and your users are just generally less safe.
Look, it doesn’t cost you extra to encrypt every page on your site—you’re not being charged by the page. So why would you buy something and not leverage it for all of its value?
SSL is more important in 2017 than ever. And that doesn’t just mean buying one and installing it on your server, it means following through and encrypting your entire website.