Google: Switch to HTTPS by October or Else…

Several hours ago, Google sent out emails to Search Console users who are managing non-HTTPS websites. The search giant said that their popular Chrome browser will display “NOT SECURE” warnings on webpages that have forms and are using HTTP URLs.

Google noted that the warnings will start appearing sometime in October of 2017. Right now it’s unclear what the warnings will look like and whether they’ll have a negative impact in a website’s search visibility.

Here’s a sample message:

Google is seemingly pushing harder than ever for the mass adoption of the HTTPS protocol. In the past, it declared secure URLs as a positive ranking signal. Google has justified its backing of HTTPS by saying that secure URLs help preserve the integrity of data as it’s transferred from a website’s servers to its users’ browsers.

Most SEO specialists agree that HTTPS does help a site perform better in the SERPs, but does so in small increments. Recent studies have shown that more and more HTTPS sites are appearing on page 1 of search results, while the performance of non-secure sites is diminishing.

Some webmasters, however, have resisted the change. Reasons for not adopting the secure protocol include the following:

  • The added cost of purchasing an SSL license
  • The time, effort and expertise required to make the switch
  • A perception that HTTPS slows down a site’s load times
  • Low adoption rates among their competitors

It can be noted that this latest HTTPS-related announcement from Google is a significant departure from the previous one. The search engine tried to lure webmasters to the HTTP fold with the promise of ranking rewards initially. When that didn’t spur mass adoption, Google seemingly turned to negative reinforcement by threatening to mark pages with the “not secure warnings.” We’ll monitor closely how this story unfolds.