Internet security has been an ongoing problem for several years, with concerns being raised over how to monitor and maintain security in a digital world. In light of the Cambridge Analytica data breach, Mark Zuckerberg has gone on record saying “that privacy and having the data locked down is more important to people than maybe making it easier to bring more data and have different kinds of experiences.”
HTTP vs HTTPS
With this in mind, Google has spend the last two years working towards a more secure future and HTTPS is the fruits of their labour. The difference between HTTP and HTTPS is encryption. On HTTP the connection is not encrypted and anyone on the network can access or modify the information going back and forth. For sites that ask for data or sensitive information, it is crucial that the user’s privacy is protected.
How is Google combatting this?
Previously, a HTTP site may have been flagged in the search bar, but now a more commanding warning pops up, informing the user of a security concern and offering the choice to go back to safety. This confrontational approach is having the desired effect on the industry as according to Chrome’s Transparency Report:
- 76 percent of Chrome traffic on Android is now protected, up from 42 percent
- 85 percent of Chrome traffic on ChromeOS is now protected, up from 67 percent
- 83 of the top 100 sites on the web use HTTPS by default, up from 37
This warning has been such a great motivational tool for website owners because many users are concerned by the warning and choose not to the visit the page. This jeopardises the number of page views and conversions available to a HTTP page.
What pages are being targeted?
The aim is that all HTTP pages will be phased out over time, however that is an enormous undertaking. Instead Google chose to prioritize high risk pages first- pages that ask for sensitive data like credit card details. Chrome has now beyond that stage and is flagging warnings on any HTTP pages that ask for personal details, so any page that requires a form fill will be seen as a risk.
It is expected that Chrome will continue to target HTTP pages, so if this does not currently affect your website, it is good practice to switch over to HTTPS regardless as it will affect you in the future.
How does this impact traffic?
While some may feel this is a change they can shrug off, the reality is this will impact your PPC Campaign. You will still be charged for clicks and the ads will still be delivered, however your potential customers will be put off reaching your landing page by the stark security risk warning. This can lead to wasted spend and overall a less effective campaign. This may also affect your quality score, which is essential to a less expensive Cost per Click as well as determining the ads position on the page.