Google recently announced plans to upgrade their Chrome browser with Brotli, a much faster compression algorithm.
But what impact does this have on the average website?
Brotli, which compresses data up to 26% faster than current algorithms, will only benefit domains with a HTTPS connection. So, has the time come for digital businesses to make the switch to HTTPS?
An introduction to HTTPS
HTTPS, or HTTP over SSL/TLS, presents the user with a more secure version of the web. HTTPS encrypts and decrypts web pages, making user data harder to access for hackers, generally ensuring the web is a safer place to be.
In addition to improved web security and speed, owning a HTTPS status provides a lightweight ranking preference for search engines. With that in mind, HTTPS migration may seem like the obvious choice for all website owners.
To recap, the benefits include:
- A quicker website
- Improved security
- Increased trust from Google leading to improved rankings*
It’s important to remember however, migration isn’t without its limitations.
HTTPS migration means every URL on your site, i.e. every page, must be restructured, more specifically altering every HTTP to HTTPS.
For example, your page ‘http://www.example.com/awesome-webpage’ would be stored in a new destination, ‘https://www.example.com/awesome-webpage’.
Whilst this change may seem minor, without proper consideration problems will arise. When we migrate a site we always weigh up the benefits against the following implications:
1. Google will need to recrawl and reindex your entire domain
This may not be an issue if your site is only ten pages in size, but an e-commerce store with tens of thousands of pages will take some time to relocate their entire inventory over to the updated URL.
I recently wrote about website migration and anticipated timescales, check it out for more information. During any migration, you should also expect to observe a decrease in search engine rankings as Google decides which variant it should rank.
2. Site wide loss of inbound equity
Every link that points to your domain contributes to its ‘authority’, the development of which leads to increased trust from Google that your domain is respected. Part of the HTTP migration process is the redirection of expired URLs, http to live https.
It’s widely accepted that links travelling through a redirect lose around 10% of their equity, meaning a HTTPS migration could result in a reduction of existing inbound equity.
3. Short-term pain, long-term gain
Every site is expected to be HTTPS compliant in time, and this levels the playing field somewhat.
The decision is whether to adopt the new system early and begin developing authority to a new HTTPS domain now, or to wait it out capitalising on short-term gains but playing catch-up later.
HTTPS migration check list
Migrating to HTTPS can be a hefty project, and requires an experienced web development team to implement. In addition to the inclusion of the SSL (Secure Socket Layer), a complete migration includes:
- 301 redirects for any expiring HTTP URLs to HTTPS
- Updating external plugins to ensure they are HTTPS compliant
- Update third-party Ad code to support HTTPS
- Register HTTPS version in Webmaster Tools, ensuring correct preferences
- Update Google Analytics to ensure the correct tracking
Is it time to switch to HTTPS?
The loss of organic visibility in the short-term is obviously something all businesses must assess to understand its full impact.
The long-term benefits of migration will complement all domains in the future; however, over a long enough timeline it’s hard to imagine why any website wouldn’t eventually make the switch to HTTPS.