Google is now warning Chrome users about unsecured websites

Google has announced a major change to its search algorithm

Google’s search algorithm has something like 200 elements to it and it makes changes to it all the time. But a bit like the recipe for Coca-Cola few people outside Google know what they all are. Most of these changes are minor tweaks that we don’t really notice.

Occasionally they will launch a big update that just drops with no fanfare, and it takes us in the SEO world to notice drastic changes to page rankings to realise that “something” has happened. Cue a somewhat undignified scramble to (a) work out what’s different and (b) write blogs about it. VERY occasionally Google will announce an update. Even more rarely they will give advanced notice of that update (e.g. their “Mobile First” strategy from earlier this year).

6 months ago they gave advanced notice of a major change to its Chrome browser (Chrome 68) and with it an update to security warnings. This went live on 24th July 2018. So as of now, Chrome marks all plain HTTP sites as “not secure.” Previously you may have noticed an “i” symbol on the URLs for unsecured sites. This has now changed to a much clearer “NOT SECURED” label. Google has also stated that it has started to roll this out to ALL Chrome users, not just those with the latest version.

What does this mean for you?

When a website is “secure” (i.e. has an SSL encryption certificate) then any data that is transferred outside the site is encrypted, i.e. is safe from hackers. This is especially important for things like orders, payments or contact forms.

I strongly recommended to upgrade your website to HTTPS URLs and be secure, even if your site does not ask for payment information, logins or other private information. This is because when potential customers see the “NOT SECURED” label they may be put of from staying your site – after all, they won’t know at this stage if you collect data or not. This will affect your dwell times and bounce rates, which will have a knock-on effect on your page rankings.

For advice about how to secure your website please contact me