An HTTPS website is, in simple terms, a safer website as compared to its HTTP counterpart. Earlier, websites offering sensitive financial transactions and critical information would opt for HTTPS while most of the other sites were using HTTP. However, in recent years, this trend has seen a cardinal shift especially after Google declared that sites without HTTPS would display a ‘Not Secure’ alert in the address bar next to the address of the site. This has made many site owners concerned about offering HTTP sites to users as they fear losing out on SEO and customer trust. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of switching your VPS Hosted website to HTTPS.
First, a quick understanding of HTTPS:
What is HTTPS?
In simple terms, HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP. Its full form is HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure and its HTTP over Secure Socket layer (SSL). HTTPS encrypts the connection between a user and the webserver. It requires an SSL certificate to identify the webserver and provide keys to sign and encrypt the data.
Pros and Cons of Switching to HTTPS
Let’s look at the cons first:
Cons of switching to HTTPS
1. SSL Certificate Cost Money
Not a lot of money, but they do cost. We wouldn’t want to put this as a disadvantage since the benefits offered by them far outweigh the costs, but you will have to factor this additional cost in your website budget.
2. A Mix of SSL and non-SSL Sites
While most sites have switched to HTTPS, there are many website owners who have not made the switch. Many times, users browsing an HTTPS site get a warning that the site is serving non-secure content. This confuses many users. The problem is that some sites load assets from other websites that might not have an SSL certificate. Hence, the browser pops up the warning since the site is not 100% secure.
When you move to HTTPS, all content is encrypted. Also, caching is blocked if data is encrypted. Therefore, for solutions like Varnish Cache, you need a server in front of the cache to manage encryption. Since we are talking about sites using VPS Hosting, if you are looking for a VPS provider, then look for those who manage proxy caching for an HTTPS site and offer AutoSSL in the VPS package.
Usually, these disadvantages can easily be countered, and small-to-medium-sized websites that are on VPS need not worry about them. In fact, the advantages are much higher than the possible disadvantages.
Pros of Switching to HTTPS
One obvious advantage is that data-moving between the user and your web server is encrypted, making it difficult (if not impossible) for a third-party to access it. Here is a list of other advantages:
1. Integrity of Data
Without HTTPS, a third-party can access the data flowing between the user and the webserver, read it, and even change it! If a hacker hijacks the connection and alters the data, then the user will never know. HTTPS ensures that these attacks are kept at bay, maintaining the integrity of data sent to the user.
2. Verified Identity
An SSL certificate is an assurance to the user that the information that he is accessing is originating from the expected domain. Further, when he send sensitive information to the server, he is assured of it being sent to the right company.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Google has included HTTPS as a ranking signal in its algorithm. While it does not have a major impact on search rankings, if two sites are similar on all counts and rank the same, then the site with HTTPS ranks higher than the site without it.
4. Users Trust Your Site
When a user sees a green padlock next to the address of your site, he knows that his information is encrypted and that you take security seriously. This instills confidence in your brand and also gives you an opportunity to earn his loyalty.
Depending on your business, switching to HTTPS might or might not be necessary for you. For example, if you are running a personal food blog, then you might choose to continue with HTTP (just keep Google in mind though). As you can see above, the pros of switching to HTTPS far outweigh its cons. We recommend that you assess them yourself and make an informed decision.