For those of you who haven’t heard the news, there is a new Google security update in store for Chrome users beginning in January 2017.

Currently, this is how the address bar appears for an HTTP website in the Chrome browser:

Here is how Google wants any unsecured HTTP website to appear:

https ssl google chrome update 2016

While Google won’t be able to mark all HTTP websites as “Not secure” starting in January, they are planning to begin with websites that are high risk; namely, those that accept sensitive information from site visitors, like payment information and passwords.

With this Google security update coming soon, it’s time for businesses to start preparing.

Pay Attention to Google Security Updates

When Google updates its search algorithm, people take notice. In short, if Google takes the time to announce an update, there is a good chance those changes will affect how your website ranks in search. That’s why, as a business owner, it’s absolutely crucial that you stay attuned to these updates to ensure your website continually abides by Google’s rules.

Now, Google’s updates generally pertain to their search engine, which is why some people may have missed September’s news about Chrome. But this isn’t the first time Google has tried to penalize websites based on their use of HTTP instead of HTTPS.

For some of you, this may be the first time you’ve heard about HTTPS—and that’s okay. Here is all you need to know:

HTTP is the standard protocol through which websites are transferred from server to browser. If you look at the address bar in your browser window and you don’t see the letters “http://” before the address, then you’re on a website served by HTTP.

HTTPS is the secure alternative to HTTPS. In other words, there is an extra layer of encryption established between the server where the website resides and the browser, so that passwords, credit card information, and other sensitive are better protected. If you look at the address bar in your browser window and you see the green letters “https://” and/or a green lock symbol, then you’re on a website served by HTTPS.

Back in 2014, Google announced that it would give websites a higher ranking signal if they were on HTTPS. They even went so far as to say that this was part of their mission to push for “HTTPS everywhere”. Given that they’re now enforcing this new security marker in the Chrome browser, it appears that many people missed Google’s original push for a more secure web the first time around.

Why Google Security Updates Should Matter to You

Okay, so now that we’ve established the reason why you need to listen to Google, let’s talk about why all this HTTP vs. HTTPS matters to you.

Reason #1: Because what Google says is scripture. And, if you don’t play by their rules, you can kiss all that work you put into improving your site’s SEO “goodbye”. What they’re saying right now is that you’ve got to prioritize security.

Reason #2: Because security should always be a top concern for your business, regardless of any Google initiative. If you do business in the digital space, you need to ensure you’re keeping your customers safe.

Reason #3: Because your business’s security is just as important. Security breaches aren’t just relegated to major enterprises or celebrities. Anyone can be hacked, and you can’t afford to deal with those consequences.

Reason #4: Because that green lettering and lock icon can do wonders for your brand’s reputation. These are what’s known as “trust seals” and, for savvy Internet users, they’re going to look for them before they commit to doing business with you.

Reason #5: Because it’s free (for the most part). An HTTPS web address is obtained once you get an SSL certificate. If you don’t already have one, check with your hosting provider as they may offer these as a relatively cheap add-on. If they don’t, then check out Let’s Encrypt.

Summary

The Google Chrome update will be here shortly, so what are you waiting for? SSL certificates are a simple, quick, effective, and really affordable way to protect both your business and your site’s visitors.