Use HTTPS for your landing pages or kill your conversion rate.

The number of website enquiries you get is going to fall off a cliff after *24th of October 2017 if your website doesn't use HTTPS.

HTTPS is the secure website protocol. After the *24th of October, Google Chrome will warn people that web pages with forms are insecure unless they’re served over HTTPS. About half of the internet uses Google Chrome. That’s a lot of potential customers to scare away.

The default setting for most websites is the insecure HTTP protocol. You have to specifically enable HTTPS.

Here's how you check if it has been enabled for your site.

  1. Go to your website's home page.
  2. Copy the URL from the browser address bar.
  3. Paste it anywhere that will let you change it - Word will do.
  4. If the URL starts with HTTPS you’re in the clear, no further action required. Otherwise change the HTTP part of the address to HTTPS and paste it into the address bar of your web browser.
  5. Reload the page. If your site doesn't load right away, or if you see warnings then your site doesn't work on HTTPS.

You need to install a SSL certificate on your web server to make HTTPS work. A certificate costs anything from free to several hundred dollars a year. The installation process ranges in complexity from one-click-and-you're-done to gouge-your-eyes-out-in-frustration - depending on who hosts your site.

My experience has always been on the frustrating end of the scale. It's painful for one site. I had to do a couple of hundred. Each of the lead generation sites my business runs had to have a certificate.

I was expecting three weeks of manual, error-prone work. It turns out that it was (mostly) a walk in the park thanks to a service called Let's Encrypt.

Let's Encrypt has turned the certificate industry upside down. Their certificates are free and you can install them programatically. As you can imagine, those are very attractive features when you have more than a handful of sites.

It took some work to move the sites to a web host that offers Let's Encrypt. After that it was easy. I hired my youngest son to click the 'Add SSL' button for each site. It took him an hour.

If you’re considering this, here’s a forum thread with a long list of hosting providers that offer Let's Encrypt certificates.

https://community.letsencrypt.org/t/web-hosting-who-support-lets-encrypt/6920

* Chrome 62 is/was scheduled for release on the 24th. It may be released sooner.


© Peter Bowen 2018 | Isle of Wight

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