Church Plant Media and HTTPS (also known as SSL or TLS)
Church Plant Media offers free HTTPS certificates for all partners, which creates a secure, encrypted connection between your website and your visitors. With HTTPS, 1) most of your visitors will see a lock icon next to your URL in their browser, and 2) your URL will start with https:// instead of http:// (the “s” stands for secure). The appearance will vary from browser to browser (see Chrome, followed by Safari):
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, and is a technology that encrypts the connection between your website and your website's visitors. Data sent over HTTPS is encrypted using TLS (Transfer Layer Security), whose predecessor is SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). The alphabet soup of terms is generally interchangeable. For purposes of this writeup, we’ll use the term HTTPS.
There are many benefits to running your website over HTTPS:
- Security: your website data can’t be modified when visitors are interacting with your website, plus information transmitted through forms is secure.
- Authentication: this proves to your visitors that they are interacting with your website and not another.
- Possible search engine ranking improvement: Google views secure sites positively, and gives a bit of a ranking boost to those sites running over https. It’s not a major factor, but every little bit helps. To quote Google, “HTTPS sites receive a small ranking boost, but don't expect a visible change. Google uses HTTPS as a positive ranking signal. This signal is one amongst many others, and currently carries less weight than high-quality site content; you should not expect a major SEO advantage for moving to HTTPS in the short term. In the longer term, Google may increase the strength of the HTTPS boost.” Ref: http://bit.ly/2tjRJwl
- Brand confidence - having your website run over a secure connection shows your visitors that you take their privacy seriously, which only increases the amount of trust they have in your website.
A Few Things to Know
1) All Church Plant Media websites run over HTTPS. That said, if you are not yet live on Church Plant Media, and your previous site from another provider doesn't have HTTPS, then when we launch your site with us, we will apply HTTPS. Moving from HTTP to HTTPS is considered a site migration by Google, and your search engine ranking may temporarily be affected. To quote Google:
- “As with all migrations, you may experience some ranking fluctuation during a migration.” Ref: http://bit.ly/2tjRJwl
- “Note that the visibility of your content in web search may fluctuate temporarily during the move. This is normal and a site’s rankings will settle down over time.” Ref: http://bit.ly/2ti3JhY
- “Expect temporary fluctuation in site ranking during the move. With any significant change to a site, you may experience ranking fluctuations while Google recrawls and reindexes your site. As a general rule, a medium-sized website can take a few weeks for most pages to move in our index; larger sites can take longer. The speed at which Googlebot and our systems discover and process moved URLs largely depends on the number of URLs and your server speed.” Ref: http://bit.ly/2MO5njh
2) If you use Google's Search Console (in their Webmaster Tools suite), you’ll want to add your HTTPS URL to their Search Console after the switch to HTTPS is complete.