WordPress edging towards requiring HTTPS as standard

4 min read
Jonny Pathan
WordPress logo featuring HTTPS

We take a look at whether you should be considering using SSL, and if you should take action.

At the end of last year WordPress founder, Matt Mullenweg announced some news on SSL saying “2017 is going to be the year that we’re going to see features in WordPress which require hosts to have HTTPS available”.

No need to worry just yet though, it seems WordPress will be starting this transition with baby steps at first, such as only promoting hosting partners that provide a SSL certificate by default in their accounts. However, it’s inevitable that at some point, SSL will become mandatory for WordPress websites.

So, what does this mean for WordPress website owners? Let’s find out.

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the website that you are connected to. Essentially, it means all communications between your web browser and the website are encrypted. HTTPS is often used to protect confidential transactions like online banking and ecommerce transactions.

Most browsers display a green padlock icon in the address bar to visually indicate that a HTTPS connection is in effect.

HTTPS screenshot

Why are WordPress taking action?

It’s no secret, HTTPS has lots of benefits, here are a few:

Users Trust SSL More.

According to Comodo Group, Inc – 70% of online shoppers cancelled their online order because they did not “trust” the transaction. A survey conducted by Matthew Niederberger on Actual Insights, found trust logos increased the trustworthiness in over 75% of respondents. He also found that “61% of participants said they have at one time NOT completed a purchase because there were no trust logos present.”

Paypal login screen
PayPal’s login screen


Google’s all over it

Way back in 2014, Google announced they’ll be using HTTPS as a ranking signal, saying “over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.”

Google Secure Logo
They love it

To back that up, MOZ recently announced that 50% of page 1 results on Google were from HTTPS enabled websites, FIF-TY-PER-CENT! That number is predicted to rise to around 75% come the end of 2017.

% of HTTPS Results on Google Page 1
Percentage of HTTPS results on page 1 of Google

Security

The main reason for SSL: encryption. SSL makes sure that every packet of data exchanged between a user’s browser and a website is protected by encryption techniques. In the event of an unwanted party getting a hold of this data, the useful information is rendered unreadable by means of encryption. Handy right.

How to get HTTPS?

Give us loads of money… ?

In-case you took that seriously, and you have got loads of money, it’s not much use any more… In steps LetsEncrypt, a free, automated, and open certificate authority (CA), run for the public’s benefit). Though not supported by all hosting companies yet, LetsEncrypt is making it extremely easy, and free for most website owners to obtain an SSL certificate. With super simple installation (usually one click), it’s a no brainer. To check if your hosting provider supports it, check out this list of all known supported hosts.

If you don’t want a free one, that’s fine too. Most hosting companies will let you purchase a regular certificate through their control panels. In-fact, here at WATB we’re using a paid one, once that’s expired though, we’ll be sure to move over to LetsEncrypt.

What if You Don’t Want HTTPS?

You could see various things happening to your website over time if you don’t upgrade to HTTPS.

  • The consequences set out by Google, i.e: lower rankings and having your users see a “Not Secure” warning when they try to access your website via Google Chrome.
  • Your site may be an easier target for hacking
  • You may find obstacles using WordPress in the future and lose some functionality on WordPress plugins.

To Summarise

There’s not much to lose by implementing HTTPS on your website to be honest, you may as well make it happen. Best to be prepared and all that! And if you’re a WordPress website owner, you may have no choice soon.

What Next?
Check out our article – Things to check on your WordPress site when moving to SSL

Also, here’s a great resource WordPress SSL: How To Switch From HTTP To HTTPS (13 Simple Steps)

MOZ recently announced that 50% of page 1 results on Google were from HTTPS enabled websites, FIF-TY-PER-CENT!

Social Media Management Software

In order to promote your business and reach consumers that spend an entire 24 hours a week online, you need to make sure that you have a viable social media strategy in place.

By posting unique and interesting content on your social media platforms, and by actively engaging with followers, you can start to turn this into a funnel for generating leads.

In order to stay on top of your social media strategy, it’s important to have some form of social media management software to do some of the heavy lifting. Software such as this is imperative for scheduling, tracking and monitoring social media content.

At its best, social media management software can help you not only plan your content months in advance, but also remain reactive by letting you tune into ongoing news stories or trending topics.

Screenshot of Hootsuite's homepage

We recommend: Hootsuite

There are a whole bunch of social media management companies out there and all of them offer roughly the same sort of package but Hootsuite is the only one that offers an actually free service (as opposed to just a free trial period).

They do try to hide it on their website though so make sure you follow this link in order to get to the right page.

The free version of this software lets you:

  • Manage up to three social media profiles from a choice of channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn
  • Schedule up to 30 posts in advance at any point in time
  • Track follower growth, likes and comments
  • Integrate two RSS feeds in order to find and share compelling content
  • Access Hootsuite’s online help center and community forum

Of course, there’s also a number of paid-for packages that you can buy from Hootsuite that give you access to a great number of services including higher ad spend budgets, automated post scheduling and custom analytics.

But if you’re a small business looking to get started, the free version of the software should be comprehensive enough to allow you to get your social media strategy in motion.

Website Tracking Software

We’ve said before that the secret to a successful lead generation strategy is to keep analysing and refining your methods. Well, website tracking software is the best way to conduct this analysis.

By digging into the analytics of your visitors’ actions, you can start to gain a better picture of why people come to your site, what they want from it, what they dislike about it and how you can improve upon their experience next time.

There are a wide variety of services that can fall into the category of website tracking software, including heatmaps, funnels, user polls, surveys, visitor recordings and more.

Basically, any kind of software that collects data about the ways in which your visitors interact with your site can be considered website tracking software.

Screenshot of Hotjar's homepage

We recommend: Hotjar

Whereas there are a multitude of smaller software companies that focus in on just one website tracking service, Hotjar offers an array of useful tools.

Hotjar tools include:

  • Click, move, scroll, download and share heatmaps that can also be split by device type
  • Visitor recordings that allow you to replay sessions of real site visitors
  • Conversion funnels that identify on which page and at which step the most visitors are leaving your site
  • Form analysis that can help you to discover which fields take too long to fill, which are left blank and why your visitors abandon your form and page
  • A customizable widget that allows you to create pop-up feedback polls
  • Responsive surveys that can be distributed through web links and emails, or featured your site just before your visitors abandon the page in order to discover what their concerns are
  • The ability to recruit test users in order to get instant feedback on your site

Hotjar’s free service is able to collect data from 2000 page views a day and will give you access to up to 300 visitor recordings and 3 heatmaps, forms, funnels, polls and surveys. Unlimited users can be added to your account and Hotjar will also store your data for a full year.

While we’d normally recommend free services when possible, it’s probably worth paying for Hotjar’s Plus plan to begin with.

For just under £25 a month you can collect data from 10,000 page views a day and have unlimited services and reports. Plus there’s even a 15-day free trial for you to test out whether you like their software or not.

Remember

Lead generation doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour.

What’s important is that you put real effort into all of your interactions with potential leads - whether that’s through educational and informative blog posts, social media interactions or even just a chat on the phone.

If you believe in your business’ ability to help its customers then all you have to do is let that shine through.

Ultimately, these tools are just there to help you meet potential leads on their level. The rest is up to you.

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