HTTPS vs HTTP: For Your Chinese Website

David Henriques

When it comes to ranking higher on Baidu or Google, your website security is something that can make a difference. If you and a competitor are competing to take the top spot on a search engine, having HTTPS instead of HTTP in your domain could be all it takes for you to rank higher. On top of that, easy accessibility on an insecure website is harmful for your brand’s image.

Website security signifies trust and assurance, is vital for search engine optimization (SEO) especially for Baidu SEO, prevents customer data misuse, and offers protection from hacking. A good online customer experience will involve a secure third-party and trusted encryption. In order to understand how to get this done and to better understand the benefits for your website, it is important to know what exactly the difference between HTTP & HTTPS is and why you should care.

 

What is HTTP?

Hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) is a system that is used to send and receive information through the Internet. HTTP is known as an ‘application protocol for information systems’, meaning that it transfers information between networked devices with less concern for how the data is transmitted from one point to another.

 

Hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP)

 

HTTP is mostly used to access HTML pages and is stateless. Stateless means it uses less data by forgetting earlier web sessions. Websites that did not hold any private customer information use to set up their websites using HTTP due to the lack of priority on security measures.

 

What is HTTPS?

The secure hypertext transfer protocol (HTTPS) works the same way as HTTP but was developed in order to allow for completely secure transactions. HTTPS provides a layer of security for the exchange of confidential information from unauthorized sources. In short, it is simply the secure version of HTTP. To go a little more in detail, the main difference is that by default, HTTPS uses TCP Port 443, so technically HTTP & HTTPS are two different types of communication.

 

The secure hypertext transfer protocol (HTTPS)

 

HTTPS provides enhanced protection because it uses secure sockets layer (SSL) to surround the data, which is a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a server and a client. An SSL certificate is a type of code on your web server that provides security for online communications. When a web browser contacts your secured website, the SSL certificate enables an encrypted connection.

 

HTTP Vs HTTPS

HTTP Vs HTTPS

With HTTPS, the SSL will transport the data safely and securely, which is what search engines care about.  SSL cares about the security of the transfer and HTTPS cares about how the data look. This is why it is the better option for websites; it offers two advantages at the same time with the use of SSL. It puts the user experience first and provides more protection during data transfers from different touch points. HTTPS and SSL work together to create a secure environment.

 

HTTPS is Beneficial for SEO

If you have done any research on HTTP vs HTTPS in the past, you might have come across a few studies that show the high correlation between HTTPS and a good search ranking. Both Baidu & Google have also announced that HTTPS would be used as a ranking signal when deciding the position of websites in Search Engine Results Pages (SEPRS). It is very clear that HTTPS offers the security that users want and need, so it is the way to go if you want your website to be favored on search engines.

 

HTTPS is Beneficial for SEO

 

  • Increased customer trust: With the added layer of security, customers are more willing to trust and leave personal information with sites that start with HTTPS. It’s a necessity and top websites usually promote SSL and security indicators to gain customer trust.
  • Faster page speed: Having HTTPS is the prerequisite for using the most up-to-date security and web performance technology. HTTPS also enables the improvement of website speed when you use protocols like TLS 1.3 and HTTP/2.
  • HTTPS adds privacy: HTTPS adds privacy to your website’s goals by verifying that the correct website is on the server. This prevents any sort of tampering by third parties, which makes the site more secure for visitors by encrypting all communication like URLs.

 

How to get an SSL Certificate while in China

If you’re wondering how to get an SSL certificate or deciding which the best one for you is, Sekkei Studio can help you get started. It’s not enough to just simply shop around for any SSL certificate and add it to your check out cart.

The software you want to secure will have a certificate request procedure that will be designed for your particular use case. A certificate from places like Alibaba Cloud (Aliyun) will allow customers to directly apply, purchase and manage SSL certificates on Alibaba Cloud.

Once your SSL certificate is purchased, Sekkei Studio can help deploy HTTPS to your website so your site can offer customers and visitors an extra layer of security and trust.

 

How to switch to HTTPS?

If you are planning to do the migration yourself, do consider the following steps in order to switch to HTTPS:

  • Decide on the type of SSL certificate you want or go through Sekkei Studio.
  • Install and configure the purchased SSL certificate onto your site’s hosting account.
  • Perform a complete back-up of your website in the event that you have to revert back to it.
  • Go through your entire website and update any hard-internal links from HTTP to HTTPS. Make sure you also update the sitemap and robots.txt file.
  • Go through your templates and update references to scripts and images as well.
  • Make sure code libraries, such as JavaScript and any 3rd party plugins are compatible.
  • Change the external links to your website to HTTPS.
  • Update your CDN’s (Content Delivery Network) SSL
  • Update any links that you use for marketing automation.
  • Update all your landing pages that you used for paid advertising to HTTPS.
  • Run your website with screaming frog to check if everything is in place.
  • Implement 301 redirects throughout your site either page by page or through .htaccess file.
  • Enable HSTS, which will tell your browser to always use HTTPS.
  • Enable OCSP stapling, which allows a server to identify whether a security certificate was revoked instead of a browser. Thereby preventing the browser from having to download or cross-reference the authority that issued the certificate.

 

SSL certificate

 

SEO Concerns when Switching to HTTPS

Lastly, once your website is ready for HTTPS, do follow the below tips to prevent potential SEO related issues:

  • Inform Baidu that you have switched from HTTP to HTTPS. Submit the new sitemap.xml to Baidu Search Console.
  • Make sure Robot.txt is allowing Baidu bots.
  • Make sure only the HTTPS URL is accessible. If HTTP is also accessible, there is something wrong regarding the redirection.
  • Finally, make sure to verify HTTPS over the Baidu Search Console.

 

It’s worth it to invest in website security. Your brand reputation, after all, is far more expensive in time, money, and customer retention than the price of protection after a security breach. Securing your site with an SSL certificate and HTTPS are just few simple steps while a website breach process can take hours, if not days while devaluing your credibility at the same time. Whether it’s through Alibaba Cloud or another service provider, the cost for an SSL certificate is a small price to pay to increase your security, SEO ranking, and trust among customers. The sooner your website makes the transition to HTTPS, the easier it will be to drive consumers to your product and service.

 

David Henriques
David Henriques

Digital entrepreneur and co-founder of Sekkei Studio, a digital marketing agency in Shanghai, Paris and Hong Kong. More than 10 years of experience in helping the communication of foreign companies in China.

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