The Google Chrome browser is now showing a “Not Secure” alert on pages that include any form (including booking widgets) and does not use HTTPS.
So What Is HTTPS?
HTTPS is a secure version of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). You can view the details on Wikipedia. The basic idea is that HTTPS allows a more secure communication between the user and the server that hosts the website.
In the past, HTTPS was mandatory for e-Commerce sites and websites that request sensitive information, but was not typically needed for a majority of the web.
Why HTTPS Now?
Google has made it known for years that it favors sites that use HTTPS. While it has never been a huge factor, in competitive markets, every little bit helps. HTTPS is a best practice that we recommend for all hotel sites.
The October 2017 update is not related to a search algorithm change, it is more of a usability issue because users will see the “Not Secure” message before your domain name. This message is sure to give some users pause before deciding to book through your hotel site.
How To Change To HTTPS
The switch to HTTPS is moderately technical. You can usually purchase a security certificate through your hosting provider, where you will also likely need to pay for a dedicated IP address for the site. The certificate install process requires verification of domain ownership through the email address on the WhoIs record. Switching to HTTPS typically requires changes to DNS or a dedicated IP address. You also will likely need a developer to change all http urls to https. Contact your hosting provider and let them know you want to add HTTPS, they will walk you through the process.
What We Use
We typically use the free version of Cloudflare when adding HTTPS to a site. It’s a very simple process that requires you to host your DNS at Cloudflare. Their system scans your domain and copies all current DNS settings. Once you point your domain to their servers, all of your settings will stay the same and there will be zero downtime for your website or email.
After your domain is setup on CloudFlare, you can turn on the SSL and your site can now be accessed using HTTPS. However, the site will show errors if you have any images or pull scripts from non-https urls. This is where a developer needs to step in and update all links on your site.
Bonus: CloudFlare also speeds up your website and provides additional security options.
Need Help Getting Your Hotel Website Secure?
We’d be happy to help you get your website secure, fill out the form here and we will review your site and advise on the best approach.