Frequently asked questions and answers about HTTPS

John Mueller, a prominent Google figure, explained what HTTPS is, why sites should use it, so he answers questions about HTTPS. Site owners answered frequent questions in the latest Google Lightning Talks video and made a public introduction to HTTPS and addressed the basics of site migration.

Mueller's video includes the following headlines:

  • How does HTTPS work?
  • Why would you want to use HTTPS?
  • How to switch from HTTP to HTTPS
  • Frequently asked questions about HTTPS

You can watch a quick summary of the video here.

What is HTTPS?
HTTPS is a secure link between sites and users. Protects websites from unwanted activities.

Why are you using HTTPS?
Website Security
When it comes to website security, HTTPS 3 guarantees something:

Authentication: Users can be sure that they interact with your website, not with an intermediary.
Data integrity: A secure connection prevents data from being modified, so users will see your content as intended.
Encryption: Information shared between a website and its users will be kept secure.

Web Browser Requirement

Another reason for using HTTPS is that modern browsers need it to use certain features.

Https is required for the following types of features:
  • Geography
  • Autofill for forms
  • Camera
  • Progressive web applications (PWA)
  • Push notifications
  • Cache
  • "Not Safe" Label in Address Bar
There is no hiding whether your site uses HTTPS because it is highlighted in the browser's address bar.

Non-HTTPS sites are labeled "Not secure" in red, while HTTPS sites are labeled "secure" in green.

Because HTTPS needs to be enabled by default, some web browsers will point only to the HTTPS deficiency. Google provides a small ranking increase in search results to pages that use HTTPS. Toward the end of the video, Mueller stresses that the ranking increase is "quite small."

HTTP pages can be sorted on HTTPS pages based on content queries relevance.

Switch to HTTPS

HTTPS URLs are different from their HTTP counterparts. This means that a transition from one to another involves redirecting each HTTP URL to the equivalent HTTPS URL.

Mueller devotes the transition process to the following steps:
  • Set up your HTTPS site
  • Verify ownership in Google Search Console
  • Comprehensivetest https site
  • Redirect all HTTP URLs to HTTPS URLs
  • Watch moving in Google Search Console
  • Optional step: Set UP HTTP Solid Transport Security (HSTS)
  • Frequently Asked Questions about HTTPS

How long do I have to keep the directions?

Referrals must remain in place forever. There is never a reason not to redirect from HTTP to HTTPS.

Can I just move a few pages?

Technically, it is only possible to move a few pages to HTTPS. In practice, Mueller says that moving the entire site isn't a lot of work, that's what needs to be done.

Which HTTPS certificate should I use?

Any certificate supported by a modern web browser is appropriate. Mueller specifically recommends free certificates from Let's Encrypt, a nonprofit organization.

How long does a referral take?

Mueller says Google has a lot of experience in HTTPS transitions, so it can usually be processed within a week.