Peter BoydGoogle Chrome Requiring SSL for Websites in Incognito Mode

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a security technology for encrypting your website traffic. An SSL certificate ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral.

Starting in October 2017, if you don’t have SSL, then Google Chrome will show a “NOT SECURE” warning.  This happens when users enter text in a form on an HTTP page, and for all HTTP pages in Incognito mode. However, this only applies to users in Chrome and that use Incognito mode. One survey shows around 15% of all users have that configuration.

That being said, Google wants you to upgrade your website to have an SSL certificate. Point being, SSL will encrypt traffic and make the website more secure. SSL gives you the lockbox at the top of the browser and encrypts any information on the website.

You may want to upgrade to SSL now. Otherwise, some of your audience may see “Not Secure” when browsing your website in October. If you want to know how to react to this sudden change or learn more about how to proceed with SSL, we’ve outlined the basics below, including costs.

I Have SSL

Great! If you have SSL on your website, then you are safe and fine.  In fact, you are ahead of the game!

I’m Not Sure If I Have SSL?

Wondering if you already have SSL? An easy check is to visit your website. If you have SSL, then your website will begin with https:// and not http:// (note the “s”). The technology also puts a nice “lock” icon at the top of your browser bar. If you have both of those, you are set. If not, keep reading.

If I Don’t Have SSL Will My Site Crash?

No, your site will not crash. If your site does not have SSL, then your site will still work.  However, it will display a “Not Secure” message at the top of the browser bar.  This will only appear for users of the Google Chrome browser and in Incognito mode too.

How Does SSL Affect My Site?

We could not find a definitive study of how many users use Incognito mode, but one blog indicated it was around 20% of users they surveyed. Moreover, not everyone uses Chrome, though Chrome has about a 75% market share according to W3 Schools. Realistically, this will affect probably 10% to 15% of your website traffic. Those visitors will still be able to browse your website, but will see the “NOT SECURE” message in the browser bar.

Should I Upgrade to SSL?

Almost everyone should consider upgrading to SSL.  Simply put, it is just more secure for your users.  If your site has any of the features below, then you should definitely upgrade:

  • Forms – If you have forms on your website, you will want to upgrade. This will encrypt data being sent from your user.
  • SEO – If you care about SEO and traffic, you should upgrade. With SSL, you’ll enjoy a minor albeit beneficial signal boost to your SEO campaign.
  • Security – If you care about your site’s security, you should upgrade.

What Are the Costs Associated With Implementing SSL?

The costs to implement SSL vary, depending on your content management system (CMS). Our clients typically fall into two CMS categories: WordPress and Total Control.

WordPress Websites

If you are running WordPress on our new Google Cloud servers, then our servers can automatically generate an SSL for you so there is no cost for the SSL itself. Our cost would only be a $150 one-time fee for the time it takes to set up the SSL, create redirects, update sitemaps and Google Webmaster Tools.

Total Control (or Other Websites)

If you are running Total Control, a static website or any other type of website, then we need to manually purchase an SSL and install it on your website. This includes the certificate itself, testing, updating links, updating the sitemap and re-submitting to Google Webmaster Tools. The cost would be a $350 flat rate per year.

Please contact us if you are unsure of your set up and we can assist.

Long Term SSL Requirements

Long term, I would expect Google to require this for all websites, even if not in Incognito mode. They are rolling this out to Incognito in October. Eventually, I believe they will roll it out for all browsing modes.

If you upgrade to SSL, then this will remedy the “NOT SECURE” warning. Once the site is equipped with an SSL certificate, it will comply with this request, providing more trust with visitors when filling out a contact form and knowing their information is confidential and private.


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