Does your law firm’s website address start with http://or https://? The s in a web address means that it is a secure site. Stated otherwise, Internet searchers who review a law firm website that starts with https can be assured that it is the genuine location of a firm’s online presence and not a fake or spoofed site that is attempting to imitate a firm’s web page, likely for nefarious purposes. As explained further below, there are several very important reasons to make your firm’s website secure, and the conversion process is not too complicated.
The acronym http stands for hypertext transfer protocol. In simple terms, these are the standards or procedures which govern Internet communications between computer servers and Internet browsers. The addition of an s in https signals and guarantees that communications between a browser and a website are encrypted. Everyday examples you may encounter that employ https include online banking portals and many e-commerce websites.
Reasons to Migrate Website to HTTPS
The first is increased security. Although you should still install other website security tools such as anti-virus software or firewalls, using https makes it much more difficult for hackers to decrypt Internet communications between users and your website.
The second reason is enhanced brand perception. If you were not already aware, search engines such as Google are starting to mark http-only website URLs as “not secure” in the Chrome browser. Inasmuch as Chrome enjoys a market share of at least 56% among Internet browsers, according to, “Browser wars 2018: Microsoft Edge falls behind … Internet Explorer,” it is likely that your clients and potential clients will use Chrome to find and search your law firm’s website. Migrating to https will thus prevent them from seeing the phrase “not secure” in the address line for your firm and wondering whether your website, or worse yet-your law firm, is suspect. Instead, they will see a padlock icon that will lend credibility to your website and convey the message that you respect users’ privacy and security.
The third reason is Google Rankings. A lesser-known reason to convert from http to https is that Google is giving a slight priority to https websites in search result rankings. Experts differ about the actual boost https websites receive, but Internet search results can often be so large that every little bit can enhance your SEO (search engine optimization) and help make your website more visible to searchers.
Steps to Employ HTTPS Protocol
First, you will need to purchase a Certificate for use with SSL (Secure Socket Layers) or TSL (Transport Layer Security) protocols. These are sometimes referred to as SSL Certificates or TSL Certificates, and one can be purchased from the domain name provider you use to register your website address.
The next two steps involve activating and installing your new Certificate on your web server, i.e., the computer that hosts your website. Next, you will need to change all of your firm’s web pages from http to https. This step can often be performed once, or globally, for all of your http pages, similar to the replace feature in a word processing program.
Finally, you will need to redirect all incoming Internet requests that are looking for your old http pages to their new https equivalents. The instructions are called SEO 301 redirects. Although this may not be a totally DIY project, with a little technical assistance you can accomplish it all in a few days, including a little wait time between steps. Kathleen M. Dugan