We look at how Google’s latest change could mean fewer enquiries for your business, unless you act now.
Google have long been an advocate of web security. For some time, website visitors using Google’s Chrome browser have received a ‘Not secure’ message and on-page warning if they attempted to visit a secure version (https) of your non-secure (http) website.
Not just another case of the boy who cried wolf
Google’s changes have not had a huge impact thus far, as most visitors usually access your preferred version of your site, so would never see this warning. Google have now, however, taken their well publicised commitment to improving Chrome users’ security one-step further.
What will happen?
As of October’s version 62 of the Chrome browser, users entering any data into a form on your unsecure http website will see a “Not secure” warning in their browser’s address bar. Google have helpfully provided a preview of how the warning will initially look for website users. While this may not be as dramatic as a ‘large red cross’, its impact could still be huge for your legal business if you currently use unsecured forms on your website.
Doing nothing is not an option
In this instance, doing nothing is not a viable option for your legal business. Whereas previously ignoring Google’s advice on securing your website may have at worst lead to a minor drop in your search ranking, this time Google appear to mean business.
For every business involved in the legal industry, we can see how this will potentially negatively impact your business, in the form of lost leads.
If a potential client visits your website after a recommendation from a friend or family member, they are admittedly a fairly ‘warm’ lead who may overlook a browser security warning.
Visitors who have found you via the search engines or referrals from other sites are, however, likely to be much less forgiving.
Don’t score an own-goal and send your potential new client straight to your nearest competitor’s website the moment they see the ‘unsecure’ warning.
This particularly impacts new leads, as it affects people who are just about to contact you. You may not see a drop in traffic, pageviews or other key metrics within your Google Analytics account. Many people affected will find it difficult to identify the reason for the reduced enquiries.
Helpfully Google have sent Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) users a message within their account if they are going to be affected by the update.
Why should I move over to secure https?
Apart from the new browser notification facing Chrome users post version 62, there are plenty of other reasons to use https. For years, Google have been advocating the use of https to secure websites. They have even rewarded users of the technology with a slight ranking boost on their search results pages (since August 2014). This has not historically had a huge ‘upward’ ranking effect, however more and more businesses are embracing website security.
If you don’t move over to secure data collection, you increasingly risk being pushed down the search engine results’ pages, in favour of a growing number of secure legal competitors.
Further to these reasons which are clearly beneficial to your law firm, the secure technology does also benefit your clients (and future clients). Encryption ensures your users’ data is secure. Data integrity is also ensured as the information cannot be altered during transfer. Authentication makes sure that the data is safe from cyber attacks. When operating in the legal sector, these should be reason enough to make the change to https.
What should I do?
Firstly, check your Google Search Console account. If you don’t have one, sign up for one as it is a useful resource for website owners. If you see the message, consider how you currently use forms on your website to receive customer information.
If you decide the best option is to migrate your website over to secure https from http, there are several considerations to keep in mind. These range from using 301 redirects to point users to the new, preferred version of your website, through to updating any website links you have control or influence over. This will help limit the effect on your website’s organic search rankings.
Let’s Encrypt offer free SSL certificates so that anyone can now move their website over to secure https. This has simplified the process somewhat, as previously you would need to purchase a certificate. It has, as a result, removed the slight financial and technical ‘barrier to entry’ for small competitors.
We can help
If you need help deciding the best way to proceed after receiving a Google Search Console notification, we provide website migration and search engine optimisation services for the legal sector.