In the past, HTTPS connections were primarily used for websites that collected sensitive information such as credit card numbers and medical history. These days, however, more and more websites are electing to use HTTPS, even if they don’t collect any information from their users.
Should your ophthalmology practice follow suit? In other words, is it a good idea for your practice website to use HTTPS?
What does HTTPS mean?
Websites with the URL prefix HTTPS (rather than HTTP) are using something known as an SSL certificate, or Secure Socket Layer. SSL is a standard security measure that involves establishing an encrypted connection between the web sever and the browser. This encryption prevents people from acquiring information that users send to the website, such as credit card numbers, contact information, or any other personal data.
In other words, having an SSL certificate makes your website safer for your visitors. This safety is signified by the HTTPS prefix.
Should my practice website use HTTPS?
Even if you’re not collecting information from your users, we strongly recommend purchasing an SSL certificate. This is because using HTTPS is now considered a best practice for all business websites since it keeps users safe, optimizes search engine performance, establishes credibility, works well with digital ads, and decreases loading times.
It keeps users safe. Did you know that a cyber attack occurs every 39 seconds, and that 43% of those attacks target small businesses? If your website has a patient portal, using HTTPS is a must.
It improves search rankings. In 2014, Google changed its algorithm to favor secure websites over unsecure websites. In other words, if your website isn’t secure, it’s less likely to show up in a Google search than your competitors.
It establishes credibility. The majority of users (82 percent) refuse to browse an unsecured website. If your practice website doesn’t use HTTPS, your potential patients might leave immediately.
It works well with digital ads. Certain digital ad placements require websites to have an SSL certificate before using their services. In other words, if you’re hoping to advertise your practice on Facebook, you’re out of luck.
It helps with loading. As a rule, secure websites load faster than unsecure websites. (Keep in mind, however, that there are many reasons why a website might be loading slowly!)
Here at Sightpath, we encourage all of our customers to maintain a secure website. Acquiring an SSL certificate is straight-forward, and the benefits far outweigh the costs.
How can I make my website secure?
To secure your website, you’ll need to purchase an SSL certificate. Once that certificate has been installed, your website should have an HTTPS prefix instead of an HTTP prefix. This indicates that your website is secure.
We recommend working with your IT department or website host to purchase the certificate, maintain the certificate on a yearly basis, and install it onto your practice website. For more information about the process, check out this Google support page.