Update Your Website Security or Risk Becoming Invisible on the Web

By on Nov 3, 2016

Providing proper security on your website is always an important factor for insurance agencies. It is now more important than ever.

Google has announced significant changes in how the security of an individual website will affect search engine results and the visibility of a particular website on a Google search results page. Beginning in January, Google will start marking websites and individual web pages that don’t have adequate security as “non-secure.”

You can tell the security level of the Internet site by its URL (the site’s online address). Traditionally, the website address begins with “http:” which indicates an unsecured connection. A secure website adds an “s” to the address (https:) indicating information sent between your computer and the web host is secured.

Initially, the changes will be focused on website pages that use forms to capture personally identifiable information.

There are two areas where this could impact your agency website.

1. The Chrome Browser

Chrome currently displays HTTP connections with a neutral indicator (see image below).

Current status
When you load a website over HTTP, someone else on the network can look at or modify the site before it gets to you. In an article announcing the changes, Google said that more than half of Chrome desktop page loads are now served over the more secure HTTPS connection.

In January 2017 the Chrome browser will display the “not secure” indicator as shown in the graphic below.

Future status
Their plan to label HTTP sites more clearly and accurately as non-secure will take place in gradual steps, based on increasingly stringent criteria. Eventually, Google plans to mark all HTTP pages as non-secure and change the security indicator to the red triangle that is currently used for broken HTTPS connections.

While this change only affects the Chrome browser from Google, it is the most popular desktop, mobile, and tablet browser in the United States.

2. Search Results Page

The second — and perhaps more important — result of this change is how your agency website security will affect your company being displayed on a Google search results page.

Google uses website security as a factor in search engine optimization (SEO). While there are over 200 factors that go into determining where your agency is displayed on a search results, website security is becoming a much more important factor.

You can assume if your website does not have an SSL security certificate then it will become invisible to anyone using Google to search for insurance coverage information.

Steps You Can Take

  1. Contact your website host provider to determine the steps necessary to add a security certificate to your site. While there is a cost to add a security certificate, it is well worth it.
  2. Review any forms you have on your website to determine if there is a better (and more secure) way to capture personal information.
  3. For personal lines, if you use a comparative rating platform explore the option of adding their client rating portal to your website.

The sooner you take the necessary steps to secure your agency website, the better positioned you will be in January when these changes begin to take effect. You will also be communicating to your clients and prospects that your agency takes the security of their information seriously.

Has your agency already secured your website? What tips would you give to other agents who are just starting the process? Let me know.

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