Using HTTPS Leads to Better Website Performance | Webnames Blog

Using HTTPS Leads to Better Website Performance

Business man assessing the performance of his website

Can SSL/TLS actually improve your website speed and overall performance?

Everyone in the IT industry knows that SSL/TLS is important for your website security. After all, it helps to protect the integrity of your website and the security of your users by securing the connection between clients and your web server(s). It also helps you to avoid those pesky “Not Secure” warnings on your website. However, the benefits of SSL/TLS extend beyond just that — using the TLS protocol can also increase the performance of your site so long as you configure your site for success.

Configure your site for success — but, wait, doesn’t using SSL/TLS slow down your site? The short answer is, yes. It can add slight delays that can impact your overall page load speed — but it’s not something a human would ever notice. After all, the SSL verification process that happens when a visitor lands on your site only takes an average of 100-500 milliseconds. But while this is a short time in human reaction time, anyone who knows how SEO works probably knows that could cost you when this is done at scale for enterprise organizations. So how can HTTPS actually improve our site performance?

3 Ways HTTPS Can Improve Website Performance

Every second truly matters when it comes to user experience. Much like shopping on Amazon and selecting same-day shipping versus ordering from another store and waiting up to two weeks to receive your item — nobody wants to be left waiting. This point is further emphasized considering that Google data shows that on mobile, 50% of people expect a page to load in two or fewer seconds, and 53% of site visits that take three seconds or longer to load are abandoned. People want access, security, and expediency — they no longer expect to have to wait for their items, and they expect their personal and financial information to be secure throughout the process.

Luckily, utilizing HTTPS provides many advantages you can’t get from HTTP. Here’s how you can maximize your return on investment:

1.      SEO

If you didn’t already know, then we have news for you: Google’s search algorithm considers TLS a positive qualifier. This means that if you’re trying to land on Google’s top search engine results page (SERP), you’ll need every advantage. Some say using HTTPs on your site boosts your algorithm score by up to 5%!

As the only piece of the Google algorithm truly known to us, it should definitely be a part of your SEO plan. Not to mention Google similarly announced that they index HTTPS first over an HTTP counterpart. To make sure you are getting the full SEO boost you deserve, be sure you are 301 redirecting all your pages to HTTPS.

Is the SEO boost enough to offset the added latency that TLS creates? Maybe, but let’s not leave it up to chance. Read on to see how SSL/TLS can actually speed up your site.

woman entrepreneur working on her website

2.      Speed

HTTP/2

One of the best advantages you have on your side is the use of the HTTP/2 protocol. In case you don’t know, HTTP is the process websites follow to communicate content from the hosting server to the end user’s browser. While many sites still use the previous version of HTTP 1.1, HTTP/2 has been an option since 2015 and has been adopted by 40.7% of all websites, according to W3Techs.

So, what’s the benefit of using HTTP/2 over HTTP/1.1? HTTP/2 improves on its predecessor in many ways, but specifically by allowing content to transfer collectively rather than one piece at a time. This enables load times up to four times faster than http 1.1. However, there is a catch: HTTP/2 requires HTTPS. While the standard itself doesn’t specify encryption as being mandatory, all major browsers have decided that they will only support HTTP/2 over TLS.

Want to learn more about HTTP/2? You can check out this Medium article that discusses the differences and benefits over HTTP/1.1.

Brotli Compression

File size is in direct relation to load time, that’s where HTTP data compression comes in. After all, the smaller and more compressed data becomes, the faster your pages can load and the better their performance will be. Many users rely on GZip or Zopfli for compression and decompression, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily the best or most effective options available. There’s another compression algorithm that’s been around for a few years: Brotli. While it’s lesser known than GZip, Brotli reportedly does compression even better, reducing latency by up to 37%.

Never heard of Brotli? Yeah, you’re not alone, but the people who use it, love it. So, what makes Brotli so effective? For starters, all of the major browsers — Chrome, IE, Firefox, Safari, etc. — like it because it breaks less. And in comparison to other compression algorithms it can create files up to 21% smaller. But like most things in life, there’s a catch: You can only use Brotli if you have HTTPS enabled on your site.

3.      Customer Interaction and Mobile

Progressive Web Apps

Are you interested in building a web application rather than just a website? With Google’s Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), you can truly make your website faster, more interactive, more reliable, and fully available from mobile and desktops. This coding allows you to match user experience regardless of which OS the end user is using. However, much like HTTP/2 and Brotli, as well as many other new browser features, PWAs must be served from a “secure origin” — meaning that these web apps are only available over HTTPS. Are you noticing a theme here yet?

Service Workers

If you want your website and applications to be available to interact with your clients both online and offline, then you need a service worker. Service workers are typically JavaScript files that are used to control how network requests from your pages are handled, as well as to deliver push notifications, perform background syncs, and a variety of other tasks. While you can use a service worker through localhost during development, it’ll require HTTPS on your server for secure deployment. After all, service worker can be used for good or evil depending on who controls it. This is where the importance of using a secure, encrypted connection comes in.

According to Matt Gaunt at Google’s WebFundamentals:

“To avoid this, you can only register service workers on pages served over HTTPS, so we know the service worker the browser receives hasn’t been tampered with during its journey through the network.”

Mobile Control Permissions

Another advantage of TLS for mobile, in particular, is that it allows you to incorporate a variety of features into your apps that otherwise would be prohibited. This is because geolocation access, camera access, and voice recording permissions all demand a secure, encrypted connection via HTTPS. To protect users’ privacy, Google Chrome’s developer tools console made it so that Geolocation and other such sensitive data can only be served making API calls via to HTTPS instead of HTTP.

Although there are alternative routes around this — such as having users manually enter their five-digit zip code — site owners are still recommended to move to HTTPS to avoid the issue altogether.

These are just a few of the ways that you can improve your site performance by using HTTPS, despite the little bit of latency that can be caused by it. Now, you can see that pushing HTTPS on your website by using a TLS certificate can help you make your site perform better and, ultimately, lead to increased conversations and sales. With numerous SSL certificate options available at Webnames.ca in varying validation levels and prices that start below $20/year, there’s really no excuse for not using HTTPS on your site. 

Purchase your SSL certificate today, and have our team will help you install it to get up and running quickly.

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Jack Parrish is a Partner Growth Manager for The SSL Store, an expert in SSL/TLS certificates.


 

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