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