There’s been some hype going around about how google is now ranking sites a bit higher if they are served over HTTPS, also known as using HTTP over TLS (formerly SSL). I don’t believe in hype (record scratching queued) and I have my doubts that moving to HTTPS will help our SEO or SERPs. Although, we are keeping a close watch on our analytics and webmaster tools pages just in case. We’ll update you if we see anything significant.
So why bother moving to HTTPS? It’s about a posture, more than anything else. I believe easyPress is serious about security. Protecting a WordPress website takes more than just making sure the software is kept up to date. A holistic approach is best when considering the protection of network resources and customer assets. Yes, we keep WordPress up to date. Yes, we harden our servers and software. Yes, we are proactive about monitoring and logging. And, by only allowing access to our website over TLS we’re doing our part in making the web a little safer. As more websites begin to migrate to TLS the web becomes significantly less vulnerable to eavesdropping, session hijacking, data tampering and other attacks that are trivial against HTTP.
A vigilant security posture is great and all but I wouldn’t be telling the whole story if I stopped there. The other advantage of moving to HTTPS is the potential performance gains. With the latest advancements in TLS it’s possible to serve your website faster over HTTPS than it is over plain ol’ HTTP. Yes, that does sound counterintuitive. How can doing a whole bunch of expensive encryption make a site go faster? The reasons are due to a protocol named SPDY and without going into too much detail, SPDY enables a browser and web server to open a single connection to send all requested files. Without SPDY a browser will open a separate connection for each file it needs to download. Connection initiation and teardown adds a lot of time to the overall page load metrics. By reducing the number of connections and teardowns to 1, load times are improved. On modern hardware all that number crunching that has to happen to encrypt the communication stream doesn’t add much to the latency. That’s where the win-win comes together. SPDY consolidates all requests into a single connection and TLS takes care of securing all that data in transit.
The initial performance analysis we did looks very promising. It’s very much in line with the finding by the Theme Foundry team who did a very through examination when moving their site to HTTPS.
If you’ve been considering moving your site to HTTPS this is a great time to do it. We’ll help you along the way and make sure your site is taking full advantage of SPDY.