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HTTP vs. HTTPS: Which is Best for Your Business Website?

Understanding the difference between HTTP vs. HTTPS can ensure you use the right one for your business website. Read on to learn the key differences.

Hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) is how a web browser communicates with a server. When you visit a website, the browser sends a request to the web server, and the server provides the requested information — AKA the website content.

You interact with HTTP more than you know. Every browser must communicate with this protocol to display a website page. When you look at the different parts of a URL, you'll see either HTTP or HTTPS (hypertext transfer protocol secure) at the beginning. HTTPS is similar to HTTP in that it's the method for how browsers and web servers communicate. However, HTTPS provides more security when the browser and server transport data.

When creating a website for your business, you might wonder which is better – HTTP or HTTPS. Website security is crucial because you send information to servers whenever you visit a website, and anyone can intercept your IP address and browser information unless that website uses encryption to protect your data.

Besides additional security, what are the differences between HTTP vs. HTTPS, and which is more beneficial for your business website? Keep reading to find out.

What is HTTP?

Hypertext transfer protocol is used to transmit data between a browser and a server. When you type a URL into your browser, it sends an HTTP request to the website's host server. The server then sends the response back, allowing you to view and interact with the site.

The HTTP protocol doesn't establish a secure connection, meaning the communication between your personal computer and a website's server is in danger. This can lead to bad actors intercepting or stealing your data.

What is HTTPS?

While HTTPS is similar to HTTP, the protocol is used to make a website secure. Unlike HTTP, it's encrypted with a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate that prevents individuals from intercepting the messages between your browser and the website server, limiting their ability to see passwords and other sensitive information.

Key difference between HTTP vs. HTTPS

The most significant difference between HTTP vs. HTTPS protocols is that HTTPS provides a secure encrypted connection to protect private information sent between browser clients and servers.

Data protection includes preventing passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive data (your address, phone number, name, and email) from falling into the wrong hands.

Ultimately, when comparing HTTP and HTTPS, you're really comparing unsecured vs. secured communications. Let's take a look at a few HTTP and HTTPS differences to better understand which one is best for your business website.


HTTP or HTTPS: which is more secure? HTTPS websites use an SSL certificate that encrypts information sent between computers and servers. The SSL certificate uses public and private keys to encrypt and decrypt data, resulting in better data protection for website users.

Compared to HTTP, HTTPS is better for your website because connections are encrypted. This means any information you type on a website can't be seen by those who might intercept that information.

If your website visitors have to submit personal information, such as their credit card numbers, addresses, and phone numbers, you should choose HTTPS.

Search engine optimization

While using HTTPS protocol isn't necessary if your customers aren't sharing sensitive information and there's minimal risk of data breaches or identity theft, making the switch can help your website rank on search engine results pages (SERP).

Search engines like Google recommend that all websites use HTTPS because it's secure, and sites with SSL certificates are rewarded with a boost in search rankings. Web browsers also alert users if a website isn't safe and uses HTTP.

For instance, if you visit a website that uses HTTP instead of HTTPS, your browser might notify you with a warning asking if you want to continue. This warning can scare people away from your website, reducing the total number of visitors. Therefore, not using HTTPS protocol can harm your site metrics even if you appear on the SERP.

Using HTTPS is also one of many mobile SEO best practices.


Websites that use HTTPS instead of HTTP protocol tend to load faster, increasing your site speed and overall performance. HTTP/2 is an update to the HTTP protocol that enables faster loading times by consuming fewer resources, resulting in a better performance for your website.

HTTPS is recommended for mobile-friendly websites that use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) — a framework that improves mobile user experience by loading pages faster. You must have an SSL certificate for your AMP website to appear on search engine results pages. Your HTTP website, on the other hand, likely won't load as quickly, which can affect your website stats.

Should you use HTTP or HTTPS?

All business websites can benefit from HTTPS because it improves site security for the user and business while boosting SEO and credibility. However, HTTPS isn't always necessary.

For instance, if your website visitors don't share their personal information with your website's server, HTTP is optional. However, since many browsers warn users of unsecured websites, upgrading to HTTPS by purchasing an SSL certificate is worth it.

Knowing how search engines affect your website can help you compare HTTP vs. HTTPS. HTTPS is generally better for SEO because it provides site security and can help you track referral data in Google Analytics. If your website uses HTTP instead of HTTPS, your referral traffic may not be appropriately attributed. In addition, HTTPS offers faster load speeds, which is an important ranking factor on Google.

There are some instances when you might use both HTTP and HTTPS by loading parts of your website over HTTPS and others over HTTP for a "mixed content" approach. With mixed content, the browser request is transmitted over HTTPS, making the communication between the browser and server secure, with some aspects being unsecured.

Unfortunately, browsers may warn users that you use mixed content, which can deter them from continuing to your website.

Switching from HTTP to HTTPS

Generally speaking, HTTPS is always better than HTTP because it provides enhanced security. Luckily, switching from HTTP to HTTPS is easy for any business website; just follow these simple steps:

Schedule it

While it may seem like a small matter, switching from HTTP to HTTPS should be scheduled to ensure your development team knows. There may be some downtime involved, so it's usually better to do it when your website has less traffic, like at night or early morning hours.

Purchase an SSL certificate

You can purchase an SSL certificate from several different services. Your website host may allow you to buy an SSL certificate directly from them, or you can find a third-party vendor.

Various types of SSL certificates are available, and the one you need will depend on the level of security you want. Most small business websites use domain-validated (DV) SSL certificates because they're easy to obtain, while extended validation (EV) SSLs have strict requirements for websites.

Migrate to HTTPS

After purchasing and installing your SSL certificate, you can begin the migration to HTTPS. Migrating can be a complex process, depending on the size of your website. If you purchased your certificate from your web host, they might handle the process for you.

Once you've migrated, your website pages should load the HTTPS versions instead of HTTP. You can check it by visiting any page on your website to ensure the migration was a success.

Create redirects

After the migration is complete, you should create 301 redirects to redirect servers to your new protocol. This is a crucial step because they tell search engines that your website has changed and pages should be indexed under HTTPS instead of HTTP.

Migrating from HTTP to HTTPS after purchasing your SSL certificate can be challenging, and if you don't do everything correctly, it can impact your website performance. You must take all the steps outlined above to maintain website traffic.

For instance, if you don't create redirects, search engines won't realize that your website pages have changed. Your domain extension and second-level domain haven't changed, but your protocol has. Web crawlers and your customers must end up on the correct HTTPS version of a web page. Failing to properly redirect URLs can result in lower SEO rankings and website traffic.

Additionally, you'll need to make sure your certificate doesn't expire. If it expires, your website won't be secure, and you'll need to purchase a new one as soon as possible, which may require you to repeat the process outlined above.

Offer a secure website connection

HTTPS offers better security to protect your customers' sensitive information, and it's becoming the standard protocol for websites. If your website isn't secure, browsers will warn your visitors, which can cause them to leave the page and never return. Not using HTTPS can also hurt your search engine rankings and overall site performance.

Mailchimp makes it easy to switch from HTTP to HTTPS. When you purchase a domain, we'll include a free SSL certificate to ensure your site's security. Build your business website with Mailchimp today.

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