The Benefits of SSL Certificates, and Why All Brewery Websites Need One

Almost every brewery today operates a website, ranging from a simple business card style site to sophisticated sales and marketing sites used to drive growth. No matter how souped up or basic a brewery’s website is, making it secure can no longer be viewed as an optional extra. I’ve written this article to illustrate why this matters for breweries, and how it can affect your business.

The internet was never designed to be secure

The Internet was never designed from the ground up with security in mind. The scientists who developed the Internet as a means for exchanging their data back in the 1970’s never envisaged anyone ever having anything to gain from hacking systems or spying on data. Heck, there were so few people connected to the Internet that they most likely knew everyone who was using it.

Fast forward several decades and the Internet is now as prevalent as any major utility. And its deep penetration into society has brought with it the opportunity for governments and individuals to exploit others by spying on online activity. It’s now a key priority to secure websites and Internet communications as much as possible to protect us from this evil.

Minimum acceptable security standards are changing

Technology vendors are stepping up their game when it comes to protecting and informing their customers about security risks. Take everyone’s favourite Internet giant, Google, as an example. They’ve addressed users’ concerns by stepping up security efforts and doing so rather visibly.

Users of Google’s online services such as G Suite or Gmail are being showered with a smörgåsbord of security checkups, data privacy policies and two-factor authentication options that help to prevent unauthorised account access. The security message is ringing through loud and clear to users.

Google Security Checkup

Wait, isn't my account already protected?

Web browsers are flagging website security status more clearly

In Google’s Chrome web browser - the most browser popular in the UK - we’ve seen an active transition from the browser only flagging problems with invalid security certificates, to now overtly calling out sites that aren’t secure in the first place. Chrome now makes it very clear to users when they are browsing secure websites, placing a highly visible green padlock with the words “Secure” next to it.

Secure Website Label in Chrome

Difficult to miss - secure websites are made obvious to Chrome users

Conversely, non-secure websites are missing this label, and when users click the “information” icon left in its place, they’re told in no uncertain terms that the site is insecure and that your data could be “stolen by attackers”.

AB-Inbev insecure
Insecure sites that do not require any user information show a small icon
Heineken Insecure
...while insecure sites that contain login or credit card fields clearly show “Not Secure”

This marks quite a paradigm shift in Chrome, and we expect to see further moves towards alerting users about websites that aren’t using security certificates to protect user’s data as time goes on. We find ourselves wondering how long it’ll be until Chrome refuses to even load non-secure websites. Indeed, Google have already advised that eventual treatment of any site that doesn't include an SSL Certificate for all pages will clearly show "Not Secure", as the image below shows.

Eventual treatment of non-SSL pages in Chrome

How Google say they will eventually treat any insecure website in Chrome

Similar steps are also being taken by competing browsers, including Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and Edge, indicating that this is a general trend affecting all platforms.

The benefits of securing your brewery website

More traffic: Google prioritises secure web pages over insecure ones

Google prioritises secure web pages over insecure ones in search results. Given that Google rarely reveals inner workings of their ranking algorithm, the fact they’ve published this information shows how much they are prioritising delivering secure experiences for their users.

“We’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We've seen positive results, so we're starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.” - Google Webmaster’s blog

Google’s Gary Illyes have also admitted that SSL could be a tiebreaker in search result rankings, when other ranking factors are similar between websites competing on the same keywords. For example, if a user searches for craft brewery in London, a secure site could appear higher on the results page than an insecure site.

Better user engagement: People prefer secure websites

People are more aware of data security and privacy now than they’ve ever been. Barely a week goes by now when the media hasn’t reported on some sort of high profile data breach or security hack. Not to mention the fact that 1 in 10 people have now experienced some level of hacking attempt, identify theft or other related incidents.

If you want people to engage with your website and read about your brewery, buy your beers or share links with their friends, you need to make sure they feel safe and secure.

Unlock missing marketing data: Analytics won’t show you where all your website visitors come from unless your site is secure

Perhaps one of the less well-known benefits of making sure your site is secure, but a vital one nonetheless. When visitors arrive on your website from another website, this is recorded in your analytics package along with the name of the website they came from.

But you won’t get that website name if the originating website is secure and yours isn’t. Instead, you’ll the traffic will simply be logged under "Direct" within your traffic sources reports, with no details on where the traffic is coming from. That's a disaster from a marketing point of view.

Every brewery needs to know where their traffic is coming from, especially when building a successful brewery today relies so much upon customer awareness.

Is my brewery website secure?

Test your website security

There are a number of things that need to be checked. If you answer no to any of these, then you do not have a fully secure website and should take action.

  • Is an SSL Certificate installed?
  • Is it registered to the correct website hostname?
  • Is the expiry date in the future?
  • Is it issued by a recognised Certificate Authority?
  • Do all pages use the security certificate?
  • Are all scripts, images and other files using a secure connection as well as the page itself?
  • Are any external assets included also secure?
  • Does the website automatically refuse or redirect non-secure requests to secure ones?

This is obviously quite a long and technical list of things to check, so it would be wise to enlist the help of a competent technical expert who can review your website and check it meets the criteria above.

If you’d like us to help with that, give our friendly experts a call on 020 3519 8585, or if you want a better idea of your website's overall performance, request a free Website & Online Marketing Audit below and we’ll hop to it!

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Hallway is a growth-driven agency for ambitious craft beer businesses - we offer peak-performing websites and online marketing that deliver stellar results.

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