In part one of this two-part series on HTTPs migrations, I outlined the impact non secure sites can have on search rankings, branding and ROI. To take these benefits to the next level, you can also switch over to HTTP/2 when you migrate to HTTPs. Doing so can help boost your site speeds and user experience, which can benefit your SEO and ROI.

Performance Benefits of HTTP/2

HTTP/2 is the newest update to the HTTP protocol and is the successor to HTTP/1.1. This is the first update to HTTP since 1996, and it addresses some of the outdated issues the web is facing. This update includes many advancements to site security, speed and efficiency.

HTTP/2 Improvements

There are several major improvements in HTTP/2 including:

  • Single Connection— With HTTP/2, only one connection to the server is needed to load a website. As long as the website is open, the connection to the server remains open as well. As a result, the number of round trips needed to set up multiple connections goes down, helping to reduce overall site load time.
  • Prioritize Resources— HTTP/2 allows for dependency levels to be assigned to resources, meaning that higher priority resources can be loaded faster.
  • Multiplexing— With HTTP/1.1, files would be queued because many files from the same domain could not be loaded simultaneously. With HTTP/2, multiple requests are allowed simultaneously on the same connection. This can help to further reduce the load time of a page as you do not have to wait for each resource to load.
  • Server Pushing— HTTP/2 allows for additional website resources to be sent to a client for future use.

These improvements will make your website load faster and offer a better user experience. This can also benefit developers who can spend less development time resolving issues with speed and file loading.


Speed test performed by keycdn.com

Browser Support

Currently, most major browsers support HTTP/2, including Microsoft Edge, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer 11 (only on Windows 10), Safari (only in OS X 10.11+ on desktop) and Opera. HTTP/2 is also backwards compatible with HTTP/1.1, meaning that if your users are using browsers that are not compatible with HTTP/2, they will still be able to visit your site.

The caveat is that these browsers can’t support HTTP/2 without TLS (HTTPs). This means that in order to take advantage of the HTTP/2 benefits, your site must first be HTTPs secured by default.

SEO Implications

Like security, site speed and performance are also ranking factors used by Google’s algorithm. If HTTP/2 is correctly implement on your site, the increased speed and performance improvements can also lead to improved visibility and rankings. This is especially true on mobile, where Google has started treating page load time as a ranking factor.

Utilizing HTTP/2 can also impact user engagement and conversions on your site. One of the major reasons users abandon a website is due to slow load times. This can result in increased bounce rates and lower conversion rates. By improving your site speed, you also improve your user experience, which can lead to increased sales and conversions. According to a study from KissMetrics, a large portion of users expect a 2 second load time and will abandon after 3 seconds. This leads to a 7% decrease in conversions.

Here’s a scary example. If an ecommerce site is making $100,000 a day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.

A second may not seem significant, but in reality, it can have sizable impact on revenue. Switching to HTTP/2 can help negate these effects. Here’s how you do it.

Enabling HTTP/2

To start, you need to obtain an SSL certificate and switch to HTTPs. Part one of this blog series will guide you through it.

Unfortunately, things get more complicated from here. Enabling HTTP/2 will depend heavily on how your website is hosted. In order to enable HTTP/2, your server software will need to be updated to support the new protocol. With many hosting providers, this can be as simple as checking a box in your configuration, while other configurations may be more complicated. Additionally, most CDNs have the ability to implement HTTP/2, however each may have a varying complexity in order to do so. While we can’t go into detail about all possible HTTP/2 configurations in this blog post, feel free to contact us if you’d like some help.

Once you figure your website hosting and enable HTTP/2, your site load times will improve, resulting in a better user experience and SEO benefits.

Ready to help make the web a more secure place while making your organization’s website more successful? Search Discovery’s SEO team is available to answer any questions you or your organization has about moving to HTTPS and/or HTTP/2. Shoot us a message!