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 This is the first update to HTTP since 1996, and it addresses some of the outdated issues the web is facing.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 ResourcesHTTP/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 PushingHTTP/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.

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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 config­ure 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!