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.

Speed test per­formed by

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!