There are an abundance of SEO strategies that elective surgery practices can adopt to improve their websites’ placement in search engine results. Blogging, adding relevant content, using metadata, incorporating alt tags, adding keywords, earning quality inbound links and countless other methods can make your website more prominent.
SEO strategies are continually changing – including the rules by which browsers choose which websites to display for keyword searches. If your website has seen a drop in your search engine rankings, it could be your website’s security. Even if you haven’t experienced a drop in the amount of visitors to your site (or leads to your practice), but you have not updated your site’s security, the effect may be coming very soon.
In this blog, website security refers to HTTP vs. HTTPS web serving.
HTTP vs. HTTPS
HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) has been around since 1990. It is the way that web servers and browsers communicate with each other. HTTPS (the S signifying secure) is an encrypted version of HTTP. HTTPS is not new; it has existed since 1995, but it was typically only used for online payment transactions. With the increased worries about cybersecurity, the benefits of HTTPS allow for a safer distribution of communication between your website and the browser. Websites become secured by HTTPS by adding a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificate to your web server.
Google Chrome has already implemented measures that mark websites served over HTTP as unsecure. This is a red flag for any website visitor and could shine a negative light on your practice, making you appear untrustworthy.
Websites that share sensitive information are required by Google Chrome and Firefox to migrate to the encrypted version HTTPS; other browsers are sure to follow. While it is not required to make the change, elective surgery practices that do not make this update could be viewed unfavorably by search engines and be dropped out of rankings.
Why is HTTP Falling Out of Favor?
When you interact with an HTTP website, the activity you perform on the site can be accessed by outsiders in plain text. Your sensitive information could be viewed by your internet service provider or others on your network. If you use an unsecured public network, you may be especially vulnerable. Enabling HTTPS provides an encryption layer to all data that is being moved back and forth between the site and the user. If an outsider attempted to get access to your information, they would get hard-to-decipher information and be flagged as trying to modify or corrupt this information. In short, data integrity is protected.
HTTPS for Elective Surgery
Many elective surgery websites have very valuable patient or physician portals that allow them to easily communicate with patients and other doctors. Because medical information is of such a sensitive nature, migrating your website to HTTPS will help protect this information from hackers that are looking to steal passwords, credit card details, social security numbers, medical treatment information and more.
If you are under the assumption that because your website does not have these types of two-way communication portals your site does not need to migrate to HTTPS, think again. There are other ways that keeping the status quo could negatively impact your practice:
- Poor SEO performance
- Hackers could alter your content
- Hackers could add inappropriate images to your site
- Your URLs, headers, etc. could be vulnerable
How Do Patients Know Your Site is Secure?
Patients may not realize your site has migrated to HTTPS – but they will know if your site has not done so. As mentioned earlier, during information-sensitive transactions with HTTP sites, users may receive a message that your site is not secure. This will absolutely strike fear into most patients and could be the deciding factor that makes them go to your competitors. Alternatively, HTTPS sites will simply allow the transfer of information without any red flags.
Even sites that tout having their own internal security measures could still be flagged as insecure. Browsers are in the business of protecting online searchers and as such they have the right to warn users about the potential risks of communicating with websites that are not secure.
HTTPS sites will appear in the search bar with a green lock and the word Secure next to the web address (every page of your website should be set up as HTTPS). As HTTPS becomes the norm, this will be another symbol that your practice values patient confidentiality and that you have done everything possible to make your site as secure as possible.
The Cost of HTTPS
As with any software or technological upgrade, there is a cost associated with HTTPS migration. However, this is an absolutely necessary investment to make for the long-term success of your lead flow and your practice’s revenue. The cost will vary depending on what type of validation certificate you need for your site (domain or extended validations).
Where Do You Turn for HTTPS Migration?
Most elective surgery practices need help migrating from HTTP to HTTPS. Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, has partnered with marketing companies that have the technical know-how and expertise to help your practice show patients you care about security and privacy. By joining our Management Services Organization (MSO), you can gain access to these resources – and save money on their services – because of our partnerships. To learn more about the options available, contact us today.