Encrypted websites are important because they protect information. In the case of multifamily properties, that information may be sensitive data collected about the members of your community. But did you know that there’s an SEO impact, too.
Google has been encouraging websites to facilitate encrypted traffic (“HTTPS” is the protocol’s name; you may have seen it in your browser’s location bar from time to time). In short, a small ranking bonus may be given to sites that offer HTTPS connectivity.
This comes on the heels of increasing indications that the general public is being snooped by hackers, governments, corporate spies, and other ne’er-do-wells. Companies like Google generate their revenue from platforms that are built upon user trust, and such sketchy invasions of online privacy hurt Google’s business model.
By giving a potential SEO bonus to encrypted multifamily websites, Google is making this often optional practice into one that makes business sense for everyone, even if you’re not taking credit cards, passwords, or other sensitive data.
Should I Be Using HTTPS?
In short: absolutely.
If your multifamily website is handling user data at all, some would argue there’s a moral imperative to protect that data. If you’ve got a form on your website that asks for any info from a current or potential tenant, even if it’s what size dog they’ve got, that information could be potentially used by a clever third party.
Plus, it’s a sign of trustworthiness. If a future resident recognizes that you take measures to protect their data before their rent is due, they’re more likely to trust you with other things. Like, for example, their home.
And now, Google’s giving you bonus points. Sure, there’s not much of a bonus today, but the cost of a TLS/SSL certificate is generally inconsequential for an SEO bonus. If you care about your multifamily websites showing up in search engines, you should get this going.
Am I Using HTTPS?
So are you capitalizing on this opportunity? Well, let’s see.
Go to your website.
Depending on your browser, you might notice subtle cues in your location bar that highlight whether the site you’re viewing is encrypted (i.e. it begins with https://) or unencrypted (also called “plain text”, with URLs beginning with http://). If your website URL begins with “https://” and you see no errors, then you’re encrypted.
If your site begins with “http://”, try placing a “s” after the “p” and see if your site works. If not, or if it works partially but has errors, then that’s bad news. Your multifamily site is missing out on all the perks of HTTPS.
So you’ve found you’re not encrypted. That’s okay; don’t panic. It’s fixable.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous and you know your way around your web host, then you might be able to get it going yourself. There are plenty of places to buy certificates from, and many offer features that reinforce the level of trustworthiness you can convey to your multifamily website’s visitors.