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The moment of truth has arrived. HTTPS has been a ranking signal for Google since 2014, but now that users can see security in Chrome browsers (since July 2018), studies show a site’s security influences both visitor behavior and brand perceptions.

UK-based agency John Cabot surveyed 1,324 people and found these reactions to a “not secure” browser warning:

  • 47% of respondents “knew roughly what the warning meant”
  • 64% of that group said they would leave the site “instantly”
  • 46% of respondents would not enter their names or financial information into a site that was not secure
  • 14% feared their device was exposed to a virus
  • 12% believed they had arrived on a fake version of the intended site
  • 9% feared the content was “unreliable and not fact-checked
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  • 8.4% worried they’d be signed up for spam email
  • Many believed their search histories would be sold

As the study authors pointed out: moving to HTTPS is not just about better search rankings and a faster site, it also impacts user experience, bounce rates and the amount of visitors willing to input basic or sensitive information on your site.

According to Search Engine Land’s Greg Sterling, although a strong legacy brand perception mitigated negative effects of a non-secure site, the adoption of HTTPS encryption is an imperative.

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