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Google to crack down on websites without an SSL Certificate

SSL lock icon with https web addressCustomers will know if Your site is not secure in 2017.

In order to help users browse the web safely, the Google Chrome web browser indicates connection security with an icon in the address bar. Google has historically not explicitly labelled HTTP connections as non-secure in their Chrome web browser. But that is about to change.

Google has announced that beginning in January 2017 in their Chrome web browser (Chrome 56), that they will mark HTTP pages that collect passwords or credit cards as non-secure, as part of a long-term plan to mark all HTTP sites as non-secure. (Reference: https://security.googleblog.com/2016/09/moving-towards-more-secure-web.html.)

image showing HTTP pages with forms, and how Chrome treats them

On future releases, Google plans on showing an even stronger warning that the site is using http instead of https:
image showing not secure web address in Google Chrome

The change in a nutshell:
Beginning in January, Google is going to label sites that collect confidential information as non-secure unless they’re protected with an SSL Certificate.

What is an SSL Certificate, anyway?
An SSL certificate legitimizes your website by keeping form submissions secure and letting potential and existing customers that your site is safe to use and do business with.

How can Kevindustries help you?
We will get you onto a VPS (virtual private server) and get an SSL Certificate installed for your site. Or if you are already on a VPS, we can set up the SSL Certificate for you. Either way, we will help you so that you can give your customers the best security protection while simultaneously improving your search engine results. Please fill out our short Service Request form and select “SSL Certificate setup” and if you need a VPS then also check “VPS Setup.”
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Speed Optimize your Website

speedometer showing a fast speedSlow websites are the worst. At least that is what Google and your site’s visitors think. Google uses your website’s page load speed as one of the factors to determine where your site ranks on its search results page.

References:

Your slow site drives visitors away and reduces productivity. Users are less likely to use your site in the future when forced to wait so long for your site to load. Have you ever been frustrated while waiting for a site to load that you have clicked off of it and gone elsewhere? That’s what your site visitors are doing when waiting for your slow site to load. All websites need some tweaks every now an then, and Site Speed Optimization provides exactly that.

You may be asking: what is considered a fast site or slow site? GTMetrix top 1000GTMetrix is a speed testing site which compiles a list of 1000 websites and their speed every day. Take a look at the above link and compare it to your site. If your website takes 10 or more seconds to load, then your site is considered extremely slow. 3-5 seconds means you’re at an acceptable but average rate. If it loads in 2 seconds or less, then you’re in the fast loading range.

There are several sites to determine how fast your site is running. Be aware that each may report slightly different results. Here are a few sites that we like to use for testing speed:

Find a tool that you like and stick with it this way you always have consistent results to compare against. All of the above a good and provide robust and accurate tools for finding bottlenecks on your site, so do not stress above which to use. Just pick the one you like the most and always use that one going forward.

Web Page Test screenshot

Web Page Test results for kevindustries.com screenshot

GTMetrix screenshot

GTMetrix results for kevindustries.com screenshot

Page Speed Grader screenshot

Page Speed Grader results for kevindustries.com screenshot

Keep in mind that your site’s speed can vary depending on the current amount of network traffic and how many visitors are actively viewing your website. We recommend you run 5 to 10 scans of the same site to get an accurate average speed. After about 10 scans you will see a clear picture of how your site is really performing.

Most web browsers have tools built in that not only show you how fast your site is running, but also provide details showing why it is taking so long to load. This is very useful information to diagnose and improve your site speed.

To use a browser’s built-in tool:
Right click anywhere on the webpage and select “Inspect Element”. This opens up your browser’s developer tools.
Select the network tab.
Reload the page.

Inspect Element on Chrome - Mac - Kevindustries.com

Inspect Element on Chrome – Mac OS X – Kevindustries.com (click for larger image)

Sometimes your browser may report a much higher number than tools like Web Page Tester, GTMEtrix, or PageSpeedGrader. This is normal and happens because the browser also times the javascript, which runs in the browser itself instead of running server-side like PHP files do.

The biggest contributors to slowness are very large, poorly-optimized images. Sites that have mostly images are great looking and provide a nice viewing experience, however, they can bring any site to a halt when not formatted correctly. To avoid this, optimize all your images by making them as small as possible. Meaning both the size on disk (how much space it takes up on a hard drive in kilobytes or megabytes) as well as the actual dimensions of the image (width x height in pixels). Images should be resized before they are uploaded to the server. This will remove entire seconds off the total load time of the site.

Many page graders will give your site a letter grade but this doesn’t matter that much. What really matters is:

  1. the number of requests your page has to make in order to load
  2. how large the page actually is

When your page has to download more than 3MB or it has to make several hundred requests, your visitors run into problems based off the sheer amount of data their internet connection has to process in order to load the site. To move towards a faster load time, get the number of requests and the actual size of the page as low as possible. Image optimization will make a huge difference to reduce the size of the page, and minimizing page redirects will reduce the number of requests greatly. The amount of dynamic content on a page also impacts the size and speed, so reduce this as much as possible.

Another helpful tip is to use caching to help speed up your site. A web browser cache will keep a local copy of the images, javascript, HTML, and CSS that make up your site so that the next time your users load it, their browsers won’t have to download as much information. Server side caching systems save copies of the content that are created at runtime (like results from MySQL database queries) right on the server’s hard drive or memory so that it is at the ready and doesn’t have make that same query again. Trial and error are the best tools for figuring out your site’s specific caching needs, so do some testing to find out what works best for your specific situation.

If you are diligent and go step by step, your site’s speed will improve and your site visitors will be happier leading to better user retention and improved SEO rankings. If you have any questions, please take advantage of our Site Speed Optimization services and we’ll get your site up to speed in no time. Good luck and happy optimizing!

If you are ready to get us to optimize your site’s speed for you, please fill out a Service Request and check “Website Speed Optimization” (and any additional services) and we will reply within one business day. Thanks for reading!

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Caddy Web Server

Caddy ServerCaddy is an HTTP/2 web server which automatically configures your site to use HTTPS. It uses the excellent and free Let’s Encrypt certificate authority to obtain and install an SSL certificate for your site. This is seamlessly done in the background and works very well.

The configuration file (known as a Caddyfile) is simple to set up and deploy. The caddyfile documentation is easy to follow and gets you up to speed very quickly.

For example, here is the Caddyfile the I put together to serve Kevindustries:

While I still use Nginx for most of the sites that I am the administrator/webmaster for, Caddy is a robust and easy to use and set up web server. It’s another tool in the web server toolbox and will be certainly considered for future projects. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

The great thing about Caddy is that if you are not very technically inclined, it is still pretty easy to get running. If you get stuck and would like some help, please fill out a Service Request.