How the Advent of HTTP/2 Will Affect Businesses, Bloggers and Websites

HTTP/2 is unknown to a lot of people still. We will briefly summarise what HTTP/2 is and why it’s so important for both the internet and website owners.

HTTP/2 also known as HTTP/2.0 or HTTP2 is the next generation of Hypertext Transfer Protocol known widely as HTTP. HTTP traces its roots back to Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the internet. HTTP has developed from HTTP/0.9 to HTTP/1.0 and then to the currently used format HTTP/1.1 in 1997. There have been a number of updates to HTTP/1.1 since then but the fundamental core has remained the same since 1997.

In terms of technology and the usual 6-month lifespan, it’s phenomenal that HTTP/1.1 has managed to remain the best application protocol (system for use) for so long. Its lifespan is a credit to those who conceived and built it. However, as with anything in the tech world, it eventually becomes obsolete or unfit for purpose. The internet currently is focused on security and speed and HTTP/1.1 can’t deliver the speed and security needed for the modern web. As such, Google spearheaded a research programme which developed a technology called SPDY. Microsoft also developed its own version called the HTTP Speed+Mobility protocol and the Network Working Group at the IETF developed the Network-Friendly HTTP Upgrade. The HTTP bis working group at the IETF looked at all 3 of the technologies and as such SPDY was considered the best technology. SPDY was used as the basis to start from for building HTTP/2 but there are now big differences between the two protocols. HTTP/2 is now far more advanced than SPDY and hence it is now the accepted format used by all web browsers.

HTTP2 process

The good thing to come out of HTTP/2 is much better security. HTTP/2 works very well with SSL and its successor TLS. All of the major browsers have now said they will only support HTTP/2 over a TLS connection, which means that the connection has to have an SSL certificate for it to work. This basically means that HTTP/2 forces websites into encrypting all of their data throughout the whole site. This is great news for users as they now don’t have to worry about websites getting hacked and all of their personal details being stolen.

The other good thing is speed. HTTP/2 transports data in a different and more efficient way to HTTP/1.1. HTTP/2 allows for data to be moved in groups rather than one request at a time which means pages can load quicker. It also introduces request pipelining, data compression, and server data pushes, amongst other smaller improvements. This means users get to view fully loaded pages much quicker than before, resulting in a better user experience, as less time is spent waiting for pages and assets to load.

How will this affect you, your business and your website?

If you’re the owner of a site, it means that you are going to have to make some changes to your server. Contact the company that hosts your website and ask them when they are updating their servers to HTTP/2. Making the switch as soon as possible is best as you want to be ready to enjoy the benefits of HTTP/2 as soon as possible and to also avoid the pitfalls of not switching over soon enough.

You’ll also need to buy a TLS certificate also known by its old name an SSL certificate. HTTP/2 requires a certificate so that data is encrypted. Encrypting your data will make your users feel safer when they are entering personal information on your site e.g. debit/credit card details, passwords, addresses, etc. Sites that have encryption running on their connections are trusted more by customers than those sites that don’t and therefore have higher sales than those without encryption. You’ll also rank higher in Google if your site is encrypted which means you’ll get more traffic than your unencrypted competitors.

Google has also stated that as of January 2017 any page that requires data to be entered into it, such as a login screen or payment form, will require an SSL certificate otherwise it will have an “x”marked next to it in the address bar in Chrome. It is also mooted that at the end of 2017 or the start of 2018 it will start listing results in the SERPs without an SSL certificate as unsafe or malicious software. Eventually, sites will then be blacklisted and removed from Google search results altogether. Most browsers and search engines are also doing the same in a bid to push sites to become secure.

Further rumours persist that most browsers will then require HTTP/2 for all websites at the end of 2018 or beginning of 2019. This will effectively force all websites to buy an SSL certificate if they haven’t already done so. The trick is to not wait around to be forced into doing this, as the punishments received before this will have affected all of your traffic, both through search engines and directly. This will notoriously impact businesses and drive away regular consumers. Making the switch to HTTP/2 as soon as possible is advised.

So what are the benefits? Well, apart from the previously mentioned increased security and increased customer trust, you’ll also get much happier customers from the pages loading faster. The faster your browsing experience, the better, and the more likely your customers are to convert into sales or leads/enquiries.

HTTP2 process

So now you know what the launch of HTTP/2 means both in terms of benefits and negatives if action isn’t taken. If you have any other questions please feel free to contact us.

You’ll be pleased to know, if you’re a Verb customer who uses our hosting service and has had a website built by us recently, we’re making the switch to HTTP/2 for you and we’ll provide your site with an SSL certificate and perform the migration.

If your site was built some time ago by us and you are using our hosting service then we’ll be contacting you over the coming months to make the switch to HTTP/2 and migrating to HTTPS with an SSL certificate.

If you’re not a Verb customer or you don’t use our hosting service then please get in contact with us about encrypting your site with an SSL certificate and migrating to HTTPS. We can then advise you on which host to use in order to switch over to HTTP/2 as well, so your website is future proofed for the foreseeable future.

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