Protecting the privacy of your customers and prospects while they visit your site is paramount to the success of your organization. Business owners need to be concerned about the security of their website even if they have “a guy” who handles it for them. Today’s environment requires careful attention to how information is transferred between a customer’s website browser and your website.

Not sure where to begin? Start by opening a website browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox and type in your company’s website address. Look just to the left of your website address and you will see either a little gray circle with an “i” in it or a green picture of a lock and the word “secure.”

You may never even have noticed these symbols before. You want to see the green picture of the lock. This indicates that your website starts with HTTPS, which stands for hyper text transfer protocol secure v HTTP, the unsecured version. This means that all communication and information between a visitor’s browser and your website is encrypted.

This is very important to the success of your business for several reasons. This helps prospects and customers feel confident that any information they share is protected. Even if your website is not transactional-based, this is the same icon your visitors see when they are handling online banking or shopping. So that’s the first reason to use the technology called SSL Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to get that HTTPS:// in front of your website address.

Now, here are three more important reasons to have a secure website:

Builds Trust: Put your customers at ease from their initial encounter with you. A recent study by Episerver found that 92 percent of consumers visit a brand’s website for the first time for reasons other than making a purchase. They’re actually looking for a product or service, comparing prices and looking for store details.

Most websites want to capitalize on these visits and ask visitors to fill out a form to get a free analysis or a quote. Now you potentially have someone’s name, address, phone number, and email address that he or she expects is being protected and remains between just you and him or her. A secure site encrypts this information and demonstrates that you care about your customers.

Protects Your Company Integrity: The most popular website browsers are highlighting for visitors those websites that are not secure. Chrome, the most-used browser these days, is releasing Chrome 68 this month, which now adds the words “not secure” after the encircled “i.” Firefox, also has already stated as part of its HTTPS Everywhere effort, that HTTPS is the new minimum. As part of its January 2017 policy, it began marking form elements on HTTP sites as unsecure with a gray lock icon with a red strike through the address bar, giving users a warning that any login information could become compromised.

These types of icons and warnings have the promise of impacting consumer behavior, and you want your company to be positively impacted.

Better SEO/Better Leads: Converting to HTTPS will boost your search engine rankings on Google. Back in 2014, Google announced that it was using secure, encrypted connections as part of its search ranking algorithms for website ranking. If your website isn’t secure, chances are you’re not ranking nearly as high as you’d like to be. Moving to HTTPS has the ability to significantly increase you organic search traffic and provide you with more prospects.

It also allows for the detection of a user’s location – with unsecure websites this is not an option. This means you can direct a visitor to a store closest to him or her without manual intervention. This is an opportunity for better conversions, which can result in better ROI.

So yes, you need to make sure your company site is secure. You’ll need an encryption certificate that is installed properly. This actually involves time and a pretty extensive checklist to get it right. It means updating all your internal links, including images, style sheets, java script files, etc. and external links like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google My Business, etc. You may decide to turn to the pros to have it all handled. Either way, the investment is clearly worth it.