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Joel Headley

3 things to know when upgrading your doctor website to HTTPS

If Google Chrome is flagging your website as Not Secure, you need to make the switch to HTTPS now.

This blog is Part 2 of a two-part series about the July 2018 Google Chrome version 68 update. Visit this webpage to read Part 1.

It’s bad enough that independent physicians have to find the time to stay atop of all the reimbursement and regulatory changes coming out of Washington, D.C. Now they need to pay close attention to happenings in Silicon Valley, too.

With the release of version 68 of it’s Chrome browser, Google marks HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) websites as Not Secure in the URL bar. The reason, Chrome Security Product Manager Emily Schechter writes, is to “help users understand that HTTP sites are not secure” and, therefore, should not be trusted.

According to NetMarketShare, Google Chrome’s share was 62.85 percent in May 2018. In a distant second was Internet Explorer, with less than 12 percent. So, this change immediately impacts nearly two-thirds of U.S. internet users. And there’s a high chance other browsers will soon follow suit, which would affect even more people.

If your site is Not Secure, your best move now is to upgrade to HTTPs. Read on for tips on

How to make the switch from HTTP to HTTPS

Upgrading your site from a non-secure to HTTPS is relatively easy. If done incorrectly, however, your site’s search performance could suffer.

If you are the admin of a doctor website, the first thing to do is figure out where the website is hosted. If it’s hosted by a company like GoDaddy or Squarespace, the easiest thing to do is contact your hosting company. They should be able to enable HTTPS on your behalf, or they can walk you through the process. (This won’t guarantee you’re in the clear, however, as you’ll learn below.)

If you are hosting your site, then you’ll need to acquire a validation certificate. I recommend obtaining one from letsencrypt.org, because the site is backed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and is free and easy to set up, taking about 20 or 30 minutes to do so.

Below are a few additional things to keep in mind when upgrading your site.

1. Avoid mixed content

Occasionally, resources like third-party chat widgets and images are served over HTTP instead of HTTPS. If you have upgraded to HTTPS, you could see errors from these unsecured widgets. In some cases, Google Chrome might block them completely.

2. Update internal links

When you update the navigation as necessary, you’ll want to ensure the links point to the HTTPS version of the website. Of course, you’ll probably have internal links among your content, too. You’ll want to make sure they also get updated. It will avoid warnings from across your site appearing in your patients’ browsers.

Also see: How long does link building take to influence search rankings for healthcare practices?

3. Add proper redirects & canonicalization

Upon launching the HTTPS version of your site, make sure people are getting to the new pages. To do this, you need to put proper 301 redirects are in place. These are directions that tell anyone — including search engines — that if they go to an HTTP page, to push them to HTTPS.

Also, making the HTTPS pages canonical will help ensure duplicate pages don’t end up in the search results. A proper canonical tag will help avoid duplicate content and direct search engines to your HTTPS pages.

Create a secure site with PatientPop

If making the switch from HTTP to HTTPS sounds like too much of a headache for your practice, I urge you to consider working with PatientPop to create a new site. All new sites launched through the PatientPop practice growth platform are secure with HTTPS, and PatientPop online booking, our online scheduling tool, has always served securely.

For more information about how we can help you, contact sales@patientpop.com.

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Joel Headley
PatientPop Director of Local SEO and Marketing Joel Headley is the brains behind our Local Search column and resident expert on optimizing our client websites for the best possible rankings. He brings over a decade's experience working at Google on various product areas, including web search and local search. While working on Google Maps and its local listing product (now called Google My Business), Joel collaborated with Google’s product team to improve the data structure and feedback to business owners about their listings’ performance.

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