Mixed Content has always hurt your SEO, but starting December 2019, google will begin displaying a warning to users as they go onto pages that have ‘mixed content’.
This is in preparation for January 2020, were they will begin blocking access to these sites on chrome browsers, with other browsers likely to follow.
WHAT IS MIXED CONTENT?
Firstly, it is important to understand what mixed content is. Mixed content is when a website uses the HTTPS protocol to send content, but links to sub content (images, videos, iframes etc…) from other sites that use HTTP.
In other words, it is when an otherwise encrypted website uses unencrypted elements from other sites to display its content.
THE DANGERS OF MIXED CONTENT
When a website or resource uses HTTPS, the data that is sent to you will be encrypted, meaning only you and the website host can read or manipulate it. But if a website or resource uses HTTP, the data is not encrypted and can be read or manipulated by anybody who can get their hands on it. This is called a man-in-the-middle attack.
This means that if you use HTTPS on your website, but have HTTP sub content, that sub content is not encrypted and thus could be vulnerable, on an otherwise secure website. So even if you are not the victim of a man-in-the-middle attack, you can’t be classified as secure and you won’t qualify for a ‘green padlock’ which labels your site as secure.
HOW IT CAN AFFECT YOU
Most websites already use HTTPS, 90% in fact, but a lot of sub content providers still use HTTP. In an ongoing push to promote safe and secure development practices, google has been giving HTTPS sites a boost in search results, while pushing sites that use outdated security protocols and mixed content towards the bottom of results.
But now Mixed Content will hurt more than just your SEO, if your visitors are using Google Chrome like 50% of web users, they will be warned of the risk before entering your website, and from February, they won’t even be allowed to enter your website.
To keep your online business afloat after these changes come into place, it is important to check for mixed content. If you suspect your website has mixed content, there are various CMS plugins for larger sites, and online tools for smaller sites that you can use to check if your website has mixed content on it.
If you find that your website has mixed content, search for HTTPS alternatives, almost every service will have an HTTPS version, and if it doesn’t then there are plugins to switch to HTTPS available for all major CMS providers.