HTTPS is an encrypted communication protocol — essentially, a more secure way of browsing the web, since you get a private channel directly between your browser and the web server. That’s why most major sites use it.
If a site’s using HTTPS, you’ll see a little padlock icon in the address field, just as in the screenshot below:
Here are the most common reasons you might want to use HTTPS on your own site:
Faster. One might think that HTTPS would make your site slower, since it takes some time to encrypt and decrypt all data. But a lot of efficiency improvements to HTTP are only available when you use HTTPS. As a result, HTTPS will actually make your site faster for almost all visitors.
Trust. Users find it easier to trust a secure site. While they don’t necessarily know their traffic is encrypted, they do know the little padlock icon means a site cares about their privacy. Tech people will know that any servers between your computer and the web server won’t be able to see the information flowing forth and back, and won’t be able to change it.
Payment security. If you sell anything on your site, users want to know their payment information is secure. HTTPS, and the little padlock, assure that their information travels safely to the web server.
Search Engine Optimization. Many search engines will add a penalty to web sites that don’t use HTTPS, thus making it harder to reach the best spots in search results.
Your good name. Have you noticed that some websites have the text “not secure” next to their address?
That happens when your web browser wants you to know a site is NOT using HTTPS. Browsers want you to think (rightly!) that site owners who can’t be bothered using HTTPS (it’s free in many cases) aren’t worth your time and certainly not your money.
In turn, you don’t want browsers suggesting you might be that kind of shady site owner yourself.