Lately you may have heard people talking about the need for your website to be HTTPS or not just HTTP. Is this also true for Medical Practices? Is HTTPS better for HIPAA compliance? Does HTTPS cost more? How can medical practices change their sites from HTTP to HTTPS? This blog post aims to answer all these questions, so that your medical practice is informed and can take the appropriate action.
What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?
HTTP stands for “HyperText Transfer Protocol” and is the traditional way of transferring information between the website to your browser. HTTPS stands for “HyperText Transfer Protocol SECURE”. As the name suggests, it is a more secure way of transferring information between the website and your browser.
How can I tell if my website is HTTP or HTTPS?
You can tell by looking at the the URL bar at the top of your screen. At the beginning of the URL (on the left side), it will either say “HTTP://” or “HTTPS://”.
For example, an http site will look like this:
Whereas an https site will look like this:
HTTP vs. HTTPS – Which is better for a Medical Practice?
As a medical practice, there are two main reasons you should switch to HTTPS:
1. HTTPS is more HIPAA Compliant
HIPAA states that medical providers should “protect against reasonably anticipated threats to the security or integrity of the information” (Source: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/security/laws-regulations/index.html). This includes the dangers of patient information being hacked. If your website collects patient information of any sort (e.g. online scheduling / online forms / or even contact forms), then you need to be taking action to protect it. Making your site HTTPS adds an extra level of security to your site, meaning that you are likely to be more HIPAA compliant.
2. HTTPS is better for SEO
Google has stated that sites with HTTPS will be given a slight “boost” in terms of SEO. Of course, it does not mean that you’ll be top of Google as soon as you switch to HTTPS, BUT when it comes to SEO, every little helps.
So, considering HTTPS makes your practice more HIPAA compliant AND helps you appear higher in Google, we recommend that all Medical Practices switch to HTTPS. Read more about SEO for doctors.
Does HTTPS cost more than HTTPS?
In short, yes. You normally need to pay a fee for the SSL certificate which is required for HTTPS sites. However, this fee is usually below $200.
How can I change my website from HTTP to HTTPS?
Changing from HTTP to HTTPS can be done in two steps:
- Purchase an SSL certificate
- Install your SSL certificate on your hosting account.
If your site is hosted with GoDaddy, you can follow these instructions.
A Word of Warning – When changing to HTTPS don’t lose your backlinks!
In terms of SEO, you may have hundreds (or thousands) of backlinks pointing to the HTTP version of your site. It would be a tragedy to lose all those backlinks! That’s why it’s important to set up forwarding, so that all http links automatically forward to the new https versions.
Besides switching to HTTPS, what else can medical practices do to boost their Google rankings?
Interested in SEO for your practice’s website? Please click on the link below which best matches your specialty: