‘Sock It To ‘Em: Google Penalizes Non-Secure Websites’

Law firms depend on their websites to generate clients.  For most law firms, if the website is not the primary driver of referrals, it’s confirmation to your potential clients that you’re an invested business owner, and is perhaps the first avenue through which you begin to build trust with consumers.

But, if you didn’t update your website this summer, there’s something you should know.  Google has been penalizing websites that do not feature SSL (secure socket layer) certificates.  This is a change in Google’s approach to this point, which had been to provide a slight rankings bump to websites that were secure.

You’re probably asking yourself three questions:

What is an SSL certificate?  Basically, it’s encryption for data transfers made via your website.  You can read more detail here.  This issue is actually probably more important for attorneys than it is for general business owners, because law firms that offer online contact options often have leads who are non-clients submitting confidential information via those forms.  A disclaimer offers you some level of protection against penalties related to malpractice, but has no practical effect on protecting the data transferred.

What is the penalty?  In Chrome, Google’s popular web browser, your website will be marked ‘not secure’, and Chrome users may not be able to access your website at all.  Obviously, that’s a full stop for the vast majority of consumers, including your potential law firm clients.  This is Google’s blog post on the subject, and shows what the ‘not secure’ marker looks like.

What can I do if my website’s not secure?  Well, this one’s easy.  Get an SSL certificate in place.  I use the free version from CloudFlare on my website.  If you can’t figure out how to add the SSL certificate yourself, contact your web designer to do it for you.

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Not sure if your law firm technology platform is built for 2020 or 1920?  We can help.

The Wyoming State Bar offers free law practice management consulting services through Red Cave Law Firm Consulting.  To request a consult, visit the Wyoming State Bar’s law practice management page, and start running your law firm like a business.

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