This idea stems from one of the most basic human needs, reflected in a question people ask themselves subconsciously prior to actions they take: “Is it safe here?” As cloud, digital marketing, mobile and social media embed themselves into the daily lives of over 7 billion people in the world, the notion of “here” takes on a staggering meaning.

Google understands the “is it safe here?” idea and is taking action, according to a September 2016 post on the Google Security Blog. In January 2017, release 56 of Google’s Chrome browser will prominently warn users when they access non-secure websites.

Table stakes are higher now

Google and other web browser companies are working toward a safer internet by making it easier for people to know when they are browsing secure or non-secure websites. To be clear, users won't be blocked from accessing non-secure websites, but they will see a visually jarring warning when visiting web pages that don’t use an encrypted connection.

What does encrypted mean in this context?

Websites that begin with "HTTPS" offer a higher level of security, compared with non-secure "HTTP" connections. The encryption used in HTTPS connections helps keep transmitted information away from cybercriminals and hackers.

What’s the threat?

When people browse a website using HTTP, anyone on the internet can easily see or modify the information being sent or received. Hence, beginning in January 2017, Chrome 56 will prominently label all HTTP sites that require passwords or credit card details as "Not secure" — the first step in Google's plan to discourage people from using websites that don't encrypt data via HTTPS.

If you’re managing a website that handles user information (i.e., names, contact details, usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, etc.), it’s a target for cybercriminals and hackers to fraudulently pose as your website to steal that information. And when your organization’s website is new, small or freshly redesigned, you must demonstrate that both your business and your website are legitimate. Moreover, you need to demonstrate this to users as well as to digital business systems that also demand to know “is it safe here?”

“This isn't the first time Google has taken major steps to encourage website owners and managers to switch to HTTPS.”

Now more than ever, security is more than scrambling information using HTTPS encryption. Additionally, demonstrating your business and website legitimacy can easily inspire that user-desired sense of security – directly communicating, “yes, you are safe here.”

Looking deeper into each step of the user experience, it’s perfectly logical to inspire that feeling of safety. The more you communicate a sense of security across touch points, the more you increase stickiness, interaction, activity, preference and measureable conversions.

On a related note, this isn't the first time Google has taken major steps to encourage website owners and managers to switch to HTTPS. Two years ago, Google also modified its search engine algorithm to give a ranking boost to websites that use encrypted HTTPS connections. This is good for people and business because it rewards organizations whose websites are theoretically more secure.

Tips to earn trust in 2017

Bottom line, a lack of security at any user touch point erodes return on investment. For example, an untrustworthy website with a “Not secure” warning in the address bar will deter new visitors from browsing and established customers from returning. And ever since “Google it” became a term, a lower search ranking thanks to lower security is a bad business decision in our connected world. Don't attempt to attract customers with effective marketing only to turn them away at the very moment they land on your search result or website.

I’ll cover several trust-building topics and more in a live webinar on November 29, but I want to leave with you three actionable tips to be trusted in 2017: first, take the human need for security seriously across both digital and physical touch points; second, don’t invest in digital marketing if you’re unwilling to safeguard customer experiences with HTTPS security; finally, be proactive to avoid generating negative traditional and social media coverage about your website not being secure.