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Michael Michael Mar 08, 2017

HTTP/2 is Here, and HTTP/1 is so 90s

The nerdy stuff

If you've been looking at SEO articles recently, you may have noticed a new acronym being thrown around: HTTP/2. To some, HTTP is a random set of characters you insert before typing a website URL, but it means a lot more than that.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol? Huh?

When you click on a URL, your browser requests the website, and the site sends back files and images one at a time, as the page renders. Imagine going to a restaurant to get a burger, but each component is given to you separately: first the patty, then the lettuce, the bun, and so on. The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) acts as the waiter, running back and forth delivering each resource to your browser. And it's been doing this pretty well since 1999. That's right, the last major revision to HTTP was in 1999.

What is HTTP/2?

But the web has changed a lot since the 90’s, just ask Google.

Now, more than 50% of searches come from mobile devices. Mobile searchers and shoppers type credit card info into their devices and expect instant security from their browsers.

So Google started working to make HTTP safer and more efficient. Thus, HTTP/2 was born. HTTP/2 speeds up load time by sending all your resources through a single connection. In other words, the “waiter” only needs to make one trip to produce a page.

How do I get it?

If you're interested in HTTP/2, it’s important to note a few things:

First, implementing HTTP/2 relies on your hosting. Most hosting companies are HTTP/2 capable, but it typically requires switching to a private server plan. Contact your hosting provider to get instructions on how to properly configure HTTP/2.

Second, many browser vendors fully or partially support HTTP/2 already, but only through a secure connection. Meaning you’ll need to purchase an SSL certification. A Secure Socket Layer (SSL) secures the connection between browsers by encrypting personal info as it passes through a network.

The padlock before an HTTPs signals that a site is trustworthy. (Always check for this symbol before entering private data into a form.)

HTTP/2’s Impact on SEO

As far as SEO is concerned, Google shows its constant commitment to security by prioritizing secure (https, http/2) sites, so you’ll benefit from installing an SSL certificate. But, by far, HTTP/2’s biggest benefit is its load speed on mobile devices. Google has stated again and again that page speed affects rankings, and HTTP/2 ‘s ability to deliver content safely and quickly pleases the omnipotent algorithm.

Ready or Not?

If you’re not ready to take the HTTP/2 plunge, don’t worry. Google won't leave you out to dry, just yet. Many techniques used to boost load time can help you continue to fare well in search rankings without making the switch. But, HTTP/2 seems to be another warning from Google that lag should be a thing of the past.

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