How Ecommerce Businesses Can Improve Their Online Reputation

David Midgley of Total Processing outlines the steps online sellers should take to improve both their online reputation and their security

How Ecommerce Businesses Can Improve Their Online Reputation

For small businesses, building a good reputation can help them to go from strength to strength. Conversely, gaining a bad reputation can lead to a lack of custom and ultimately, the failure of the business.

Therefore, it is important for a business to use all the methods available to them to positively enhance their profile and their reputation. This is particularly true of an ecommerce business, as being perceived as a secure site where the customers’ personal and financial information will be safe is paramount to their success.

Hence, when considering ecommerce sites, it would be fair to say that attempts to make the site as secure as possible will also help to positively boost the company’s reputation as well.

The good news for small businesses is there are some relatively simple and common sense measures that can be taken that will achieve both.

Moving your site to HTTPS

Firstly, if you haven’t already, I strongly recommend that all businesses, particularly those operating in ecommerce, move their websites over to HTTPS protocol. HTTPS works by adding a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption layer to the basic HTTP protocol. This means that clients and servers are still speaking the same ‘language’ to each other, but all requests and responses are encrypted before they are sent and then decrypted at the other end.

This means there is less chance of those messages, and crucially the information contained within them, being intercepted and exploited by unscrupulous parties. This is particularly vital when considering ecommerce site given the personal and financial information contained in those messages, meaning it is very important that the channel being used to send and receive the information is as secure as it possibly can be.

On this note, it is a misconception to think only sites that take a user’s personal and financial details should protect the communications that take place between their sites and a user’s browser. All the information a site sends to a browser – cookies, HTML code, scripts, etc – can also be intercepted and tampered with.

Furthermore, users are increasingly becoming concerned with both the security of their personal information and their personal privacy, and this is includes the privacy of their browsing sessions.

SEO implications

To my original point, I would even argue that the above means it is also harmful to a business’ reputation not to secure your site with HTTPS. Customers want to know that both their information and their browsing sessions are secure when they visit your site. Otherwise, there is a risk they won’t trust your site and, by extension, your business. And if they don’t trust either, they’re very unlikely to be willing to make a transaction with you.

Google has also revealed that it gives a ranking boost to those using HTTPS protocol to secure their website. Further to this, according to Moz, unless your site is listed in the top four of a search engine results page, it will have a click-through rate of less than 2%. In addition, Google now also alerts users of their Chrome browser when a site doesn’t use HTTPS encryption. Therefore, if you’re operating a site that only uses HTTP protocol, you are immediately at a disadvantage and have given up ground to your competitors who use HTTPS. Thus, it makes sense for businesses to move over to HTTPS protocol.

In addition, there are other measures ecommerce sites should take that will go a long way to strengthening the security of the website and helping to prevent themselves and their customers from becoming the victim of a hack. For example, remembering to update your system software and keeping your e-mail and spam settings rigid will go a long way to keeping a site secure. If a hacker does manage to find a way in, implementing 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) for all transactions is a great way of stopping malicious parties in their tracks and preventing them from using customers’ stolen details.

The benefits

Some people will argue that doing all of the above costs both time and money and that a site using HTTPS is slower than one using HTTP protocol. However, the effect on a site of implementing HTTPS is marginal and barely noticeable to the vast majority of users. The cost of buying and renewing SSL certificates and software packages, meanwhile, will be far outweighed by the security and reputational benefits in the long run too.

For these reasons, and more, if you haven’t already, move your business’ website over to HTTPS protocol, ensure you have installed the latest versions of all your system’s software and make sure to implement authentication processes for all transactions on your website. It will help your business go from strength to strength.

David Midgley is head of operations at payment gateway and merchant services provider Total Processing

1 Comment

  1. Very sound advice for anyone hoping to make it big in eCommerce. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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