Is your website using the HTTP version to serve Java, CSS, and images? The upcoming versions of the Chrome browser will skip the rendering of HTTP versions, aka Mixed Content by default, and notify users about the mixed content error on the site.
Google has been increasingly recommending webmasters to adopt HTTPS instead of HTTP to ensure the safety of its users. The HTTPS factor is now one of the 200 ranking signals, and Google officials have confirmed the same.
Now, Google wants to tighten up things further as it has asked webmasters to ensure that their HTTPS domains are not rendering mixed content.
According to the official announcement from Google, starting December 2019, the Chrome 79 browser will not load mixed content by default while loading webpages.
Instead, the users will be notified about the use of mixed content on the page, and they can either choose to back out or continue browsing the page after agreeing to the notification.
That said, the majority of users who see a “not secured page” notification get dissuaded from spending further time on the page. This might lead to a high bounce rate and can negatively affect the site’s ranking on the Search Engine Results Page.
The SEO fraternity has widely approved the time spent on a page as an essential ranking factor. If people exit a site with mixed content soon after landing, there is a high chance that Google’s algorithm may demote the site in the SERP rankings.
What is a Mixed Content Error?
The web pages are rendered by browsers based on two protocols – HTTP and HTTPS. A website that follows the HTTPS protocol is far safer than one that uses HTTP. HTTPS-enabled sites are encrypted, thus ensuring authentication, data integrity, secrecy.
However, there are websites that load both HTTPS and HTTP content on the same page and this is called Mixed Content.
Most sites that face mixed content issues have external resources such as images, videos, stylesheets, scripts loaded via the HTTP domain.
Even though the initial request is sent as HTTPS, once the mixed content is rendered in the Google Chrome browser, it shows the site as insecure as there are chances that the HTTP resources may harm the users.
How to Fix Mixed Content Issue?
If you have an HTTPS domain but see the “Not Secure” notification on the Omnibox of the Chrome browser, there is a high chance that your website has Mixed Content.
Step 1: Identify Mixed Content on the Page
If you see the browser notification that says “Insecure content found on the webpage,” go to the source code and check whether you see the “http://” URLs on the page. You can do this by doing a simple CTRL+F on the source code. You can find HTTP URLs with mixed content errors and warnings this way.
Step 2: Check if the Resource is Available in HTTP and HTTPS
There are chances that the mixed content is available in both HTTP and HTTPS. In such cases, you don’t have to make any changes as the Chrome Browser 79 will auto-upgrade mixed resources to https://, so sites will continue to work.
However, if you fail to find the HTTPS version of the same file – “Resource not available over HTTPS”, or if you see a Chrome Notification that says “Certificate warning when attempting to view resource over HTTPS”, you have to consider migrating the resource to HTTPS.
Step 3: Migrating an HTTP Resource to HTTPS
If you find resources that are not in HTTPS or faced warning while accessing, you must consider doing the following:
- Include the same resource from a different host that serves the HTTPS version.
- If your external resource is a downloadable asset, download the same and host it in your HTTPS server.
- If the resource is not integral for rendering the website exclude it altogether.
Step 4: Update the Source File
Once you have uploaded the resource on an HTTPS domain, update the source code with the new HTTPS URL of the resource.
Step 5: Check Whether the Error Has been Resolved.
How Google Chrome Will Treat Mixed Content in the Future?
Starting in December 2019, Google Chrome will start treating websites with mixed content differently. Instead of an overnight exclusion, Google is planning to phase out mixed content with a series of Chrome Updates, says the official announcement.
Phase 1 – The Chrome 79 Update will be rolled out in December 2019 and it will unblock mixed content on specific sites. This chrome version will auto-upgrade HTTP to HTTPS wherever possible.
Phase 2: The Chrome 80 update is all set to launch in January 2020. This update brings along HTTPS auto-upgraded features, which will upgrade the unsecured HTTP connection to a more secure HTTPs connection. Taking the Chrome 80 update further, if the content fails to load over an HTTPs connection, then the browser will automatically block it.
Phase 3: To add further, the mixed image will still be allowed to load in the Chrome 80 update, but it will come with a “ Not Secure” warning by the browser in the Omnibox next to the URL of the website, as shown in the image above. This is expected to prompt users to migrate their images to HTTPs.
Phase 4: The next upgrade, which is the Chrome 81 update, will also come with HTTPs auto-upgraded features. Chrome will block the images that fail to load over an HTTPs connection. As per reports, Chrome 81 update is coming in February 2020.