HTTP2, originally called the HTTP 2.0 is the second updated version of the HTTP network protocol. It was introduced by the group members of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
Think of HTTP as the speaking language of the Internet. It is largely dependent on Google SPDY (pronounced “speedy”) protocol. The SPDY protocol aims to enhance the web user experience by reducing page loading speed, prioritization of requests, multiplexing, etc.
It is worth noting the erstwhile version HTTP/1.1 has been around for long two decades. So the HTTP2 update was literally awaited by the entire Internet community. It brings to table several benefits that will improve a website’s performance.
HTTP2 is a revision of the language which allows for secure information exchange across the Internet. This updated protocol was first introduced to the world in 2015 and since then all major browsers have added HTTP2 support.
Some such benefits of HTTP2 include:
- Multiple request processing through a single TCP connection
- Server pushing of JS and CSS files
- One connection per origin
- Stream prioritization
- Header compression
- Binary framing layer
So that’s the little technical background about HTTP2. If all the major Internet browsers of the world like Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, etc. are to provide support for it immediately on introduction, HTTPs must be something serious.
One common insecurity that web administrators and users have about HTTP2 is its rumored incompatibility with commonly used web browsers. The truth is that there is no compatibility issue with HTTP2. In case a browser is yet to become support-ready for HTTP2, it will simply downgrade the connection to HTTP and continue like before. However, upgrading your website to HTTP2 means you will be up and running the race.
In case you are not aware, HTTP2 is critical to all websites, especially those who bank on SEO to drive organic traffic. It also works like a charm for the mobile website since HTTPS2 cuts down the loading speed on mobile networks, even better than Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages Project.
All digital marketers know that the ground keeps shifting in the SEO landscape. There is never a day when everything remains constant. The HTTP2 update and a series of other search engine algorithm that followed is a testament to that fact.
Getting back to the point. What does HTTPS and SEO have in relation? Will HTTP2 make or break SEO?
We are trying to cover the effect of HTTP2 on SEO.
HTTPS fires up your website speed
That is the first and foremost reason why HTTPs is touted to be important. It is common knowledge for any marketer that fast loading websites get the better ranking than those keep their visitors suspended with buffering signs.
HTTP2 comes with multiplexing, a technology that allows the server to handle multiple requests simultaneously. February 17-Pack released in 2012 had a lot of updates that were related to website speed. In fact, even recently, in July, Google released a Mobile Speed Update that makes page speed a ranking factor for mobile results. HTTP2 takes the speed factor ahead for websites. That gives your website an edge over websites that are still running on the older version of HTTP.
HTTP2 makes mobile loading easier
Thanks to HTTP2 and its server push mechanism, it is possible for mobile pages having several JS and CSS elements to load faster. Usually, websites have a CDN which serves content to the user from the nearest remote server.
HTTP2 provides one connection per origin which helps quicken the speed at which various CSS, jquery, images, etc. are served to the user. Studies conducted by Httpwatch have proven that HTTP2 websites can load 22% faster than HTTP websites. In fact, it will be faster than Google’s AMP which loads pages almost instantly on mobile devices.
Google’s stand on HTTP2
Right now, Google does not have HTTP2 as a critical ranking factor. However, it is common knowledge that a superior user experience is something that Google lays emphasis on. HTTP2 helps deliver that user experience, or fast loading speed on PCs and mobile devices. As a result, a shift to HTTP2 is only going to deliver benefits. There is nothing to lose at all.
One caveat, though
Considering all the benefits that HTTP2 can give to your website, working out an update is a no-brainer. However, there is one condition to it. A website cannot be updated to HTTP2 unless the connection is secure.
To make the connection secure, your website needs to be encrypted with an SSL certificate. When you encrypt your website with an SSL certificate, it makes your website URL an HTTPS one. HTTPS is now a critical ranking factor that can give an SEO edge. So, it is better to encrypt your website with an SSL certificate before moving it to HTTP2.
The Bottom Line
Moving your website to HTTP2 and encrypting it with an SSL certificate is a positive move towards solid SEO gains. From an SEO perspective, it will help your website rank higher and bring maximum organic traffic possible.