‘Only 61% of County Cricket clubs have HTTPS’ What are the risks?

July 24, 2018 Posted by Sean Walsh News 0 thoughts on “‘Only 61% of County Cricket clubs have HTTPS’ What are the risks?”
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Sean Walsh
Director at Intelligency

Sean is a Director at Intelligency heading up our digital marketing and client services operations. Sean has 15+ years experiencing working both in-house and agency with brands including Lloyds, Alstom, Hitachi, Lufthansa, Viaplay, DFDS Seaways and Mercedes-Benz.

The first record of a cricket match in known history is the 16th century, thus making it one of the oldest team sports in the world and is currently only second to football as the world’s most popular sport. In the UK the elite club competition is the County Championship which has a passionate following around the country with many of the players representing England internationally. A huge benefit for fans is that the cricket season runs throughout the summer unlike Football & Rugby and therefore fans are constantly engaged in following games online or even attending matches when they can, to enjoy a day with friends and family whilst cheering on their county.

However, with the evolution of the internet and the growth in methods through which fans can connect with the clubs, it has become vitally important for clubs to protect their fans who visit their website for news, tickets or merchandise. The digital age is brilliant for connecting with fans on a daily basis – which wasn’t possible in the past however it comes with risks such as identity theft and online hacking.

County Cricket clubs have embraced this change in the majority however 49% of clubs are still using non-HTTPS sites which can cause future problems with fan confidence as well as SEO strategy.

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS is a method of ensuring your website remains secure and encrypts the information that is sent between the browser and web server. By doing this, your website is protected from any outside interference, such as hackers who may try and hijack data such as passwords and credit card information. Secure and protected connections prevent this from occurring. Whilst, historically HTTPS were associated with sensitive websites, in the last four years, this has become modicum for most pages across the internet. However, just because your site is HTTPS, doesn’t mean that the site is secure – far from it. HTTPS status does tell search engines and customers that you’ve considered their security and data. Fans may think twice about purchasing tickets on a non-HTTPS site, thereby killing conversion rate.

So what does the current landscape look like?

Durham Essex Surrey
Sussex Gloucestershire Hampshire
Somerset Yorkshire Warwickshire
Derbyshire Northants Lancashire
Glamorgan Leicestershire Kent

Why should clubs embrace HTTPS?

Outside of this obvious security, there are a number of alternative reasons why clubs such as Yorkshire & Middlesex have secure sites:

Google Rankings – Google has pushed websites to adopt HTTPS as they want to ensure their users have the best experience on the Chrome browser and consequently this has led to Google recalculating their ranking algorithm to prioritise HTTPS websites over other similar sites which are not secure. Whilst clubs such as Worcestershire have a secure ticket and merchandise sites, only being partially secure can still cause a number of potential problems and have a negative impact on the club’s Google ranking. This could potentially cost the club new fans, who may be interested in the sport but come across another club first. It’s vitally important that clubs build their sites 100% secure, due to the fact that nearly 60% of all online traffic comes from the Chrome browser. Adopting HTTPS can support your club in the long terms by improving your SEO strategy and allowing for more fruitful optimisations. 

Additionally, with the release of Chrome 68 Google is now going to start naming those sites which aren’t HTTPS by replacing the warning exclamation mark, with the words ‘Not Secure’ as well as warning users not to share their personal data on the page, as hackers may be active. If a user is warned about this on your homepage, it may mean they leave the page immediately and therefore may never have the chance to navigate to the secure ticket page. This is why it is so important to ensure your entire site is HTTPS.

Conversion Uplift – Whilst the ins and outs of HTTPS will be better understood by digital professionals, the average user is still aware that exclamatory icon warning them that a site isn’t safe is troubling. In some cases, the ticketing section of a site is secure however leaving the rest of the site non-secure still creates the impression of risk and a dangerous environment. Clubs want their fans to feel safe and secure on their sites, in order to ensure return visits as well as individuals spending more time navigating the site. An HTTP site, may cause anxiety for visitors and they may exit the site more quickly than expected. 

Fan Confidence – This leads on from the conversion uplift, but it is important to remember that any club wants to gain and keep the loyalty of their fans, and therefore if you have a site which isn’t secure you risk presenting yourself as a club which doesn’t take it’s fans safety seriously. Secure your site, and you will inspire confidence and trust.

Google Analytics – Using HTTPS also improves a club’s Google Analytics, which all but one club in the County Championship uses. One of the great benefits of GA, is the ability to see where site traffic originated and therefore allowing a brand to build a strategy around targeting these areas or investing more money into advertising within these spaces. However, if you don’t use HTTPS, referral traffic will be categorised as ‘direct traffic’ which means any marketers will have more difficulty in utilising this data.

So what can cricket clubs do to improve their security and SEO?

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