HTTPS (SSL/TLS) and Let's Encrypt

The green lock icon in the browser location bar is displayed when a website is considered “secure” by the browser. A trend online has been to push all sites to adopt securing their site, even if there is no need for security. One historical reason the internet has not had a green lock icon on every site is that it has been prohibitively expensive to secure a website, with quite a bit of manual work to implement the security as well.

Let’s Encrypt was founded by a few employees of large organizations and companies to help move the entire internet to a secure state. Today Let’s Encrypt provides free HTTPS (SSL/TLS) certificates therefore removing the cost of securing a website. They even provide free software (Certbot) to help automate the installation and maintenance of the certificates.

Let’s Encrypt was founded by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Mozilla Foundation (makers of the FireFox browser), University of Michigan, Akamai Technologies and Cisco Systems. More can be read about Let’s Encrypt on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let's_Encrypt

SSL, TLS and HTTPS

HTTP is Hyper Text Transport Protocol, to simplify what this is, it’s the language which allows all the computers and devices to share information over the internet. HTTPS is HTTP Secure, the “secure” part implies that no one can monitor or alter the communication between your device and the originating provider of the information you are accessing.

The “S” in HTTPS in common language demonstrates that the site has an “SSL certificate”, but that’s not particularly accurate. SSL is Secure Sockets Layer, and despite being a commonly used term, is no longer actually used and is considered insecure. TLS is Transport Layer Security, and has replaced the SSL protocol.

 

Do you need a Sitemap?

From Google’s knowledge base.

Do I need a sitemap?

If your site’s pages are properly linked, our web crawlers can usually discover most of your site. Even so, a sitemap can improve the crawling of your site, particularly if your site meets one of the following criteria:

  • Your site is really large. As a result, it’s more likely Google web crawlers might overlook crawling some of your new or recently updated pages.
  • Your site has a large archive of content pages that are isolated or well not linked to each other. If you site pages do not naturally reference each other, you can list them in a sitemap to ensure that Google does not overlook some of your pages.
  • Your site is new and has few external links to it. Googlebot and other web crawlers crawl the web by following links from one page to another. As a result, Google might not discover your pages if no other sites link to them.
  • Your site uses rich media content, is shown in Google News, or uses other sitemaps-compatible annotations. Google can take additional information from sitemaps into account for search, where appropriate.

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/156184?hl=en

Another important thing to note from Google’s documentation is this:

Using a sitemap doesn't guarantee that all the items in your sitemap will be crawled and indexed, as Google processes rely on complex algorithms to schedule crawling. However, in most cases, your site will benefit from having a sitemap, and you'll never be penalized for having one.

Variable Fonts

Variable fonts are coming to browsers soon. Here’s a place where you can try out how these fonts will work.

https://www.axis-praxis.org/

Here’s the current state of browser support.

https://caniuse.com/#search=variable%20fonts

There will be many benefits of variable fonts as one font file allows you to display multiple versions of the font. Font weight, style, file size and performance will all be gains we can expect from variable fonts.

Google will start to use page speed in rankings in 2018

To make sure your website does well in Google’s search rankings there are a number of important factors, a new one for 2018 is page speed.

https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2018/01/using-page-speed-in-mobile-search.html

Some resources to help anlayze site performance.

Audit your site from Chrome.

https://developers.google.com/web/tools/lighthouse/#devtools

A page speed testing tool from Google.

https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

General information on site experiences.

https://developers.google.com/web/tools/chrome-user-experience-report/

DNS Settings for Your Site

DNS (Domain Name System) is the system that connects your domain name with the actual hardware (servers) that host your site. There are a few primary types of records that are most common, A record, CNAME record and MX record. These are all just blocks of text you copy and paste into a form with your DNS provider.

An A record is the IP address where you site is being hosted, and will look like a serious of number divided by periods like 192.186.0.100

A CNAME in CNAME record stands for “Canonical Name record”, and it allows you to point one domain name to another, sort of a like a short-cut. An example of this is common with sub-domains where a 3rd party provides a service like a store. An example of this would be for store.example.com to refer to mystore.ecommerceprovider.com.

Who is your DNS provider?

You can you use any DNS provider you want to, but usually the simplest choice is using the domain name providers DNS services. Here are a few popular examples of how to update your A Record for your domain.

Archetype Media also provides DNS services, currently through Rackspace, but any DNS service will work.

Making a site go live

To make a site go live, your DNS needs to point your domain to the appropriate server. With Archetype, this is based on your reseller account’s IP address.