The Benefits of HTTP/2 Websites

Switching to HTTP/2 is a fairly straightforward performance-driven option that can significantly improve site speed and create a more secure user experience. As experts in digital marketing, we understand the benefits of HTTP/2 websites and how making this simple switch can drastically improve user experience on any website by increasing the efficiency of communications between browsers and servers, leading to faster page loading speeds.

What is HTTP/2?

HTTP/2 is the most recent version of HTTP (Hypertext Transport Protocol), which is used by the Internet to define how much information is transferred from one computer to another, how messages are formatted and transmitted, and what actions web servers and browsers should make in response to certain commands. In the simplest terms, HTTP is how websites are delivered to your computer and HTTP/2 is a faster version of HTTP.

HTTP/2 is a protocol for improving the transportation of data and the communication between browsers and servers in order to reduce load times and increase security. Compared to the old HTTP/1.1 protocol, HTTP/2 is designed to build a more robust platform for the Internet that is in keeping with the needs of modern-day users.

HTTP/2 uses the same syntax as HTTP/1.1, allowing for a smoother transition between the two protocols that offers benefits to Internet browsers, servers, and users. By using the same syntax as HTTP/1.1, sites on HTTP/2 can still make a connection with a resource from a site on HTTP/1.1 by communicating with the site in the language HTTP/1.1 uses. Browsers using HTTP/2 will also use HTTP/1.1 as a fallback in the event that something disrupts the HTTP/2 protocol. This means that there is backwards compatibility with other browsers so everyone can still visit your website even if it is using HTTP/2.

How Does HTTP/2 Work?

Imagine going to a restaurant and ordering a full meal only to have the server bring each item—burger, fries, salad, etc.—on separate plates. In this scenario, the server hands you one plate at a time, waiting for you to place the plate on the table before handing you the next. This is how HTTP/1.1 works.

Now imagine going to a restaurant, ordering a full meal, and having the server bring the entire meal on one plate. In this scenario, the server is able to hand you everything you asked for in one fluid motion. This is how HTTP/2 works.

Anytime a user clicks on a link to visit a website, a request is made to the server the website is hosted on. The server then responds with a status message and a file list for the website, which the browser views before asking for the website’s files.

While HTTP/1.1 only allows web servers to send files one at a time to a browser with the connection having to open and close for each individual file, HTTP/2 uses new technologies, such as full multiplexing connections, to allow a web server to open a single line of connection with a browser that remains open until all of the necessary files have been sent and received.

HTTP/2, therefore, offers a dramatic speed boost because, rather than a sequence of exchanges between the server side and the user side, one connection can host multiple exchanges at once, allowing the server to proactively respond without waiting to be called on.

How is HTTP/2 Beneficial for SEO?

While switching to HTTP/2 will not directly impact the SEO of a website and Google does not factor HTTP/2 readiness in its algorithms, switching to HTTP/2 can help boost a website’s SEO by creating a better, more secure user experience, while also boosting the website’s page loading speeds on both computers and mobile devices.

Since site speed has been an SEO ranking factor for years, switching to HTTP/2 can be beneficial for SEO as it will be able to load big sites with lots of assets—HTML, JavaScript, CSS, images, etc.—at a faster rate than HTTP/1.1 can.

Implementing HTTP/2

Before a website can be moved to HTTP/2, it first has to be on HTTPS. While moving a website to HTTPS may be the most labour-intensive part of moving to HTTP/2, once the website has been secured, the process for moving to HTTP/2 becomes rather simple. In order to move your website to an HTTPS connection, you will need to get an SSL certificate to secure the website’s connection.

If your website is already secured, chances are that moving to HTTP/2 will be as simple as updating the server software to the latest version or that your hosting company may have already moved your website to HTTP/2 as part of a server update.

Making the switch to HTTP/2 offers a range of benefits that are long lasting and will provide a better overall user experience. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of HTTP/2 websites, get in touch with our team of experts today.