Google has been nudging website owners to make their websites more secure. In March, Matt Cutts suggested that the use of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption and making websites secure was going to be a trend for 2014. While we all want more secure sites, going to HTTPS can be problematic for website owners seeking to maintain their search engine results page (SERP) rankings.
Recently, Google made the announcement that sites using SSL encryption would give websites a boost in the SERPs on Google. Google offered guidelines to help website owners transition to HTTPS. Sites using HTTPS would receive a positive signal for ranking. However, it was noted that the signal would be very lightweight. It would carry less weight than websites with high-quality content. however, the signal may be strengthened in the future.
As a result, website owners who are seeking to position their websites for future success may want to consider transitioning to HTTPS. The transition makes your site more secure for users and also may positively benefit your SERP rankings in Google. Making the move from HTTP to HTTPS is similar to migrating your website to a new URL structure or new domain. Because this is a big transition, you will need to work with your web development professional to ensure a successful move.
First, you’ll need to follow Google’s directives when going HTTPS. Here are a few more considerations to think about as you migrate from HTTP to HTTPS:
Check to make sure that all of your internal links point to the new HTTPS URLs. Internal links can be easy to overlook, especially when you are making a huge transition like this. However, they are very important to the overall functionality of your website, so make sure all of your internal links work.
Just like internal links, external links must point to your new HTTPS URLs. Also, don’t overlook new social shares. They need to point to the new HTTPS URLs as well. If links are still pointing to the older HTTP version of your site, it can confuse the search engines and ultimately impact your site’s ranking.
All of your rel=canonical tags need to point to the new HTTPS URLs. This will help Googlebot to understand which version of the site to use for ranking. Any inconsistencies will confuse the search engine crawlers and hurt your ranking.
Map the new HTTPS URLs on a page-to-page level. It will be just like your URL structure before only all of the http:// will change to https://. Work with your web development professional to make sure all of these changes are made in order to avoid confusing search engine crawlers and prevent a drop in your rankings.
Implement a permanent 301 redirect on a page level only. Don’t 301 redirect everything to your home page. Doing so will destroy your ranking.
As you transition, you’ll want to work closely with your web developer to ensure that everything is done correctly. Even when you are meticulous about transitioning from HTTP to HTTPS, you run the risk of disrupting your ranking in Google’s SERPs, which means that all the effort you’ve placed in SEO might need to be repeated. The decision to go to HTTPS is something you will want to discuss with your web development professional to determine if it makes sense for your website.
For more help about making the change to HTTPS, contact us today.