A website is an extension of your brand personality, and as the world is getting rapidly digitalized, it has become even more important to build better sites. If you want to stand ahead of your competitors, online marketing is of paramount importance and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the first step to achieve your business goals.
There are number of ways to optimize your website for search engines such as target the right keyword, have regularly updated content, and write well-researched articles that would deliver value to the reader. Another way to do so is through HTTPS.
Back in 2017, Google announced that Google Chrome will display a “Not Secure” warning on every HTTP pages that having forms or other input section. Check out the image below.
Image Source: https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-1L99l3pdGag/WRswkUSBnaI/AAAAAAAATcI/0BvkZzQKFa4cFDQhedMe6wbWz2zPDcpSACLcB/s1600/http-search.gif
All those websites without HTTPS will show such an alert message. If you have not yet moved your website from HTTP to HTTPS, it could prove to be deterrent for your domain and brand reputation.
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) allows for totally safe transactions and transfer of encrypted information between the server and the browser. Moreover, it also enables authorization. If your website is not equipped with HTTPS, there is a chance that the exchange of sensitive information becomes compromised, and people will not trust you. Ultimately, they would not come to your website or buy from you.
Often, SSL (Secure Socket Layer) Certificate and HTTPS are used synonymously. However, that is not right. HTTPS will be enabled on the website by installing SSL certificate on server in order to transfer the data safely over up to 256-bit encrypted connection. Visitor or Customer can ensure about website security because of indicated visual trust signs such as https:// and green padlock icon enabled in next to website URL. Online business owner can buy an SSL certificate of most trusted certificate authority like Comodo, RapidSSL, GeoTrust etc. at huge discount price from authorized SSL reseller.
HTTPS has a positive impact on SEO for your website as it authenticates and protects the website from any potential data sniffing during online data transmission.
Let’s delve a bit deeper into why you should move your website from HTTP to HTTPS from SEO point of view.
1) Enhanced Search Engine Ranking
Google gives special consideration to secure websites with HTTPS while determining the search engine ranking… And therefore, HTTPS helps in boosting the search engine ranking of the website as Google gives special consideration to sites with HTTPS.
Image Source URL: https://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2015/09/google-https1-ss-1920-800×450.jpg
Displaying the “Secure” tag on the website with a green padlock creates a sense of trust with the visitors, thereby helping you to bring in more leads and drive conversions
2) Accurate Google Analytics Referral Data
Google Analytics show more accrate referral data because HTTPS websites saves the security data from the referral sites. As a result, you can monitor the traffic better.
Image Source: https://pepperlandmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/google-analytics-accuracy-825×432.png
On the contrary, with a HTTP site, referral information has already been lost and it shows the false information of “direct visit”, that obviously is misleading for the marketers. If referrer information is not passed, then it is required to move your entire website to secure (HTTPS) connection,
3) Ease of Using AMP
It is easy to execute Accelerated Mobile Pages on HTTPS websites and helps in loading content on mobile devices faster.
4) Improved Traffic
Initially when you move your website from HTTP to HTTPS, it can bring down your traffic by few numbers. However, once Google re-indexes and re-crawls your website, the ranking becomes considerably better.
Pro-tip: Schedule the migration from HTTP to HTTPS during that time of the year when the visits are naturally low, maybe the holiday season. Alternatively, submitting a sitemap.xml can enable smarter and speedier migration
Points to Consider While Migrating from HTTP to HTTPS
HTTP to HTTPS migration is quite similar to the migration of the website to another URL or domain. According to studies, it is clear that inappropriately migrated websites can prove to be detrimental to the brand reputation. To make sure that nothing goes wrong, here are some pro-tips that you should bear in mind for smooth migration to HTTPS.
- Make the migration first on the test server.
- Record all the metrics of the current website including social share counts and get it crawled.
- Carefully go through the documentation about the server or Content Delivery Network (CDN).
- You should update every plugin, module and add-ons.
- If your CMS calls for any particular modifications, make those changes after reading the migration guide.
- robots.txt file should be updated with the revised sitemap that includes HTTPS URLs.
- Internal links should redirect to the new HTTPS links.
- All the external links and social shares must direct the visitors to the new HTTPS URLs. In case your URL point to the HTTP version, Google can get distracted and it will be unable to determine which page should rank higher.
- The rel=canonical tags included in your HTML should point to the revised HTTPS websites. After the migration is complete, change the tags to the new HTTPS links to make it easy for the Googlebot to determine the page to be ranked. As stated previously, not doing so can confuse Google.
- Make sure you have every HTTPS URL mapped to the respective link. This implies that you should create the same duplicate URL link with just http:// changed to https://.
- After you are done with these steps, execute a permanent 301 redirect on the page level.
Pro-Tip: It is a strict no-no to redirect everything to the home page since it will ruin all the rankings immediately.
- Last, but not the least, keep an eye on the Webmaster Tools account. Also, check for any problems encountered by Google with the new HTTPS website. Monitor every step in the migration so that nothing inadvertent happens.
Pro-Tip: Incoming links should be cleaned if you have the time and resources. However, it is not mandatory to do so.
When not to Migrate to HTTPS?
In case your website is a victim of Panda, Penguin, or too many unnatural links, do not migrate your website to HTTPS.
If you are subjected to a manual or algorithmic penalty, Google may consider that by migrating your website, you are making an attempt to evade the penalty. This may cause more distrust and ultimately it might get tougher to restore the trust for the website.
Before migrating to HTTPS, make sure that Google has no existing issue with your website. Whether it is a link-based issue – Penguin or a content-based problem – Panda, take it into serious consideration when planning for HTTPS migration
It could be a mistake to think that if you move your website to HTTPS, it will resolve all the current issues and nullify all the penalties. In the time to come, Google will decipher the issues and penalize the new URL
Website owners who want their website to be in line with Google’s guidelines, switching to HTTPS is a must. Apart from security, Google search engine consider as HTTPS migration as a lightweight signal to rank a website. Keeping in view the current scenario and the future, it is imperative to have your HTTP website changed to HTTPS in case you are yet to do it.
We wish you a smooth migration!