By now it is a well-established fact that search engine optimization is crucial to increase visibility and traffic for websites. This has website owners carefully crafting digital marketing strategies to boost their rankings, and Google is only too happy to help with a few hints and tips. They have indicated to site owners that obtain an SSL certificate is a great method to boost the rankings of a website.
There are those who wonder whether a move to HTTPS is really worth the work. After all, it involves changing the URLs of every page of the website, the majority of website owners will admit that the move is overall positive. Here are some reasons why HTTPS is definitely worth the work, along with some tips for making the shift smoother while simultaneously saving SEO.
Why Migrate to HTTPS?
Google is actively encouraging website owners to make the change to HTTPS by making it beneficial for SEO. Some of the top advantages they offer to SSL certificate holders include:
- HTTPS pages have indexing priority. In order to promote web security, Google prioritizes HTTPS pages over HTTP pages when they are indexing.That means secure websites are indexed first, and that can be a big advantage
- HTTP websites are marked non-secure. Users browsing in Chrome will be notified by the browser when they are using a site that is not HTTPS with potentially sensitive information. That “not secure” label is not very reassuring and may turn users away from a site in favor of another with an SSL certificate.
- SSL as a ranking factor. If a website uses HTTPS instead of HTTP, they will receive a better rank than an HTTP competitor. Businesses and website owners that don’t want to fall behind in the search engine results should absolutely get on board with HTTPS because it’s becoming an increasingly important ranking factor thanks to Google.
It’s likely that Google will continue to promote web security by developing more advantages to offer websites that use HTTPS. Combined with the other advantages such as increased user trust and data security, and it becomes clear that the choice to obtain and use SSL certificates is an important one that shouldn’t be put off. The next step is determining the best way to make the shift as smooth as possible.
Steps to Move
Many people worry about the immediate effect it will have on their website rankings because the initial migration from HTTP to HTTPS can cause a site’s ranking to temporarily drop. It’s important to remember that any drop in SEO is temporary, and the numbers should return to normal in a few days or so.
Even so, there are measures that can be taken to protect SEO and reduce the chance of technical difficulties after the move. Here are some of the most useful tips for protecting SEO while moving to a secure website.
- Crawl the website pages before the move. Using Google’s search console to evaluate the content and SEO of a site before shifting to HTTPS can provide a current snapshot of the functionality and ranking before any changes are made. This can be used to make the comparison once the move is complete to make sure that the SEO is still on track and that nothing important falls through the cracks.
- Migrate the whole site at once. Google makes every effort to recognize a site move from HTTP to HTTPS, and they try to process it quickly. According to a recent Google hangout, it is helpful for them to know that the whole site has moved because when it is done in pieces over time there is more room for mistakes to be made. It may seem more stressful or complicated to move every single page at once, but it is better for SEO and the site as a whole.
- Use server-side 301 redirects. Once the HTTPS site is live, it’s important that no one can mistakenly end up on an HTTP page from here on out. The best way to avoid this problem is to employ 301 redirects. This will ensure that anyone using one of the old HTTP URLs will be pointed to the new secure pages instead, minimizing the room for errors or duplicate content issues.
Google has detailed guides for moving a site to HTTPS, and these can serve as excellent roadmaps for smooth transitions. Making the decision to use SSL certificates to secure a website is a smart business move, and with the expert help and encouragement being offered by Google there has never been a better time to make the move.