Two years ago we decided to move our entire website to https. There are many different reasons why we did it, but the main one is advice of our SEO expert that we will rank better in Google.
You see in, August 2014, Google announced on its Webmaster Central Blog that sites moving to secure servers would get a minor ranking boost in search results.
But besides SEO benefits we want to make our site more secure for our visitors.
We changed the complete layout of our existing website and transfer everything to ssl. But shortly, we realized that our traffic is dropping down. So the main question is what we did wrong and how to prevent to happen ever again.
There are a number of other aspects from an SEO perspective to take into account when moving your website from HTTP to HTTPS.
What is HTTPS and SSL?
Before we get any further, what exactly is HTTPS and SSL?
HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) is simply a secure version of http. It’s used for ecommerce sites, for example, to make secure transactions. If you’ve visited your bank’s website in either Internet Explorer or Firefox and noticed a padlock icon, then you can be rest easy knowing that the website is secure.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Locket. It’s a protocol that provides secure connections for transmitting files. In other words, you don’t use SSL to encrypt a file, you’re using it to encrypt the connection. So, this is what a domain would appear with or without an encryption:
An encrypted domain would be: https://www.domain.com/index.html.
An unencrypted domain would be: http://www.domain.com/index.html.
Both HTTPS and SSL require digital certificates, which are: single domain (www.domain.com), multi-domain (www.domain.com, www.subdomain.domain.com, www.domain.net) or wildcard (www.domain.com, www.subdomain1.domain.com, www.subdomain2.domain.com, www.subdomain3.domain.com, etc.).
If you need to buy good quality SSL certificate visit GlobeSSL.
Tips when moving HTTP to HTTPS
Here are the basic steps that you need to do when moving a site from HTTP to HTTPS
- 1. Set up 301-redirects from HTTP to HTTPS
- 2. Update all pages' "canonical" tags to their HTTPS versions
- 3. Change the external incoming links to HTTPS
- 4. Made sure all the 3rd-party scripts, plugins and images on your site use protocol-independent URLs so there's no security warning in browsers
Be extra careful when implementing a step number four. Test your site in all major browsers, especially in Google Chrome and Firefox.
Also, don’t forget to update your social accounts and backlinks to HTTPS.
Google Webmaster Tool Traffic Drop
If you and found out that traffic dropped inside a Google Webmaster Tool, take a deep breath relax and continue reading.
The reason behind is that Google Webmaster Tools treats http and https websites as two different entities in Google Webmaster Tool, the same way as www and non www domains.
The non-SSL website traffic will start to decline just a couple of days after the move, while the SSL version will start growing. So you have to add and "verify" the HTTPS-version as a separate website in Webmaster Tool, preferably prior to the move. And optionally, reconnect your Google Analytics property with the new "site" a couple of days later.
As soon as you add and verify the SSL version of the site, the graph for the new, SSL-website will look normal again.
Moving your site from HTTP to HTTPS is a lot of work and be extra careful when doing so. Although they say that traffic will increase, it actually could drop. Be extra careful and if you don’t fully understand what are you doing hire some experts to help you.