During the first week of August, Google announced that it is starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. This is as part of their efforts to make sure that the services they provide use industry-leading security by default. Over the past few months, they had been testing whether sites’ use of secure, encrypted connections can be taken into account as a signal in search ranking algorithm and they have now got positive results that led them to make this announcement. However, online marketers who still use HTTP sites are contemplating on its effects as they have concerns over their web traffic post URL change.
According to Google’s official blog post, HTTPS is only a very lightweight signal as of now affecting less than 1 percent of global queries and holding less weight than other signals including high-quality content. Though the tech giant will now give webmasters time to switch from HTTP to HTTPS, they have decided to strengthen it over time and require all website owners to switch to secure version for keeping everyone safe on the web. So, it will soon become necessary for businesses to enhance the security feature of their websites by adding a SSL certificate. To avoid losing traffic, it is vital to communicate clearly to Google that the site has transitioned to HTTPS.
So, how can you ensure that the search engine views your site as HTTPS after the transition? You have to take the following steps for that.
- Determine which kind of SSL certificate you need such as single, multi-domain, or wildcard. Use 2048-bit key certificates. Once you acquire a strong SSL certificate, configure your web server correctly.
- Add a canonical tag to each page (for example , in your HTTP site which will tell the search engine that you prefer the HTTPS pages from now on.
- If an HTTPS website has any link to HTTP content, users will be warned about ‘unsecured’ or ‘mixed’ content when they try to access the site. So, it is very important to remove all HTTP internal links on your website. In case a link to HTTP content is important for your site, use Bit.ly, which supports HTTPS and 301 redirects.
- Add the HTTPS version of your website to Google Webmaster Tools and index that version from the tools.
- Do not block HTTPS version of your website from crawling using robots.txt. Avoid using noindex robots Meta tag.
- Once you make sure that Google is serving your HTTP site most often and see a large drop in the HTTP stats along with a rise in HTTPS site (while checking with Google Webmaster Tools), turn off the HTTP version.
The site move article provided by Google Webmaster Team gives detailed guidelines on how to change your website’s address. If you have don’t have enough resources or expertise in adopting proper measures to change your website to HTTPS version and maintain your traffic, you can seek the help of SEO experts.