Security settings are set to become the next game changer for websites looking to maintain and improve their SEO ranking. Google is now checking whether websites are secure and telling their browser users if a site is not secure. If your site is HTTP and not HTTPS, not only could it be harming your SEO performance, but visitors are going to see a warning and may be put off staying on your site.
As announced in September 2017, Google Chrome will soon mark non-secure pages containing password and credit card input fields as Not Secure in the URL bar.
What is the HTTPS protocol?
HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, and HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure. A secure protocol means that data between a website and its user is encrypted, making the user more secure against potential viruses and hacking. Typically, sites where users post personal information or photos will be secure, as will ecommerce sites. If you enter personal data on a website, for example, using a contact form or requesting a quote, the website should be using the secure HTTPS protocol.
Does HTTPS make a difference to SEO performance?
According to searchenginewatch.com, Google are set to increase the ranking signal of HTTPS sites from light (affecting fewer than 1% of web searches) to significantly increase importance. That means that sites that have made the security jump to HTTPS will increase their SEO power over sites that are still on HTTP.
The most important thing to remember is that when you switch your website to HTTPS, search engines effectively list it as a new site. This means that you need to tell Google and other search engines that your site has been transferred onto the secure system and take steps to protect and enhance your SEO performance. If you don’t, you risk your site’s SEO performance being damaged.
Switching your website from HTTP to HTTPS is not difficult.
The process of transferring your site to HTTPS is usually pretty easy when you have done it a few times. The required changes are made on the website Hosting Control Panel and some are more easy to change than others.
We would strongly recommend backing up the website before making the change to https. Occasionally, plugins may have to be deleted and reintroduced to maintain functionality.
An SSL certificate is required. Most Servers offer a choice of SSL fees but a free SSL certificate can be found on ‘Lets Encrypt’.
Moving from http://firstwebsitedesign.com to http://firstwebsitedesign.com might look insignificant but they are effectively two different websites.
A change to the .htaccess file (301 redirect) will advise the search engines that there has been an irreversible change. This will ensure that most of the value of incoming links will be moved to the ‘new’ site. Visitors clicking on a link to the http:// site will automatically be redirected to the https:// site.
Get help changing your website from HTTP to HTTPS
If you need help changing your website from HTTP to HTTPS, contact us and we will be happy to help. We can certainly take a look at your website Control Panel to see how easy the change over would be.
My thanks to Benny Royston for his copy writing skills in the preparation of this post