Will Switching to HTTPS Boost My SEO?
Leading social media scheduling app Buffer, recently announced a 90% drop in traffic after switching their site to HTTPS.
The move came after Google announced in August this year that sites moving to secure servers would get a slight boost in rankings.
How Does the New Ranking Signal Work?
A web server running HTTPS instead of HTTP does the same job but in a secure manner; all traffic to and from the visitor’s web browser and the web server is encrypted to keep it safe from prying eyes. Google are encouraging websites to switch to HTTPS with a small positive ranking signal.
Google described the new ranking signal as ‘lightweight’ to begin with, but something that might become stronger over time, persuading all websites to switch to HTTPS.
The search engine giant also said the new algorithm carries less weight than other signals like high-quality content.
According to Google’s testing analysis of the HTTPS ranking signal, there was a positive result in terms of ranking and relevancy in the search results. So where did it all go wrong for Buffer?
Where it Can Go Wrong
It’s crucial to take the right steps when switching to HTTPS to ensure your traffic doesn’t travel in the wrong direction.
Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Land lists the tips Google have provided on switching here.
In Buffer’s case the reason for their ranking drop was originally reported by Google as a ‘manual penalty’, however it was later revealed this penalty existed before Buffer suffered the drop, meaning the HTTPS switch would have to be the cause.
It’s certainly a puzzler – both Google and Buffer have accepted blame on their part and search experts are looking into the issue, the tip here is to be careful in making your transition secure.
Moz have listed the following key points to check before switching to HTTPs:
• Did you block important URLs in robots.txt?
• Did you point your canonical tags at the wrong (HTTP) URL?
• Is your website causing browser bars to display warnings that frighten people away from your site?
You should also keep an eye on site speed issues, especially as this in itself is an important ranking factor.
A Systems Engineer explains the benefits of HTTPS
We spoke to Asif Mohammed, Systems Engineer at UK hosting provider Hyve to get his opinion on the benefits of switching to HTTPS.
Asif provides technical consultation for a selection of high profile clients, working with various technologies and platforms. His specialist areas include cloud security and Linux OS.
He said: “HTTPS identifies that a secure transaction is taking place over the internet by encrypting the session with a digital certificate. Using a 2048-bit SSL certificate there is an encrypted link between the server and client (web server and internet browser).
“Switching to a HTTPS server makes your browsing and site more secure by:
• Providing security for online transactions
• Securely moving data online
• Offering security for system logins and email
• Improving your Google rankings
• Providing the sign of a safe and trustworthy website – users trust your website and brand.”
HTTPs Alone is Not Enough
For now, HTTPS remains a minor signal when it comes to good rankings, and as Google points out, you should still focus your online marketing efforts on great content.
At Mitra we focus on creating high-quality content such as case studies, informative blog posts, e-newsletters and whitepapers, using social media as a key promotional tool.
Make sure your website is secure and does better in Google too, contact our expert team today.