Google is really pushing SSL, with some recent announcements aimed at getting the web secure. Those sites still on http – in whole or in part – need to migrate the entire site to SSL early this next year to stay in Google’s good graces. With “Mobilepocalypse”, we saw that Google makes an announcement before they bring the “beat down”. So now is the time to start planning your migration.
SSL is a good change
Having SSL encryption between server and user eliminates eavesdropping and “man-in-the-middle” attacks that threaten both site visitors and the site itself! While SSL comes in different varieties of encryption, and has gone through a few security issues the last couple of years (“heartbleed”, etc), it’s an improvement for both privacy and security.
More and more organic traffic is being counted as Direct traffic by Google. It’s how they count anything that goes from an https site to http site, RFC 2676. We are seeing a sudden surge in this “some organic has become direct” across client accounts.
It’s a full website migration
Changing an entire site to https can be a pretty major website migration, as all URLs change. All internal and external links, scripts, images, iframes, stemap.xml URLs, canonical tags and other tags need to be checked.
In the migration, all URLs that start with http will need to be 301 redirected to their https equivalent. And it needs to be a single hop. We’ve seen server configurations that have a whole chain of redirects going from 301 to a 302 back to a 301, so it’s good to check redirects thoroughly. Without a single 301 redirect, link authority is discarded by Google – and that means rankings are not maximized.
Links / References to http resources and URLs
After the migration, all URLs should be 301 redirecting – and all references to them within the site’s html should as well. We’ve seen many internal links that are actually absolute links such as:
<a href=”http://www.site.com/contact-us”>Contact Us</a>
instead of relative links such as
<a href=”/contact-us”>Contact Us</a>
Keep an eye on page speed before and after the transition to SSL. The server’s processor needs a bit more time for the SSL encryption and transactions. Server response times can increase a little or a lot based on it’s configuration. And it’s best to go in to the migration with a super-fast website.
Google Search Console
In Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools), it’s important to verify the SSL version of your website. If Bing is a significant source of traffic, you should also verify the SSL version of the site there.
After the migration, it’s a great idea to reach out to important sites linking to you. Not only is it an excellent way to keep those relationships, but having inbound links change to reference your https URLs maximizes link authority. And a direct link to the new URL is better than a 301 redirect.
Consider a press release
Why not consider a press release afterward, professing your commitment to the security and privacy of your visitors?
If you haven’t made the switch to HTTPS, now is the time to start. And if you have made the switch, be sure to have us double-check your work!
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