You may have heard webby people talking about changing websites from HTTP to HTTPS as there is talk of a beneficial ranking factor involved in this change. So, I guess you are wondering if you need to do it. Or will it just be a big hassle for no benefit?
So what is HTTP and HTTPS?
HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol
HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure
This means that if you visit a webpage that starts with http:// – the interaction between your computer and the website is not secure…it is possible information passed between could be seen and used by a third party. On a brochure site where there is no interaction or form filling this has been OK in the past.
https:// is the secure version – it creates a secure channel over an insecure network, ensuring protection from eavesdroppers and interception attacks. This means no third party can see the interaction – so the ‘conversation’ and data exchange is completely secure.
HTTPS becomes a Ranking Signal
Back in August this year Google announced that HTTPS would become a ranking signal. So websites using the secure HTTPS would receive a small boost in rankings. This is not to say that your site would suddenly jump 6 places in the SERPS. But Google wants to encourage website owners to use the secure HTTPS to make the web a safer place for all users:
‘…..we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.’
Do I need to change to HTTPS?
The short answer is Yes!
But…there is no major panic you don’t have to do it this instant but bear in mind you will need to make the change this year. If you are migrating your site anyway to a new platform then it’s an ideal time to implement the change.
If you have a brochure site with a small number of pages or an ecommerce site where only some of the pages are HTTPS, pages can be changed over one by one.
BUT please consult with your SEO or web marketing company before you plunge ahead. There are a number of considerations and checks to make before and after the migration that need to be discussed to ensure you don’t lose rankings instead of gaining them!
- Choose a security certificate as a part of enabling HTTPS for your site
- Redirect your visitors and search engines to the HTTPS version of the page or resource with server-side 301 HTTP redirect.
- Be sure your web server supports SNI (Server Name Indication) this allows multiple secure (HTTPS) websites to be served off the same IP address.
- You will need to make sure all your images are also transferred to HTTPS and not left in the HTTP file.
- Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling by using robots.txt
There are many more considerations and techy jargon to wade through so it all seems too much and you would like some advice or help with the transition to HTTPS then feel free to get in contact with us…