Earlier this week, a client expressed concern about losing search engine result rankings if they made the switch from HTTP to HTTPS. They’d been told that making this move can result in big rankings losses for 6-7 months, and I was pretty sure that was not the case.
But it really depends – making this move (which is a great thing to do, highly recommended both for site and user security and for SEO too) can cause major problems with rankings if it’s not done right. It’s the equivalent of changing domains which can have a big impact on rankings, potentially very damaging.
Fortunately, I’ve done about 15 of these moves (including two of my own sites) and do know how to do it right. It involves 301 redirects, updates and changes to Google Analytics and Google Search Console, canonical tag updates, and updating internal links, among 20 or so related tasks. I follow a checklist to ensure everything gets done.
The information I gathered for my hesitant client indicated that if done correctly, you can expect a 10-15% drop in search rankings for 2-4 months (faster if you have a smaller website, slower if your site is huge). Then the site should recover to previous levels.
So why move to HTTPS?
- HTTPS is a ranking factor for Google Search. Not a big one, but it is a factor.
- Security is important! Google takes it seriously and so should you.
- Your site users will generally feel more comfortable seeing that padlock in the browser address bar rather than a “this site is insecure” warning.
- Do people buy things on your site with credit cards? HTTPS is essential. Not even a question. If you don’t have it, people shouldn’t buy from you because you put them at unnecessary risk.
- Are you at a coffee shop right now? Are you logged in to their public wifi? That’s a big reason to switch.
- You should get a bit of a speed boost after switching. Modern browsers support HTTP/2, a major revision of the HTTP protocol that brings many performance improvements, but only when using HTTPS.
If you want to make the switch to HTTPS and need help getting it right, please get in touch.