In August of 2014, Google announced that https is a ranking signal. This resulted in a spike in the number of sites that made the jump from http to https. If Google tells you something is a ranking signal, then it is sensible to make the shift!
Why switch to HTTPS?
- Https helps prevent intruders from tampering with communication between users and your website. Examples include intruders putting their own ads into your website or tricking users into installing malware.
- Https is a requirement for several new browser features like Progressive Web Programs (PWAs).
Risks when switching from HTTP to HTTPS:
There are many issues that can be faced during this switch. Few of them are stated below:
- Domain level canonicalization issues
Whenever you make the change to https, then you have to be certain all versions of your website redirect to the appropriate https version. We have seen some websites where maybe the https://www edition of a website redirects to the appropriate https webpage, however when you type in https:// without the www, you are going to wind up on a non-secure page. It’s vital to be certain no matter how a person attempts to access your website, they wind up on the right https version.
- Failure to redirect urls properly
When you change to https you have to be certain that each url 301 redirects to its https equivalent. I’ve seen sites where the home page properly redirects to the https version, but the interior pages do not. If you have links pointing to the http version of a page and you are not redirecting that page to the https version, you might lose the advantage that comes from these links.
But in some instances, Google might have the ability to figure out that the http version is a canonical of the https version and properly attribute the circulation of PageRank which should visit the https page. But, as much as you can, we don’t wish to rely on Google to only figure things out.
- Failure to update canonicals
The canonical tag tells search engines which page is the model that we want indexed. If your https page has a canonical tag that points to the http version, that will wind up confusing search engines. Again, Google can normally figure this sort of thing outside, although not always.
- Failure to update internal links
If you make the switch to https, you also will need to upgrade internal links so that they point to https versions. But if all your internal links are comparative (i.e. /page1 as opposed to https://www.domain.com/page1/) then this step can be skipped. However, if your inner links are complete links pointing towards http pages, then those have to follow redirects before they reach the final page. It is widely believed that each time a redirect needs to be followed closely, there is a small reduction in PageRank that flows through that link.
- Sitemaps need to be updated
When you switch from http to https, we need to make sure that we create a new sitemap as well. Again, Google can probably figure things out if we don’t, but as explained before, we don’t want to continually rely on Google to get things right.
- Make sure the certificate doesn’t expire
If the site is running on https and security certificate expires, then, when Google tries to send visitors to your site they’ll see a warning message on the see, upon seeing which, they will definitely not end up moving forward. This will most definitely turn people away.
- Never keep the HTTPS pages hidden
There are some sites that have pages which are observable on https however they still haven’t fully made the change to https. This is a not a problem unless Google finds those https pages. Thus, let us say your entire site is about http, but someone connects to a https page. And let’s say that that https page links internally to other https webpages on your site. If Google can find https pages, and, if no canonical variant is defined, Google will index the https version.
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