Friday 3rd March 2017
The short answer is ‘yes!’ – but as with pretty much anything digital, you need to make sure you get the switch in protocol right to get the maximum benefits.
Google have always been explicit about their intention to give higher ranking authority to websites that offer a great user experience – although they’re not always quite as explicit when it comes to specific ranking factors. However, a couple of years ago they did release a statement to say that HTTPS would be used within their ranking algorithms to assess value.
Therefore, starting with HTTPS and SEO benefit number on, we have three key reasons for making the switch:
Ranking juice: initially thought to offer a very modest lift to your rankings, data suggests that the benefit of switching your website to the HTTPS protocol shouldn’t be undervalued, plus it’s worth bearing in mind that Google also announced last year that HTTPS websites will be indexed as a matter of course. That said, don’t overlook much stronger ranking signals, such as great content, backlinks, page loading speed etc. HTTPS websites are appearing evermore frequently on page 1 of the search results, but it won’t get you there on its own!
Security: Google takes users’ privacy and security pretty seriously, especially when it comes to web pages that require visitors to input private data, such as login and password details. HTTPS makes buying online more secure, and significantly reduces the risk of hacking – and that little padlock sign that shows on HTTPS websites means a lot to consumers who want to deal with companies they can trust.
Referral data: Knowing where your web traffic originates from is a helpful marketing tool, so hopefully you’re already using Google Analytics! But if your website is using HTTP, the information being passed from the referring source will be stripped back – switch to HTTPS though, and you’ll have the referral information preserved and presented to you, which can help you with your SEO strategy.
Switching to HTTPS clearly has some SEO benefits, but there are a few things you need to make sure are done properly to avoid losing on one hand what you gained in the other!
Firstly, your page loading speeds might suffer when you implement HTTPS, so you might need to do a bit of ‘tidying up’ across other elements of your website to get things back up to speed and avoid losing SEO value for serving up pages too slowly.
You also need to be aware that every page you switch to HTTPS is going to have a new URL, which can cause an issue if you’re relying on SEO value from referral links elsewhere online.
Check that any internal links, canonical tags and social media and directory links are all pointing to the new URL – and use 301 redirects from every HTTP page so it automatically serves up the new HTTPS page and doesn’t show as a duplicate, which is never great in Google’s eyes!
If you need any help with HTTPS and SEO technical factors on your website, give us a call on 01904 636677 and we’ll be happy to offer our advice.