In August last year Google announced that by switching to HTTPS (adding an SSL to your site), you would receive a small ranking boost. Though Google claims this is a “lightweight” benefit, any boost in the Google search algorithm can help. Since this announcement, we’ve seen websites migrating towards HTTPS. But, as an SEO, there are a few things you should consider.
First, let’s get those acronyms out of the way. HTTPS for SEO is a mouthful.
HTTPS adds a secure layer to HTTP application handling. In other words, it’s a secure version of your website, secured using an SSL or TLS. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is a key digital marketing initiative to improve your ranking and traffic from search engines. HTTPS for SEO follows Google’s announcement that securing your site via SSL or TLS will give you a bump in organic search listings.
HTTPS for SEO: What are key factors?
Fear of the unknown is often the biggest concern for SEOs. That said, there should be no fear when switching a site to HTTPS for SEO. Google has been telling SEOs that it is safe to do so for years now. That said, improperly setting up HTTPS can create problems. Follow these few tips to ensure your transition to HTTPS goes smoothly:
5. Make sure to choose the correct SSL certificate for you.
Single, multi-domain, and wildcard certificates are available. For most sites, a single certificate is sufficient. Also make sure to utilize 2048-bit key certificates.
4. Use relative URLs.
When using an HTTPS secured domain, it’s important to use relative URLs in the code of your site. This will ensure all resources are viewed on the secured domain.
3. Don’t block HTTPS in your robots.txt.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it happens. Make sure that when you make the switch, you aren’t blocking search engines from seeing your secure domain in the robots.txt file of your site.
2. Avoid the noindex metatag.
You’ll want to let search engines crawl and index all possible pages of your site. Avoid the noindex tag where it isn’t necessary.
The #1 Most Important HTTPS Recommendation
Considering the mass move to HTTPS in recent months, it’s funny to see that 80% of HTTPS sites are not being indexed by Google, per Gary Illyes, a Webmaster Trend Analyst at Google. Basically, 80% of HTTPS sites are showing up in Google search as HTTP due to a simple setting in Webmaster Tools.
So… the #1 most important HTTPS recommendation: Make sure your Webmaster Tools settings are correct. If you support HTTPS, tell Google!
For more information on Google Webmaster Tools support for HTTPS, read this article on Search Engine Land.