On Wednesday, August 6, 2014 Google announced that it would begin rewarding sites with an HTTPS designation with a small rankings boost. If you’re interested in the SEO benefits that your site could gain from going HTTPS, and are curious as to whether or not this change could be the right move for your B2B business, read on.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS (Hypertext Transport Protocol Secure) protects the integrity and confidentiality of your users’ data. You’ve probably noticed websites with the HTTPS designation before. These secure sites may belong to banks or may allow you to purchase goods via on-site shopping carts. More often than not, secure sites require the entry of some of your personal information. In order to protect this information from hackers or other insidious spam bots, a site can be set up in a “secure way” that ensures that users are communicating with the authorized owner of the site. This “secure way” includes the application of the HTTPS designation.
SEO Concerns About HTTPS
Although Google has been claiming for many years that the HTTP to HTTPS move is a safe one, your SEO and traffic could suffer dramatically if this move is made hastily or incorrectly. Like most things in life, communication is key when making your HTTP to HTTPS transition. In order to protect your SEO and site traffic, you’ll need to be sure to communicate to Google that your site has moved from HTTP to HTTPS via Webmaster Tools. Additionally, when making this transition, be sure that you have solid answers to the following questions:
- Do you need a single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate?
- Are you using 2048-bit key certificates? You should be.
- Are relative URLs being used correctly for resources that reside on the same secure domain name?
- Are protocol relative URLs set up correctly for all of your other domain names?
- Is your HTTPS site accidently blocking search engine crawlers via your robots.txt file?
- Have you checked to see that all noindex/nofollow meta tags have been removed? Are all pages being indexed correctly?
In order to ensure that your transition is a smooth one, you’ll need to religiously check your Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools accounts for any hiccups. Traditionally, its been difficult to track different site variations in Webmaster Tools. Thankfully, Google recently updated Webmaster Tools Index Status report in order to provide more precise tracking of websites on HTTPS.
So, What Does eMagine Recommend?
eMagine recommends that if your B2B website is not already HTTPS, that you sit tight. Because the HTTPS ranking signal is “very lightweight” within Google’s overall ranking system, its algorithmic adjustment to count HTTPS has only impacted “fewer than 1% of global queries.” If Google does decide to strengthen this ranking signal- and they may in order to encourage all website owners to make the HTTPS switch- the eMagine Digital Marketing Team may change its tune.
In SEO, there is never a quick fix. If your goal is to continually improve your SEO, rankings, and by consequence, your search engine visibility, stick with a strategy that includes “high quality content creation.” According to Google, regular publishing of great, optimized content is much less risky and has a far greater algorithmic reward than a drastic move like switch from HTTP to HTTPS.