HTTPS A Google Ranking Factor - How to Ensure Smooth Transition from HTTP to HTTPSIn August of 2014, Google announced that HTTPS would be a ranking factor for websites. This change was made in an effort to improve the security of the web and make it more difficult for attackers to intercept communications between users and websites.
If you're not familiar with HTTPS, it's a secure protocol that encrypts communications between a user and a website. This helps protect against attacks like man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks, where an attacker can intercept traffic between a user and a website.
Google has been gradually increasing the weight of HTTPS as a ranking factor over the years, and it's now become an important part of SEO. In fact, according to Moz, "HTTPS is now considered a “ranking signal” by Google, meaning that sites that use HTTPS may have a small advantage in search engine results over those that don’t."
So if you're not already using HTTPS, now is the time to start. Here are a few things to keep in mind when switching your website from HTTP to HTTPS:
1. Make sure your website is ready for HTTPS
Before you switch to HTTPS, make sure your website is ready for it. This includes making sure all of your content is accessible via HTTPS and that all of your internal links are updated to use HTTPS including images. Also upgrade any plugins or themes that might present compatibility issues and making sure your web server is configured for HTTPS.
2. Choose the right SSL certificate
When switching to HTTPS, you'll need to choose an SSL certificate. There are a variety of different types of SSL certificates, so make sure you choose the right one for your website. Once you've chosen an SSL certificate, you'll need to install it on your website. This process varies depending on your web host.
After you've installed the certificate, your browser should display a green padlock when visiting your website. This indicates that your website is using HTTPS, which means a better user experience and a small ranking boost from Google.
3. 301 redirects
When you switch to HTTPS, you'll need to set up 301 redirects from your old HTTP URLs to the new HTTPS URLs. This will ensure that any traffic that comes to your old HTTP URLs is automatically redirected to the corresponding HTTPS URL.
4. Monitor your website's performance
When switching to HTTPS, you'll likely see a decrease in website performance. This is because HTTPS requires more server resources than HTTP. So be sure to monitor your website's performance and make adjustments as needed.
5. Update your robots.txt file
When switching to HTTPS, you'll also need to update your robots.txt file. This file tells search engines which pages on your website they can and cannot crawl.
6. Update your Google Search Console settings
In order to track your website's HTTPS traffic, you'll need to update your Google Search Console settings. This includes adding your HTTPS site to Search Console and setting up HTTPS verification.
7. Update your website's backlinks
When you switch to HTTPS, it is better to also update backlinks pointing to your website. It might mean reaching out to webmasters of important sites to update the link to your website from http to https. This is will be herculean task but if thats not possible due to volume of backlinks or availability of resources to do the outreach at your disposal than you rely on 301 redirect method to do the magic.
8. Monitor your website's SEO rankings
Once you've switched to HTTPS, be sure to monitor your website's SEO rankings. There may be a small dip in rankings initially as Google adjusts to the change, but they should rebound over time.
Switching to HTTPS can be a bit daunting, but it's important for the security of your website and for your SEO rankings. By following the tips above, you'll be able to easily switch to HTTPS and enjoy the improved SEO benefits that come with it. Google has stated that HTTPS is only a "tiny" ranking factor, so don't expect a huge boost in rankings if you switch to HTTPS.