We get asked a lot about whether site owners should go Https versus Http, given Google’s indication that this may be beneficial for SEO going forward.
Firstly HTTP & HTTPS Explained
HTTP is the standard unencrypted internet protocol. This means that any information such as credit card details, passwords, logins, session cookies etc. are inherently less secure under HTTP than would be the case under HTTPS.
HTTPS is designed to protect data between the browser and server through encryption so that data is protected against theft.
Will having an Https site be beneficial for SEO?
From an SEO perspective Google has stated that HTTPS is counted as a positive ranking signal over HTTP. In reality, testing has shown that, at this point in time, HTTPS has perhaps a negligible effect on organic ranking. This could of course change at any time.
HTTPS can potentially slow down a websites download time which in turn can potentially negatively impact organic rankings. This will be less a factor if the server set-up is high-end, i.e. on a fast, dedicated server for instance, but for sites hosted on a shared server it should be a factor to consider.
There is another factor that should be considered, particularly for smaller brands; that of consumer confidence.
Many consumers will not know the difference between HTTP and HTTPS, however the inclusion of the padlock in the domain prompt will undoubtedly communicate the secure nature of the HTTPS domain to consumers, and as such may help conversion rates due to increased trust.
We have looked at a number of verticals such as Finance, and it would appear that the bigger high street brand names reserve HTTPS status for the pages solely involved in transactions, whilst some lesser brands sometimes have site-wide HTTPS status.
Key output here for smaller brands would be:-
• Smaller brand need to work harder than bigger brands and as such the HTTPS status may help increase organic rankings albeit marginally,
• HTTPS status likewise may help consumer confidence
Considerations if moving over from HTTP to HTTPS
An SSL certificate can be purchased from the web host.
Key considerations include:-
• changing internal links from http:// to https:// where appropriate
• setting up a new version of Search Console/Webmaster Tools
• 301 redirecting http:// pages to the new https:// pages
The following articles give a good overview of HTTPS, why and when you should use it, and how to implement it properly on your site.
1. The Pros And Cons Of Implementing SSL / HTTPS: https://blog.nexcess.net/2014/09/03/the-pros-and-cons-of-implementing-ssl-https/
2. Web Security: Why You Should Always Use HTTPS: http://mashable.com/2011/05/31/https-web-security/
3. The Big List of SEO Tips and Tricks for Using HTTPS on Your Website: https://moz.com/blog/seo-tips-https-ssl
4. How to Deploy HTTPS Correctly: https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere/deploying-https