HTTP to HTTPS Migration
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Ensuring that your website is SSL certified and all pages are https is a crucial component of the SEO process. This is because these websites have higher level security and encryption that is visible to all visiting traffic.
That’s not all:
Besides being safe, they are favoured by the search engines and given rankings boosts. So ensuring your website(s) have SSL certificates and are optimised to their use is vital to a healthy SEO campaign.
What is SSL
You may not recognise the term Secure Sockets Layer or SSL but you will likely have seen https and/or http before. They are the lines of code that appear in the beginnings of some URLs in green.
How to Get an SSL Certificate
There are merchants online such as GoDaddy, DigiCert and Comodo who sell https certificates. Prior to any purchasing you need to decide just what kind of certificate is needed. Are you protecting one website or several? What about your subdomains?
Perhaps you want to invest in an EV SSL certificate, it costs more but takes the display of https an extra step further by conveying further traffic validating info.
Instead of saying Secure the certificate states more descriptive info such as the name of the business and its country of origin.
There are a multitude of concerns that need to be addressed and satisfied to ensure a successful https migration.
Adopting a migration strategy should be done during a period when traffic is at its lowest. For example, a winter wear business would probably ensure greatest success if it implemented a plan in the summer. Doing so will ensure you do not miss out on any traffic boom periods.
Having the https version of your website in Google webmaster tools is essential. This will ensure that the https version will be given SEO priority over the www edition.
Which of these URLs would you most likely type out?
Most if not all people would opt for the latter, its shorter and easier to compose. Typically this would mean https versions of websites would get rarely visited, fortunately that is why 301 Redirects exist. Using the URLs listed above as an example, if someone input the latter a 301 redirect would automatically link them to the https version of example.com.
Before implementing redirects it is important to list all the pages of your site and connect them to the pages they will redirect too.
Update Link Network
Once https is launched it is important that the websites link network is updated and established, including links from social media. This will ensure search engines will not penalise for duplicate content.
Create a new sitemap with all the https URLs and submit them to the Google Webmasters.
Update the Robots.txt File
Like with the sitemap, the robots.txt file must be configured for https optimisation.
A canonical tag is a special tag that is only found in a web pages source code and is part of the HTML header.
Optimise for Google Analytics
Ensure that the tool is optimised for https use.
Ensure that all the coding works correctly with https.
Ensure Extension Functionality
Some plugins may or may not operate depending on whether a site is https or not.
Check Page Speed
Evaluate the speed between the https and non-https page(s) and make changes.
Utilise Updated Links
It is important that the https URL is used henceforth in your link building campaigns. If possible try to update the backlinks too, if applicable. Https migration is a tricky avenue because it leaves you busy checking whether all your pages and links are optimised. However it has been proven that it can be a valuable asset when it comes to building a strong SEO approved website and can even foster the experience of the human user.