HTTPS has been a ranking factor on Google for a number of years now, and equally so on international search engines, such as Baidu.
HTTPS offers several benefits beyond simply securing the connections made to your site. HTTPS offers several improvements that can improve the page load speed of your content. Google rolled out a new mobile speed algorithm update in Mid-July 2018, which results in sites that load slowly on mobile decrease in rankings.
What impact does not having HTTPS have on a website?
- According to a 2017 study conducted by Ofcom, 58% of users will not submit any personal information on a website that isn’t HTTPS-enabled.
- 84% of users say they will not make a purchase on a website that is not secured.
- You cannot serve content via HTTP/2 or Google Accelerated Mobile Pages if you do not have HTTPS enabled.
- Every current browser version will display a warning symbol on your website if your website contains a data entry field.
- Chrome 68 will label all HTTP pages as “Not Secure”.
- Every major search engine uses HTTPS as a ranking factor.
If you really want your site to rank on Google and you’ve yet to migrate to HTTPS, now is the final call. According to Mozcast, the number of HTTPS pages in Google search results increased from 62% at the beginning of September 2017 to 86.5% in July 2018.
HTTPS and International Search Engines
International search engines like Baidu in China or Naver in Korea also use HTTPS as a ranking signal. In China, specifically, Baidu offers a range of tools to allow brands to signal that their website is the official version. One of these elements is validating your HTTPS status.
Although historically, it used to take a while for rankings to stabilize following an HTTPS migration, this is now much faster. One common concern from brands was that migrating to HTTPS would potentially disrupt traffic. It is true, that if handled incorrectly, an HTTPS migration could cause some issues. However, if handled correctly, there is no longer any major cons by migrating to HTTPS.
Common SEO Mistakes when Migrating to HTTPS
Migrating to HTTPS requires a certain level of consistency. We’ve seen many mistakes in implementations over the years, but these are some of the key issues to be ensure are implemented properly:
- Make sure to update all internal links from HTTP to HTTPS
- Ensure your Sitemap.xml is updated to only link to HTTPS pages
- Update your canonical tags from HTTP to HTTPS
- Update your Hreflang tags from HTTP to HTTPS
- Redirect HTTP to HTTPS
Other Benefits of Migrating to HTTPS
Another benefit of HTTPS is that several speed-boosting features are only available via HTTPS.
HTTP/2 is a new protocol which is only available via HTTPS. Most websites still operate using the HTTP/1.1 protocol, which was originally written to be readable by humans. The problem with this methodology is that since it was launched in 1997, web content has gone from small text-based websites to large and interactive multimedia-rich websites. The problem with HTTP/1.1 is that it only allows for the download of a single asset at a time, which means the more resources you have on your web page, the longer it will take to load.
HTTP/2 is the latest protocol update which serves content in binary code. This allows for multiple resources to be downloaded simultaneously and greatly improves the page load speed of your website. To illustrate the performance boost gained by utilizing HTTP/2, Akamai have created a demo displaying HTTP/2 in action:
As you can see, with HTTP/2 all the smaller images making up the larger image load simultaneously, while with HTTP/1.1 each image has to be downloaded in sequence.
Need Help with Your HTTPS Migration?
Datawords’ SEO & Tech teams are on hand to assist you with your HTTPS migration, whether you are doing a simple migration or a complex site restructure. Contact us about your project and one of our team members will follow up with you personally.