Go secure (https) with your new website for SEO benefit
If you are a business that is planning to launch a new website, then one of the things we suggest you consider doing right upfront is to make the site secure i.e. opt for the “https” protocol.
It has been almost 3 years since Google started its push to get sites to go secure and get a ranking boost along the way; new data from third parties like Moz and Rank Ranger indicate that almost 50% of the first-page results on Google are now https pages.
More importantly, the number of https results on the first page of Google seems to have jumped from about 30% to just over 50% in less than 9 months. This means that either more sites are opting for https now or that the SEO benefit for secure sites that Google had indicated in 2014 is really beginning to show in its search results. Anecdotally, we think there is definitely greater adoption of https and website owners are gradually making the switch.
Interestingly, one of Google’s public-facing staff has said that the search engine doesn’t have any immediate plans to give a further SEO boost to https as a ranking factor in its algorithm.
What about existing websites?
We started by saying that new website development should opt to go secure right at the beginning. The reason is simple – it is much easier and hassle-free to go for this while building a new website rather than trying to migrate to https later, especially if the site is a big one with lots of pages.
Migrating an existing site to https is also advisable, especially now that we have some data pointing to the ranking benefits of doing so (and not just Google’s advice). However, webmasters should ensure that they have taken care of various factors, especially appropriate re-direction of pages, before doing so.
The SEO consequences of not taking appropriate precautions can be crippling, especially in the short term as it can push back a site in terms of rankings by several months, if not more. Here are some useful articles that give a SEO checklist for migrating to https : Search Engine Land ; KeyCDN ; Google Support.
‘Secure site’ is one of several ‘experience signals’ that Google has been increasingly considering in its ranking algorithm. One of the big such experience signals has been mobile-friendliness of sites; others include factors such as design/UI, particularly the placement of ads on a page.
For SEO success, it is essential that webmasters look beyond just the typical relevance signals such as technical ‘compliance’ with Google guidelines and content optimization, but also look at the overall user experience. That is one of the overriding themes for SEO in 2017 and beyond.
- Manoj Aravindakshan