HTTP vs. HTTPS for SEO
Before getting into technicalities and knowing how HTTP and HTTPS affect SEO, let us first get into basics and know what these two terms mean.
HTTP is an acronym for HyperText Transfer Protocol and HTTPS is Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol. Both these structures allow us to show and receive information on the internet. HTTP focuses on how information is presented to the users and it doesn’t care how the data is transferred from Point 1 to 2. Therefore, the speed of HTTP is more. Whereas, HTTPS is based on same principals and the only difference is that it provides an extra layer of security by using something called as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). It was developed to make authorizations and secured transactions. It provides three layers of protection, viz. encryption, data integrity, and authenticity.
Google has officially announced to switch from HTTP to HTTPS for boosting minor ranking. Because Google said we all will do it, but it is necessary to know the difference and what are the benefits of it.
Here are some advantages to switch from HTTP to HTTPS
Increase in rankings
After converting to HTTPS rankings may not increase directly, it is a slow process and moreover an SEO strategy. Google’s search algorithms have changed and prefer more secure websites, therefore rankings are sure to increase over time. Increase in rankings leads to increase in traffic and conversions.
No doubt, Google prefers sites that are trusted and certified. Users can be sure that the site will encrypt their information for security.
The security protocol of HTTPS helps to protect the integrity of the websites and prevents data theft, hackers, and intruders to get access. It helps both the users of the websites as well as the operators to feel safe and encrypts all data including URL’s which protect credit card numbers, browsing history, etc.
When any traffic goes through an HTTPS site, the referral information is preserved. It also makes Google Analytics more easy because the security data of the website is saved with the use of HTTPS that is referred to you. With HTTP sites, the referral sources will appear as “direct traffic”. This itself gives HTTPS an advantage for SEO.
AMP needs HTTPS
If you are serious about being online and ranking higher, then you have to even consider the mobile revolution. Nowadays, people browse on their mobiles more than on laptops/desktops. Therefore, it is necessary to make your sites more mobile friendly and responsive. Considerations such a loading speed is just one part. Google had developed AMP(Accelerated Mobile Pages) to make sure that content loads faster on mobile phones. AMP plays an important role in optimizing mobile devices and this requires HTTPS so that it performs better.
Above stated are the basic differences and advantages to choosing HTTPS sites over HTTP.
Let us now look at some steps and concerns related while switching from HTTP to HTTPS. Make sure to communicate to Google that you have switched from HTTP to HTTPS by following the steps below.
- Firstly, decide the kind of certificate you will need; single, multi-domain or wildcard certificate.
- Use 2048-bit certificates
- Use relative URL’s for resources for resides on the same secure domain and protocol domain URLs for all other domains.
- Make sure you are allowing Google to crawl your HTTPS site using robots.text and not preventing it to do so.
- Go through all your landing pages, paid search links, and update them to HTTPS.
- Allow search engines to index all your pages wherever possible. You have the option of not allowing search engines from indexing but this could damage your SEO efforts because your page rankings will be gone and it will take time to regain the efforts.
- Google has now updated Google Webmaster Tools to handle HTTPS sites. You can also use other analytics software to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Track your migration carefully and catch issues that occur as soon as possible so that it doesn’t end up hurting your SEO efforts.
Apart from SEO benefits, Google Chrome is going to make it obvious, which site is secure and which is not. Your website might not look appealing to visitors who see a sign of not secure in the address tab. Mozilla will be applying the same policy for Firefox.
Hence, the basic difference between the two is all about security. SEO is in the favor of HTTPS more than HTTP. Therefore, it is better if you switch to HTTPS for it will help you stay in Google’s good books and eventually increase your rankings. It is not only good for security but also for referral data and all other SEO factors. Also, Google’s Webmaster blog hints at a fully secure web in the future. This does take time but the efforts are all worth it. It is better if you stay proactive and listen to what Google says since that is what will benefit us all!