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Is NOW the right time to move your website to SSL?

As far back as August 2014 Google were making moves to push all websites to use SSL encryption with their HTTPS Everywhere campaign wanting all internet communications to become secured by default, not just in eCommerce.

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Is now the right time to move your website to SSL?
SSL as a ranking signal, move your website to SSL NOW!

Why would google want SSL Everywhere?

Google is quite right in pushing the Internet or more the web community towards their vision of SSL Everywhere, for your own privacy and protection as a consumer you should want SSL Everywhere also, after all you would not key your credit card details into a website checkout system without seeing that lovely little padlock in the browser to say the everything was secure and your communications encrypted so would you not want that same level of privacy and protection everywhere you go on the world wide web.

SSL as a ranking signal

2014 was the first indication we got from Google that they were starting to value SSL, not as a ranking signal at that point but as a strategic goal. however 2015 saw a definite move by Google to try and force web masters hands by introducing HTTPS as a lightweight ranking signal within its algorithm.

December 2015 saw more action from Google with the announcement that they would index HTTPS versions pages by default (providing there was nothing to override this canonical url’s etc).

301 Page Redirection Penalties.

There has in the past though been one stumbling block to moving your entire website to SSL and taking immediate advantage of the increased ranking signal and that was 301 redirect penalties.

Normally when you redirect a page you lose a small amount of authority in the redirect, and this has been enough to counteract the positive effect of moving to HTTPS and in as far as we could tell tip the scales into a negative situation.

However Google recently announced that they would remove the 301 redirect penalty from all redirects that were directly from a non SSL pages to it’s HTTPS equivalent, thus removing the final barrier to moving your site to SSL.

We know in the long term that Google are likely to push this further, and they will probably do this by increasing the ranking effect of SSL, so why not get moving and get your site transferred to SSL now!

Doing it Right

There are a few things you must ensure you do when your move your website to SSL to ensure you get the positive effect, and not a very possible negative effect.

  1. Use 2048-bit key certificates (these are the minimum that google will recognise).
  2. Ensure you use relative URL’s internally within your site (this is good practice anyway).
  3. Ensure you use protocol relative URL’s for all other domains that you link to.
  4. Check your robots.txt to ensure you are not blocking HTTPS requests.
  5. Make sure your new HTTPS pages are indexable.
  6. Setup 301 redirects for all pages in your website that are indexed, and you want to continue to have indexed at the new HTTPS address.

Redirecting your site to your new SSL one.

Redirecting your existing website to SSL providing you are on Apache and using .htaccess is a relatively easy task, the simplest form you can use would be to do a 301 redirect of all pages from .htaccess by using the following code.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule (.*) https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"][R=301,L]

Google Webmaster Tools

In order to monitor the redirection and eventual transfer of indexed pages by google from your HTTP to your new HTTPS sites we recommend you setup an new entity in Google Webmaster Tools to represent your HTTPS site and then remove your sitemap from the old HTTP site and add it to the new HTTPS one.

The amount of time Google will actually take to move the indexing of all your pages over to their new pages is not finite, however in general the vast majority of pages should be re-indexed within 4 weeks.




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