On August 6, 2014, Google added HTTPS to its list of important ranking signals. The SSL SEO boost sparked a massive migration from HTTP to HTTPS. Websites rushed to encrypt their connections to gain a competitive edge over competitions.
Three years later, Chrome began flagging HTTP sites as not secure. With HTTPS encryption all but mandatory, the SEO incentive gradually faded until it became no longer applicable. Today, over 95% of websites across Google are encrypted. SSL certificates are an essential element to your website’s security and SEO practices. Without an SSL cert, your site won’t appear in SERP.
Unfortunately, the big majority of HTTPS websites don’t use their SSL Certificate to its full SEO potential. And that’s because they think the SSL installation alone brings SEO rewards. But things are a bit more complicated than that. A successful HTTPS migration requires proper, and custom configuration.
If you’ve bought and installed an SSL Certificate, but don’t know what SEO adjustments to do, our 10 pointers will put you on the right track. Please note, that these essential steps will lay a strong SEO foundation. You can get even more out of your HTTPS website by hiring an SEO specialist to evaluate your website.
The SEO checklist for a successful HTTPS Migration
1) Update links
Once you’ve successfully installed the SSL Certificate, make sure you update all the main internal and external links. Crawl your website and double-check, so that no link is left behind. Ensure you don’t have mixed content,
2) 301 Redirects
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. 301 redirects are SEO-friendly. They send visitors and search engines to a different URL than the one they originally typed into their browser. Use permanent redirects to send your visitors to the HTTPS version of your website.
3) Update the sitemap
Submit your new HTTPS XML Sitemap to Google Search Console to ensure it’s indexed.
4) Check your canonical tags
Make sure that all of your rel=canonical tags also point to the new HTTPS site. Most CMS platforms will streamline this process, but you still need to ensure that everything was perfectly executed.
5) Update plugins/modules/add-ons
Make sure everything works and there is no insecure content.
6) Update references in content
The easiest way to do this is via a search and replace function in the database. You need to update all references to internal links to use HTTPS.
7) Update references in templates
Set all the references to images, links, and scripts to use HTTPS. You can do this via Git, Notepad++ or other code editor tool.
8) Update the links of Social Media
The external links on all your Social Media profiles should send to the HTTPS version of your website. If there are many such articles and posts where these links need to be updated, then you should probably update at least the most popular ones.
9) Update your Newsletter
Don’t forget about your newsletters, e-mail campaigns, auto-responders, and pop-ups. Go through them and updated all the links to the HTTPS version of your website.
10) Updated Google Analytics Admin Settings
Go to Google Analytics’ admin area and update your website’s settings. Select the “HTTPS” version and save the changes. From now on, all the data obtained in Google Analytics will be from your new HTTPS version.
Once you complete all these steps, continue monitoring your website for potential errors. A successful HTTPS migration is not only about implementing changes, but also keeping a permanent eye on how they work on your website.