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Google recently announced plans to provide those with secure sites minor ranking boosts in an effort to encourage users to make the switch. Secure sites include the SSL 2048-bit key, which you’ll recognize via the HTTPS (Hypertext Transport Protocol Security) at the beginning of the URL, and can protect a site connection through authentication and encryption. They are known to keep users’ data safe and reduce vulnerability to hacking.
After seeing positive results in a test run, Google has decided to roll out updated algorithms across the board in favor of these sites. The HTTPS encryption is considered a lightweight component within the overall ranking algorithm as of now, meaning that HTTPS websites will experience only minor ranking increases to begin with, but Google has indicated that they may strengthen the signal in the future.
What Is HTTPS and How Does It Protect Your Site?
HTTPS sites can protect your users’ connection to your site by securing information in three layers.
- Encryption ensures that a user’s activity cannot be tracked or their information stolen
- Data integrity prevents files from being corrupted as they’re transferred
- And authentication protects against attacks and builds user trust
How to Move to a Secure Site
Having a secure site can be beneficial to rankings and should have no impact on your existing SEO efforts—but the move must be done properly to ensure this is the case. That means informing Google of your switch and following the basic guidelines they’ve provided for your move to HTTPS. While they plan to release a more detailed check list as they roll out the change, the following tips should help you get started with the move:
- Decide what type of security you need for your site: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificates (for websites with many dynamic subdomains). Make sure you’re using a 2048-bit key certificate and that it’s issued by a reliable certificate authority (CA) that can provide you with support if you need it.
- Allow search engines to index your sites and make it easy for users to find you by:
- Avoiding noindex robots meta tags and robots.txt tags
- Redirecting search engines to the HTTPS pages
- Using protocol relative URLs for any other domains you have
- Using a server that supports HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS).
It’s also important to ensure all content is the same on both your HTTP site and your HTTPS site. For more information on general website security, click here.
What to Do After the Migration
So now you have an HTTPS site…what’s next? It’s especially important to track all your traffic before, during, and after your website migration so you can take note of any issues should they arise and make sure the move is a success. We recommend using Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools, which has been updated to provide improved reporting on secure sites.
It’s important to submit sitemaps from both your old and new site within these tools to keep track of indexed pages on both. Your index status, crawl error reports, and search queries can also help you keep track of indexed URLs, errors, site impressions, and clicks.
Need Help Migrating to HTTPS?
If you’re interested in moving to a secure site or want to learn more about HTTPS websites and their impact on your rankings, we can help. Blue Corona specializes in a wide range of web development services, and we’re experts on getting sites to rank and get more leads. We can help you with the move, create optimized content for your site, and track your visits and leads to make sure everything goes smoothly. Contact us to get started with a secure site for your business!
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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