On Wednesday of last week Google officially announced that they were going to make secure sites a ranking factor. Though they said as of now, this is not a strong factor, it is something that has been hinted at for some time, and may become stronger. What does this mean and what do you need to do about this?
Https is simply a more secure version of your website. The article linked to here explains the key differences between the two and I won’t get in to detail about the differences here except to say that https adds a level of security.
The Algorithm Change
Google has stated that this is not part of Panda but is a separate entity and is actually done in real time when the search is made. They will give a minor boost to a url that is secure. It is important to note here that it is not site wide but by each url. It is possible to have a site with some pages secure and some not. This boost to the rankings may get stronger over time. This is the first time it is officially said to be a ranking factor and I believe this is a warning to encourage everyone to get on board.
What You Need To Do
You should talk to your developer and host about making your site secure. Typically they can do this for a fairly modest price, though now that Google has officially endorsed this, I’m sure the prices are going to go up with demand. I was lucky enough to see this coming a bit and made my site redesign include https.
The other important thing you need to do from an SEO perspective that a host or developer may not know or mention, is do a 301 redirect of your old pages to your new pages. It may not seem like a big deal that your site has changed from http://mydomain.com to https://mydomain.com but to the search engines, those are completely different things. You need to do what is called a 301 redirect to tell the search engines that the old page has become the new one. You will need to do this to each page too, not just the home page. Your developer should know how to do this, but make sure they do it, as it is a very important step if you want to maintain any search engine strength you have built up. Don’t let them minimize it or tell you you don’t need it.
This may not lead to a huge boost now. In fact they have even said it may not even be enough to move you up one spot, but in the long term, you will be happy you took care of it now.
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