In today’s post we will be taking a look into what kind of an impact, if any, using a https site has on Search Engine Optimisation.

Firstly, what is HTTPS?

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is a secure version of the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (http). This secure platform is used for online ecommerce payment transactions, for example online banking or shopping.

To indicate that a website is secure by HTTPS, web browsers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox display a locked padlock, as well as https:// in the website address bar.

When you connect to a website using HTTPS, a Digital Certificate is used to encrypt the session. If the URL of the website begins with https:// with a padlock, instead of the conventional http:// this means you are connected to a secure website.

The Effect of HTTPS on SEO

If implemented correctly, having a https site should have no negative impact on your SEO. In April this year, Michael Mahemoff wrote a post about this topic, and received a response from Google Switzerland’s John Mueller about the subject. This is what he had to say:

HTTPS-only sites are fine, there’s absolutely no need to shy away from that if you implement it properly. There’s certainly no penalty involved with running your site on HTTPS-only when done right. A few of the things that come to mind are (definitely incomplete, just from the top of my head):
– don’t forget the http->https redirect & other canonicalisation things
– look into HSTS
– list the https site separately in webmaster tools (it’s a different site)
– make sure the infrastructure can handle the higher load (SSL, caching, etc)
– check out the differences wrt. caching
(none of this is probably new to you though, hah :))

When Michael further asked about the potential penalty risk from moving an existing http site to go all https (including http redirects), John further commented:

No, no penalty. Essentially, it’s the same as any other site-move in that it can take a bit of time to be processed (depending on the site), and that you might see fluctuations while it’s moving all of the signals over to the new URLs.

To make sure your website is not penalised for utilising HTTPS instead of HTTP, here’s a few pointers to make sure you have accounted for:

Loading Speed

The server hosting that your website is hosted on needs to be able to cope with the additional demand of HTTPS, this is because Google values the loading speed of a site as a ranking factor. A SSL secure site will use more resources than a normal site as connections have to be encrypted, so it is important to make sure you have accounted for this change in demand.

301 Redirects

Google values unique content within a website, so it is important to make sure anything that was previously on the HTTP site of the site, is redirected using a simple 301 redirect to the HTTPS equivalent page. Failure to do so could result in a Google penalty as it will see the pages as two different sites, but using identical content.

Webmaster Tools

As we just mentioned above, Google sees the HTTP and HTTPS sites as completely different, so they also need to listed separately in webmaster tools.

To summarise, if implemented correctly using a SSL secure site should not have any negative effect on Search Engine Optimisation. Just make sure you have followed the tips listed in this post. You have to think that using HTTPS shows that a website is secure and can be trusted, spam sites would not be able to use this protocol.