Website Migration Behind an SSL – Does it Help Rankings?

You may have seen over the last few weeks that Google released an update which provides webmasters who put their websites behind an SSL certificate a ranking boost. If you haven’t seen the news based around website migration behind the HTTPS protocol, you can read the official statement here.

It’s not surprising that companies worldwide are running special offers on SSL certificates and scaremongering webmasters into putting their site behind an SSL certificate without thinking about exactly what is required, but please do not jump into the process.

Depending on your website, you potentially have quite a lot of work you will need to carry out before you can make the switch. We wrote an article on our blog about SEO concerns when moving to HTTPS. This outlines some of the points that webmasters should be aware of, prior to making the switch, so we won’t go into detail on these in this particular post!

Some of you may have realized that our blog and website is now showing on https://www.pinpointdesigns.co.uk, as we decided to make the switch and see what the results were like.

As our site is small compared with some of our clients, we thought we’d test the water and carry out the website migration on our site first to see how the results looked. A rough explanation of the process is as follows:

  1. Install a 2048-bit encrypted SSL certificate onto our domain
  2. Check that all items across our main website are relative links along with any external files that are referenced. We also use WordPress for our blog so we had to update all of these links too.
  3. Update our .htaccess file to force users from http:// to https://
  4. Setup Google Webmaster Tools for the new https:// website and submit the sitemaps.
  5. Sit back and wait…

It’s surprising that Google’s site move tool doesn’t currently support moving a site from http:// to https://. I can only assume that this will be added in the near future, or potentially Google will automatically detect the HTTPS change themselves and make adjustments for it. The changes were made on the morning of the 21st of August 2014. We rank tracked our website on the 25th of August to see the changes and the following was seen…

Website migration results

Ranking improvements after HTTPS

Success! A large amount of our keywords (strangely enough from Yahoo and Bing too), both have received significant increases in the search engines in only 4 days after the website migration.

In addition to this, the visibility metrics are also looking very positive compared to the previous week.

Visibility for Pinpoint Designs after SSL certificate installed

No other significant changes were made to the site during this update. We’ve noticed in Webmaster tools that the number of pages indexed on our https:// website increasing daily, but the number of impressions is also stepping up greatly too.

If you would like us to write a guide on website migration from HTTP to HTTPS, please comment on this post below. I would suggest that if you are going to carry out this type of work, you speak to a digital agency who are experienced in migration. Whilst some sites are fairly easy to migrate, there is a lot to consider with making quick decisions and planning is key to having a smooth transition. If you need help with this or are just interested in discussing this with us, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

Author: Lewis Sellers

Lewis Sellers is the founder of Pinpoint Designs, a UK based Digital Agency that specialises in website design, development and online marketing . He has been working with clients worldwide to help improve their search engine traffic, along with helping new clients recover from both algorithmic and manual penalties given by Google.

2 thoughts on “Website Migration Behind an SSL – Does it Help Rankings?”

  1. Hi lewis, thanks for the informative article, Could you please write a step by step guide on how to migrate from http to https in wordpress. as its the most widely used platform by bloggers and small business owners who have limited budget, so that they don’t have to pay higher fees to agencies for migration.

    Thanks in advance.

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