A while back Google made an announcement which had webmasters everywhere rethinking the way in which they host their websites. In a bid to encourage websites to switch to using secure servers, Google said that there was a slight SEO boost for those that did. Soon after, a huge number of website owners decided that it was worth doing, went out and bought SSL certificates and switched over their sites as soon as possible. Then they sat and waited for their search rankings to go through the roof and what happened? Well not much really.
When Google said that there was a ‘slight’ benefit in doing this that is exactly what they meant. The benefit is vert small, almost negligible. However, this doesn’t seem to be putting people off doing the switch, so what are the positives and negatives in doing it?
On the positive site, if you are a merchant, or carry out any kind of transactions on your website, an SSL certificate is something that customers are increasingly looking for when they come to deciding where to make a purchase. Most modern browsers display a prominent message on the screen if a website is not secure, and this could be something which will put potential customers off. Not only that but Google are even going one stage further and adding messages to search results if they feel that a site is unsecure when it shouldn’t be. This is definitely something which you should try and avoid if possible.
On the negative side, there is the cost. It might not be a fortune to but an SSL certificate, and some can even be purchase for under £50, although if you have a large number of websites, this prices can add up very quickly. Another major factor to take into consideration is that fact that when you switch from http to https, Google see this as changing your websites URL completely yo a new domain. This is something which has irked many webmasters as they see no reason why this should be the case, especially as Google seem to be pushing people to go secure as much as they possibly can. The worry is that traffic may be lost when doing a switch over, and there are a number of horror stories where this has proven to be the case. Thankfully, in most cases a switch-over normally takes a few months to fully propagate and there is no real loss of traffic. Some have even reported fairly substantial benefits, but this has yet to be proved.
Before you decide to got from http to https, there is a huge checklist of things that you need to make sure are correct. A major update like this has potential to ruin your business, so make sure that you take your time and do a lot of reading. You well need to add the https version of your site to Google Search Console as a separate site, and this is the best way to monitor exactly what is going on and weed out any potential issues before they arise.