How to Avoid SEO Problems When Switching to HTTPS

How to Avoid SEO Problems When Switching to HTTPS

Switching to HTTPS is clearly the way forward. It’s now estimated that 34% of Google search results are HTTPS and that figure is set to grow exponentially. This technology shift isn’t surprising given Google’s recent stance where they have claimed that those sites using HTTPS will be awarded a minor rankings boost.

With that said, for the SEO professional it can no longer be ignored. The migration has already begun for many, but an overwhelming amount of users are facing difficulties, or more problems than anticipated. If you’re facing these struggles, take a look at this handy guide. We present three of the most common issues and how to overcome them.

Duplicate content

In the excitement, or stress of moving across to HTTPS, many users neglect to take the HTTP version down. It’s a simple oversight that could have a catastrophic impact. Fortunately, Google always index the HTTPS by default, but that’s not to say that several problems can occur. Duplicate content is one of the main bugbears.

Both of the HTTP and HTTPS will be indexed in the search results. Even with canonical tags in place, this setup can still lead to errors. While some sites may self-canonicalize, it won’t avoid this duplicate content issue.

Link dilution

As you can imagine, two sites live at once can cause way more issues than duplicate content. Take for example all those links which you have worked so hard to implement. With two different websites, users will likely be split between the two. That means all your marketing efforts across social and other platforms, could see users still sharing links to the old site. Traffic may get split equally and you’ll be working twice as hard for half of the results.

How to overcome these issues?

The easiest way to avoid the above is by implementing a 301 redirect on the HTTP URL’s across the entire site to the HTTPS version. Don’t make the mistake of using a 302 redirect which is only a temporary solution.

Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that the HTTPS site version is included in the Google Search Console. Be sure to add both the non www and www variations. Here you should also set the preferred domain under HTTPS.

Finally, make certain that all internal links direct to the HTTPS (checking manually) and that canonical tags point to the HTTPS. External links within your control such as those on your social media platforms should also be replaced with HTTPS URL versions. Implement these measures and you’re transition to HTTPS should be smooth.