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May 2015

Losing rankings after migrating to HTTPs? Chances are you are making mistakes

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Google webmaster blog back in August 2014 declared–migrating from HTTP to secure HTTP (HTTPS) will give you a minor ranking boost. By promoting webmasters to install a SSL SSL 2048-bit key certificate on their websites, Google, with its “HTTPS everywhere” campaign, is on a mission to make the internet more secure by standardising HTTPs.

As expected, many webmasters over the time migrated to HTTPs. however, not many were getting a ranking boost. Digging around the internet, we found many forums filled with heated discussion around losing rank after migrating to HTTPs; unsurprisingly Webmaster Central Help Forum was no different either.

Thus, we were apprehensive about recommending our users to switch to HTTPs. What if they lose ranking too?

What is the wrong implementation?

The user made a mistake with 301 redirection. He actually redirected the site http://your-site.com.au to http://www.your-site.com.au itself using 301 instead of https://www.your-site.com.au , owing to the same source and the destination for the 301, a 200 redirect was triggered rather.

On top of that, using Google Webmaster Tools, he manually deindexed all indexed http urls.

Impact of incorrect implementation

Because of the false redirections and deindexing, the purported https url couldn’t get indexed, leading to total loss in ranking. In addition, once the http url were deindexed, the Google crawler could never get to the website itself, leaving no room for indexing.

What we suggest

Working on the suggestions, the user after fixing the false redirections, followed by reverting the deindexed url and keeping a lot of patience could get his ranking back. However, as it took him some time to regain the rankings, he lost many potential clients and daily online business, in the meanwhile. Please don’t commit changes on your primary website unless you’re sure of what you’re doing.

Conclusion

I can confidently recommend you to switch to HTTPs provided you execute the migration correctly. However, if you’re unconfident avoid it and try consulting an expert first. Above all, if you have lost ranking after switching to https, consider checking the process for error before flooding forums, cursing Google.

There are 10 times more chances of you going wrong than Google.

Don’t expect improvement in rankings–instantly. Remember, Google has already proclaimed “secure http” as a minor search-ranking factor. Take it more as a way to make your website more secure, initially. May be in future, Google may increase the weightage of this factor, but till than don’t take your expectations too high.

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A passionate, strategy-driven digital marketing professional helping small businesses grow with niche specific, business oriented marketing and branding strategies. Blogs often, lives in and plays with all things digital branding!

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