What Happened When I Flipped a WordPress Based Site from http to https

In mid-July of 2015, I decided to return the website to https using SSL . Over the past eighteen months, Google has been striving to "make SSL succeed". They even said that this could give you a boost in ranking no doubt knowing that thousands of SEOs and owners would start returning their sites in the hope of gaining an advantage.

Switching to SSL is not as simple as catching a secure certificate and switching the switch. And once you have activated it without problems, you must make sure that it is maintained .

Do I think Sugarrae needs to be secure? Did I think there was a big enough boost to make the change? No. But I think Google is not backing away from this crusade. Sugarrae is a branded site in its niche with a decent backlink profile. So I thought I would test what happens when you flip. I also wanted an environment where I controlled every aspect of the flip to remove the potential of external variables (a developer failed to implement a task I gave it, etc.) to cause problems.

What was done

] Secure certificate ordered (and assured that it was installed correctly and worked). Flips and then tests the site in both Firefox and Chrome to see what warnings have popped up. The most common problem is that you request unsafe files for the page (such as calling graphics for the secure version of the page from .Used Firebug > Console to find which global elements gave errors or warnings and corrected them Correction of a common problem with redirection of https: / / www to https: //. Sugarrae is on WordPress, so I used phpMyAdmin for to find all instances of in the database and replace them with (which discusses links in publications, widgets, etc.) Then I launched the Broken Link Checker plugin to find cases where the day of all internal links of the content to old https redirects, etc.) and updated all the links. I updated my htaccess file to make sure all the inherited redirects were set to day to redirect directly to t The https version of the URL instead of them using a chained redirect. Update my PLP plugin (which hides my affiliate – affiliate links) to use https as the base URL for links (which has updated all PLP links). I then ran a DeepCrawl to find everything that everything else could have missed. I checked https: // www and https: // in GWT and submitted a sitemap for the https: // version. I've also submitted an updated sitemap on the GWT profile for http: //.J' already used universal analytics code, so I only needed to update the URL default for "Property Settings" and "Show Settings" in the Sugarrae GA Account. the https version. I've also changed the GWT association for Sugarrae in GA to use the https.Annotated version of the change in GA, because you have to annotate all things.

Immediately after flip

Google was pretty fast on evaluating the flip

On Monday, July 13, 2015 (2 days after the flip), I saw a 16% increase in organic traffic compared to the previous Monday. But the following Monday, organic traffic returned to normal levels. Of course, Google also launched a Panda update, so the update could have affected organic search numbers last week. But my site should not be sensitive to Panda (although changes for my competitors may affect my organic traffic). More important than any possible gain was the potential for loss, of which I have not seen any. The rocker has also reset all my social sharing numbers, as expected, with the exception of LinkedIn.

Six months later

Six months have passed since the flip. It appears that organic traffic is slightly down since the change compared to the previous period. But this trend has been slow, is a single digit percentage (9%), and other factors could be at stake. However, it is up 19% over the same period of time. last year.

Moreover, a few months after the flip, I found a bug in my htaccess that allowed to render the pages without the https. for several months. Although the canonical directive prevented any search engine problem because of this error, it is unclear whether site traffic has had a minor effect. However, this bug was fixed a few months later without any noticeable effect in correcting it.

I also saw reports that switching to https is not a transparent process in Bing. In the case of the Sugarrae site, I saw a 17% drop in sessions coming from Bing after the turnaround of the period just before. But, it is up 6% over the same period the year before. However, with my site being in the SEO industry, the majority of my search traffic comes from Google, so I feel like the size of the sample in my case is too small to draw any relevant conclusions .

While Sugarrae organic traffic is slightly down in both Google and Bing compared to the previous period, it is up from a year-on-year perspective. So going back to https has an advantage, right? I really do not think so. Because my traffic has seen an increase in both Bing and Google YOY, I suspect that the increase is due to factors outside the flip with the help of an SSL. All the more so as Bing claims to not rank SSL sites

These alternative factors could be the result of various things. Remember that my site is not static. I publish new articles, some of which end better than others. Some articles are on topics with higher search volumes for the keywords for which they rank than others. When I speak at a conference, my site gets new links. You have the idea.

Switching your site to SSL for SEO purposes

If you switch to https only for SEO purposes in the hope of getting a better ranking, you risk being disappointed. I have not found any identifiable enhancements that I can confidently assign to the https switch.

While some viewpoints report that more than 25% of Google's best sites are now https, I really do not believe it's a Google result giving a significant favor to the results of https. I think it's more likely that an effect of high-level sites being extremely SEO aware and doing the Flip to https because Google has advised. Adding to that, Google's representatives made public statements that https May break a link between otherwise equal rankings . And SEO-dependent companies (because of better rankings) are more likely to make the effort to try to capture all the benefits that they can get.

Aside from the loss of the number of social actions and the time and expense involved with https going without a lot of profit, there seems to have been no negative effect of my return to the company. use of SSL.

Enlightened Implementation Issues

However, I would also be negligent to note that my site was returned informally. I have seen several sites that have significantly detracted from their rankings following an incorrect and hasty implementation of the use of SSL.

A site was unable to use redirects to force https rendering. Coupled with no use of the canonical directive, they saw a stark and easily attributed traffic loss from their flip. Another site decided to change their entire URL structure "since they were changing their URLs to https anyway." Not a strategy I would recommend. They saw a loss of traffic that only experienced a 90% recovery rate after the turnaround. While Google has stated that there is no link authority lost when switching to SSL the bank only applies if the only change is that the l & # 39; URL has changed from http to https. Otherwise, normal URL structure change effects probably apply.

Correlation does not imply causality

The above is my personal experience and the assumptions and opinions resulting from the change of the Sugarrae site to https. with what I've seen on different customer sites. Your mileage and your experience may vary. But I hope to take a tour through my flip site (and results) can help better inform yours – if you choose to make the jump.

If you changed a site from http to https, I'd like to hear what your experience and your result were in comments.

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