Making a major structural or hosting change to a website is going to impact your site SEO but sometimes the long term benefits far outweighs any short term loss of traffic and rank that can be expected with such changes.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS is Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. This is an internet communication protocol that provides an added layer of security to protect user data during transmission.
If your website collects personal data from users, such as through a quote form, enquiry form, at checkout, then your site should be hosted on HTTPS.
When the user submits the form, their personal data is protected if the site is hosted on an HTTPS server and data is transmitted securely via TLS (Transport Layer Security protocol) which encrypts the data, prevents it from being modified and provides authentication, helping to build user trust.
With the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) coming into effect on 25th May 2018, migrating your website to HTTPS and ensuring your website complies with the new regulations should be a high priority for your business in the next few months. Please read our last blog for further information on GDPR and how it may impact your business.
How can migrating to HTTPS affect SEO?
Moving your website content to a secure server is, in effect, moving it to a new domain – at least Google sees it that way. Site migration can result in an SEO nightmare if steps are not taken to preserve organic visibility and domain rank.
If you were to launch a site on a new domain it will start its life with zero rank and authority and it will take time for both to grow.
If you just move your content from http://www.yourdomain.co.uk to https://www.yourdomain.co.uk without taking precautions to preserve your page rank, then you will lose any authority, page rank and link equity your current domain has accrued.
The result will be a dramatic loss of traffic and once this happens, it’s really difficult to claw it back quickly unless it is done within days of the migration taking place.
Google recommends various tasks are undertaken before, during and following site migration to help the migration to be completed smoothly & with minimum loss of rank.
What are the benefits of migrating to a secure server?
Transferring your domain is a high risk task, but if you follow Google Best Practice protocol then within 4-12 weeks you should start to see improvements in traffic volume and rank. The long-term benefits of hosting your site on a secure server makes a strong case for taking the risk.
1. Secure transmission of personal data enhances user trust
2. Increased rank is accrued as it presents a better user experience
3. Helps reduce risk of malware, adware and malicious spam attacks
4. If you are going to be using AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) then the site must be hosted on HTTPS
What could go wrong if protocol isn’t followed?
We have seen first-hand what a massive impact migrating a site can have on SEO if this Best Practice protocol is not followed. Clients have approached Whizz for support following a site migration disaster which resulted in their site losing traffic and rank almost immediately. They were understandably confused as to why this had happened as they weren’t made aware of the risks by their hosting provider who recommended the migration.
Unfortunately there are some hosting providers who don’t understand or use this protocol before actioning a transfer. It is really the job of an SEO Consultant to work with web developers or web hosts to prepare the site for migration. Once everything is in place, the transfer can take place, but there is still work to be done after migration, including checking backlinks and trying to regain any lost links.
Not following the site migration protocol affects search bot crawler activity, it creates indexing issues, and will likely create a lot of website page errors such as Page 404 warnings which indicate to Google that pages no longer exist.
If you are looking to migrate your site to a secure server in 2018, please get in touch. We have successfully migrated sites following Google’s on-site and off-site protocol, and we can provide support to your web development team during the process to help minimise the impact to your SEO.
For further information, please contact Louise at Whizz Marketing on 01252 622129. Whizz Marketing is a Google Partner Accredited Agency.