HTTPS is now a Google Ranking Signal

Now that HTTPS is a ranking signal (as declared by Google today) it’s probably time to start planning to implement SSL on your website.

Google have handily given us some hints as to what type of implementation they prefer:

  • Decide the kind of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate
  • Use 2048-bit key certificates
  • Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain
  • Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains
  • Check out our Site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s address
  • Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt
  • Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Avoid the noindex robots meta tag.

We would suggest some other things to think about:

When including resources from a CDN use a transport agnostic refrerence

This means that

<script src="http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.11.1/jquery.min.js"></script>

would become

<script src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.11.1/jquery.min.js"></script>

Use .htaccess to redirect all website URLs

Add the following code to the top of your .htaccess file to redirect all traffic to HTTPS.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

Test Test Test

Always implement any feature roll out on a test environment first. When making a wholesale change to a website like this the consequences of getting it wrong can be catastrophic.

Test the following:

  • Use a crawler such as Screaming Frog to make sure that all of your pages are accessible as they were before.
  • Make sure that browsers don’t give any insecure warnings for including insecure content (usually images or JavaScript) on a secure page.
  • Test your website from multiple devices to make sure it is accessible.
  • When moving from test to live, remember to remove any rules from robots.txt that might block search engines (you wouldn’t believe how commonly this is missed)

If you don’t feel comfortable, get a professional to do it

Many web and digital agencies (including ourselves) are highly experienced in the implementation of SSL certificates, so if you don’t feel 100% comfortable then get a professional to help you out.

About the author Daniel Taylor

Dan Taylor is the founder and owner of Tailored Internet marketing. With more than 5 years in SEO Dan has worked with and for brands such as MoneySupermarket, JJB Sports, ManUtd.com and others. Dan is a father of two, and avid Everton FC fan.

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