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Why you should NOT change your website to HTTPS for SEO

August 24, 2016

If you have a business with a website, it is vital you ensure you are visible and found when people search online for the product or service you offer. Making sure all aspects of your organic SEO are correctly set up will put you on the right path to achieving this.

Recently there has been a lot of discussion around the SEO benefits of changing your website from HTTP to HTTPS (the latter being far more secure), this is achieved by implementing an SSL certificate on your website.

At Total SEO, our view is that if you currently have a standard HTTP site, you should not change it to HTTPS before giving some serious consideration to what could happen, there are 4 main reasons why, these are outlined below:

1) HTTPS will make your website run slower, the data has to be transferred in a secure way and needs more processing power, this will slow your website down, which in turn can impact on your trust with Google. Having a faster site will gain you much more kudos with the search engines.

2) It is not just a case of flicking a switch, there are very likely going to be issues with pages needing to be redirected from the old URLs with HTTP, to the new ones, if this is not done correctly you can expect to see broken internal links and fluctuations and drops in your Google rankings as previously indexed pages can no longer be found.

3) You have to pay for an SSL certificate, this can range from around £30 up to £250 per annum, depending on the website.

4) Some websites will not function correctly with HTTPS and applications and plugins may clash with it, causing the site not to function correctly.

Obviously if your site already has HTTPS in place, this doesn’t apply, but our advice is to anyone without it, would be to seriously consider all the implications, well before deciding to make the switch.

Below is an SEO Checklist (courtesy of the team at Moz) for changing your website from HTTP to HTTPS.

SEO checklist to preserve your rankings when changing from HTTP to HTTPS

1) Make sure every element of your website uses HTTPS, including widgets, java script, CSS files, images and your content delivery network.

2) Use 301 redirects to point all HTTP URLs to HTTPS. This is a no-brainer to most SEOs, but you’d be surprised how often a 302 (temporary) redirect finds its way to the homepage by accident

3) Make sure all canonical tags point to the HTTPS version of the URL.

4) Use relative URLs whenever possible.

5) Rewrite hard-coded internal links (as many as is possible) to point to HTTPS. This is superior to pointing to the HTTP version and relying on 301 redirects.

6) Register the HTTPS version in both Google and Bing Webmaster Tools.

7) Use the Fetch and Render function in Webmaster Tools to ensure Google can properly crawl and render your site.

8) Update your sitemaps to reflect the new URLs. Submit the new sitemaps to Webmaster Tools. Leave your old (HTTP) sitemaps in place for 30 days so search engines can crawl and “process” your 301 redirects.

9) Update your robots.txt file. Add your new sitemaps to the file. Make sure your robots.txt doesn’t block any important pages.

10) If necessary, update your analytics tracking code. Most modern Google Analytics tracking snippets already handle HTTPS, but older code may need a second look.

11) Implement HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS). This response header tells user agents to only access HTTPS pages even when directed to an HTTP page. This eliminates redirects, speeds up response time, and provides extra security.

12) If you have a disavow file, be sure to transfer over any disavowed URLs into a duplicate file in your new Webmaster Tools profile.

SEO Checklist courtesy of

At Total SEO, we help businesses get their websites found in searches, we help increase traffic and new business from being found online, if you would like to talk to us about your website, call us on 01252 329160, or, request a free review of your website at

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