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SEO & SSL: A Conversation With Jon Henshaw Of Raven Tools
Google says it will boost rankings for HTTPS sites, but, in an interview by contributor Clark Buckner, Henshaw recommends SEOs hold off.
When Google speaks, SEO professionals listen. But that doesn’t mean they need to act… yet.
In the wake of Google’s announcement that it is now giving a rankings boost to HTTPS sites, Raven Tools co-founder and Chief Product Officer Jon Henshaw thinks internet marketers should test the waters first before fully committing to a switch for an established site.
In a conversation with Clark Buckner about SSL and its impact on SEO, Henshaw said the rewards are not yet worth the time, resources and sacrifice in traffic that would come with turning a strong HTTP site into an HTTPS.
However, considering the growing concerns around data privacy and information security, he does believe that Google’s rewards for more secure sites are here to stay.
The added layer of security on HTTPS websites comes from SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, which is most commonly used by e-commerce sites to encrypt data and secure its transfer over the internet.
Henshaw believes Google is subtly pushing all HTTP sites — even non-commerce content blogs that do not transfer information — to add SSL in hopes of making the whole internet browsing experience more secure.
The transition is certainly not the simple flip of a switch for established, high-ranking HTTP sites. The process of converting an HTTP to an HTTPS site is incredibly involved and brings with it some serious SEO challenges, including:
- Separate Sites: Google considers the HTTP and HTTPS versions of a site to be two completely different sites in their search engine, so a website admin has to add their SSL site as a completely new site.
- Redirecting Sites: After installing the SSL certificate, HTTP traffic must be redirected to the HTTPS site, or organic traffic will suffer.
- Deindexing: Deindexing begins during the transition from HTTP to HTTPS, which involves removing non-secure pages. If the SSL installation and redirection has been done properly, search engines will know to index the new secure pages.
If your site is doing well and has high conversions, Henshaw doesn’t recommend making the switch at this time. It remains nothing more than one of many small best practices in the SEO world that will help a site rank well on Google — meaning it still doesn’t pull as much weight as major influences, like quality content.
Still, it’s important to understand that HTTPS is the future and is likely to steadily gain importance in Google’s rankings. With that in mind, Henshaw urges that every new site being created use SSL to put itself in the best position moving forward.
In addition, webmasters with multiple sites would likely benefit from experimenting with an HTTPS switch on some of their less successful sites to gather test data of their own.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.