Is HTTPS Bad for SEO?

There has been much speculation as to how HTTPS affects a websites ability to rank in the search engines. Google has recently indicated its algorithm gives a slight boost for secure sites, but really, how significant is this?

Much of the concerns that have been raised are from 2013 – 2016. In the world of web, things change rapidly. So what is the situation as of April 2017? Clearly for selling online or passing any sensitive data via a website, an SSL is a must. But what about for everything else – especially if your website is already well-established?

Some concerns

The original source of these opinions is Ahrefs, a data-driven marketing toolset powered by a huge index of backlinks, keywords and content. Make up your own mind, but there’s definitely food for thought.

Ryan Burchey

Q: Is full page rank passed to your site from backlinks once you have moved your site to https?

One user responded:

“No, you will loose all the backlinks, your web will be treated as almost new web, all from http is gone, and there is no SEO benefit or any rank benefit if you switch to https, happened to me when my web switched to https (due to heavy hackers attack 8 months ago). I moved to another dedicated server, hired system engineer who recommended to switch to https… so I did, my web used to be ranked by alexa under 200.000 in the world when it was http, now is ranked 2,6 millionth, total disaster. web is polished and in perfect shape, seo is made for every text, every page, every article, but ranking is disaster, no inquiries from my clients… same time last year web was on http, I was managing it myself (I am amateur), and there were 3-5 inquiries every day from my clients. now – zero inquiries, perfect website, but google treat it like brand new, I lost all my 1st page keyword positions in organic search results. google must be joking with us. switching to https is not advantage. it is problem.”

Joesuph Enders added:

“I actually have seen my site go from first page to 3rd page right when I switched. I had closely followed instructions and recommendations for SEO and Google Webmaster tools I made a bunch of adjustments for SEO, and search console indexing, keywords, etc. And it moved up to 2nd page near the top, but since then, it is now at the bottom of the 2nd page and it’s been 3 weeks exactly since I switched. It seems as if Google is treating it like a new site, rather than my old http site, so I lost my first page placement and hit counts.”

Adam Lavery states:

“This raises real and genuine concerns over switching to HTTPS. Google treats this as a site move, but it is not. It’s a simple protocol switch. Who in their right mind would serve different content on HTTPS than on HTTP for the same URL? Perhaps Google have a deep-rooted problem with their algorithm that forces them to treat a URL as a complete single entity and thus cannot simply differentiate the same “URL” (which for most is considered as the part after the protocol) being delivered on a different protocol.

A client of mine recently took a 9 month hit on search traffic after switching to a new site. Mostly the same but improved content, all necessary redirects were in place and a fully-loaded sitemap provided. But it has taken Google 9 months to work through old, dead URLs and finally get around to properly indexing the site as it is now (and was 9 months ago).

Google says there will be a “temporary” hit to rankings, but 9 months? 9 days would be too long.

Switching to HTTPS would be simple – but we’re scared of the Impact this will have on search traffic. Google has done and is doing nothing whatsoever to ease the switch which they themselves are recommending.”