Effect of HTTPS on ranking and visitors

Discussion in 'SEO, PPC and Online Marketing' started by Justin Smith, Mar 26, 2019.

  1. Justin Smith

    Justin Smith UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    520 57
    My site (aerialsandtv.com) was only HTTP up to early March and we`d been suffering a fall off in visits, so when I found out Google were down ranking non HTTP sites I obviously updated mine. However, if anything we`re getting fewer visitors since then and our ranking appears to have dropped !
    I did notice whilst the site was being trawled by Google (it`s a big site) over the next week or so many pages weren`t on the Google Cache. They have now reappeared, but is that anything to do with it and should our ranking get back to what it was now ?
    Is it the case that becoming HTTPS must improve our ranking and indeed our visitor numbers because Chrome reports HTTP sites as "insecure".

    There are quite a few big sites (e.g. Digital UK) which are actually still HTTP ! Does being HTTPS have any disadvantages ?
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: Justin Smith Member since: Jun 6, 2012
    #1
  2. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Regular Free Member

    149 26
    You have effectively moved your site to another address and the effects are not instant. Since it was a recent switch I wouldn't worry about it although it's always having a look at google search console to see if there are any warnings or outstanding issues.
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
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  3. StephenSumner

    StephenSumner UKBF Regular Full Member

    114 30
    There is more to just switching over to HTTPs with your hosting co, the checklist involves quite a few important steps if SEO is of importance. Have you updated Google Search Console being one example? have you set-up redirects etc. etc
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: StephenSumner Member since: Oct 15, 2016
    #3
  4. fisicx

    fisicx It's Major Clanger! Staff Member

    29,949 8,801
    I suspect the problem is truly awful site. Google has re-indexed everything seen how bad it is (including not being mobile friendly) and decided you no longer deserve to rank as well as you had.
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
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  5. justinaldridge

    justinaldridge UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    656 249
    Wow, that's an old site you have there...and you are using a Serif product to create the site. That's how I built my first website 20 years ago :)

    HTTPS helps a little but the fact that your site is not responsive is probably the main reason it's losing positions.

    You say it's a large site but Google has only indexed about 170 pages:

    https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=site:aerialsandtv.com&hl=en&gl=gb

    However, the main issue you have with your changeover to HTTPS is that you are using a 302 redirect and not a 301 to go from http to https. A 302 is a temporary redirect and does not pass any ranking benefit across.

    You need to change ALL the redirects to 301 to recover your rankings.

    You can test the redirects here and see the header response:

    https://www.webconfs.com/http-header-check.php

    Just put in the http URL and you'll see it's a 302 redirect. It needs to return a 301.
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: justinaldridge Member since: Sep 26, 2013
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  6. Justin Smith

    Justin Smith UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    520 57
    People keep telling me that the most important factor by far for ranking is content. If that`s true we should still be near the top.
    I agree the fact it`s not Mobile friendly by Google`s definition is a problem, but that`s a big job to sort out, defn medium term. Interestingly, the site is perfectly viewable on a smart phone in landscape mode, I`ve often wondered if Google have a simple yes/no answer for if a site`s mobile friendly or a ranking.

    As regards my "awful site", ever since I first published almost all of its visitors love it (and tell us that all the time), but website designers don`t like it and never have. Perhaps there`s a lesson there somewhere.....
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: Justin Smith Member since: Jun 6, 2012
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  7. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Regular Free Member

    149 26
    It's a 307 actually, because he has hsts

    From a site you've mentioned above as credible:
    https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/an-seos-guide-to-crawling-hsts/

    HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) is a standard, defined in RFC 6797, by which a web server can declare to a client that it should only be accessed via HTTPS.

    The client, typically a web server or crawler, will then make all future requests over HTTPS, even if following a link to an HTTP URL. When this happens the SEO Spider, as of version 8.0, it shows a Status Code of 307, a Status of “HSTS Policy” and Redirect Type of “HSTS Policy”.
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
    #7
  8. justinaldridge

    justinaldridge UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    656 249
    I recently made one of my old sites responsive as it was losing rankings. It has made a positive difference in rankings. Sites need to be responsive in portrait view.

    Mobile responsiveness and friendliness started as small factors but they are getting stronger all the time. As is page load speed.

    However, if by far the most relevant result for a search query is still an unresponsive page, Google will rank it. Relevancy still outweighs most other factors...but user experience is catching up. Google doesn't want to serve up unresponsive, insecure pages unless it absolutely has to.

    Apply the 301 redirect fix I mentioned above and start looking towards moving the site into a modern and responsive template. It will make a difference.
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: justinaldridge Member since: Sep 26, 2013
    #8
  9. justinaldridge

    justinaldridge UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    656 249
    That's the internal redirect. He has site-wide 302 which is processed first going from http to https.
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: justinaldridge Member since: Sep 26, 2013
    #9
  10. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Regular Free Member

    149 26
    I'm getting a 307 but maybe Justin can tell us what it is?
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
    #10
  11. justinaldridge

    justinaldridge UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    656 249
    HSTS is used to make the browser use the https version and the corresponding 307 redirect happens at browser level. The 301/302 redirect happens at server level and is the one that is applied first and seen by search engines.

    This is a good tool too to check status codes:

    https://httpstatus.io/
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: justinaldridge Member since: Sep 26, 2013
    #11
  12. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Regular Free Member

    149 26

    Justin knows what he's done, let's wait and see what he says?
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
    #12
  13. Justin Smith

    Justin Smith UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    520 57
    TBH I never pretend to anyone I know much about IT, and I`ve no idea what a 301, 302 or 307 redirect even is...... I got the helpful chap who first helped me set up the site about 14 years ago to make it HTTPS. All I know is if I go on some of the many sites which have links onto mine (as HTTP) and see if the work, they do. They go straight to the HTTPS site. Surely that`s what counts ?

    I agree there are loads of factors in SEO but surely Google`s job is to present to the enquirer the site which has the most relevant / useful / interesting information, under that criteria Google should continue to rank us pretty highly for any search terms about aerials / poles / brackets etc etc. If they don`t that`s proof right there that content isn`t as important as it was, or should be.
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: Justin Smith Member since: Jun 6, 2012
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  14. Inva

    Inva UKBF Regular Free Member

    334 51
    Just because people like your page it does not mean you can't improve it. The question is, would they like this one better or a more modern one? Or an even better question, can a better website help you sell more? One issue i noticed immediately is that there is no clear navigation, i was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of links and was not sure what to look at or where to click.
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: Inva Member since: Aug 10, 2018
    #14
  15. Justin Smith

    Justin Smith UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    520 57
    I would agree with that 100%. The medium term plan is to migrate it over to Wordpress. But that`s a huge job, according to Xenu there are over 2000 links on it......
    As far as the site goes I personally like simple sites, I don`t like drop down menus and all that, I actually find them less easy to use, though I accept they might look better..
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: Justin Smith Member since: Jun 6, 2012
    #15
  16. justinaldridge

    justinaldridge UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    656 249
    Google is under no obligation to rank your website. It's completely in your hands to provide a website in the format that they require it to be in to rank it. Google's organic search service is free, it's up to you to do what they demand.

    There are basic standards, such as redirects, which ALL search engines abide by. You must always apply basic principles at the very least.

    Saying that you don't understand redirects is surprising considering how many years you've had the site. You must learn about this.

    I have to understand ALL elements of my business to run it effectively. It's no different with a website.

    You have applied a temporary redirect to your site...it needs to be permanent. It's not responsive...it needs to be. The user experience is poor...it needs improving.

    We are trying to help you...don't resist :)
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: justinaldridge Member since: Sep 26, 2013
    #16
  17. Justin Smith

    Justin Smith UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    520 57
    I`m not resisting, nor suggesting that Google owes me anything ! I`m simply pointing out that if anyone needs to find out anything about aerial installations there is no better site !
    As mentioned above I have a medium term plan to transfer the site onto Wordpress which I believe is responsive ?
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: Justin Smith Member since: Jun 6, 2012
    #17
  18. justinaldridge

    justinaldridge UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    656 249
    There may be no better site but that's not how Google sees is, which is why you only have 200 pages indexed.

    I would look to transition it across sooner rather than later. I think you may be quite surprised the impact it will have on your rankings and traffic when it's all on a new, mobile friendly and responsive website.
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: justinaldridge Member since: Sep 26, 2013
    #18
  19. Justin Smith

    Justin Smith UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    520 57
    I suspect the hardest part will be deciding what to keep in.....
    Incidentally, how does Wordpress rearrange stuff to fit into a narrower frame ? How does it know where to put stuff so the text stays next to the relevant picture etc ?
    As I do maintenance on my site I`m trying to make the picture smaller so as to ease my problems when it comes to going Wordpress, what size should I be aiming to make them ?
     
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: Justin Smith Member since: Jun 6, 2012
    #19
  20. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Regular Free Member

    149 26
    Start with the pages that are already indexed, just do a couple of pages and see how it looks - then worry about getting everything correct and perfect.

    A lot of hosts will be able to provide you with a staging site, which is basically a blank site you can mess around with and nobody will see it but you. In the meantime, your current site will stay live as it is.

    The bad news is that you'll probably need much bigger images than you have now (aligned centre rather than to the right) - but one bridge at a time...

    I actually missed the first part of your question where you say rankings were already dropping before you switched. Solely moving to https is never going to turn that trend around.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
    Posted: Mar 26, 2019 By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
    #20