Ecommerce SEO | HTTPS as a Ranking Factor
Considerations for Migrating to HTTPS
Though Google recommends migrating your site to https, this is no small project and there are several factors that should be considered before migrating your ecommerce site to https.
When you switch your site over to https, you will need to make sure all of your internal linking reflects this change. If your internal linking structures leverage the non-secure version of the website, then all of your pages will be flowing link equity to the non-canonical version of your site. This will likely lead to a decrease in organic performance if it is not corrected. May sites leverage relative URL structures to avoid creating linking problems when moving from a staging server to the live server. If this is how your site is set up, then you’re automatically good to go on this front. Make sure to review not only your main navigation, but also your related products/categories widgets and your content.
Canonical Tag & Href Lang Markup
As with your internal linking, you’ll want to verify that your canonical tags point to the secure version of all your URLs. If the canonical tag continues to point to the non-secure version of your URLs, you could end up with indexation problems if Google doesn’t ignore your canonical tag. Similarly, you should verify your HREF Lang code references the secure URLs. While getting this wrong won’t lead to indexation problems, it will likely hinder the right URLs from showing up in international searches.
As you are inherently changing all of your URLs (though you are “only” moving from http to https), your pages will need to be re-discovered and won’t have any link equity associated with them. To solve these problems, we need to implement 301 redirects that point from your old URLs to your new, secure, URLs. When you implement a 301 redirect, a portion of the link equity is not passed. Typically this is about 10%. As such, it is common to see a loss in traffic (about 10%) due to the reduced amount of link equity associated with the page.
It is also important to verify that your XML sitemaps list the secure version of your URLs. If your XML sitemaps continue to list the old, non-secure, URLs, the integrity of the XML sitemaps will eventually be degraded and search engines will likely start to ignore them. While you will want to upgrade your sitemaps, it would also be beneficial to replicate all of your XML sitemaps and submit them in Webmaster Tools to help Google discover the 301 redirects pointing to the new version of your pages.
If you are going to migrate your entire site to https:
- Review links used in site navigation
- Review links used in content
- Review links used in related products/categories widgets
- Establish 301 redirects the new version of the site
- Update XML sitemaps
- Create XML sitemaps with the old URLs to re-submit to WMT