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HTTPS Site Migration | SearchLondon

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Migrating to a more secure web can have multiple benefits, but if not done correctly, it can put your organic search traffic at risk.

Issues can arise when switching a site from HTTP to HTTPS, and underestimating the challenge can lead to a disaster. With the right planning, those risks can be mitigated and entirely eliminated.

Maria Camanes takes us through how to migrate your site to HTTPS, and how to avoid the common pitfalls associated with a migration.

Published in: Technology

HTTPS Site Migration | SearchLondon

  1. 1. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential HTTPS Migration Most common pitfalls Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  2. 2. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential Let’s start with the basics Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  3. 3. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential What is HTTPS? Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com It’s the secure version of the HTTP protocol, in which communications between clients and servers are encrypted Traditionally was only used for payment transactions, email & the sharing of sensitive information It keeps user’s data confidential & uncompromised when shared between a website & their device HTTPS is now widespread across sites of many different purposes & is not only used on transactional pages or forms, but sitewide
  4. 4. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential But, how does it work? Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  5. 5. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential Data protected in 3 main ways Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com The data is encrypted so that no one other than the intended recipient can understand it. This is done by converting the unencrypted data – or plaintext – into cyphertext The data maintains its integrity during the transfer and cannot be corrupted or modified without being detected The communication is authenticated This proves that users communicate only with the intended site and avoids interception by third parties
  6. 6. Site migrations are potentially one of the most dangerous online marketing adventures
  7. 7. Why should I still migrate?
  8. 8. Migrating to HTTPS can have multiple benefits
  9. 9. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  10. 10. Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  11. 11. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential Top 10 Common pitfalls & how to avoid them Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  12. 12. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential No. 1: Traffic & revenue losses: the most feared issue Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com There may be a temporary traffic loss from organic
  13. 13. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential How to avoid it Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com Benchmark the site’s performance and keyword rankings for later comparisons Ensure that all the important URLs are redirected
  14. 14. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential No. 2: We always come too late to the party Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  15. 15. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential No. 2: We always come too late to the party Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  16. 16. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential No. 2: We always come too late to the party Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  17. 17. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential No. 2: We always come too late to the party Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  18. 18. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential No. 2: We always come too late to the party Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  19. 19. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential How to avoid it Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com • Incorporating your SEO team into the migration from early stages • Always consult site changes with SEO experts • Involve other stakeholders too • Plan ahead carefully and make sure everyone knows their responsibilities
  20. 20. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential No. 3: Think of your legacy redirects Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com Chains in redirects mean increased load times Google will give up after 5+ hops and treat it as a 404 URL A Legacy site URL B Legacy site URL C New site A chain of two redirects URL A Legacy site URL B Legacy site URL C New site Suggested solution
  21. 21. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential How to avoid it Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com • Find URLs with multiple redirects in a chain using a crawler • Create a mapping of old to new URLs - map out each hop along the way, until the final target • Update internal links, schema mark-up and social buttons • Check the staging site before launch • Test the redirects once implemented (use Fetch as Google for individual URLs or site crawlers for large numbers or URLs)
  22. 22. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential No. 4: The two domains indexed alongside each other Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com • If you don’t block the staging site for search engines, this can accidentally get listed in search results • Both http and https versions might be indexed, causing duplicate content issues
  23. 23. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential How to avoid it Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com Add a meta robots noindex to all pages and a disallow rule to the Robots.txt file: User-agent: * Disallow: / Password-protect the test environment Allow access to only certain IP addresses
  24. 24. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential No. 5: Don’t hide your site from Google Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com • Block needs to be removed as soon as redirects are implemented • Otherwise search engines will be redirected to a blocked site – resulting in massive ranking drops
  25. 25. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  26. 26. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential How to avoid it Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com • As soon as redirects are in place: • Remove the blocking to allow robots to crawl the new website • Make sure the robots.txt file allows all crawling (including images, CSS, JS & other page assets) • This needs to be done as quickly as possible after the redirects are in place • Make sure canonical tags reflect https versions (update hreflang and other meta tags too)
  27. 27. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential No. 6: Your credibility and user confidence trashed Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com • Your new HTTPS pages flagged as ‘Not Secure’ due to mixed content signals • Any page using an HTTPS address must have all of the content within coming from a secured source
  28. 28. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential How to avoid it Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com • Make sure you are hosting all resources on a secure source (images, videos, audio files, etc.) • Ask your SEO team to crawl your site and find these for you • Fixing the issue is often as simple as adding an “s” to links • Update your CDN URLs if you’re using one
  29. 29. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential No. 7: Make it easy for search engines Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com Don’t forget to move your sitemap.xml and robots.txt files You don’t want to rely on search engines to get things right
  30. 30. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential How to avoid it Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com • Create a new XML sitemap file containing the HTTPS versions of the URLs • Upload it in the main domain root folder • Submit it in the new Search Console & Bing Webmaster Tools properties • Add the sitemap’s location to the robots.txt file
  31. 31. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com Pro tip: Leave the original XML Sitemaps live on the HTTP version to be able to track the indexation status on Search Console
  32. 32. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential No. 8: Avoid unnecessary panic attacks Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com • Significant changes to your site can easily break analytics • You might see your traffic drop off a cliff, when in fact, that’s not really happening • You’ll lose visibility into how the migration is going
  33. 33. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential How to avoid it Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com • Use Screaming Frog to verify your analytics code is included on every page • Configuration > Custom > Search • Paste your tracking ID into the search box & choose to find pages which don't contain it • Ask your SEO team to carry out an analytics audit to your site, to make sure everything is in place
  34. 34. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential No. 9: Page speed elements not considered in the migration plan Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com • HTTPS adds another 2 steps to the process of how a browser and web server communicate • This occurs on all of your web traffic all of the time, so this exchange needs to be as efficient as possible • If HTTPS is not implemented correctly it can increase page load time and negatively affect the UX
  35. 35. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential How to avoid it Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com • Site speed performance should be a constant and this doesn’t make any exception • Use persistent connections so that a single handshake is done and lots of requests are sent over the same connection • Conduct page speed audits before and after the migration
  36. 36. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential No. 10: Bad timing? Don’t even think about it Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com No matter how organised you are, things can always go wrong It takes Google some time to register all the site changes and migrating in your peak period can result in significant traffic losses The migration shouldn't take place during busy times for the business or when time or resources are too tight
  37. 37. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential How to avoid it Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com • Migrate during weeks / months the revenue is at the lowest point, to avoid big losses • Pick the ideal time when everyone is available • Don’t rush it! Give yourself enough time to make all the necessary checks and tests • Make sure everyone is aware of their responsibilities before, during and after the migration
  38. 38. Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  39. 39. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  40. 40. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential Other Things To Consider Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  41. 41. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential Choose the right certificate for your site Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com This will vary depending on your site structure: • Single certificate: only one subdomain • Multi-domain certificate: a few subdomains (e.g., www.example.com and blog.example.com) • Wildcard certificate sites with dynamic subdomains. (e.g., site1.example.com, site2.example.com, etc.) Make sure it offers at least 2048-bit keys Certificates used to be expensive, now they’re free with Let’s Encrypt
  42. 42. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential Google Search Console & Bing Webmaster Tools Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com • Add the HTTPS version to Google Search Console and BWT • Verify both versions of the site within the same account • Be sure to verify your live HTTPS site address, and not the test one! Replicate old property configuration: • Submit the new XML Sitemap • Upload your disavow file • Update your URL parameter settings
  43. 43. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential PPC in a site migration Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com • Sending users to broken links will trash your Quality Score • Collect all the URLs used on PPC campaigns and redirect them • Attempt a transaction and ensure everything is being reported
  44. 44. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com Pro tip: Prepare paid ads targeting top organic keywords to put live if you run into issues after the launch
  45. 45. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential Link realignment Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com • Identify the most authoritative links in your backlink profile to be switched to the new URLs • Reach out to the site owners of the most valuable links and ask them to update their links • Update social profiles and ad campaigns too
  46. 46. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential To summarise Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  47. 47. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential This move is definitely worthwhile, and the sooner it is commenced with, the better Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  48. 48. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential The process is, however, fraught with challenges and difficulties Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  49. 49. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential But a carefully planned process involving stakeholders across different teams should allow for a successful migration Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  50. 50. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential There’s lots of moving pieces to a site migration but at the end of the day it’s all about clear goals, careful planning & clear communication between all the parties involved Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com
  51. 51. © Copyright 2016 Builtvisible. All rights reserved. Private and Confidential Gracias! Maria Camanes | Technical SEO Consultant | maria@builtvisible.com

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