The use of secure protocol by a website – as evidenced by the HTTPS designation and the presence of a security certificate – is a priority for search engines. But recent changes to Chrome also make it important for web browsers.
HTTPS and Browser Behavior
Google's attack the security challenge on the web via its Chrome browser. This week, the Chrome team announced that all HTTPS-free web pages will display a label "Unsecured" in Chrome 68, which is scheduled to launch in July 2018. Previously, the label "Unsecure" was reserved for form fields, such as password connections, basket extractions, and site search fields.
Although browser behavior is generally not considered natural search marketing, it does affect the perception of researchers about the quality of your business.
Natural search is a great way to expose more people to your brand and rekindle the interest of those who have already read it. The experience they encounter when visiting your site will create a strong impression.
See a warning in their browser stating that the site is not secure may signal that it is unsafe or of poor quality. This could cause the researcher to leave and choose a competitor. In addition, an increase in rapid rebounds could result in a decrease in rankings in search engines, based on the assumption that researchers do not find what they want.
Thus, a change in security labeling for a popular browser like Chrome could have an impact on natural search performance.
In addition to Google's Google warnings, Safari and Firefox, the other major browsers, also provide security signals in their address bars.
Google has long made its voice heard in favor of a safer Internet.
The Google listing associated with HTTPS relies solely on the presence of the letters "HTTPS" in the URL, as opposed to the presence of a valid certificate. This means that even insecure pages could receive a ranking boost if they hide behind an HTTPS mask. This seems to be a fairly small effort on the part of the search giant, but it has apparently decided to focus on other areas of the algorithm.
Yet in the competitive world of search engine optimization, even a little boost in rankings could give you ahead of a competitor and create additional natural search revenue.
Bing, the world's second largest search engine for desktop and mobile devices combined, sees site security as a matter of owner choice rather than a ranking signal. Bing would not provide, it seems, ranking for HTTPS.
Migration to HTTPS
Migration to HTTPS is not as simple as buying a security certificate. Everything from images to links to 301 redirects is involved. The process is often complicated.
Much of the complication involves SEO because migration should preserve organic rankings. It must be treated like any other URL changes or technical migration. Search engines regard HTTP and HTTPS as different URLs. Thus, HTTP and HTTPS can be indexed simultaneously and create duplicate content that rivals for rankings and spreads the link authority between different versions of the site.
As such, be sure to register and verify in Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools the HTTPS versions of the site and all subdomains, including www and non-www. Search engines use these tools to send you messages about the performance and crawl capacity of your site, which will be of vital importance during the migration.
For a much more detailed list, see the excellent article by contributor Hamlet Batista, "SEO: How to Migrate an Ecommerce Site to HTTPS."