By now, most SEOs have heard that moving web pages with forms to HTTPS is necessary to avoid being shown as “not secure” in Chrome 62.
By moving your site to HTTPS, webmasters will gain a number of benefits, but there is a unique SEO opportunity which is easy to overlook. If done properly, this opportunity can significantly help your website with its SEO rankings.
Moving to HTTPS encourages Googlebot to recrawl most of the URLs of your site. Googlebot has its own mechanism for determining and prioritizing which URLs to recrawl. But, if Google detects a move to HTTPS, it tends to increase the crawl rate in an attempt to crawl as many URLs as possible within a short time frame. As such, this is a one-time, and unique, opportunity to improve our website’s overall signals in the Google Index.
Most sites have a certain crawl rate, which is based on a number of factors such as page speed, internal linking, external linking and popularity. For those larger websites that have 100,000+ URLS, this typically means that it can take a while before Googlebot picks up on new SEO signals.
If you check the server log files of the last several years, you’ll see how many unique URLs Googlebot has attempted to crawl during this time frame. This is at least the number of unique URLs Googlebot knows about. Because of Googlebot’s prioritization mechanism, the SEO’s hands can be tied up a bit when it comes to making improvements, even though optimizations are still possible.
Any SEO with experience would love to ask Googlebot to recrawl their entire website after implementing SEO improvements. This is where the move to HTTPS comes in. If you haven’t moved your site to HTTPS, you’ll be presented with a unique opportunity to have your site recrawled. This means that you’ll want to implement some major SEO improvements right before you make the move.
Fili Wiese recommends the following steps:
- Perform an SEO audit as soon as possible. Keep in mind that it can take a few weeks to complete an SEO audit.
- Have a development team ready to implement the recommendations of the SEO auditwithout delay.
- Test your infrastructure for HTTPS and HTTP/2 (This can be done parallel during the SEO audit).
- Once the SEO audit has been completed and the recommendations implemented, then and only then, move your website to HTTPS.
Once the move has been made to HTTPS, Googlebot will recrawl most of your website’s URLs, which will have improved SEO signals at this stage.