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Moving a website HTTP to HTTPS with Web Master Tools

blog-http-to-https

Moving a website HTTP to HTTPS with Web Master Tools

July 23rd 2015

As many of you know Google now gives a search engine optimization (SEO) ranking benefit to SSL/Https secured sites. So I am in the process of moving all my sites to this and encouraging my clients to move their sites as well. This is even including sites that are not transferring sensitive data or are e-commerce (traditionally what TSL/SSL was used for). All new successful sites we will push to be https as well from the start.

So Google has a page that walks you through everything you need to do here:
https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6033049?hl=en
Go to it – follow it.

The purpose of this post is to deal with the question many will have and is not really clearly (we wrote to them asking to fix the article – so it may be updated) answered in the Google article.

Google writes:

If you haven’t already, verify you own both the old and destination sites in Search Console. Be sure to verify all variants of both the source and destination sites. For example, you should verify www.example.com and example.com, and include both the HTTPS and HTTP site variants if you use HTTPS URLs.

Our questions then:

How do I verify the variants of http and https?
Where do I go in webmaster tools to verify and transfer my site to https?
Are http and https sites seperate sites and do I need to have seperate accounts in web masters tools search console?

Answer:

Google Webmaster Tools treats https:// and http:// as separate sites. You need to add them seperately. So in other words if you already have an http site and you make the move to https then you need to go into WMT and create a new https site and verify that. Having followed the stepts in the Google article above as well and making sure to create an https specific site map.The sitemap needs to point to the https urls.

So:

  1. Follow Googles and other prep advice (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6033049?hl=en)
  2. Create the https site in GMT
  3. Verify ownership
  4. Submit the updated https sitemap
  5. Test and submit the robots.txt
  6. Fetch as Google and make sure you are green.

A user (John Mueller) on stack exchange summarized it well:

If you have both http and https then you need to add both as separate sites in GWT and verify them both. Https might just be a different protocol but it’s technically possible to serve entirely different content from each. Likewise, an xml sitemap cannot contain both http and https urls, however if you have verified both in gwt then google lets you.

Which brings us to another question?

Do I need to update Google Analytics if I move a site to https/SSL?

Yes in our experience the sites we tested worked in Google Analytics automatically for a while – then as the redirects took hook that dropped off. We recommend going into GA once you have made the transfer set up the https version and view the “Real-Time” data and make sure you see yourself or someone showing up live in GA. Also monitor it closely the next days to make sure traffic doesn’t disappear or some other suspicious oddity doesn’t occur from the transfer. We have not as of yet seen a method to transfer without creating a new property. Let us know if you of one please.

Thanks for reading and let us know if you have any questions or comments.

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