HTTPS Protocol and Webmaster Tools, Some Things You Should Know
If you aren’t familiar with Google Webmaster Tools and you own a website, there are some things you should know. The best way to have your site show up on Google (and other search engines) is by following Google’s best practices. The only surefire way to know if your efforts are successful is by using webmaster tools, period.
You can use Google Analytics to track all sorts of things on your site. Have you ever tried to click on the search engine optimization tab under acquisition only to see nothing? If your webmaster tools account and analytics account aren’t linked you simply won’t get that data that you need. If you are running AdWords and you aren’t linked up… well you get the idea.
Mixing the “Secret” Sauce
If you read SEO blogs you will see that there are well over 200+ factors that make up your pagerank on Google. (Here’s one useful list of those factors from Backlinko.) Pagerank is a 1-10 scale, and an excellent benchmark of site health/visibility. With all of the recent news about internet security having a “secure” site is just one signal that Google uses to influence your page rank. By no means are we saying you should go out and get a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) for your site because you will get an instant boost in pagerank. That’s just not the case. However, for some sites it makes sense to go from HTTP to HTTPS.
If you do decide to add the SSL to your site you want to make a few changes to your Google Tools. First off, in analytics, go under the admin tab and change the following: adjust your property settings and view settings to use https://. Simple enough, right?
The Secret Ingredient
To make this work, go to the webmaster tools and verify the https:// version of your site. When you go to “add a site” you will see a dialog that says www.example.com. You will notice it doesn’t give you the option for http or https… don’t be fooled! Put in https://yoursite.com and then verify https://www.yoursite.com. Be sure to set the preferred domain under site settings.
Most blogs and resources will say that you don’t have to do this and that the http and https have no effect on reported data. With some of our own investigation, we discovered this may not be the case. In fact, on sites that had been switched over to secure versions there was a distinct drop off in data reported in analytics and webmaster tools until we verified the https versions, and then linked them to the view in analytics.
To tie it all together…
- If you use Google tools, you want to make sure they all talk to one another.
- If you switch from http to https you need to update settings in analytics.
- If you want the data to flow correctly you need to re-verify your site using the https version in webmaster tools.
- If you use AdWords you want to update all of your destination urls, don’t let the redirect handle it for more than a day or two.
If any of these terms or concepts sound like gobble-de-gook and you want a little more explanation feel free to give us a holla’ email@example.com. We are always happy to talk Google, data, marketing strategy, etc.