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HTTP to HTTPS and Back within 2 weeks. SEO implications?



4:03 pm on Dec 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi all,

A large, established website made the decision to change all urls from HTTP to HTTPS. They did all the right things with 301 redirects and canonicals. But now they want to return to HTTP. So the site would go from HTTP->HTTPS->HTTP in a matter of two weeks.

This sounds like a disaster to me. I don't want to get into why they went to HTTPS and why they want to go back, as its a different discussion. I am interested in reporting the likely effect on google search results to them, and understanding any mitigation if they do proceed.



12:06 am on Dec 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

How big is the site?

I would do the analysis to see how many URLs with https are now indexed and how many remained http. Since it seems that there are less than 2 weeks passed since the move to https, Google may still have a fair amount of http pages in its index.

My experience in cases like this is that if they are quickly reverted, and revert is done technically correctly, there is no long term damage, although it may take Google some months to sort it all out.

If change back to http is preferred, then in this case I would:

- Remove the 301 redirect http --> https
- Change back the canonical link element to http at the same time
- Introduce redirect https to http at the same time
- TEST it all works as expected
- Go to Google Webmaster Tools, do Fetch as Googlebot of the http home page and submit the page and all linked pages to index

Google is *usually* forgiving in cases like this one, although there are always risks involved.

A gut feel tells me that it would be worse to wait some months for Google to fully index https and then revert back to http, but this is just a gut feel.


12:27 am on Dec 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thank you very much for the detailed response. The site is 100K+ pages, so i think you are right on the indexing.


1:40 am on Dec 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

There is one more thing I forgot: if you have a sitemap.xml, do not forget to update sitemap.xml to http version of URL and I would then re-submit sitemap.xml via WMT.

If you do not have sitemap.xml, it may be a good time to submit one (with http in URLs submitted). It may emphasise the signal that http is the format you want.

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