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Drop in rank after implementing Https.

     
1:16 pm on Sep 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I am seeing a drop in rank in keywords that I wrote down their relative positions before implementing https. Now that I have done https on 8/29/17 (the correct way with 301 redirect, and removing all instances of http), I am seeing some keywords disappear from rankings, while others have reduced in rank, and some are in the same position before and after.

Is this normal? How long till the rankings return? Anyone have experience with this that has seen a similar thing happen to them?

I have read stories of some people switching back to http to get their traffic back after losing 40% of their traffic after 2 months of waiting for their rankings to return.
9:19 am on Sept 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm trying here to reconcile two sets of observations, or, if not, then to point out inconsistencies in the conditions which might cause different results..

keyplyr wrote...
Google made a very explicit announcement that using a 301 when securing protol has NO negative affect on ranking. It does not treat this like other redirects.
keyplyr, this was my understanding too, but I didn't have a reference. Assuming you've got it right, which I do assume, were there any conditions or restrictions on these redirects?... such as, that this applies as long as you don't otherwise make structural changes at the same time.

shaddows wrote...
...I am commenting, it is because I have experienced a ranking drop 100% of the time I have implemented https (once). Other people have noted the same.
Were there any other changes going on at the same time? I can imagine that if you're simutaneously changing your protocol, your site structure, the nav within individual pages, the urls, and possibly redirecting your backlinks as well, you are very likely to see changes for a while.

So, between these extremes, what were the differences? Were pages and categories dropped, and urls of dropped pages redirected to home. Why did one migration have no problems and the other one did?

As I read shaddows' list of possible 301 problems, it is completely framed as a set of caveats.
I do not necessarily endorse these positions, merely observe that they are ideas that are exchanged without significant challenge
I don't see how you could qualify these approaches more than that.

My thought is, though, that seoskunk transformed his impression of these (or similar) into a set of filters that plague all 301s, and that's what started off this section of this thread.

9:24 am on Sept 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Shaddows - Well if you are no longer making the argument that the 301 redirect to HTTPS has the same ranking loss as other page to different page 301 redirects, then yes.

BTW - 2 of the 30 sites I've upgraded to secure were on IIS. Both on shared hosting using Comodo certs offered by same host. Neither had issues.

@Robert Charlton - the announcement came from a Google spokesman and was generic and succinct. No conditions were mentioned. Somewhere in these forums is the exact quote w/ citation I think.
9:42 am on Sept 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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if you are no longer...
Seriously, how about "If you are not". That would at least acknowledge you have misread me, rather than implying that I had it wrong but have seen the light?

The context was why @Choiceed and @seoskunk believed 301s would automatically cause ranking drops, and my post contained the sentence:
I would go as far as to say that the general understanding is that 301 never retains all ranking juice, link or otherwise, except in a https change.

Anyway, moving on...
2... sites... were on IIS
Good to know. Did you implement HSTS, and if so, did you follow the Google recommendations as posted above?
9:54 am on Sept 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I have reread several times where you list beliefs regarding 301s not retaining link juice, etc. It is not clear to me that you do not agree with these beliefs when applied to HTTPS. If it was your intentions to list them but not endorse them, then that was lost on me, apologies.

Again, the IIS sites were on shared hosting accounts. Server administration is not available on these types of accounts.

[fix typo]

[edited by: keyplyr at 9:57 am (utc) on Sep 13, 2017]

9:55 am on Sept 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Found this:
Migrating from HTTP to HTTPS

If you migrate your site from HTTP to HTTPS, Google treats this as a site move with a URL change. This can temporarily affect some of your traffic numbers. See the site move overview page to learn more. [support.google.com]
[support.google.com...]

Then from the linked page:
2. Site move with URL changes
The page URLs change. For example:
  • The protocol changes — http://www.example.com to https://www.example.com
...
Expect temporary fluctuation in site ranking during the move.
With any significant change to a site, you may experience ranking fluctuations while Google recrawls and reindexes your site. As a general rule, a medium-sized website can take a few weeks for most pages to move in our index; larger sites can take longer. The speed at which Googlebot and our systems discover and process moved URLs largely depends on the number of URLs and your server speed. Submitting a sitemap can help make the discovery process quicker, and it's fine to move your site in sections.
[support.google.com...]

Edit - Formatting and attribution of second quote block

[edited by: Shaddows at 10:36 am (utc) on Sep 13, 2017]

10:03 am on Sept 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Well ranking, the topic, is a different metric than traffic, temporary or otherwise.

Odd that the discussion you quoted calls the protocol change a site move when Google says to not use the site move tool in GSC but instead create a new property.

What's the date on that page you linked? I can't see it from my phone.
10:26 am on Sept 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Can't see a date. It may not be recent, but no indication is isn't current.

Also found this:
FAQs for all site moves with URL changes
...
Do I lose credit for links when I redirect to new URLs?
No, 301 or 302 redirects do not cause a loss in PageRank.
[support.google.com...]
10:42 am on Sept 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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RE: date - was just thinking the terminology "site move" may have changed since then.

If someone asked me if updating protocol from HTTP to HTTPS is moving a site, I would answer no... your site is still in the same place, it's just secure now.
1:57 pm on Sept 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Yes, the site MOVED to secure. The URLS have changed. (http https). It is a site change.
11:52 pm on Sept 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Where are you getting this "filter" information seoskunk? Please post link to authority source.


Now thats the trouble with original thinking :)

I had exactly the same reaction when I read the post. The amount of misinformation and misinterpretation out there boggles the mind.


Nope I wasn't thinking of chained redirects, I am talking about a filter on links applied currently to https that does not seem to apply on non https sites. Based on observation and years of hearing one thing and Google doing another. Note I said "I believe....... " in original post.
1:08 am on Sept 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I am talking about a filter on links applied currently to https that does not seem to apply on non https sites.

Well if they filtered out links from non-secure sites to secure sites... LOL
9:22 am on Sept 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google's Gary Illyes confirms that any 301, 302, 3xx redirect does not lose any PageRank value
[searchengineland.com...]
9:58 am on Sept 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Ok, so as a summary so far, we should all be able to agree on the following (all assertions being linked to authoritative sources in this very thread, and assuming multiple members are not lying about their own experience, either for or against):

1) In all cases, 30x redirects retain 100% of pagerank (SEL, plus Google Support [support.google.com])
2) In all cases, site moves with URL changes "may" experience ranking and traffic disruption (Google Support [support.google.com])
3) HTTP -> HTTPS does not necessarily cause ranking changes (empirically, per keyplyr et al)
4) Implementing HTTP -> HTTPS can trigger ranking changes (empirically, per Shaddows, vphoner et al)

Now, Google reserves the right to vary ranks while it recrawls and reindexes, which means there is no requirement that there be a common cause for disruption, nor a foolproof way of avoiding that disruption.

However, it's an algo with scalability, which means that conceptually there should be difference in input leading to differences in output.

So, fellow disrupters, did you implement HSTS (and were you on IIS or Apache). And has any plain-sailors implemented HSTS, and if so, did you follow Google's slow-roll guidance?

[Edit- sourcing and formatting]
10:11 am on Sept 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I've decided to bite the bullet twofold. I'm switching from .com.au to .com as my site really doesn't need to be a country domain (long story as to how that happened). So I decided to move to .com and implement https.

I am the least techy person you could ever meet. I love to create great content, but I know very little about the rest. I have created a new WP site (that looks as good as the $700 site I recently paid for), and am moving it article by article. Probably not a good move, but I am terrified of big movements that may cause Google to strike.
10:46 am on Sept 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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and am moving it article by article

Ok, this is off topic, but what do you mean by that?

I ask because I worry you have multiple versions available. Additionally, how are you implementing your redirects one-by-one?
10:56 am on Sept 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I log into .com.au, copy the article, paste it into .com, re-upload the images to .com, redirect .com.au to .com and post the article to .com.

It's a long process, I don't have the skills to do it in one hit, and am terrified any changes will result in a massive Google beating. At least 5 or so articles a day means I can monitor and halt if necessary.

There's no duplicate content, I redirect immediately before I publish.
11:17 am on Sept 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If you haven't got too far with this then I would stop and leave the old site alone. You can change the international targeting setting in google's search console to downplay the .au

The reason I would leave it alone is because haven't you already had a ranking drop with that old site? (Maybe it was someone else I'm thinking about.) you're probably hoping things will improve with the move, but if it's exactly the same content then it will likely be a lot of work for nothing.

If it was me then I would either fix the old site, or - if you can't face that - then I would leave it alone and start a brand new site from scratch. You'll probably be more into it and enjoy it more if it's all brand spanking new
11:48 am on Sept 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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See, now we're way off topic. I sort of disagree with @londrum, as I think it is worth internationalising your site by losing the ccTLD.

However, I would definitely look at adding new compelling content, before moving the best of the old content across.

In terms of the technical move, it sounds like you are doing it sensibly though.
4:19 pm on Sept 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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From what I have read about the ranking losses people have experienced, many do recover over a period of a month or even 4 months. I will monitor my situation and report back if I get my rankings back and how long it took. Of course if google made a major change to to their algorithm since 8/29, that could also account for my drop.
6:58 pm on Sept 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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No HSTS implementation on my IIS-hosted sites (where migration to HTTPS has not gone well).
1:08 am on Sept 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Well if they filtered out links from non-secure sites to secure sites... LOL


Nope LOL thats not what I said - reread the post. I said there is a filter applied to links on https thats not being applied to non https.
I'm tired of being misread and misinterpreted so will leave the discussion. I wasn't talking about an internal transfer of links I was talking about inbound links from other sites. Time will tell - Time is on my side...... Oh yes it is
2:13 am on Sept 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I said there is a filter applied to links on https thats not being applied to non https.
Again, please supply the authority link for that statement. I have never seen any indication of any filter.
2:31 am on Sept 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm trying to make sense of something from the first page of this thread. Under what circumstances--other than pure, random coincidence--would your traffic be noticeably affected on the very day of a changeover (“Day 0”)?

-- search-engine referers? The SERP in effect on the day of your crawl is the result of crawls spanning prior days and even weeks, subject to algorithms that may be even older.

-- human referers from social media and the like? Humans won't even notice the change, unless there are severe access problems.

-- That leaves ... people trying as usual but not getting through? Only if (a) as suggested above, your visitors are using absurdly antiquated browsers, preventing them from loading your pages at all, or (b) there is some serious technical problem with your certificate, causing everything to load so slowly that people give up and leave.

I don't see it. If everything that can go wrong does in fact go wrong, you'd expect to see effects rippling outward for the next week-to-month. But not on the Day Of. It's not like a brick-and-mortar store where customers get tired of walking under ladders and following inaccurate arrows until they give up and leave without buying anything.
7:10 am on Sept 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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HTTPS, in and of itself, is a different kettle of fish compared to HTTP. Browsers and search engines treat it differently, and in some respect there WILL be a difference in outcomes. Yes, it's just a protocol, but it has to be admitted it is a protocol with TEETH. From an infrastructure point of view, there is no appreciable difference. In actuality there is a difference in MOVEMENT, the quality of the content/links (those that comply v those which do not and the USERS with and without). While from a theoretical point there should be no difference, in the real world these do exist.

The "authority" is "empirical evidence" (it is what it is). Sans that growing body of commentary, all the talking heads would be correct. g, of course, will never confirm or deny, it is not in their genetics.

Is it the fall off of outdated browsers which do not support?
Is it non-https links?
Is it site change? (move, new URL)
Is it something else?

Open to all the above, or even any other possibilities. We do have commentary from g itself saying there will some changes, but as usual it is not quantified or declared, hence the confusions. We also have on site reports of what happens (for some) after implementing.

Most likely there's a combination of all above in play. Either that or everyone is telling lies.... but for what purpose? Can't buy that as a reason so can only conclude that one opinion wants to ignore any other opinions and there we are.

If we really do want to help and share, the first place to start is by not telling folks they aren't seeing what they are seeing or accusing them of having failed in transitions, or their site was messed up before the change. Assumptions like that makes it impossible to go forward.

My two cents.

(Note: three of five sites recently switched to HTTPS were hit HARD, and I'm not stupid or unskilled after 25 years on the web. Working on the fallout from that, but that's a different story.)
7:42 am on Sept 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Is it the fall off of outdated browsers which do not support?
Is it non-https links?
Is it site change? (move, new URL)
Is it something else?


Another reason could simply be that there is an as-yet unidentified bug in Google's algorithm.
Though you might presume Google to be infallible if you believe the Google Apologists in this forum.

Anther reason could be simple coincidence: small websites have been receiving ever decreasing traffic from Google anyway, so this could just be a correlation.

Also, I have seen a reduction in referrals from G with EVERY site-wide update that I've made to my sites in recent years, so this could be related to that. Some observers have speculated that Google punishes unstable websites, to ensure that it only sends users to fully-working pages.

Finally, and this is pure speculation, but if Google can apply penalties to a website, perhaps it can also apply an artificial boost to websites that it has identified manually as having quality content. Perhaps a site move to https resets that artificial boost?
8:12 am on Sept 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Lucy
That's my quote, Day 0.

So, we're a reasonably sized ecom. We've been going for 15 years and have a team of content producers writing unique content for most (non-accessory) products, of which we have tens of thousands. We have hundreds of published articles, written in-house. We publish new content every day.

In general, published content is ranked within a few minutes. Changes are reflected within an hour.

We were genuinely not expecting any disruption, having read prevailing opinion in a number of places. If we did it again, we would do it in sections.

We made the change just before 09:00. By 15:00, our data was showing a quiet day. We did not tie the two together. The next day, traffic remained down, apart from Googlebot, who was having a field day.

Internally, we have been split as to whether the drop was related to the switch. However, as other reports grow, we are now pretty sure it was the migration. Given our recovery, I would suggest it was not a technical issue, or we would have had to roll back (though apparently our immediate implementation of HSTS would complicate that)

If anyone has done URL restructures, I would handle it like that, with the same expectation of disruption. That way, a painless experience is a nice upside.
2:28 pm on Sept 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Well if they filtered out links from non-secure sites to secure sites... LOL

seoskunk -- evidently you misunderstood my comment. What you said reminded me of an old idea that eventually google might give more weight to backlinks from https sites. So I wasn't agreeing or disagreeing with you, but merely adding my own speculation. Sorry for the confusion.
3:23 pm on Sept 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Quoting myself:
eventually google might give more weight to backlinks from https sites

Or alternatively, they might eventually give less weight to backlinks from http sites.

Or maybe google has already done this, without revealing it publicly.

I'm just putting this out as an example to show the possibilities. Obviously this type of change could have an effect on the search results.
4:09 pm on Sept 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I switched fairly busy site (million+ uniques per month) to https and have found a few days later all the evergreen content lost ranking despite 30, WM tools etc. About 300 of them all at same time. Though I fully expect them to go back up in a few weeks.
5:47 pm on Sept 15, 2017 (gmt 0)

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<tangent>
Googlebot, who was having a field day
When Google discovers that your site is reachable by HTTPS, it will re-crawl* the whole thing, top to bottom, exactly as if it were a whole newly discovered site. So that's to be expected.
</tangent>

Edit:
The next day, traffic remained down
Has enough time passed that you can see what GSC has to say? I think they lag about three days behind. Is there a visible downward hiccup in the impressions/clicks graph?

This is assuming that all your traffic comes from search engines. Was traffic from other sources affected as well?


* I would have thought that how soon it does the complete crawl depends on the site: 24 hours for me, 15 minutes for you. But it may be purely programmatic: “Check this out tomorrow”.
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