We recently hired a SEO company to help us promote our site. Due to the sensitive nature of some of the data we work with, we made the decision long ago to place our entire forms system under https pages, and force any page a form is placed on to redirect to its SSL-secured URL. With that in mind, a few of our forms (notably contact forms) are placed on pages that need to be visible in search engines.
We've been told that search engine spiders won't crawl these pages since they're on https, and that if we want these pages to rank in searches we must remove the SSL requirement. However, this will involve a fairly significant time investment, as we will have to remove the SSL redirect code from the form system code and re-apply it to each form that needs it, which will require a manual review of around 80 forms.
Essentially, I'd simply like to get a second opinion: does SSL indeed prevent search engine crawling on those pages? It seems like not spidering SSL-secured pages would leave a huge hole in search engines' data; wouldn't they want to crawl as many pages as they possibly could? I know SSL imposes some additional overhead both server- and client-side, but it seems like search engines would be willing to overlook this in return for the benefits of having that many more pages available to them.