Congratulations, you’ve migrated your website from HTTP to HTTPs. Since Google released version 68 of their browser, Chrome, in July 2018, sites that haven’t migrated have been labelled as not secure. That’s incentivised many webmasters to make the change.
This article doesn’t provide a checklist for how to perform a migration that mitigates against potential drops in the rankings for your target keywords – it assumes you’ve already migrated (the first sentence was a bit of a giveaway right?).
However it does provide a list of tasks, along with step-by-step instructions, related to your Google Analytics (GA) and Search Console (GSC) properties, which may or may not have been completed as part of the migration. This completely depends on who performed the migration, their thoroughness and/or what was agreed.
By the way, did we say that we help website owners with their HTTPs migrations and that we take care of the following tasks, assuming the required access is provided?
We provide an explanation as to why each task is important. Completing these tasks will ensure the migration is reported, which will enable you to ascertain whether or not it had a positive or negative impact on your traffic – or none at all. And more importantly, you’ll have informed Google.
Let’s dive straight in.
Google Analytics (GA)
1. Confirm the change
Although it’s by no means essential to make this change, in that it’s not going to impact on the data being collected, since Google provide the option, it makes sense to do it!
- Login to your Google Analytics account, then click ADMIN
- On the Property column, click Property Settings
- Change Default URL dropdown setting from http:// to https://
- Hit Save
- Do the same on the View column, clicking View Settings.
2. Report the change
As with the above, this is optional, but we believe annotating changes like this is important, so you have the context for any changes in traffic before or after the migration.
- Go to the AUDIENCE > Overview report
- Click on tiny down arrow below the X axis
- Click on + Create new annotation
- Add annotation (something like, Migrated to HTTPs on ***date goes here***) to the date the migration was completed
- Decide if you want this to be Shared or Private and hit Save.
Google Search Console (GSC)
1. Create new properties
It is recommended, for reasons explained in this Search Engine Land article, that once you have successfully migrated, you should have four GSC properties, as below:
So you need to create any that don’t exist.
- Login to your Google Search Console dashboard
- Click ADD A PROPERTY (red button, top right). We use the HTML file upload method (Alternative methods) rather than the Recommended method
- Go through the motions of downloading and uploading the verification file, clicking Verify etc (note – you only need to download the file once for all properties you are creating, and that it might already be there if you used this method to create a property in the past)
- Repeat until you have created all four properties.
2. Create a property set
This ensures you have aggregated data from all four properties.
- Go to your Google Search Console dashboard
- Click Create a set (grey button, top right)
- Assign a Set name (your site name)
- Select the four properties (Member in set)
- Save changes.
3. Create and submit new sitemap via new AND old www. properties
This is to inform Google of the migration and all the urls for the new, secure pages. You shouldn’t do this unless you’re absolutely sure all redirects have been applied and all content resolves to a status code of 200.
- Copy the url (or the path to be specific) for your sitemap (if you have generated your sitemap using the Yoast plugin, you can get this via the General Settings page, via SEO in your WordPress dashboard, via the Features tab (as below)
- Go to your Google Search Console dashboard
- Choose your first property to submit from
- Go to Crawl > Sitemaps
- Click Add/Submit sitemap button
- Paste url/path
- Submit! (should show as pending)
- Repeat for any other properties.
Set preferred domain
- On your Search Console dashboard, select the property you want to be your preferred domain
- Click the gear icon, and then click Site Settings
- In the Preferred domain section, select the option you want.
Connecting GA and GSC
1. Link your new HTTPs GSC property to GA
If you have previously connected your GA account and GSC property, you need to unlink them, and link to your new www/HTTPs property. If they weren’t linked before, you simply need to link the two. Why is this recommended? So you can see some of the valuable Search Console data in your Analytics account.
You can find out whether or not they are linked by clicking on Search Console via the ACQUISITION menu in GA.
Finally it’s just a case of manually updating any links to their site in any other places to reflect the new HTTPs profile, e.g. social media accounts, email signatures etc.
And you’re done.
After completing these tasks we recommend our clients check in to GA and GSC over the new few days to ensure the data is being collected as it should. Always a good idea to check the Index Status and Crawl Errors reports at the very least.
Did I miss anything? It would be great to get your thoughts below.
Main image by Georg_Wietschorke