Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

MY TEST: Does HTTPs really help with Google Search results?

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The Almighty Google previously announced that secure sites that have https will rank higher than others. Since my blog gets a lot of search traffic, I started considering whether or not I needed to get https/ssl set up on this WordPress site. It cost around $80 for the year through my host – Bluehost – which I didn’t think was too excessive, so I gave it a try.

Of course, I wondered if it makes a difference. So, using Google Search Console I reviewed my search rankings, impressions and traffic for the seven days before the switch and seven days close to after the switch. (First, I had to set up a new Google Search Console account for the https site, which I didn’t realize for a few days. That prompted the slight delay)

Recommended reading: Read more about using Google Search Console

The seven days right before the switch to HTTPs:

search-results-7-days-pre-https

2,865 clicks to the website from Google search after showing 56,229 times in results. That’s a 5.1 percent click through rate. On average, the blog showed in position 12.

A seven-day time period after switching to HTTPs:

The numbers improved. 3,519 clicks after being seen 66,656 times. That’s a 5.28 percent click through rate and my site was shown on average in position 11.

Top 10 posts before the switch to HTTPs:

 

top-10-by-search-results-pre-https

And after the switch to HTTPs:

Interestingly, in the No. 2 spot with 704 views is a post that was published after the switch. So maybe that post being published made up for the difference – which was 654 click overs. Hard to tell what would have happened had I not published it.

Listen to my podcast with Jeff Julian on the topic

Analysis: Is the HTTPs switch worthwhile?

The numbers might not seem huge, but 654 additional views from search results are massive over time. Remember, that’s just in one week and it’s an audience that is actively seeking out my content. They searched for it!

So, 654 x 52 weeks = 34,008 visits. A couple of years ago, that’s the traffic I saw all year on the blog. Let’s assume, this won’t be stagnant and since I’m creating even more content that will be found and traffic will continue increasing that 34,000 could easily turn into 50,000 and that’s just search. There’s still social, direct, email and other traffic to my blog, of course.

So, do I think it was worth it?

It’s really hard to say.

While it looks like the numbers and the rankings went up, the difference could have been made up by one new post that had a lot of initial search traffic. The rest of the Top 10 looked similar. If I was selling https licenses, I could certainly argue that way. If I was selling SEO and unique storytelling services I could argue that way.

In reality, it’s probably a mix. So, I hate to say it, but the evidence is likely inconclusive to crown just one winner.


Christoph

Christoph blogs on The Authentic Storytelling Project and is a globally recognized content marketing expert. The IMA named him Internet Marketer of the Year in 2015. He works with healthcare organizations and other brands around the globe.

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