One would think that linking to HTTP pages might be seen as a negative quality of a page because it might seem like a negative user experience.
Difference Between HTTP and HTTPS
HTTP is a protocol (a system made up of rules) for transferring data from a server to a browser.
HTTPS is a secure version that verifies to the user that the site they’re visiting is protected and can be trusted with sensitive information like passwords.
HTTPS is a Ranking Signal
The secure HTTPS protocol is a known Google ranking signal.
Google announced in 2014 that HTTPS is a ranking signal.
The announcement stated:
“Beyond our own stuff, we’re also working to make the Internet safer more broadly. A big part of that is making sure that websites people access from Google are secure.
For these reasons, over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms.
We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.
For now it’s only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content —while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS.
But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”
The fact that HTTPS is a ranking signal provides the background for the question about linking out to insecure HTTP pages.
If secure webpages are important to Google, then it follows that the linked sites should also be HTTPS.
But that’s not necessarily the case, as Mueller explains.
Is It Bad to Link to HTTP Pages?
There are many reasons why linking to an HTTP page is not recommended.
But the question was limited to understanding if there was a negative impact on SEO from linking to insecure webpages that only use HTTP.
This is the question that was asked:
“Does it affect my SEO score negatively if my page is linking to an external insecure website?
So, on HTTP, not HTTPS.”
Mueller answered the question by clarifying that there’s no such thing as an SEO score and then reinterpreting the question to what he believes the question is.
“…first off, we don’t have a notion of an SEO score.
So you don’t really have to worry about kind of an SEO score.
But regardless, I kind of understand the question is like, is it bad if I link to an HTTP page instead of an HTTPS page.
And from our point of view, it’s perfectly fine.
If these pages are on HTTP, then that’s what you would link to.
That’s kind of what users would expect to find.
There’s nothing against linking to sites like that.
There is no kind of downside for your website to kind of like avoid linking to HTTP pages because they’re kind of old or crusty and not as cool as on HTTPS.
I would not worry about that.”
Linking to HTTP Pages Okay?
Mueller affirmed that it’s okay (for SEO reasons) to link to another site using the HTTP protocol.
However, HTTP offers no verification to the browser that the server responding to a request for a web page is the correct server.
In the past, many web publishers dragged their feet on adopting the HTTPS protocol because they felt it was only necessary for banks, hospitals, shopping sites, and other businesses that dealt with sensitive user data.
But that’s no longer the case because websites using HTTP protocol can be attacked, with unintended consequences resulting to those websites that can affect their bottom line.
Over the years, hackers have developed ways to trick site visitors into believing they are accessing a specific website. Once tricked, the hacker will do things like obtain bank passwords and other sensitive data.
DNS hijacking, man-in-the-middle attacks, and domain spoofing are some of the exploits that can happen when someone visits a site using an insecure HTTP implementation.
So it may be a best practice (for user experience reasons) to identify outbound HTTP links and check if the linked site uses HTTPS. If it doesn’t then it might be helpful to find a better site to link to if a visitor’s user experience and security are important to you.
Site visitors following a link from a secure site to an insecure one and confronted with a browser message that a website is insecure may start to question if the secured site is trustworthy after all.
There are more things to consider than the impact on SEO.
Will Linking to HTTP Have a Negative SEO Effect?
Watch Mueller answer the question at the 07:35 minute mark.
Featured Image: Screenshot from YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral, July 2022.
Balancing paid and organic search strategies for optimum success
- Even though it is evident that SEO and PPC are great tools, these two disciplines work in silos
- In fact, these teams and channels mostly work on their own in silos and are often handled separately
- Accenture Song’s SEO Manager, Michael McManus discusses how businesses can combine paid and organic SEO to function as one value-add unit
SEO and PPC are a must-have in your arsenal when planning your marketing strategy. Depending on what they are looking to do, most companies tend to choose one over the other, if they are looking to increase their rankings and get traffic from organic search, then they will go with SEO, whereas PPC focuses on getting instant “paid for” traffic from such areas as search, social, and display.
Both SEO and PPC are great tools to boost your site/brand’s authority as well as help generate more traffic and sales for your business. But these two teams/channels tend to work on their own in silos and are often handled separately.
Now while both of these options can and do work well on their own, having both teams work together can be a powerful strategy for any business. Instead of working apart and potentially fighting for budget, time, resources, and rankings. By bringing both departments together so that they can collaborate and work as one, they will benefit from different insights and learnings that they would otherwise not get on their own. These insights will allow them to produce amazing results in both campaigns.
These two marketing channels aren’t meant to operate independently, yet that is the case almost every single time. But instead of looking at both channels as separate entities and you bring them together, you’ll see that they can help you achieve better results across the board than having them work on their own.
The data and insights that you can get from PPC campaigns are extremely insightful and powerful. When you take that data and combine it with your SEO strategies, it will give you the insights that you can use to create content that will make a big difference to your organic search traffic.
Balancing organic and paid search strategies for optimum success is a key challenge and lots of businesses need to catch up as they are typically only using one of these strategies.
How SEO and PPC can work together to boost your business
Along with large amounts of keyword and conversion insights that SEO can use by working with PPC, another huge benefit that companies can achieve when they bring both SEO and PPC together is the potential to consume a large portion of the SERPs, where they can showcase ads at the top of the page while owning the organic listings below.
This is something that shouldn’t be overlooked as it gives you more chances to capture the user, who might be looking for your brand or something that your brand has to offer. For example, let’s say you are running PPC and SEO campaigns separately and a user does a search and your ad appears, but they skip over it and go right to the organic listings but you are not showing up for that particular search, you are potentially missing out on capturing that user.
So now if you are using both PPC and SEO together and you use your PPC data to gather insights as to what the users were and are searching for, where your ads are showing, but not your organic listings. You can then take that data and start to create great content for those terms and optimize your site for that phase of the user’s journey. Now you can potentially have your site’s PPC ads showing at the top of the page as well as your site showing up below those ads in the organic results. This means that if a searcher were to skip over your ad and go directly to the organic results, your site will also be listed there winning you greater brand discovery.
Bringing both PPC and SEO together and working side by side, and taking over the SERPs for a given keyword will not only allow you with getting more exposure than what you would get if you only used SEO or PPC, but you now also increase the visibility of your site and the chances that a user will click over to your site.
Another added benefit from combining both SEO and PPC and taking over the SERPS is that users, searchers, and potential customers are more likely to see value and trust in a brand that is well represented across the SERPs.
If you were able to help guide and encourage users to click through to your site, wouldn’t that be an effort worth the implementation?
Getting SEO and PPC to work for you
Well, you might be asking yourself “ok great now I know that I need to have both SEO and PPC work as one, how do I go about this?”
Here are some practical tips to have both SEO and PPC work together.
Keywords are important to both SEO and PPC as each one is reliant on them to help with creating the proper content for each strategy. They are both going to want to target the proper and relevant keywords in order to show up in the SERPs when a user is searching for information, shopping, looking for a brand, etc.
Using the keyword data and insights from your PPC campaigns and providing that information to your SEO team, will allow them to then create content that a user is searching for and thus be able to be in front of the customer throughout their journey.
Paid social media ads as well as retargeting ads are a great way for you to get your content shared across different platforms that will help with getting backlinks that will help your site’s content rank organically. While this is happening, you can create retargeting ads that will help to capture users’ attention once they have left your site.
As we mentioned earlier, PPC campaign data has a plethora of information that you can use to help create highly targeted content to help get your site’s pages to rank organically. From your PPC campaigns, you’ll be able to see things like keyword search data, impressions, CTR, and so much more.
This will allow you to better optimize your site’s content and create content that might be missing, as well as help with creating highly targeted and optimized page titles and descriptions.
It’s no longer about SEO vs PPC anymore, or at least it shouldn’t be after reading this article. Now that you are aware of the potential benefits of combing both your PPC and SEO efforts, it’s time to go out and implement this new strategy.
Armed with all the data that you have at your fingertips from your PPC campaigns, use this new data and insights to help with creating better SEO strategies, that will give you a competitive advantage and help you with reaching your customers at every step of their journey.
It’s time to stop treating SEO and PPC as silos and time to bring them together so that your site can benefit from the added data and insights so that your site can dominate the SERPs.
Remember SEO and PPC are each other’s most powerful tools.
Michael McManus is SEO Manager at Accenture Song. Michael has hands-on expertise in branding strategies, website structure/architecture and development, SEO strategies, and online marketing campaigns.
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