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I would like to set up a new business site. I plan to direct www.example.com to example.com and only use that domain. My plan is also to only use https and not http. Does this affect the SEO for the site? E.g. do Google put lower or higher rank for sites that is only available via https?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Google doesnt care, but it may be a waste of your bandwidth.
The common approach is to use non ssl on pages where data is not entered into forms or form values are processed and ssl on pages where they are.

Google sees an https:// and http:// request as the same. But will see the www.example.com and example.com as two seperate sites.

Most sites just use the https:// on pages where user logs in, gives credit card, edits his/her information etc. On pages where someone just reads iformation such as home page, or terms, or privacy policy, blog artices and so on its best not to force https.

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Thanks for the clarification. The site will have some information and a login form at the startpage and while logged in the data will be secret, so I will go with only https. –  Jonas Oct 18 '10 at 11:55
I make sure that all files come from an https connection, images, css etc, the reason for this is IE loves to put out messages that some files are not secure and that scares some users off. --- Another approach is the use an Iframe for the login box, and have the rest of the site load in standard http. the drawback is that the user wont see the https lock on their url, the positive is that it will be secure, and only use https where its needed. www.chase.com uses this approach. –  Frank Oct 18 '10 at 11:58
chase.com is an awful example. they don't even allow special characters in their passwords. && also, google does not have to see www.d.com and d.com as two different sites if you tweak google analytics a little. the google analytics help tells you exactly how to do that. –  robertpateii Oct 18 '10 at 12:46
@danlefree That is only relevant for the URL removal tools (where users want to remove content that's already removed or blocked). For web-search in general, URLs with or without "www", or using https:// or http:// are all considered unique, so using canonicalization techniques is a good idea. –  John Mueller Oct 19 '10 at 10:30
@Frank Yes, I'm certain that Google treats http and https URLs as separate URLs for crawling, indexing and ranking (I work with the web-search team here at Google). Doing canonicalization with a 301 redirect like you mentioned is a great way to solve this :) –  John Mueller Oct 23 '10 at 18:25

Check Majestic hitorical back links to each and you will see it does make a differentce

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What do you mean by "Majestic"? –  paulmorriss Oct 23 '12 at 14:06
Welcome to W.SE, Gary - please revise your answer to explain what you mean; also to correct your spelling... –  Andrew Oct 25 '12 at 14:00

It is my experience that offering a page only via HTTPS sometimes leads to problems.

We had the problem that Digg.com doesn't like our page via HTTPS, and thus we couldn't add our page to Digg. There are some other examples where we had similar problems. If you consider that a link from Digg may be part of your SEO work, HTTPS-only mode may be bad.

Also, some (maybe older) web crawlers don't like HTTPS (you can see that in your logs if you offer a redirect).

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From an SEO standpoint, it's not necessarily bad to force HTTPS. From a User Experience perspective however, it's usually not a great idea. Forcing HTTPS will use more bandwidth, and more resources on your server, which will result in a someone degraded User Experience. This could potentially cause your site to have a higher Bounce Rate, which in turn can lead to your site ranking lower. As John Mueller pointed out above, HTTPS can also cause some scary warnings to pop-up which could scare away potential users, and also further increase the Bounce Rate.

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