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In July, we changed our homepage to HTTPS via a 301 redirect from HTTP (the only page on our site with HTTPS). Even though we have significantly increased backlinks to our homepage, we have had no change in search ranking.

Do we need to submit a new sitemap or update our robots.txt file in order for Google to correctly associate our HTTPS homepage with our site?

We noticed that our Google Webmasters Tools account is not showing us any stats for our homepage so we added an HTTPS Google Webmasters Tools account in order to track info to the homepage. The HTTPS account ONLY shows us stats for the homepage which gives the impression it is reading our homepage as a separate site than the rest of our site.

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significantly increased backlinks quality links? also, linking to home page is generally seen as unnatural since most websites naturally have deeper links linked too, unless some tool or something is on the front page. –  bybe Nov 18 '13 at 20:07
    
Hey bybe, yes we have increased quality backlinks. All above board and from relevant sites in our industry. When we fetch google on our http webmasters account we are presented with the html of the 301 page - shouldn't it be presenting the actual homepage (https) when we send the fetch? –  user33692 Nov 19 '13 at 14:52
    
301 is expected since the fetch test uses http:// When did the backlinks get added? It can take months and months, and links get better over time. Also, home page linking regardless of what industry is risky and always some get ignored, especially if links are found in the footer etc etc. Reason I bring this up is many people just build links and assume that the rankings should improve while logically it should but not always. If your positioned 3rd for example... to become 2nd you might be really close, or really far away.. that element is always hidden from view. –  bybe Nov 19 '13 at 15:02
    
Not saying this is the case but its very unlikely HTTP / HTTPS has nothing to do with it. Google doesn't treat HTTPS any differently as from as I know, its not the same as having indexA.html and indexa.html since these are different URLS, HTTPS/HTTP is not different urls they are different protocols. –  bybe Nov 19 '13 at 15:06
    
Thanks for that bybe. 2 quick questions: 1) You don't think we need to submit a new sitemap that updates that we are no longer using the http for the homepage? Or including any of the new https pages? 2) Did you mean to say '....its very unlikely HTTP/HTTPS has anything to do with it' - meaning that you don't believe the http/https changes should have any effect on our rankings? Just clarifying. Thanks again. –  user33692 Nov 19 '13 at 16:20

1 Answer 1

HTTP vs HTTPS is a canonicalization issue. You should choose either secure or insecure and make it the canonical version. It sounds like you tried to do so with your home page and 301 redirects. In this case, I would suggest that you use a rel=canonical meta tag instead.

You also need to pay attention to how your site is linking to itself. If somebody visits the secure home page, make sure that they stay on the secure version of your site as they click around. Similarly, users without encryption should be able to click around without it unless they get to a portion of your site that would require it (such as checkout).

There is nothing inherently wrong with allowing Googlebot to crawl both your HTTP and HTTPS sites. That is a common scenario and Googlebot is well equipped to handle it. You may certainly register both versions in webmaster tools. I would only submit a sitemap for the one that you consider the canonical.

It also sounds like you expected the combined weight of the links into both versions of your page to boost your rankings once the two were combined. In my experience this doesn't happen. Possibly because your site was already getting the benefit from all those links because Google was already treating the HTTP and HTTPS pages as a single entity in terms of Pagerank.

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