I've recently set up SSL for a bunch of my domains using a Positive SSL Multi-domain certificate from NameCheap, my domain provider.

In the past when I was using single domain certificates, they would cover both the www domain and the non-www domain, like this:

  • www.example.com
  • example.com

I set up IIS so that all these URLs would redirect to https://www.example.com:

  • www.example.com
  • example.com
  • http://www.example.com
  • http://example.com
  • https://www.example.com
  • https://example.com

Everything was good.

Now, with the new multi-domain cert in place, I discovered that it does not cover the www subdomain and the non-www domain by default. My thought was to control this with redirect rules, just as I did above. However, I ran into an issue:

  • www.example.com works
  • example.com works
  • http://www.example.com works
  • http://example.com works
  • https://www.example.com works
  • https://example.com Shows Cert Error

I spent a lot of time modifying redirect rules to try to address this, but eventually came to believe that browser checks the certificate and shows the cert error page before the server is able to perform the redirect.

I could add more domains to my multi-domain cert to make sure it covers both the example.com and www.example.com for each respective domain. I have avoided this due to cost.

My question is: Do search engines care that https://example.com doesn't work? Will that affect search rankings for the overall domain?

  • Google will only care about the one that is indexed. Mar 9, 2017 at 20:39
  • @SimonHayter Thanks! If I speculate;since example.com doesn't work; then Google won't be able to index it; and it will not hurt index rankings at example.com ? Mar 10, 2017 at 1:45
  • Exactly..... :) But I do recommend that you redirect to the correct one if the website does work after a user accepts the exception, unless it goes to a holding page like cPanel does... for example like this one. Mar 10, 2017 at 10:37
  • @SimonHayter Yeah, I guess I gotta go add the uncovered domains to the cert. Thanks for the feedback. Mar 10, 2017 at 20:33

1 Answer 1


I don't think you'd see any direct SEO impact however provided your primary domain is working correctly, other than the fact that more people landing on error pages means less visitors reaching your website.

Depending on your hosting setup you may be able to ensure that the redirect still works with an HTTP 301 response without the SSL protocol - you'll have to test this and see. If you wish to ensure customers don't end up seeing an error message or landing on an error page though it may be worth considering including both variants in the SSL certificate. The cost is not so great if compared to potential customers lost on error pages.

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