While migrating from HTTP to HTTPS, I am recreating all internal links and canonicals as HTTPS, but it is not clear what to do for external links.

Some links point to sites that support both protocols and some that redirect but even so, what is the best practice? For example, links to Twitter now get redirected to HTTPS even if the link is HTTP but both links work.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of changing external links to HTTPS?

  • What a change from a few years ago with HTTPS. Sites that don't support HTTPS are becoming the exception. It wasn't so long ago that mostly only banks and the portions of sites that handled payments did HTTPS. Sep 12, 2017 at 15:00
  • @StephenOstermiller - Indeed. Now we even get menaces from Google to change to HTTPS or they punish us with a warning! On Oct 27th, Chrome will issue a warning for text forms on non HTTPS and ironically, on most of my sites, the only one is a Google Search Form!
    – Itai
    Sep 12, 2017 at 15:18
  • 1
    When it comes to external links you can simply enter the url in your preferred browser and it will most often take you to the preferred version i.e. http/https/www/non-www etc. When page is loaded you copy the url from you browser and you will have the best (usually) url to link to. That is if they (external website) did their setup correct. That way you also discover redirects to new domains if that have changed. Very simple and effective. Sep 12, 2017 at 15:54

2 Answers 2


It's SEO best practice to link to external sites as https, if available. In practice, if they are handling their requests properly, an http should redirect to https anyway.

I don't really think it has much impact realistically though, and would use http when in doubt simply to avoid showing warnings to readers.

  • "when in doubt" - but is there ever any "doubt"? Presumably a URL is validated at the time you create a link to it? If a site later implements HTTPS then so be it - let the redirect take you there. (Or you implement a system that auto-updates links? Always best to avoid linking to a redirect if you can help it.)
    – MrWhite
    Oct 9, 2017 at 21:43

Link to http.

If you link to https and the target doesn't have an SSL certificate the user is going to get the Your connection is not private warning.

I can't speak for all sites, but any that I set up have the following in .htaccess to redirect http to https since I do have free LetsEncrypt certificates.

RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} =80
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\. [NC]
RewriteRule ^ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [R=301,L]
  • 1
    That code snippet is not correct as an HTTP to HTTPS redirect, it wouldn't redirect http://www.example.com/.... (I would guess you have another bit of code that precedes this that canonicalizes the www (and so resolves this issue), but then the HTTP_HOST check above would be superfluous?)
    – MrWhite
    Sep 13, 2017 at 0:43

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