I started weeding through my site's search results from Google today, using a site: search, to determine if there are any links that cause 404s and thus need redirecting. To my amazement I noticed numerous https:// results relating to various pages. My site doesn't have a SSL certificate, doesn't serve such pages, doesn't internally link to https:// pages, doesn't include any such files in its sitemap.xml and, for all of these, never has.

I decided to do a Google search for https://<my site> and found one site that incorrectly refers to the root of my site with a https:// prefix - I will try to contact them to get them to correct this.

I'm not sure however how Googlebot managed to index the non-root files as https://. I can't find any external links to them and surely, without certification, Googlebot should have stalled at the first request?

I've just added the following lines to the site's .htaccess (although the surfer still has to navigate through the browser's "This site is a security risk. Abandon hope all ye who enter here!" message(s) first to get there):

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} on
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.<my site>.org/$1 [R=301,L]
  • replacing <my site> with my domain name.

My big question is this though - I would like to use the Google Webmaster Tools Remove URLs feature to remove the https:// pages from the index. Can I be guaranteed that this will only remove the https:// versions of each relevant page and not the valid http:// versions?

My thanks to anyone who can help me out with this particular question and the issue in general.

2 Answers 2


HTTPS and HTTP are classed as protocols so they are not technically duplicate pages but rather than different protocols that can be used to access the page - so in terms of SEO its minimal effect but due to the fact you don't have a SSL may do but I doubt it. Most sites are accessible without valid SSL Certs and thats just the way they are setup and as said its a Protocol and not a page that is available though URL change.

I've myself had pages that appear in the Google results as HTTPs and is always if they find a link before they crawl your site, its not a big deal but removing it via Webmaster Tools will remove the page as the remove tool works on URLS and not protocols - so you are best of just waiting for the page updated with the HTACCESS which your've done. It'll take a month for Google to change it within the SERPS but Google will notice it way before then but put the page on hold from updating the index as they want to see if its a mistake - otherwise people would be complaining about losign their rankings from changing the HTACCESS and within days or a week the problem goes unnoticed and they lose the rankings. So it takes time.

Forget the webmaster tools, HTACCESS will do the trick in good time.

  • Your very welcome ;) Jan 29, 2013 at 20:54

There is a similar question in the Google forums. Google's John Mueller says that you should not use webmaster tools to try to remove an HTTPS version of the page from the index:

...please do NOT use the URL removal tool in Webmaster Tools for this. It can remove your whole site since it is not designed to resolve canonicalization issues!

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