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I did a full redesign of my website to make it responsive (bootstrap), added localization, and also switched the whole website to use HTTPS.

My website use to default to http://www.domain.com/ and now it defaults to https://www.domain.com/en/.

It's been 3 weeks since I made this switch and I have noticed a 80%+ drop in my "indexed pages" under my Google Search Console. Also, I made sure to apply the following when I made this switch.

  • Made sure to use 301 redirects
  • The re-designed site uses all proper and tags
  • XML sitemap is properly generated using tags and re-submitted to Google
  • I setup all the appropriate Properties in Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools for my new default loading URL

Is this 80%+ drop in "indexed pages" normal?

Should I be waiting longer to see if my website recovers?

Or should I revert back to "HTTP" again?

Thank you!

  • Presumably the "80% drop" is the sum of both the HTTP and HTTPS properties in GSC (formerly GWT)? – MrWhite Mar 3 '16 at 23:28
  • Answered your question below, did this two weeks ago. – CP3O Mar 4 '16 at 5:33
1

What I would suggest in your case is to have the HTTP and HTTPS versions of your site listed in Google Search Console with the crawl rate set to maximum and watch the stats carefully. If one set of stats goes up while the other goes down, then Google is understanding that you're transitioning from HTTP to HTTPS.

Another thing to check for is speed via webpagetest.org. with HTTPS, there's an SSL negotiation step that must happen before the first byte is sent to the user's browser. This step increases the TTFB (time to first byte). If you see that the time is too high (roughly over 200ms) then that will explain the drop in indexed pages. Google likes to index fast websites.

If you want to switch back to HTTP, then make sure none of the pages involve exchanging sensitive user data.

6

We just switched from HTTP to HTTPS two weeks ago, and after doing extensive research this is what we did:

  1. Added the HTTPS property to our Search console.
  2. Redirected HTTP robots.txt to HTTPS robots.txt.
  3. Placed a new HTTPS sitemap in the robots.txt, and removed the HTTP sitemap URL from robots.txt.
  4. Made sure that the old HTTP sitemap was intact, and made sure it was still existing in our HTTP property in the search console.
  5. Submitted the new HTTPS sitemap in the HTTPS property in the search console.
  6. Made sure the HTTPS sitemap was the only sitemap being updated with new URLs. (Stopped adding new URLs to the HTTP sitemap after the redirects.)
  7. Changed all canonical URLs to HTTPS.
  8. Made sure all 301 redirects were in order and a one to one mapping was intact for all HTTP -> HTTPS.

Currently we will keep the old sitemap for one month from the time of the switch. We can already see a decline in the number of clicks on the HTTP property, and a proportional increase in the number of clicks in the HTTPS property.

Here's what you should see:

Our Search traffic declining on the HTTP property.

Our Search traffic increasing on the HTTPS property.

  • What do you see for the "number of indexed pages" in Google Search Console? Would you say the total (HTTP + HTTPS) has remained about the same? (Which your search traffic graphs would seem to suggest.) – MrWhite Mar 4 '16 at 15:47
  • 1
    Yes it's definitely not gone down. It's about the same. – CP3O Mar 4 '16 at 16:46
  • Same here. We switched a bunch of ecom domains full SSL and saw the same change: http down as https up, same total pages indexed. I would suggest another step too: make sure dynamic links from the platform are rendering as https and not as http (causing un-needed 301 everytime they are clicked). Example is a platform generating main menu and lists with http links, but you're forcing https via htaccess. Google doesn't like to be redirected too much. Also you should consider HSTS to avoid server side 301 redirects from even happening...it'll be a 307 client side redirect instead. Saweet. – dhaupin Mar 4 '16 at 21:57
4

Are you checking the correct version of the search console? See the Google support site point 4: you need to add the https version as a new site. If you are still looking at the http version it's quite logical that the number of indexed pages is dropping as Google is indexing the https versions instead (which should be visible in the search console of the https version)

  • A very good point adding HTTPS site - I forgot about that step! – closetnoc Mar 4 '16 at 1:08
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This is completely normal. HTTPS is technically a completely separate site, though traditionally, it mirrors the HTTP site. However, search engines cannot count on that. Switching to HTTPS has a cost associated with it. This means that your site has to be completely re-indexed. Part of the reason is that the search index is ordered around URLs as a key. You are, in effect, using a whole new set of URLs.

Your best bet is just to be patient and let it ride.

1

Apart from all suggestions given already, you might want to check if your document is loading content over HTTP instead of HTTPS (also known as mixed content).

See also prevent mixing content

fundamentals/security/prevent-mixed-content/fixing-mixed-content

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