Google states that they prefer HTTPS in canonical URLs:

Google prefers HTTPS pages over equivalent HTTP pages as canonical (ref)

What about the pages in sitemap.xml? Does it help SEO to use HTTPS URLs there as well?

I've searched Google and Yoast (SEO blog) but am unable to find an answer one way or the other.

  • I wouldn't think it would matter for SEO cause this is internal data, essentially. Since you are presumably serving everything via TLS anyway, it still shouldn't matter.
    – Rob
    Jul 9 '16 at 10:59
  • Sitemap URLs have to be absolute so one protocol needs to be clearly chosen
    – Drakes
    Jul 9 '16 at 12:37
  • Yes but you asked if you should use https and my answer is that, as far as SEO goes, it doesn't matter.
    – Rob
    Jul 9 '16 at 13:25

Your sitemap should include the links you want search engines to find and index. If you're providing HTTPS canonicals then this is what should be included in the sitemap. Giving a HTTP in your sitemap and a HTTPS in your canonicals & internal links could be misleading to search engines.

What you shouldn't do is include both. sitemaps.org answers that question:

My site has both "http" and "https" versions of URLs. Do I need to list both?


No. Please list only one version of a URL in your Sitemaps. Including multiple versions of URLs may result in incomplete crawling of your site.

  • I prefer people to visit HTTP URLs because of caching. I also want the SEO benefit of making HTTPS my canonical URL protocol. So, what do search engines prefer? This is all about SEO.
    – Drakes
    Jul 9 '16 at 12:42
  • 2
    Caching isn't a real issue; see this & this for reference. If you really want the benefit of HTTPS pages, make it all HTTPS and use that from now on. Jul 9 '16 at 13:22

If you run full SSL site then yes, you should use HTTPS for every link, anywhere and everywhere. This means all content, all menus, all XML, all RSS, all assets, all redirects, etc. And yes this does affect SEO because it's 1 less 301 redirect when they are put directly into SSL mode.

Google does not like to be redirected around too much. There are (un)official statements through the years that assimilate Gbot getting annoyed around 5 redirects. 0 redirects is better than 1 redirect, therefore better for SEO.

Another thought on SSL, imagine you have a platform that automagically updates urls when you change them on an item. There is an old link laying around somewhere that goes to a page/item that you have changed the url of like 4 times. When Gbot visits the old link, it's chained into https, followed by 4 redirs chained through the automagic 301 maker. You just hit 5 redirs. If your automagic url crafter had used https, you would still be "below the limit".

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