Okay, hear me out. Just a couple months after pontificating about how little https matters to blogs, I went ahead and switched my blog over to https anyway. Why would I do such a thing?
First, let me reiterate my position that I continue to stand by: If all you’re doing is blogging, there is very little reason to support https. Remember, https does not “hack-proof” your web site. It doesn’t make it impenetrable. The SSL certificate that implements https simply encrypts the data transferred to and from your site. Unless you’re asking for or displaying sensitive information, SSL is rather optional.
So…if it’s not a big deal for blogs to support it, why did I just switch over?
Why I switched over my blog to https
I switched to https for two primary reasons: Opportunity and curiosity.
I recently switched web hosting providers away from Digital Ocean – but, not because I didn’t like Digital Ocean. I migrated away because of several other factors with my new web hosting provider that I will discuss in a future article.
Anyway, this new web hosting provider offers built-in support for Lets Encrypt, which is a free provider of SSL certificates. The bottom line is this: If I were to ever support https on my site, this migration over to my new hosting provider is the best time to take the plunge. It was insanely easy to “turn on” SSL support. Doing the switch now just made sense. It was dirt simple and pre-configured.
The larger component of the switch was sheer curiosity. For example, I’ve heard that the switch can temporarily reduce your Google search engine rankings because Google considers http and https to be two different web sites. In theory, this could mean essentially starting over with SEO rankings if you’re already established as a blogger and enjoy a large following.
You’re re-submitting your sitemap through Google’s Search Console. Google can take days, weeks or months to re-index your content. You also need to 301 redirect all your old http-based links over to their https versions.
Also, I have read that a switch over to https reduces Adsense revenue.
I am most curious about how this switch affects well-established blogs, such as ThinkSaveRetire.com. It’s one thing to start a new blog with https support out of the gate, but quite another to make the switch to an established web presence.
Luckily, I don’t care about my SEO rankings. I’m not in this to run the biggest blog. I don’t care about ranking #1. The extra change is great, but Adsense revenue won’t exactly make or break my retirement. In other words, the https risks weigh very little with me.
I want to see if the rumors are true. Will this switch improve my SEO rankings in the long run? How much of a pain in the ass will it be to make the switch from a technical perspective (as it turned out, very little)? How much of a drop to my Adsense revenue?
This source claims that your SEO will increase over time, exceeding the point at which you made the switch.
I’ve read about other people’s experience in the past. But, I want to see for myself.
The goal: An authoritative article
In the future, I want to write an authoritative article on the effect that https had on my well-established blog. I will continue posting articles as usual. All old links that used http have been re-written to https. A new minty-fresh sitemap has been sent over to Google. I’ve done everything that I believe needs to be done for this test to serve as a realistic representation of what it’s like to make this switch to a semi-popular blog.
If this turns out to be a huge mistake, trust me…I’ll give it to you straight. I’m not above admitting to my mistakes.
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.