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4 replies to this topic

#1 woza

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Posted 12 March 2009 - 04:25 PM

Hi

I've been chatting to a friend who is pulling his hair out with his SEO company. After paying vast sums of money for months and getting very poor results with his chosen keywords he's starting to think he is been taken for a ride.

Basically his SEO company say they have put a whole load of resources into getting his site up the rankings and they couldn't understand why his site was not ranking better. Then about a month or two ago they said they had found the problem. When they did a site:www.exampledomain.com the top result was https:/ /www.exampledomain.com and he should get his webmaster to redirect the https to http as Google thinks the https version of his home page is the most important, yet all their links are pointing to the http version.

Taking the advise of the SEO company his web master put a line in his robots.txt saying Disallow: /https/ a few weeks passed and no change. And after checking the site configurations all seemed in order. Also home page links on the site point to http and the only place https pages kick in is the register and checkout pages.

So my friend then got a second opinion from another SEO company, who originally said they should do a 301 redirect. From https:/ /www.exampledomain.com to http:/ /www.exampledomain.com
Then after a closer look they changed their minds and said their was no problem as when you typed the domain and any of his home page keywords into Google it was bringing back the www.exampledomain.com (non https)version as the result.

So basically what we are wondering is a) does the the fact that Google returns the https version of the home page at the top of a site: search have any bearing on the sites ranking and the efforts the SEO company are making?
and cool.gif If it is a problem how to we fix it? I know how to do a 301 redirect for https to http across the whole site, but not just the home page.

Many thanks

Warren

#2 Randy

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Posted 12 March 2009 - 10:58 PM

Hey Warren.

QUOTE
Taking the advise of the SEO company his web master put a line in his robots.txt saying Disallow: /https/


First, that wouldn't even work as you laid it out. The https and http would have to be in separate directories and you'd Disallow: / in the https directory. robots.txt doesn't accept http: or https:. Just file paths.

This alone should tell you how much the original SEO knows and doesn't know.

QUOTE
So basically what we are wondering is a) does the the fact that Google returns the https version of the home page at the top of a site: search have any bearing on the sites ranking and the efforts the SEO company are making?


Hard to say. The two could be splitting link pop, which could "hurt" rankings of each version of the pages. And of course one could be seen as a duplicate of the other. So only one would show up in the listings. But if most of the links are pointing to the http version one would expect it to be the page that ranked. Unless (potentially) a high powered set of links point to the https version and the site doesn't link back to the http version of the page.

I for one would need to take a look at the details to give you a firm opinion.

QUOTE
and If it is a problem how to we fix it? I know how to do a 301 redirect for https to http across the whole site, but not just the home page.


Well the question becomes how sure are you that most links point to the http version of the site? And are you sure all internal links point back to the http version and not referentially to other pages that end up leaving the spider run going to the https version?

I can tell you how I handle http/https and it's really simple. I give the spiders a separate robots.txt for http and https, so that they never, ever, ever spider the https version. The .htaccess code I use is:

CODE
RewriteEngine on

# Exclude spiders from the SSL side of the site
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} ^443$
RewriteRule ^robots.txt$ robots_ssl.txt


http traffic gets the normal robots.txt file. Spider traffic to the https side of things get my robots_ssl.txt file, which simply says:

CODE
User-agent: *
Disallow: /


Meaning all ssl/https pages are off limits. Period, end of discussion.

If feel you need to redirect the home page back onto itself for https traffic you'll need to combine part of the above with a normal 301 redirect. For example

CODE
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} ^443$
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} ^/index\.php
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yoursite.com/? [R=301,L]


There's a lot going on there in a small package.
  • The first rewrite condition only tests true when it's an https secure request.
  • The second rewrite condition only tests true if the requested page (at the server level, not necessarily in the browser address bar) is the index.php file. If your default file is a different name you'd want to change that to match.
  • Then in the rewrite rule we're asking for the page filename and wildcarding it (the logic can only get to this line if it's an https request for the index.php file so we're relatively safe) and then hard codes the redirect to the non-secure http side of things.
  • The question mark at the end of the new url address will strip off any query strings. Which is usually what you want.
Make sense?

#3 Alan Perkins

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Posted 13 March 2009 - 04:52 AM

Hi Warren

QUOTE
Taking the advise of the SEO company his web master put a line in his robots.txt saying Disallow: /https/


This is truly awful advice and, as Randy pointed out, a sign of great incompetence. That's if it's correct as you wrote it. In SEO, sometimes things get lost in translation...

The rest of Randy's reply is good and will work perfectly, but it possibly won't give you the greatest ranking benefit. If the https domain is showing up high in a site: request, it's certainly worth trying to channel the Pagerank it contains into the http domain. You can use 301 redirects to achieve this, or you could try using the new rel=canonical tag. Matt Cutts explains more about that tag here:

http://www.mattcutts...nical-link-tag/

At a minimum, you should place this tag in the head section of your home page:

CODE
<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.mysite.com/" />


Obviously, insert your actual site name in place of www.mysite.com.

#4 qwerty

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Posted 13 March 2009 - 09:03 AM

QUOTE
If the https domain is showing up high in a site: request, it's certainly worth trying to channel the Pagerank it contains into the http domain. You can use 301 redirects to achieve this, or you could try using the new rel=canonical tag.

If they were to use the 301 option, wouldn't that just annul the point of using https? After all, spiders wouldn't be the only user-agents that got redirected.

#5 Alan Perkins

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Posted 13 March 2009 - 01:30 PM

QUOTE(qwerty)
If they were to use the 301 option, wouldn't that just annul the point of using https?
It would if EVERY URL was redirected. smile.gif

Typically, though, a site will serve all insecure content off both http and https, and all secure content off only https - whereas the ideal solution is all insecure content served off http, and all secure content served off https.




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