Google recently made waves on the internet when they announced they would now rank favorably sites that were secured by SSL.
You could see the tears of joy of the SSL business. Google just gave people an additional incentive to purchase SSL certificates but don’t get me wrong - this is very much a good thing for most sites and the internet in general.
Now, on the technical side of things, it’s not like this blog could benefit from SSL encryption all that much:
- There is no authentication (or any kind of forms for that matter)
- No transactions
- No customer or user information
- It’s entirely static html content (thanks Pelican)
By all means, if you’re hosting something like an e-commerce website or anything that doesn’t fit the description above, your site should already be secured by SSL !
Back to my blog: I figured.. “Eh, what the hell”. For 5$ you can get a basic SSL certificate nowadays. I got one and installed it, nothing hard for me to do there.
I made sure the certificate worked on the website right away and it looked good so I went back to other stuff.
Minutes later, I get notified by my monitoring that the blog is unreachable. Yeah, it’s not loading. Kind of weird, though, nothing is hitting my web server according to the logs.
I decide the turn off my free cloudflare service and the blog becomes reachable almost immediately. Well, isn’t that interesting.
It turns out you can’t have SSL with the free edition of Cloudflare. They posted on their blog about SSL but they leave out the fact that even if you provide your own certificate - it will completely break your site. They won’t tell you that it will break your site in their knowledge base either.
I figured it’s a good way to monetize their pro accounts. Good for them. I’m not going to complain about a free service. I stopped the Cloudflare service on my blog and left it at that - no big deal for me.
I’m not a SEO guru, I don’t make money off of my blog but it’s just cool to know that your blog is coming up when people search for their problems on Google - right ?
On the analytics side of things, there wasn’t much difference.
But Webmaster tools was painting a weird pattern: my search impressions and clicks were dropping like crazy. This couldn’t be a coincidence, it had to do with my recent changes related to SSL:
I turned HTTPS off, turned Cloudflare back on for two days. No difference, still headed towards zero impressions. I turn SSL back on and deactivate Cloudflare.
What rung me a bell is that the website I have in webmaster tools is (was) http://dmsimard.com. Could it be that Google treats the http and https versions of the same site as two entirely different websites ?
Oh man, figured out why the search impressions on Google for my blog was dropping like no tomorrow. I feel silly now.— David Moreau Simard (@dmsimard) August 23, 2014
The answer is yes.
I’ve added the https version of the site on webmaster tools and look at the trend:
The https version of the site wasn’t indexed or anything. I submitted a new sitemap, let’s see where this will lead us next.
This is why I like experimenting with my blog, it gives me first person experience about stuff I don’t necessarily get to do in my day-to-day job.
If you came to this article through the help of Google, perhaps turning the site to HTTPS helped you find it !