My SEL post, When Going HTTPS Don’t Forget About Local Citations, spurred a minor tempest in a tweetstorm, when a reader asked Googler’s John Mueller and Gary Ilyes for their thoughts. As you can see below John emphasized that “you don’t lose PR with 301s”:
Let’s say you have a business with 1,000 locations. Each location likely has 150 to 300 citations. So on the low end, this is 150,000 links for this site all going through a 301 redirect (at best). According to this Moz post about an accidental redirect test Wayfair.com conducted, they saw a 15 percent reduction in traffic, on average, after doing 301 redirects. In our thousand-location situation, that means we could be losing 15 percent of the traffic to each of these location pages. That’s a lot of traffic to lose.
I had said in the post that it did seem that lately Google has seemed to become much more forgiving about technical SEO screw-ups when going HTTPs and Google’s Gary Ilyes seemed to confirm this (read in reverse #TwitterUsability):
And in fact a recent massive switch from http to https citation links for one client site we did about a week ago appears thus far to have had little impact on SEO (the SEL post was already in the can before we had the data).
So Google may in fact have figured out how to better connect HTTP and HTTPS which may make it easier to deal with HTTPs migrations – and per John’s tweet we still think direct links from citations are better for all sorts of reasons – but just because they have fixed this for HTTP/HTTPS URLs, does not mean they have fixed it for all types redirects from citations.
And before we give Google a pass on the HTTP/HTTPS URLs thing let’s take a look at an organic traffic report of a client site that is HTTPS with HTTP URLs that 301 to their HTTPS versions.
The only thing that wasn’t HTTPS were their local citation links. They had thousands of local citation links pointing at their HTTP location pages. Around the time that Penguin 4.0 came out, Google switched a large number of their HTTPS URLs in the SERPs to HTTP and tanked their rankings for two weeks.
While Google eventually fixed the issue, I am guessing this was due to the fact that there were conflicting HTTP/HTTPS signals and Google still hasn’t ironed out all of the bugs with this HTTPS thing – nor will it ever given what Dave Winer has to say about software.
— ((Andrew Shotland)) (@localseoguide) October 31, 2016