Secure your site with HTTPS
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is an internet communication protocol that protects the integrity and confidentiality of data between the user's computer and the site. Users expect a secure and private online experience when using a website. We encourage you to adopt HTTPS in order to protect your users' connections to your website, regardless of the content on the site.
Data sent using HTTPS is secured via Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS), which provides three key layers of protection:
- Encryption: Encrypting the exchanged data to keep it secure from eavesdroppers. That means that while the user is browsing a website, nobody can "listen" to their conversations, track their activities across multiple pages, or steal their information.
- Data integrity: Data cannot be modified or corrupted during transfer, intentionally or otherwise, without being detected.
- Authentication: Proves that your users communicate with the intended website. It protects against man-in-the-middle attacks and builds user trust, which translates into other business benefits.
Best practices when implementing HTTPS
Use robust security certificates
You must obtain a security certificate as a part of enabling HTTPS for your site. The certificate is issued by a certificate authority (CA), which takes steps to verify that your web address actually belongs to your organization, thus protecting your customers from man-in-the-middle attacks. When setting up your certificate, ensure a high level of security by choosing a 2048-bit key. If you already have a certificate with a weaker key (1024-bit), upgrade it to 2048 bits. When choosing your site certificate, keep in mind the following:
- Get your certificate from a reliable CA that offers technical support.
- Decide the kind of certificate you need:
- Single certificate for single secure origin (
- Multi-domain certificate for multiple well-known secure origins (for example,
www.example.com, cdn.example.com, example.co.uk).
- Wildcard certificate for a secure origin with many dynamic subdomains (for example,
- Single certificate for single secure origin (
Use permanent server-side redirects
Redirect your users and search engines to the HTTPS page or resource with permanent server-side redirects.
Verify that your HTTPS pages can be crawled and indexed by Google
- Use the URL Inspection tool to test whether Googlebot can access your pages.
- Don't block your HTTPS pages by robots.txt files.
- Don't include
noindextags in your HTTPS pages.
We recommend that HTTPS sites support HSTS (HTTP
Strict Transport Security). HSTS tells the browser to request HTTPS pages automatically,
even if the user enters
http in the browser location bar. It also tells Google to
serve secure URLs in the search results. All this minimizes the risk of serving unsecured
content to your users.
To support HSTS, use a web server that supports it and enable the functionality.
Although it's more secure, HSTS adds complexity to your rollback strategy. We recommend enabling HSTS this way:
- Roll out your HTTPS pages without HSTS first.
- Start sending HSTS headers with a short
max-age. Monitor your traffic both from users and other clients, and also dependents' performance, such as ads.
- Slowly increase the HSTS
- If HSTS doesn't affect your users and search engines negatively, you can add your site to the HSTS preload list, which is used by most major browsers. This adds extra security and improved performance.
Avoid these common pitfalls
Throughout the process of making your site secure with TLS, avoid the following mistakes:
|Common mistakes and their solutions|
|Expired certificates||Make sure your certificate is always up to date.|
|Certificate registered to incorrect website name||Check that you have obtained a certificate for all host names that your site serves. For
example, if your certificate only covers
|Missing Server name indication (SNI) support||Make sure your web server supports SNI and that your audience uses supported browsers, generally. While SNI is supported by all modern browsers, you'll need a dedicated IP if you need to support older browsers.|
|Crawling issues||Don't block your HTTPS site from crawling using
|Indexing issues||Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Don't use the
|Old protocol versions||Old protocol versions are vulnerable; make sure you have the latest and newest versions of TLS libraries and implement the newest protocol versions.|
|Mixed security elements||Embed only HTTPS content on HTTPS pages.|
|Different content on HTTP and HTTPS||Make sure the content on your HTTP site and your HTTPS is the same.|
|HTTP status code errors on HTTPS||Check that your website returns the correct HTTP status code. For instance
Migrating from HTTP to HTTPS
If you migrate your site from HTTP to HTTPS, Google treats this as a site move with URL changes. This can temporarily affect some of your traffic numbers. Learn more about recommendations for all site moves.
Make sure that you add the new HTTPS property to Search Console. Search Console treats HTTP and HTTPS separately; data isn't shared between properties in Search Console.
For more tips about using HTTPS pages on your site, see the HTTPS migration FAQs.
More resources on implementing TLS
Here are some additional resources on implementing TLS on your site:
If you're a Search Console user and are having trouble with persistent or unfixable security issues on your site, you can let us know.