There has been a lot of discussion about how to change a website from http to https and the reasons to do it (i.e. better security, better seo rankings) but, not so much discussion on the steps that are necessary to ensure a successful organic transition. By successful transition I mean one that will not have a negative impact in the organic traffic. Because, by just moving from http to https from a development technical point of view (i.e buying the ssl certificate, switching the website urls to https) is not enough to guarantee the correct transition.
Why? Recently, I had such an experience with one of my clients. Eighty percent (80%) of my client’s website traffic is based on organic search which is equivalent to approx. 1.1million organic sessions per month and 2.2million organic pageviews per month. My client moved successfully to the https from a technical point of view but was not aware of the other steps that had to be made to guarantee that the organic traffic and the reporting tools that he uses to monitor it (Google Analytics, Webmaster tools) would not start illustrating unexpected drops. When he reached me he asked me if I could understand what was causing the big drop. The good thing in this case was that I had already done in the past research on his website so I was able to understand faster the issue. The client did not mentioned to me that he moved to https few days before he contacted me but for me it was one of the first things to cross check. In anycase the details of this story are not important since at the end (a few days later) everything went back to normal. What is important though is what needs to be taken into consideration before a move to https. Below you will find a list with some of my SEO cross checks:
Use again the SEO crawler to:
After you make all the above cross checks and are sure that the technical part of the transition is ok, you may move to the steps that are only SEO related. These are:
This will be the end of what needs to be done in search console but there is more that needs to be done in Google analytics.
This will be the end of what is needed for the correct transition related to GA reporting.
After doing this, I would recommend crawling all the website one last time just to be sure you have double checked everything. The next days monitor the stats both in GA and Search console. Depending on the size of the website it might take several days until you see the expected stats especially in Search console. Monitor, everything (i.e. site traffic, indexed pages, errors etc.) until you are sure that the transition went smoothly.
Last but not list, check if you notice any unexpected changes in the backlinks reports. This is the last cross check!
If you run adwords campaigns, or have indexed your site in other search engines (i.e. yandex, bing etc) you will need to make some adjustments there are well.
My personal advice would be if you are not sure about any of these steps to hire someone professional to do it for you. You need to make sure that everything related to the transition will go smoothly. Otherwise, you might face some really unpleasant situations.