Big thank you to Really Simple SSL for developing an amazing plugin that successfully forces every SSL Certificate we launch and enables https:// to kick in. This post is directly from their website! Follow these to a T!
Oh wait, If you didn’t already install Really Simple SSL after Getting your SSL certificate, download here and install! 🙂 Takes seconds!! https://wordpress.org/plugins/really-simple-ssl/ or install from your WordPress dashboard.
When you move your website from a regular http:// site to an SSL-enhanced https:// site, you have to adjust your settings in Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools/Search Console accordingly. It’s not much work, but it’s important you fix it.
In short, you need to set your primary domain in both Webmaster Tools as in Google analytics to your https domain. I’ll discuss Search Console first, but it really doesn’t matter in which order you do it.
Webmaster Tools / Search Console
Step 1: Navigate to https://search.google.com/search-console/
In Google Search Console (Google Webmaster Tools), you should add a new property for the https:// variant of your domain.
Step 2: Choose “Add Property” at the bottom … yes hit the +
Step 3: In the pop-up, insert the website you want to add – use your https:// and then your domain
https://broekmancomm.com is my final entry and then hit continue
Step 4: When you’ve added a website, you need to verify that you’re the owner. When you see the Ownership Verified in green, you are good to go!
Yes this process will include any and all searches for http:// and https://
There are several options to verify your ownership.
For WordPress users who use Yoast SEO we recommend using the ‘HTML tag’ method:
Step 5: Now you begin to track all traffic!
That’s all you need to do in your Webmaster Tools / Search Console setup. Now when you want to do something in Webmaster Tools / Search Console, just use the https://(www) property.
Step 1: First, navigate to http://analytics.google.com
After you move to SSL, you should change your domain in Google Analytics to https. This way, GA starts registering your hits again. I would recommend using the .htaccess redirect if you’re on apache. GA might not register hits if the site is not redirecting properly to https.
To update the GA settings, in Google Analytics, first go to your website dashboard, and click the cogwheel at the bottom, “Admin” .
Step 2: Configure both Property and View sections!
There are two urls that need to be changed.
First click “Property Settings” under Property
Second click “View Settings” under View
Both need to be changed from http:// to the https:// protocol
Step 3: In Property Settings, go to Default URL and hit pull down and choose https://
I changed my property name from http:// to just www.broekmancomm.com
Looks like this now!
Step 4: Don’t forget to scroll down and HIT SAVE!
Step 5: Return back to main admin page and now choose “View Settings”
Repeat same step.
Reduce View Name to just your www domain
Change pull down under Website’s URL from http:// to https://
FINAL VIEW… Scroll down and HIT SAVE!
That’s it! Your site is now correctly configured for SSL.
If Really Simple SSL fixed your issues and/or saved you time, you might consider buying the premium plugin to support the continuing development of the plugin. You’ll get some great additional features, like HTTP strict Transport Security, the SSL certificate expiration warning and premium support.
I’m not a regular user of Bing, but based on user feedback, I would recommend to follow these steps:
– Add a new sitemap with https
– Use the site move tool to make sure Bing knows it is moved to https:
If you experience any issues with your sitemap after migrating to SSL while using the Yoast SEO plugin, you can disable and enable the Yoast plugin once. That will change all links in the sitemap to https://.
GREAT TUTORIAL HERE as well!
Features in Google Search Console
Now you’ve set up your account what would be the next step? Well, it’s time to look at some of your data! We’ll explore some of the reports and information available in the rest of this article.
Within the performance tab, you can see what pages and what keywords your website ranks for in Google. In the old version of GSC you could see the data of a maximum of the last 90 days but in the new version, it’s possible to see the data up to 16 months. Keep in mind that the data is available from the moment you set up your account.
If you check the performance tab regularly, you can quickly see what keywords or what pages need some more attention and optimization. So where to begin? Within the performance tab, you see a list of ‘queries’, ‘pages’, ‘countries’ or ‘devices’. Each of those sections can be sorted by the number of ‘clicks’, ‘impressions’, ‘average CTR’ or ‘average position’. We’ll explain each of them below:
The amount of clicks tells you how often people clicked on your website in the search results of Google. This number can tell something about the performance of your page titles and meta descriptions: if just a few people click on your result, your result might not stand out in the search results. It could be helpful to check what other results are displayed around you to see what can be optimized for your snippet.
The position of the search result also has an impact on the number of clicks of course. If your page is in the top 3 of Google’s first result page it will automatically get more clicks than a page that ranks on the second page of the search results.
The impressions tell you how often your website in general or how often a specific page is shown in the search results. For example, in the GSC account of our own website, Yoast SEO is one of the keywords our website ranks for. The number of impressions shown after this keyword shows how often our website is shown for that keyword in the search results of Google. You don’t know yet what page ranks for that keyword.
To see what pages might rank for the specific keyword, you can click on the line of the keyword. Doing this for the keyword [Yoast SEO], the keyword is added as a filter:
After that, you could navigate to the ‘Pages’ tab to see what pages exactly rank for this keyword. Are those pages the ones you’d want to rank for that keyword? If not, you might need to optimize the page you’d like to rank. Think of writing better content containing the keyword on that page, adding internal links from relevant pages or posts to the page, making the page load faster, etc.
3. Average CTR
The CTR – Click-through rate – tells you what percentage of the people that have seen your website in the search results also clicked through to your website. You probably understand that higher rankings mostly also lead to higher click-through rates.
However, there are also things you can do yourself to increase the CTR. For example, you could rewrite your meta description and make it more appealing. When the description of your site stands out from the other results, more people will probably click on your result and your CTR will increase. Keep in mind that this will not have a big impact if you’re not ranking on the first page yet. You might need to try other things first to improve your ranking.
4. Average position
The last one in this list is the ‘Average position’. This tells you what the average ranking of a specific keyword or page was in the time period you’ve selected. Of course, this position isn’t always reliable since more and more people seem to get different search results. Google seems to understand better and better which results fit best for which visitor. However, this indicator still gives you an idea if the clicks, impressions and the average CTR are explainable.
A more technical but very valuable tab within Google Search Console is the ‘Index coverage’ tab. This section shows how many pages are in the index of Google since the last update, how many pages aren’t and what errors and warnings caused difficulties for Google indexing your pages properly.
We recommend checking this tab regularly to see what errors and warnings appear on your website. However, you also get notifications when Google has found new errors. When you get such a notification you can check the error in more detail here.
You may find that errors are caused when, e.g., a redirect doesn’t seem to work correctly, or Google is finding broken code or error pages in your theme.
Clicking on the link, you can analyze the error more in depth to see what specific URLs are affected. When you’ve fixed the error you can mark it as fixed to make sure Google will test the URL again:
There are a few things you should always look for when checking out your coverage reports:
- If you’re writing new content, your indexed pages should be a steadily increasing number. This tells you two things: Google can index your site and you keep your site ‘alive’ by adding content.
- Watch out for sudden drops! This might mean that Google is having trouble accessing (all of) your website. Something may be blocking Google; whether it’s robots.txt changes or a server that’s down: you need to look into it!
- Sudden (and unexpected) spikes in the graph might mean an issue with duplicate content (such as both www and non-www, wrong canonicals, etc.), automatically generated pages, or even hacks.
We recommend that you monitor these types of situations closely and resolve errors quickly, as too many errors could send a signal of low quality (bad maintenance) to Google.
Below the ‘Index coverage,’ you can find the ‘AMP’ tab. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages: lightning fast mobile pages. If you’ve set up AMP for your website you can check for errors in Google Search Console. Within this section you can see the valid AMP pages, the valid ones with warnings and errors:
Below the chart, the issues are listed. If you click on one of the issues, you can see the affected URLs. Just as in the index section of GSC you can validate your fix if you’ve fixed an issue.
Within this tab, you’ll be able to list your job openings and to track their performance. If there are any errors, you’ll see them in here. It’s not the most important feature of GSC, but it can be valuable for specific companies or websites.
This section provides useful feedback on your structured markup for events. Events can be complex to tag up correctly, so this can be an extremely helpful report for finding out where you need to tweak details like dates and location!
An XML sitemap is like a roadmap to all important pages and posts on your website. We think every website would benefit from having one. Is our Yoast SEO plugin running on your website? Then you automatically have an XML sitemap. If not, we recommend creating one to make sure Google can find your most important pages and posts easily.
Within the XML sitemap tab of Google Search Console you can tell Google where your XML sitemap is located on your site:
We recommend everyone entering the URL of their XML sitemap into GSC to make Google find it easily. In addition to that, you can quickly see if your sitemap gives errors or if some pages aren’t indexed, for instance. Checking this regularly, you’re sure Google can find and read your XML sitemap correctly.
We recommend regularly checking the XML sitemap section in our plugin to manage which post types or taxonomies you’re including in your sitemaps!
Within the links to your site section, you can see how many links from other sites are pointing to your website. Besides, you can see what websites link, how many links those websites contain to your site and lastly, what anchor texts are used most linking to your website. This can be valuable information because links still are very important for SEO.
Within the internal links section, you can check what pages of your website are most linked from other spots on your site. This list can be valuable to analyze regularly because you want your most important pages and posts to get most internal links. Doing this, you make sure Google understands as well what your cornerstones are.
The mobile usability tab within this section shows you usability issues with your mobile website or with specific mobile pages. Since mobile traffic is rising all over the world, we recommend checking this regularly. If your mobile site isn’t user-friendly, lots of visitors will leave it quickly.
The manual actions tab is the one you don’t want to see anything in. If your site is penalized by Google, you’ll get more information in here. If your site is affected by a manual action, you’ll also get messaged via email.
There are a number of scenarios which can lead to these kinds of penalties, including:
- You have unnatural/bought links
Make sure from and to your site are valuable, not just for SEO. Preferably your links come from and link to related content that is valuable for your readers.
- Your site has been hacked
A message stating your site’s probably hacked by a third party. Google might label your site as compromised or lower your rankings.
- You’re hiding something from Google
If you’re ‘cloaking’ (that is, intentionally showing different to content than to users, for the purposes of decieving either of them), or using ‘sneaky’ redirects (e.g., hiding affiliate URLs), then you’re violating of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
- Plain Spam
Automatically generated content, scraped content and aggressive cloaking could cause Google to blacklist your site.
- Spammy structured markup
If you use rich snippets for too many irrelevant elements on a page, or mark up content that is hidden to the visitor, that might be considered spammy. Mark up what’s necessary, and not everything is necessary.