For the last two months, I’ve watched a relaunched client’s Search Console charts spiral downwards. Their indexing dropped, their SERP rankings were meh, and external SEO report crawls showed numerous errors that the Search Console just didn’t echo. Anyway, I had a great big “D’OH” moment this morning upon realizing that Google sees http and https URLs as two separate sites. No amount of proper URL-change redirecting will affect this view, and Google’s Change of Address tool does not apply to a protocol change. Once I began tracking the newly-secure site as its own Google property, BOOM–all the data was there, along with all the mysterious errors other crawls had produced.
I’d assumed that Google, having spearheaded the “use HTTPS or suffer our wrath” initiative last year, would gracefully accept redirects and other change of address techniques when a site changes protocol, but no. Make no assumptions, friends–even Google doesn’t know what it’s doing.
Changing your domain protocol (http to https) makes Google view your domain as an entirely new site and it must be tracked in Google’s webmaster tools as a new site.