In response to the question asked in SEO hours, whether linking to unsafe HTTP web pages has any negative effects on SEO, Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller offered an intriguing response.
It makes sense that a page’s ability to link to HTTP pages would be perceived negatively by users as a bad user experience.
Difference between HTTPS VS HTTP
HTTP is HTTPS without password protection or encryption.
Data transport from a server to a browser uses the HTTP protocol, which is a system of rules.
The secure version, HTTPS shows the user that the website they’re viewing is safe and can be trusted with private data like passwords.
Google announced in 2014 that,
“Beyond our own stuff, we’re also working to make the Internet safer more broadly. A big part of that is making sure that websites people access from Google are secure.
For these reasons, over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms.
We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.
For now, it’s only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content —while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS.
But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”
Why linking to an HTTP page is not recommended?
A question about the same was asked by John Mueller, This was the question.
“Does it affect my SEO score negatively if my page is linking to an external insecure website?
So, on HTTP, not HTTPS.”
Mueller clarified that there is no such thing as an SEO score before rephrasing the question to reflect what he thought it was asking.
“…first off, we don’t have a notion of an SEO score.
So you don’t really have to worry about kind of an SEO score.
But regardless, I kind of understand the question is like, is it bad if I link to an HTTP page instead of an HTTPS page.
And from our point of view, it’s perfectly fine.
If these pages are on HTTP, then that’s what you would link to.
That’s kind of what users would expect to find.
There’s nothing against linking to sites like that.
There is no kind of downside for your website to kind of like avoid linking to HTTP pages because they’re kind of old or crusty and not as cool as on HTTPS.
I would not worry about that.”
Mueller confirmed that using the HTTP protocol to link to another website is acceptable (for SEO purposes).
HTTP, however, does not provide a way for the browser to confirm that the server returning a response to a request for a web page is the right server.
Because they believed it was only important for companies dealing with sensitive customer data, like banks, hospitals, shopping sites, and other industries, many online publishers delayed using the HTTPS protocol in the past.
So, identifying outbound HTTP links and determining whether the associated site uses HTTPS may be a great practice (for reasons related to user experience). If not, it could be useful to look for a better website to link to if visitor security and usability are essential to you.
When users click a link from a secure website to an insecure one and are informed by their browser that the website they are visiting is insecure, they may begin to doubt the reliability of the safe website.
Beyond the effect on SEO, there are other factors to take into account.