“Always try” to replace HTTP links with HTTPS
Google search attorney John Mueller says you should always try to replace internal links pointing to HTTP URLs with newer HTTP versions.
This is stated in a Reddit thread asking if it’s worth replacing internal HTTP links with HTTPS versions, even if redirects already exist.
Several years ago, Google’s Gary Illyes said that replacing links wasn’t worth it when proper redirects were in place:
@pip_net If your redirects are implemented correctly, the benefit of doing so is so small that IMO it’s not worth it.
— Gary 鯨理／경리 Illyes (@method) July 7, 2015
Now Mueller says it’s “always” worth doing. Fortunately, like other commenters in the thread state, mass replacing HTTP internal links isn’t hard to do.
Here’s what Mueller says about replacing HTTP with HTTPS links and how to do it.
Replacing internal HTTP links with HTTP versions
Mueller gives two reasons for replacing the old HTTP internal links.
First of all, it’s cleaner than having a bunch of redirects. And, unlike external links, you have full control over the URL to which visitors are sent.
“I would always try to fix the internal links, it makes things cleaner and is under your own control. I doubt it will have any visible effect.
Replacing internal HTTP links probably won’t have a noticeable impact on search rankings, as Mueller says, but it’s worth it.
Changing links, rather than relying on redirects, can positively affect web page performance.
Anyone clicking on a link that redirects to HTTPS must go through the HTTP version first. By getting rid of the extra ‘jump’, visitors get to content faster.
Plus, relying on redirects for internal links is a wild ride. Many things can go wrong, such as redirect chains, redirect loops, and broken links.
If a site loads images with HTTP URLs, browsers can give visitors an “unsafe” error message, discouraging them from staying on your site.
Redirects consume your crawl budget because each redirect counts as a crawled page. Google can potentially crawl more pages per session without redirects in place.
Finally, you cannot rely on redirects working forever. Redirects can break or be removed while replacing links ensures they are changed forever.
That said, here’s some information on mass replacing internal links.
Mass replacement of internal links
It’s not hard to replace internal links automatically, but the method varies depending on how your site is built.
Bulk replacing internal links is as easy as running a database search and replace. You can change every reference to an HTTP URL to the HTTP version all at once.
If you have a WordPress site, several plugins make this task easier, such as Best Search Replace.
However, if you’re not comfortable making major changes like this, I’d advise speaking with your developer first.
Keep in mind that there is always a risk that your site will crash when you make large-scale changes, so it’s essential to save a backup that you can come back to.
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