For a long time now Google had been advocating for HTTPS and encouraging website owners to adopt the secure protocol. It even went as far as making HTTPS a ranking signal, hoping that the SEO world will help push HTTPS to popularity by rewarding secure websites.
In this regard, China had been lagging behind other major online markets in adopting the more secure protocol. Many major online services such as Baidu search engine crawler, Sina weibo share API were no compatible with HTTPS protocol, such that if you do want to move your website to full HTTPS, you will lose your web rankings due Baidu does not follow HTTPS pages, or third party APIs will break encryption on your page because there is no HTTPS options provided. This was a big hurdle for multinational companies to have move their global web infrastructure to HTTPS to benefit from Google’s stance, because they would need to find an alternative solution just to cater to the Chinese market.
This situation is now improving. Baidu announced that on May 25th 2016, its web spider will now fully support HTTPS crawling and indexing. This means that HTTPS websites will not longer suffer from non-indexation because of the use of the secure protocol. In fact, HTTPS pages will actually receive priority indexation. Baidu also confirms that for websites of equal authority, the HTTPS site will have ranking priority. This is similar to what Google has confirmed in 2014.
With this change, HTTPS and HTTP versions will now be treated as one single site. In fact, from our testing, Baidu does not display whether a URL is HTTP or HTTPS on the search engine result pages. As a result, it is theoretically possible for HTTP and HTTPS pages to be considered duplicates of each other, and therefore webmasters wishing to take advantage of the secure HTTPS protocol should set up 301 redirects from HTTP pages to respective HTTPS pages and collapse their website into a fully HTTPS website.
Baidu Webmaster Tools have also begun to accept HTTPS website verification to support this change.
This should be a move that will solve a lot of headaches for multi-market websites. Previously, a company would have had to set up a HTTP mirror site just for Baidu spider to the site and setup 301 redirects for real users (where user agent is not Baidu spider) to then be redirected to the HTTPS webpages for security. It will now be much easier to websites to become fully HTTPS, and should hopefully help contribute to making one of the largest markets on the Internet to become a more secure place.