Baidu Grants Priority Indexation to HTTPS
For a long time now, Google has 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 would help push HTTPS to popularity by rewarding secure websites. In this regard, China has been lagging behind other major online markets in adopting the more secure protocol.
Many major online services, such as the Baidu search engine crawler and Sina Weibo, share API that is not compatible with HTTPS protocol, such that if you do want to move your website to full HTTPS, you will lose your web rankings because:
- Baidu does not follow HTTPS pages, and/or
- Third-party APIs would break encryption on your page because there are no HTTPS options provided.
This was a big hurdle for multinational companies to 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 due to a secure protocol.
In fact, HTTPS pages will actually receive priority indexation on Baidu. Baidu also confirms that for websites of equal authority, the HTTPS site will have ranking priority.
This is similar to what Google 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; 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 is 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 the Baidu spider and setup 301 redirects for real users (where the user agent is not the Baidu spider) to then be redirected to the HTTPS webpages for security. It will now be much easier for websites to become fully HTTPS, and the change should hopefully help make one of the largest markets on the internet become a more secure place.