Buffer Migrates To HTTPS, Google Fixes Edge Case

Sep 22, 2014 - 8:45 am 20 by

Buffer SSL HTTPSBuffer's Courtney Seiter posted their August content report documenting an issue when they migrated from HTTP to HTTPS this past month.

Initially, Buffer implied they had a 90% drop in Google organic traffic due to either the HTTPS migration or a penalty that happened around the same time. The truth is, their traffic dropped because of an incorrect HTTP to HTTPS migration but something Google should have picked up on, but will do a better job of picking up on in the future.

I covered the story early on at Search Engine Land, which helped bring out some, but not all, of the details around what happened.

One thing we know for sure is that they did have a manual action on specific pages but that traffic drop is unrelated to the manual action.

We also know that Buffer made a technical mistake when migrating from HTTP to HTTPS. But we do not know specifically what the technical mistake was.

Finally, we know from Google that the mistake Buffer made is something they want to handle on other sites that make it. So it seems that if sites make that mistake in the future, whatever the mistake was, Google should handle it.

On Google+, Google's John Mueller wrote:

There was no penalty involved here, it was essentially just a technical issue that we fixed.

Courtney Seiter from Buffer added:

I'm sure the issue was on Buffer's end, +Barry Schwartz; and I've definitely muddled the telling of the story by throwing in the red herring of the old penalty!

John added a bit more detail on Search Engine Land:

The manual action was older & independent of the changes that were seen. In general, site moves like this should be totally unproblematic, so it was really useful to have an example of a special edge-case that we should have caught better (and thanks to the feedback, the team was able to resolve the issue quickly).

I am scratching my head trying to figure out what Buffer did and why Google feels they need to handle these cases.

Forum discussion at Google+.

Update: I asked John Mueller in a Google Hangout if there was anything Buffer did wrong and he said no. I'll embed the video below as soon as it is ready, but it is at about 10 minutes. Something with how Google was not passing signals and it only impacted this one site. Here is the video, again, around 10 minutes in.


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