An interesting question came up during the Google webmaster hangout on YouTube Live this past Friday. One webmaster was planning to migrate to HTTPs and thought, since they are doing the migration, it would also be a good time to switch from numeric URLs to a more keyword rich based URL structure.
But John Mueller said no, it isn't necessarily a good time to do that. The answer is kind of obvious. When you migrate from HTTP to HTTPS or even from one domain to another. Google is able to understand the protocol change, assuming nothing else is changed. So the whole URL structure remains the same, with the exception of the beginning of the URLs. That makes it easier and faster for Google to pick up on the change.
But if you change all your URLs, that can take quiet a bit longer for Google to pick up.
The question started at the 40:20 mark:
I am asking because we are switching from HTTP to HTTPS as well, and since there is already a change of URL, we thought maybe we could use this opportunity and make the original URLs a bit more user friendly. I don’t know, would that be a, would this be a good time to do this?
John Mueller responded:
It is difficult because if we just see a change or protocol or we see something like a name move from one domain to another, and everything else remains the same, then it is a lot easier for us to just say, oh - all of this belongs to this. We don’t even need to look at everything, we understand its relationship pretty well.
Where if you are changing the URL structure, so the way the URLs are formed, then we have to understand that again and we can’t just blindly say everything HTTP is HTTPS.
So that’s something I think is a good chance to kind of combine those two but it’s good to keep in mind that it’s not just like switching it over and the next day everything is just fine.
Here is the video embed:
Forum discussion at YouTube Live.