HTTP-to-HTTPS Migration: Clean Up Those Legacy Links!

Here’s an HTTP-to-HTTPs issue I encountered with a site that recently migrated to HTTPs.

Should I do anything if both HTTP and HTTPs versions of pages of a site are “live”? Should I 301 redirect the HTTP versions to the HTTPS versions? or is it sufficient to ensure there are no links to the HTTP versions anywhere (on my site or on external sites)?

Example, these are both LIVE:


… where the following are true:

  • Screaming Frog lists the HTTP pages as “Non-Indexable” (column E) and they also don’t show up in a manual Google Search. Only the HTTPS version is indexed in Google.
  • Sitemap is correctly presenting only the HTTPS versions
  • There ARE rel=”canonical” tags on the HTTP versions—otherwise the two pages are the same.


Based on what the good folks from /r/SEO had to say, yes, this could create a problem.


Here are three ways to fix this:


  • Create a site-wide 301 redirect from HTTP to HTTPS redirecting the necessary pages to https (see here and here) . That should be done on a server-level if possible. Search on stack overflow, there are plenty of examples of http>https and non-www>www. Adjusting .htaccess should get you where you need to go on Apache servers. Nginx is a little different, but there are plenty of guides available online.
  • Domain registrar level (see here
  • A WordPress plugin. For some sites, this may not be the “best” way to do it… It has to be done page-by-page. The other two solutions will catch ANY page, but this solution catches the pages I specify. If a site is small, I can catch them all. With huge sites, one of the other two options would definitely be preferable.


What About Old HTTP Links?

I noticed this problem when I realized that my site may include full-path links to old (http) site pages, and when it came to my attention that such links aren’t good for SEO.

Apparently, full-path URL links (absolute URLs) to the old (HTTP) pages are no good, even if those links redirect to the HTTPs version. One commenter advised to “ruthlessly eliminate any reference to HTTP” by running a search-and-replace. “Most hosts can run regexp search and replace from the command line … Many (hosts) offer a (search and replace) option in the control panel/backend. Check with your tech support.”

Also, get out there and update as many links as you can on your social media properties, citations, etc. If you have HTTP links on other sites, I guess you could email them and ask them to add an “s” to make the link “HTTPS.” That seems like a major pain in the ass to me, though.

But if those links are on your own site? Yeah, fix them.

I’m just not sure of the best way to find them, aside from the search-and-replace option mentioned.

Can Ahrefs Help?

I asked Ahrefs support the following: “How can I use AHREFS to find all of the old (HTTP) links so I can then manually update them all to HTTPS?”

Their response wasn’t all that clear:

If we are able to to access the URLs that are HTTP vs HTTPS then … it will be reported in your Site Audit report. If you check the Overview all the issues will be listed there and if we did find this issue on any of the URLs of your site then it will be listed there.

I’ll take a closer look at the Overview section of their site audit report and see what I can find. In the meantime, contact me if you have any ideas about how to approach this and I may add your input to this post (with credit, of course).





thank you!