As we finish up your FareHarbor Site and prepare to take it live, there are a few things to note about the go-live process.
Taking your new site live requires changing your DNS (Domain Name System) settings. Due to the way caching and internet nodes across the world work, this can result in a period of “propagation” of up to 72 hours (although in most cases less than 24), during which computers in certain parts of the world may still see your old website.
This is a normal part of making DNS changes and we do everything possible to bring the new site up for you and your customers as quickly as possible. For more technical details about this process, see this link.
SSL Certificate Issuance
FareHarbor uses Cloudflare, a leading content delivery network, to issue SSL certificates for all FareHarbor Sites. During the process of going live, Cloudflare’s SSL vendor will vet your new site and issue its new SSL certificate. During this vetting process, you may see an error message when trying to access your site over HTTPS. This error will resolve after Cloudflare issues your SSL certificate, which typically happens within an hour.
See also: Cloudflare SSL FAQ
Note: SSL certificates can take up to 24 hours to issue. In the rare case that you are unable to access your site for more than an hour, please contact your Account Manager to help troubleshoot.
Search Engine Rankings
We always prepare SEO and redirects to help maintain your rankings and traffic with the new site. However, when making any sort of site switch there is always the possibility of temporary changes in ranking and site traffic while engines like Google work to crawl and reindex the new site.
Migration to HTTPS
All of our sites come with SSL (HTTPS), which helps establish trust with potential customers. HTTPS is also becoming an increasingly crucial criteria in Google’s ranking process, and the switch from HTTP to HTTPS specifically can cause a hiccup in search engine indexing. For example, Moz, an SEO kingpin around the web, outlined in a brief case study how the switch can temporarily affect rankings even for a company as adept and proactive as them.
What you can do
If the right steps are taken, this hiccup can be minimized and possibly prevented. Aside from the steps taken on our end, here are two things that you can do before making the website switch to help maintain your SEO:
Grant FareHarbor access to Google Analytics: Giving us access to your Google Analytics account will allow us to hook up Search Console, where we can submit the new HTTPS Sitemap and aid Google in indexing the new site faster. It also allows us to monitor your web data before, during and after going live and keep out eye out for any issues.
To do this, add firstname.lastname@example.org as a user with Edit access as seen below.
Update incoming links: Any link that points to your website from an external source (e.g. a link to your website from Facebook or other social platforms) needs to be updated to include
https:// rather than
http:// if possible. This will further aid Google in recognizing what is going on and updating its index.
Addressing changes in SEO ranking
In the event that you do see your ranking change, understand that this is temporary and will fix itself over time once Google properly reindexes your new site.
In the meantime, one extra thing you can do if you are concerned about losing traffic is to set up a temporary paid ad campaign with a service like Google AdWords or Facebook Ads. You can choose to do this until your organic ranking returns to normal (and who knows, maybe you’ll find it to be wildly successful, in which case you’ll already be set up to keep rolling with it!).