At the beginning of this week, Google announced on their Webmaster Central blog that the Webmaster Tools' Index Status feature will now offer "more precise data" for different site variations, including HTTPS.
So what does this change mean for you?
Google is now reporting each indexed URL for each protocol, specifically both for HTTP and HTTPS, as well as for verified subdirectories. Until now, Google Webmaster Tools didn't show index status data for HTTPS websites on their own, and simply grouped everything together in the HTTP site report.
So for example, if you have http://example.com and https://example.com - the URLs now show their own data in the Webmaster Tools Index Status report, so long as they have been verified separately.
Why has Google made this change? Primarily because it "makes it easier for you to monitor different sections of your site."
If you are running both standard http and secure https sections of your site, you can see crawl errors, page load speed and other index information for the different sections of your site. If you are using different technologies for different sections of your site, this new feature will allow you to better monitor the performance of different sections.
You'll also be able to track different subdomains, under your primary domain, which will be much more useful than tracking it all grouped together.
Interestingly Google made the following statement in their announcement post:
"We’ve seen that nearly 10% of all URLs already use a secure connection to transfer data via HTTPS, and we hope to see more webmasters move their websites from HTTP to HTTPS in the future."
From this statement it seems that they are encouraging webmasters to move to using https for all of their pages, rather than serving them over the standard http protocol.
A number of our clients are looking to moving their websites over to https, so we'll keep you posted on the effect that this has on their digital marketing and in particular SEO. Most are making the move to provide additional peace of mind for their customers. If you are capturing data on your website and particularly if it is personal data, we'd recommend considering a move to https.
To enable correct tracking of the https sections of your website you'll need to verify these separately through your Google Webmaster Tools account.
If you would like to speak with one of our consultants in regards to setting up your Google Webmaster Tools account correctly, or to give advice on whether you should make a move to https, please feel free to get in touch.
Read Google's announcement in full here.