I’m writing this article to explain and discuss an issue which has likely caused a good deal of stress for web developers in recent weeks. That issue is the displaying of a message, inside Google Search Console, which reads “HTTPS Is Invalid And Might Prevent It From Being Indexed.” Getting this message has likely led to quite a few developers, and individuals who maintain their own websites, believing that there is something wrong with their SSL certificate. These same people may also be believing that their content is not going to appear in Google’s search results. This can result in one who manages a website looking like this:
The good news, however, is that this message in Search Console is part of a new suite of reports from Google and is actually not something to be concerned about as long as your site doesn’t have other SSL issues. So, instead of looking stressed you can take a breath and relax like this person:
That is what your day as a developer looks like right?
As I’m going to explain in this article, the new warning in Search Console is nothing to get worried about for most people. I’ll give a brief overview and history of what the issue is. I’ll then go over why the issue is nothing to be worried about and, more than anything, it’s just a result of Google needing to tweak how they present the information to web developers. So…shall we?
How Google Search Console’s new HTTPS report has led to some confusion
In September of 2022, Google announced a new HTTPS report inside of Search Console. As a front-end developer, I’m happy about the new reporting system as it provides a good tool for troubleshooting potential SSL issues on any website we manage. One category of data included in the new report is a list of pages for which Google has not yet analyzed the SSL certificate. If Google has crawled the page, but not yet taken a look at the SSL certificate, then this page will be included in Search Console’s HTTPS report under a category of “HTTPS not evaluated.” In reality, this means exactly what it sounds like – Google simply hasn’t looked at the SSL certificate yet. They are not saying that there is anything wrong with it. Quite a few web developers and site owners became concerned, however, when they would submit a new URL to the search engine through Search Console’s URL inspection tool. Upon requesting an inspection and crawl, the website owner would receive the following message:
For understandable reasons, most people stop here and have the assumption that there is something wrong with their SSL certificate. If one clicks on this message, however, they will receive the following information:
Again, it is just an issue of Google not yet having looked at the SSL certificate. In their own documentation, the search engine states the following about this message:
If this is a newly crawled URL, it can take some time before the HTTPS status is evaluated, so wait a day and check back to see if this problem has corrected itself.1
However, given that many people are likely stopping at the first message, their concern is understandable.
Web developers don’t need to worry about “HTTPS not evaluated” warnings
In the last week or so I’ve personally seen that Google’s HTTPS evaluation is functioning exactly as stated in the search engine’s documentation. On September 15th I generated an extremely well-written (if I do so say so myself) article on how to define an “effective” website. When I submitted the article in Search Console, via the URL inspection tool, I received the warning messages above. As of this morning, I receive the following when running a URL inspection of that same article:
As you can see, the HTTPS certificate is now showing as valid even though I took no additional action.
When you are submitting a new webpage or article via Google’s URL inspection tool, the best way to ensure that your SSL certificate is without issue (and to put your mind at ease) is to test it before requesting indexing of the page. One way to do this to run Lighthouse inside of Google Chrome. Simply load the page on which you wish to test the SSL certificate. Right click anywhere on the page and then click “inspect.” When the developer console opens, click “Lighthouse.” Make sure that “Best Practices” is checked and click “Analyze page load.” If the webpage does not provide a valid HTTPS response then this will be shown in the “Best Practices” portion of the Lighthouse report. If you don’t see a warning, related to your SSL certificate, then click on “passed audits” under the Best Practices. You should see that your website uses HTTPS without error. You can then submit the URL in Google Search Console’s inspection tool.
I completely understand why many website owners are concerned about this warning message in Search Console. More than anything, I would say it’s a bad design/messaging choice on the part of Google and they made the message sound apocalyptic. As long as you have a valid SSL certificate on the page, go ahead and submit it to Google and you should see the message clear itself up in a relatively short amount of time.
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1 Search Console Help – Accessed on September 20, 2022 via https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/11396518#errors