03 July 2017

Site Stats and Security

Let's have a recap of this series on site statistics:-

  • 2017-06-05: Chess Stats Year-Over-Year • 'In the past few months I've noticed a big drop in the number of daily visitors and I would like to know why.'
  • 2017-06-12: Site Stats and Adsense • 'I doubt that these Adsense issues are responsible for the decline in visitor traffic, but they don't help.'
  • 2017-06-19: Site Stats and Images • 'My server log only tells me that nearly all of the accesses were from Google.'
  • 2017-06-26: Adsense Stats Year-Over-Year • 'That makes a downward trend on the server log and an upward trend on ad impressions.'

Google Blogspot, Google Adsense, Google search. It's not hard to see the common denominator here. Google everything? While I was compiling that list of recent posts, I noted a typo on one of them and opened the post in edit. On checking the correction, I got the usual error message 'Your preview failed to load' (which has been happening for a few years already), followed by another usual error message:-

This page contains HTTP resources which may cause mixed content affecting security and user experience if blog is viewed over HTTPS.

Fix / Dismiss / Learn more

Instead of the ususal 'Dismiss', I accidentally clicked 'Fix'. Preview then showed a broken image, so I closed the edit without publishing. The post had disappeared entirely and the source of the post was marked 'DRAFT', so I again opened the post in edit to republish it. The image link had been changed from HTTP to HTTPS. I changed it back to HTTP, saved, and everything was OK (except a Google+ duplicate, which I deleted).

All that rigmarole occurs because I store the blog images on my own m-w.com domain. The 'Learn more' option on the last error message leads to Fix mixed content on your blog (support.google.com). While researching this I discovered the page HTTPS as a ranking signal (webmasters.googleblog.com; August 2014). It says,

We're starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it's only a very lightweight signal -- affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content --while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

Is this the reason for the drop in the number of daily visitors on my site? One of the links in that article goes to Youtube.

Google I/O 2014 - HTTPS Everywhere (45:44) • 'Published on Jun 26, 2014'

The description of the video says,

Data delivered over an unencrypted channel is insecure, untrustworthy, and trivially intercepted. We must protect the security, privacy, and integrity of our users data. In this session we will take a hands-on tour of how to make your websites secure by default: the required technology, configuration and performance best practices, how to migrate your sites to HTTPS and make them user and search friendly, and more. Your users will thank you.

That promises more work that has nothing to do with the content of the site, but I need to look into it at some time in the months ahead. In the meantime, I'll review the recent article How you can cut Google out of your life ... mostly (yahoo.com). I'm afraid it won't be so easy for webmasters.

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