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HTTP/2 and SEO: What It Is, and How to Check if Your Website Is Using It

Browsers, and the internet & its protocols have tremendously evolved to better serve our needs for speed, security, and reliability. New standards are developed, new checks are put in place, and even new jobs are created to implement the modern internet, so to speak. Amongst numerous upgrades to our internet experience, one of the most significant strides was the creation/invention of HTTP/2. High-level, it had to do with speeding up the pages that are loaded on your browsers, so the biggest correlation between HTTP/2 and SEO is of that! For the unaware, speed is one of the ranking factors for SEO performance.

So What Is HTTP/2 Anyway? And What Happened to the Previous Version?

HTTP/2 pretty much revolutionized how browsers would accommodate all the assets on a landing page. Assets meaning all the files, images, etc. With its introduction, there is now a possibility to send all the files at once, as opposed to sending them one by one — which was the case in HTTP 1.1 (the previous version).

Expanding on that a little: Say you have 10 resources on a page.

  1. In HTTP 1.1, the server and browsers would need to communicate each file/resource one by one. That is, load one file, come back and request for another, load that one, come back and request the third file, and so on and so forth. You can imagine how this could be very time-consuming, especially in the new era of the internet, where tons of images, embeds, CSS, scripts, etc. are used.
  2. In HTTP/2 (the latest version), browsers can request, in theory, all the files all at once in one single trip/connection. This removes the huge time requirement for a page to load. In other words, this potentially translates to a much faster first content paint, and rendering, which in turn could positively affect organic rankings.

There are also other benefits to HTTP/2, such as stream priority, compressed headers, and more.

And yes, HTTP 1.1 is still there!

How to Check if Your Website Is on HTTP/2

Checking this part is actually not as hard as you think. In fact, you could simply talk with your hosting provider to find out. Still, if you really need to know, below are 3 methods:

Method 1: Firefox Browser

  1. Go to any page on your website. The homepage would suffice too.
  2. Then, open up the inspect element feature > and head over to the “network” tab.
  3. Refresh your page. Once you do so, you’ll see a bunch of values/data popping up under the domain column.
verifying http 2 via firefox: HTTP/2 and SEO
4. Expect HTTP/2, and h2 value, as demonstrated above. If you see these two, that means you are using HTTP/2

Method 2: Chrome Browser

The process is almost similar, but there are a few prerequisite steps you’d need to take. First & foremost, you’d need to enable the option to show “protocol.” To do so, go to inspect element > head over to the “network” tab > refresh the page while leaving that window open > and lastly, right-click on the name column, and click on “protocol.”

chrome enabling protocol

After the protocol is enabled, refresh the page again, and you’ll see that show up. If you’re noticing “h2” as values, it means that resource used HTTP/2.

Protocol will be added as a column. Look for “h2.”

Method 3: Using Other Online Tools

If you search for how to check for HTTP 2, or similar ones, you’ll notice a lot of the websites that can perform this check for you. Mostly, they’d be reliable, but if you know me by now, I like to verify things. I prefer to use at least 2 forms of methods to get the same answer.

In any case, one of the top-most sites I found was KeyCDN. All you have to do is plug in your URL, and it’ll do the rest.

You May Also Want to Check Out:

Do You Need HTTP/2 for a Better SEO Performance?

Definitely! Anyone serious about their SEO game needs to adapt to HTTP/2. In fact, HTTP/2 is not that new now. HTTP/2 and SEO go very hand in hand, and as I’ve predicted before, speed will increasingly become a more valuable factor for organic search as the world goes on to demand high-quality images, videos, and nothing but pure raw speed.

For folks who are using common domain registrars and CMSs out there, they probably won’t need to worry about this. Almost everyone has adapted to HTTP/2. For those who are custom-built, and are not on HTTP/2, you’d really need to figure out a way to do so.

I’ve also noticed that your CDN Provider can help you with this. Cloudflare seems to be pretty on point about it.

Lastly, depending on your situation, this may be more complicated. But honestly, it shouldn’t be, since it has been many years now; but still, if it is, you’d need to loop in your higher-ups, and make a case for “HTTP/2 and SEO.”

Sidenote: If you’re also running WordPress like I am, and are looking to configure Cloudflare CDN on your site, this post may help!

What the Future Holds

There are already talks about HTTP/3. It’s a matter of time before its adoption becomes global. As it happens, Cloudflare has already initiated things on their end in Partnership with Google and Firefox. Apparently, I am already getting a toggle switch option to enable HTTP/3.

If you also have Cloudflare, this may be something you might want to look into.

I Just need to do more reading on how it’s all going to work out!

Point being, speed will continue to be a major factor for the measurement of a positive or a negative user experience. From the SEO side of things, we know it’s already a ranking factor. So if none of this convinces you about the direct correlation between HTTP/2 and SEO, I don’t know what will.

Maybe, you’d end being a rock-star and migrate directly to HTTP/3. In thinking more about this, it may not be such a bad idea if you’re still stuck on previous versions than HTTP/2. Just make sure to keep track of when the next version will be up for grabs. One thing for sure is that you’d need HTTPS to be able to use HTTP/2. If you don’t have that, you’re looking at a whole another set of problems.