You may have been hearing about how you need to switch over to HTTPS for a while now, but have been putting it off.
You may be thinking, “Do I really need to make the switch?”
The answer is “Yes. Yes, you do.”
Not only does HTTPS make your site more secure for your visitors and even for your own data, but switching your site to HTTPS also helps you to rank higher in Google search results. Google prioritizes the security of a site to determine its value.
HTTPS encrypts your data so that hackers cannot intercept it when being transmitted. It also ensures that your data can’t be corrupted, and it requires authentication to thwart “man in the middle” attacks.
But no worries – the switch to HTTPS is easy even if you are not technically savvy. Here’s HTTP to HTTPS: a step by step guideline:
Get an SSL Certificate
The first step to switching to HTTPS is to get an SSL certificate
You can buy a domain SSL that is issued instantly after your email is verified. These entry-level certificates provide security but do not offer an in-depth verification process. These certificates are perfect for small businesses on a budget – so long as you do not accept payments over your network.
If you do plan to take payments online, you’ll need something more secure.
Two additional options are Organization SSLs and Extended Validation SSLs. Organization SSLs require verifying company ownership or some other kind of extended authentication. They are issued within two to three business days, and they show your company name and domain name in the browser bar.
Extended Validation SSLs give you a green browser bar, and they require a far more detailed verification process. You’ll have to provide proof of your physical location, as well as operational and legal information. The certificate is issued within three to five business days.
Install the SSL Certificate
Once you have the SSL certificate, you are ready to install it.
You just need to approve the certificate to install it, and the process will depend upon the type of certificate you get. For example, with an entry-level domain SSL, you need only verify your email to get the certificate and install it.
For other types of certificates, you’ll need to follow the instructions provided by your host. The technical support staff should be able to walk you through it once you have approved the certificate.
Backup Your Site
You never know what could go wrong when you make changes to your site, so it’s important that you always do a complete backup before you begin any update.
You likely have an option right in your cpanel to do the backup. If you use WordPress or a similar host, you can install a plugin that automatically backs up your site for you.
If you are having trouble, again, contact your host’s technical support to get assistance from start to finish. This is an essential part of the process, so you can’t make any mistakes.
Change Your Links
Once your HTTPS is fully implemented, you’ll need to update your internal links to reflect the new – more secure – URL.
The easiest ways to do this is to start using relative URLs. Then when you switch to HTTPS, the URL will automatically update. However, if you have been using absolute URLs instead, which use a specific address, you will need to manually change each of your internal links.
If you skip this step, the links will result in 404 errors when users click on them. Don’t waste all your hard work by leaving those old links as is.
Don’t forget to update your image URLs and any other links you have, such as links to videos and graphics.
Why It’s Good for SEO
Switching to HTTPS provides a more secure site for your users, which will give them more confidence to explore your site and return to it again and again.
Making the switch will also give you a small bump in your search ranking, but it may give you a huge bump if Google keeps moving in the direction it currently is. But even a small bump can result in thousands of new visitors to your site each month, depending on what kind of traffic you already get.
Switching to HTTPS may seem like an unnecessary technicality – it’s just that extra ‘S’ in the URL after all. However, making the switch really is a big deal, and doing so can have a major impact on the security of your site and your ranking in search.
Right now, the question isn’t so much whether sites should switch to HTTPS, but rather when they are going to make the switch if they haven’t already. Make that switch now if you haven’t.