What Is SSL And HTTPS And Why You Need To Upgrade

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HTTPS And SSL

Without HTTPS and SSL, your site will be labelled as insecure.

This is not good for your PR for your site.

Whether you like it or not, technology moves forward rapidly every day.

So what is SSL and HTTPS?

It is impossible to keep up with every little change, but HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) are now unavoidable.

If you stay with an old HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) site, your site will soon be labelled by most browsers as being an insecure website.

In other words, this will indicate that your site is not trustworthy, which won’t go down at all well with your site’s visitors.

Very soon, Chrome browser will label all HTTP sites with a prominent ‘Not Secure‘ warning.

This website is not secure warning - Chrome Browser

If you don’t know what all these acronyms mean, you can read a good basic explanation on Wikipedia.

It will not be an issue for those authors and self-publishers who use free blogging platforms such as Blogger, WordPress.com, Weebly or Wix. These services are all HTTPS and SSL secured.

But it is becoming a pressing issue for authors with websites and blogs that are self-hosted.

The future of the Internet is all about secure connections, encrypted communication and protection of user data. Google has made it clear that it wants sites to be HTTPS and SSL secure by giving secured sites a ranking preference in Google Search.

After updating all my sites to HTTPS, I have seen a 15% jump in site traffic. So taking the time to establish a secure connection to my site is well worthwhile.

 

What do you need to do to get HTTPS and SSL on your site?

Changing your website or blog from HTTP to an HTTPS secure version is relatively simple.

You can do a search on Google for this information, and you will get hundreds of advice articles such as this one to guide you through the process.

Basically, you can most probably obtain a free SSL certificate from your website or blog hosting service, and then apply it to your site.

Let’s Encrypt is one of the most popular SSL certificates, and it satisfies all the necessities. Easy.

Once you make the change on your hosting provider, you will have a secure HTTPS and SSL certified site that will be recognised in all modern browsers.

You will see a padlock icon in front of your URL, and in most browsers, there will be a green, secure label telling visitors that your site is safe to visit.

 

Great. All done! But, hold on a minute because there is one BIG problem.

Most of the advice articles I read before changing all my sites over to HTTPS and SSL made it sound so simple. And it was. My sites were HTTPS and SSL secured in minutes on all web browsers.

But only a few articles mentioned the one big problem this change creates.

 

Here’s the problem

Changing from HTTP to HTTPS and SSL changes your site’s URL. Because of this, your HTTP URL will no longer work.

So all the internal and external links to your site will become dead links.

This is very bad news because all the work you have done in promoting and linking your website or blog will now lead to a page not found 404 error.

 

The solution.

If you know how to edit your .htaccess file on your web server host’s Cpanel, you can add a permanent 301 redirection to make all the pages and posts from your old HTTP address automatically redirect to your new HTTPS address.

Use the following code but exclude the ‘RewriteEngine on‘ if it already exists, and replace ‘yoursite.com‘ with your site address.

# BEGIN Permanent redirect of old URLs
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP:X-Forwarded-Proto} !https
RewriteRule (.*) https://yoursite.com/$1 [R=301,L]

</IfModule>

Now every page will link immediately to the corresponding page of your new site.

If you don’t know or are not sure how to edit your .htaccess file, get someone who knows how to do it to help you, as making even a small mistake in editing your .htaccess file can lead to your site going down.

Once this change is made, all the old links leading to your site will find the new HTTPS connections.

However, it is good practice to update your website address on your social media profiles, even if just to show people that you have a secure website.

If you use Google Analytics, you will need to go to Admin > Property Settings and change your site to HTTPS.

No other action is needed, and all your analytics data will be retained from your old address.

For Google Webmaster Tools (or Search Console as it is now called) you can’t update your old site. You will need to create a new property and wait for Google to crawl your new site. It can take about two weeks, so be patient.

 

Summary

If you have the know-how, there’s no reason not to upgrade your website or blog to HTTPS with an SSL certificate. The benefits of site security for your website visitors and a small boost in traffic from Google and Bing search will be worth the investment of an hour of your time.

For those who don’t have the skills, contact your hosting service and ask if they can help you upgrade your site.

If it can’t, find a friend with the expertise, or engage the services of a website developer. As it takes only a half an hour or so to change a site to HTTPS, it shouldn’t break your bank to pay for the upgrade.

There is no panic to make the change to a secure site. But HTTPS is now the standard, so your site will need upgrading quite soon. So it’s time to start planning for your upgrade.

 

More reading: 7 Essential WordPress Plugins For Bloggers And Writers

 

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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

3 thoughts on “What Is SSL And HTTPS And Why You Need To Upgrade

  • August 27, 2018 at 11:44 pm
    Permalink

    How much did it cost you to obtain the certificate required to convert to https? My host will do the whole thing for $285. When I looked at doing it myself, getting the certificate alone was nearly $200.

    There are some freebie services but I don’t know how trustworthy they are, or if it even matters. :/

    Reply
    • August 28, 2018 at 6:51 am
      Permalink

      I used a free Let’s Encrypt certificate through my host and it works fine.

      Reply
  • May 23, 2017 at 11:49 pm
    Permalink

    Hi some hosting companies won’t allow let’s encrypt certs as they have arrangement with another supplier such as Thorpe. I wonder if could just allow my humble WordPress site be managed by Cloud flare which will handle the SSL as well.

    Reply

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