Switching Your Website to HTTPS

Security is becoming an important issue these days and if you want people to feel confident in your website, you need to make it as secure as you can. Reports also indicate that Google is giving a ranking boost to sites that utilize https throughout the entire website. This may also be a good reason to install an SSL certificate. This means installing an SSL certificate and switching from HTTP to HTTPS if you haven’t done so. This isn’t as hard to do as you might think. You can either have your hosting company take care of it for you or the website developer you are working with. Or if you are tech savvy, you can take care of it yourself. There are a number of steps that you will need to follow as seen below.

Buy an SSL Certificate

First up, buy an SSL Certificate. As you are doing your homework, you might notice that there are several kind of certificates out there. They all work the same way, some happen to come with more features than others and you will need to figure out which is the right fit for you.

  • Domain SSL - if you are looking for basic and simple, this is for you. A Domain SSL will cover one domain name and is issued the same day. The padlock will appear in your browser bar along with your domain name.
  • Organization SSL - this will be the next step up and requires a bit more information to ensure that you are the domain owner. The process may take up to a day or so. The padlock will appear in your browser bar along with your company and domain name.
  • Extended SSL - this offers you the green browser bar showing your domain name and company details. This process is more in depth and requires more verification - legal, physical, operational - and may take up to 3 or 4 business days to complete.

Install your SSL Certificate

Once you purchase your SSL certificate, you will need to approve it. Once approved, you will be sent the SSL code for installation. If you are with a hosting company, it’s best to let them take care of this for you. You may also require a dedicated IP address for your certificate.

Backup Your Files

When you make important changes to your website, it’s always a good idea to run a backup of all your website files. You never know when you might need to recover data.

Update all HTTP Links to HTTPS

Since you are switching your entire site from HTTP to HTTPS, you need to adjust those links pointing to internal pages and modify them from HTTP to HTTPS. This is slow and steady work of going through your site and updating them. If you have just a few pages, you can do it manually or have your developer update them. If you have a larger site, you may want to automate this process.

Update Your Code

If you happen to use coding tools like JavaScript or Ajax, you’ll need to double check and make sure the code has been updated. You don’t want broken functions on your website.

Update External Links and Social Media Accounts

If you happen to have listings in directories (such as local listings), you should update these as well. Don’t stress about this point too much because you will also be setting up redirects which will automatically send HTTP traffic to HTTPS without the error messages. And don’t forget to update your social media links as well.

Set up 301 Redirects

In order to avoid those pesky error messages that say “page not found”, take the time to set up your 301 redirects. This is simply to make sure that you are permanently redirecting traffic from one page to another. Your web developer should be able to take care of this for you with no problems.

Update Third Party Tools, Paid Search, and Emails

If you happen to use any third party tools for billing, invoicing, email marketing, etc., you will need to go through and update the links from HTTP to HTTPS. Of course, your 301 redirects will take care of this issue, but it’s always a smart bet to have the secure HTTPS links included correctly in your emails. If you are using paid search, check and make sure the URLs of any landing pages that you are using are set to HTTPS.

Update Google Analytics

If you are using any of the Google tools, don’t forget to update them as well.

This may seem like a bit of a tedious process, but you are going to want a secure site. Eventually it will probably be required. And don’t forget that Google sees HTTPS as a positive ranking factor. Having a secure site can help you in the long run to receive better rankings. Remember, it’s okay if you don’t want to do this yourself. An experienced web developer will be able to take care of all these steps for you to make sure your website is running correctly.