Four Step Guide On Making The Switch From HTTP to HTTPS For Your Website Encryption

Brandon LazovicMarch 23, 2021

In 2014 Google announced its intent to make the internet more secure through migrating specific websites from HTTP to HTTPS.

As of 2017 the number of encrypted site traffic has surpassed that of unencrypted site traffic, providing the sites that utilize HTTPS increased reliability and perceived security for user data compared to those that don’t.

Google also factors HTTPS in its algorithm for SEO, highlighting the importance of using HTTPS for your website.

HTTPS Terms You Should Know

There is a lot of confusion regarding the difference between HTTP and HTTPS, so let’s walk through the key differences between the two protocols:

  • HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol): An application protocol for distributed hypermedia information systems. HTTP serves as the foundation of data communication on the internet.
  • HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure): Computers agree on a “code” and scramble the messages using that code so no one can read them, keeping your data safe from hackers or malicious parties.
  • Encryption: the process of encoding a message or information so that only authorized parties can access it.
  • SSL (Secure Sockets Layer): Secures connections between a network application and servers over an insecure network such as the internet.
  • SSL Certificate: Data files that encrypt digital information and activate secure connections on web servers
    DNS (Domain Name Servers): The Internet’s system for converting alphabetical names into numeric IP addresses.

Why Is HTTPS Important?

Why Making The Switch From HTTP to HTTPS Is Important

Google ranks sites that utilize HTTPS as more relevant to searchers as those websites display a higher level of integrity compared to ones that only use HTTP.

For e-commerce websites, using HTTPS is critical in protecting a shopper’s information so shoppers have a safe experience compared to perusing and inputting confidential information through shady online retailers.

The Google Chrome web browser will display a green padlock that shows a site is “secure” alongside labeling “https” before the URL.

Sites that aren’t secure will display an “I” with an explanation as to why the site isn’t secure, or a red triangle if a website poses an even greater security threat.

Looking to learn more about search engine optimization? Read our SEO beginner’s guide for everything you need to know about SEO and how to drive business results through search engines like Google and Bing. 

How HTTPS Impacts SEO

How Making the Switch From HTTP to HTTPS Will Impact Your SEO

From an SEO standpoint, Google will often rank sites with HTTPS higher than ones that don’t, but only if the content itself is relevant. Many marketers associate Google’s PR campaign as site shaming to entice users to make the switch from http to https.

As of 2017 50 percent of page one search results are https; based on these results, having https on your website won’t seriously impact your SEO if your content is relevant.

Google is fighting the long war for https conversion and is trying to strike a balance; on the hand, if they reward sites with HTTPS when a lot of sites aren’t using it, they risk a lot of backlash from good sites that haven’t made the switch. On the other hand, if they begin rewarding sites when a majority have already made the switch, the change in the algorithm will be moot.

Once more sites make the switch, Google will most likely turn up the volume for rewarding sites that use https, but for the time being it won’t have a significant impact on your SEO.

Converting Your Site From HTTP to HTTPS

How To Convert Your Website From HTTP to HTTPS

Luckily for users it’s a simple process to convert your website from http to https:

Buy a SSL Certificate

Most web hosts will offer the option to purchase a SSL Certificate; I recommend buying from your hosting company as they’ll make sure the certificate is installed correctly on your website.

Install SSL Certificate On Your Web Host Account

Again, have your host company install your SSL Certificate; if you purchased from a third party, installing the certificate on your own can be tricky and you run the risk of installing it improperly.

Double Check Your Internal Linking

Before going live with the SSL Certificate, make sure that each of your URL’s has converted to https, as a mix of http and https will confuse readers and potentially cause page features to improperly load.

Set up 301 redirects to search engines

By default most content management systems offer plugins that automatically redirect server traffic to the new secure protocol while alerting search engines of the switch. If your website doesn’t have a CMS, you’ll need to set up your redirects manually and alert search engines via services like Google’s Search Console of the change.

Issues You Might Face Switching To HTTPS

While there are benefits of switching from http to https, you also run a few risks that you should be aware of.

Certain shared hosting models like Bluehost and GoDaddy require a dedicated IP for SSLs, which may involve updating your DNS records if you’re changing your IP.

Like I mentioned earlier, sites on CMS platforms like Joomla or WordPress have modules and plugins to assist with converting protocols, although assets on sites that aren’t uploaded to these platforms may still direct traffic to unsecured connections. Sites that don’t use a CMS will require a manual update, requiring the assistance of tech support or transitioning to a site that uses a CMS or a plugin to ease this process.

Additionally, if you’re using third-party resources on your site that link to separate servers, they may still be accessing insecure assets that negate the use of https.

Alerting Search Engines to Your HTTPS Conversion

Once you’ve properly set up your SSL Certificate and https conversion, you need to submit a new sitemap to Google Search Console so it can recrawl your site for the Google Search Index.

Converting to HTTPS Conclusion

Using a secure protocol on your website is crucial in maintaining an air of reputability and security for your website in the eyes of your viewers.

While Google is fighting the long war, more websites are making the switch and you should be proactive in making visitors feel secure when browsing your site.

Using http is becoming outdated and may even scare away visitors when they’re faced with the threat of having their information unencrypted for unauthorized third parties to access. It’s only a matter of time before Google begins factoring https more heavily into their SEO rankings, highlighting the importance of converting before your website is impacted by the algorithm.

What did you think of this post on converting from http to https? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment’s section below! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my other posts on factors that impact SEO, ranging from site load speed to using the right keywords on your web pages.

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