Secure your website or blog with HTTPS And SSL

Without HTTPS and SSL, your site will be labelled as insecure. Not good for your author PR.

Whether you like it or not, technology moves forward rapidly every day. While it is impossible to keep up with every little change, HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) are now becoming unavoidable. If you stay with an old 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.

While this will not be an issue for those authors and self-publishers who use free blogging platforms such as Blogger, WordPress.com, Weebly or Wix because these services are all HTTPS and SSL secured, 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 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 modest 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 make the change to a secure 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 HTTPs 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.

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, and because of this, your HTTP URL will no longer work.

So all the internal and external links to your site will be as dead as a dodo. 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 host’s Cpanel, you can add a permanent 301 redirection to make all the pages and posts on 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 address. 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.

Of course, there is no panic to make the change to a secure site, but in the next couple of years, HTTPS will become the standard, therefore your site will need upgrading at some stage. So it’s time to start planning for it now.

This page was last updated on March 3rd, 2017

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