Moving to HTTPS for your WordPress website

One thing’s for sure. Life is moving fast and with it, technology is always changing and evolving. And from time to time, you’ll need to make updates to your website to reflect that. Whether it’s your website’s user experience that demands an overhaul or Google setting new standards for website best practice, it’s inevitable that change will take place.

There’s a couple of things that you may have noticed when browsing your favourite websites:

  • Website URL’s starting with https:// (with the ‘s’ being more visible these days)
  • Websites have a green ‘Secure’ status next to their URL with a padlock to go with it.

It’ll look a lot like this:

how to secure my website

It makes my website look pretty damn secure, doesn’t it? For the more inquisitive of you, HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) means that there’s secure and confidential communication occurring over the computer network. In this day and age when hacking is a very real and scary thing, it means a lot when you land on a website that’s officially secure. Let’s explore this more…

The Why

As a visitor to any website, the secure status gives you peace of mind when making your next online purchase or filling in a contact form.

As an owner of a website, you’ll want to reassure your customers and clients that your website is safe to browse.

Not only that, Google has now encouraged ALL website to be secure and could favour secure websites more in when displaying search results. Google Chrome has also started labelling http:// website as ‘Not Secure’, which doesn’t provide much confidence to website visitors.

Ultimately it’s just a matter of time until it’s mandatory to have a secure website. Better to jump on it now and remove the chances of being Google-penalised.

The How

There are a number of tasks involved with securing your website and if you aren’t particularly tech savvy or you’re time poor, contact your website developer (or me) to do it for you.

Pre setup

Backup your website files and database
This is always an important step when making changes to your website.

Install a SSL Certificate onto your website server
Some hosting companies provide a SSL Certificate for free (ie. SiteGround). Other hosting companies charge a small yearly fee for one and others that you’ll need to purchase one externally and install it yourself.

Setup your https website

Change website URLs in your WordPress Settings
Tell your WordPress website that you’re now using a new URL (https)

Redirect
Set up a 301 redirect from the http version to the https version of your website. This will ensure that visitors to your website will only access the secure version and it makes certain that there’s only one version of your website (Google hates to see duplicate websites).

Add this code to your .htaccess file to achieve the redirect:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule (.*) https://yourbusiness.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Search and Replace old URLs in your database
You won’t be able to achieve the green ‘Secure’ until ALL of your website is using the https protocol. All of your images and links will still be http. Install the Better Search Replace plugin and use it to replace all http://yourbusiness.com references in your website to the https version. And repeat the process with http://www.yourbusiness.com as well.

Testing

Go through your new website and check every page that it has scored the green ‘Secure’ status. If a page doesn’t get this status, chances are there’s a website link that is still http. View the page in Google Chrome and go to View > Developer > Developer Tools in the top menu to investigate which URL is causing the problem and then change it.

SEO tasks for your https website

Update your URL
Change your URL to the https version in the following places:

  • Google Analytics
  • Refresh your sitemap
  • Social media profiles
  • External links that send people to your website (eg. association links, etc)

Google Search Console
Submit your website URLs (both https:// and https://www versions) as new properties.

Again, if you get stuck along the way, get in touch. This process is only done once so it’s important to get it right to ensure minimal disruption to your website. And once it’s done, you’ll know that your website visitors will have that extra assurance that they can browse, interact and shop your website with peace of mind.

2018-04-20T13:02:56+00:00By |Website Tips, WordPress|0 Comments

About the Author:

I’m Ange, an inspired web designer who loves working with small businesses to take their websites to the next level of amazing. I work intuitively by listening to my clients' needs and communicate with language you can understand. You can view my creations here >

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