The credibility of your website depends upon the addition of a single 's' in the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (http). It basically indicates that your website is secure and gives the visitor on your website a sense of security that the website is safe. HTTPS is particularly useful where users have to enter their personal details such as bank account details, and contact details in the website as it adds a security layer to the protocol by encrypting the transfer of resources. There are several benefits of having an HTTPS in your website such as:
- It safeguards your user's valuable information by protecting it from security attacks.
- It adds credibility to your website as people will enter their details or make a purchase only when they see the lock sign and https in the browser.
- Most importantly, it helps in search engine ranking as Google's algorithm is designed in a manner that favors secure sites.
While HTTP is the first option that every business or blogger uses in the beginning, we recommend that you consider using the secure HTTPS if you are setting up a new blog with options to enter personal details or a new website for your business. If you already have a website with HTTP protocol, then you must consider migrating it to HTTPS to build your visitor's trust in your website.
Is it the right time to migrate to HTTPS ?
Absolutely yes! In a conference in June 2014, Google asked for 'HTTPS everywhere', which basically meant that all communication had to be secure by default. In fact, Google went a step ahead in 2016 and announced that it will mark all those sites without HTTPS as non-secure. The move makes it even more important to move to HTTPS. Of course, migrating from HTTP to HTTPS is going to be a task considering that there is a probability of losing your ranking. However, if done correctly, you can be assured of recovering the lost rank and eventually the website traffic.
How to migrate to HTTPS in a systematic manner ?
1. Choose the right protocol to generate a certificate
Let's first understand the significance of a certificate. A certificate is an encryption key that makes it difficult for third-parties to tamper or steal information from your server. In order to generate a certificate, you need to add a security protocol between the client and server. The security protocols are of two types - Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Security Socket Layer (SSL). You can choose either of them as both help in protecting sensitive data. Google recommends 2048-bit encryption certificate, so ensure that the certification complies with this rule. While you may prefer to buy the certification yourself, in most likelihood, your hosting company will offer them by default, while some may not offer it at all. So, review your hosting options before choosing the right one.
2. Create a URL map to avoid confusion during migration
When you migrate your website to HTTPS and URL would become https from http. There will be just an addition of 's' ahead of the domain name. However, that by itself makes a huge difference. They are two different URLs, so you have to ensure that all the pages of your old website is copied to the new website. This can be done by creating a URL map in a spreadsheet. All you need to do is - create two columns in the sheet. One should comprise the old URLs and the other the corresponding new URLs to keep a track of all your pages in the website. In case, you are using WordPress, you can add all the redirects to your .htaccess file.
3. Update links and images
If you have been adding internal links in your website, it might direct you to the old HTTP pages. It should ideally direct you to the HTTPS pages. To update these links, you will need to find them manually add the new URL to it. However, if your website was using relative URLs, you will not have to spend your time updating the URL manually as it does not specify the entire URL and instructs your browser to just add something in the end of the domain. So, when you migrate your website, the links will automatically take you to the corresponding HTTPS link. For example, http will automatically take you to https. Similarly, you need to ensure that all the image sources and locations exist on your domain. This will help you point them to the correct HTTPS location. In case you use both - the HTTP and the HTTPS URLs, then remember to use a protocol relative URL by adding a double slash in the front. This will instruct the browser to use HTTPS when the file is requested from the HTTPS page.
4. Include your website in Google Webmaster Tools
Considering that you have migrated your website, chances are you will lose traffic. To avoid further loss, ensure that Google crawling is done as soon as possible. Add the site and the sitemap to Google webmaster tools to ensure that Google updates its list and crawls the new website.
5. Test your website to ensure that it works well
Glitches are given especially when you migrate your website. There could be a drop in search rankings, and SEO. So, ensure that your website is tested post-migration to ensure that your customers are not left with a sore experience. Below are few things that you must look for post-migration
- Certification should be installed correctly
- Monitor your rankings to ensure that there is no alarming drop
- Check your web pages randomly to see if the secure lock is displayed in your browser
Besides the above steps, you also need to ensure that other components of the website such as the plug-ins, add-ons, robots.txt files are updated. You also need to ensure that the tools such as A/B testing software, keyword tracker uses the HTTPS versions of the URL and keep monitoring everything throughout the migration continuously to ensure that there are no major losses resulting from bad customer experience. After all, you are taking all these efforts to improve customer experience. If the user is left with a terrible experience, your entire efforts will become a futile exercise. So, ensure that the migration is well-planned and well-executed.
Author Bio: Elise Myers is web developer and passionate blogger. She is currently working at WPCodingDev and managing a team of 7 developers. While not working, she enjoys playing outdoor sports.