What is SSL Certificate: HTTP to HTTPS

Do you want to know “What is SSL Certificate”?

As online security threats continue to change, it’s important for website owners to take steps to protect their visitors’ sensitive information.

One of the most effective ways to boost the security of your website is to switch from HTTP to HTTPS.

HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) is a more secure version of the standard HTTP protocol that encrypts data transmitted between your web server and your visitors’ browsers.

An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate can establish a secure connection and prevent data theft, cyber attacks, and other security risks.

In this article, I’ll guide you through the process of switching from HTTP to HTTPS, from understanding SSL certificates to troubleshooting common issues.

What exactly is an SSL Certificate?

ssl certificate definition

Imagine you’re sending a letter through the mail, and you want to make sure nobody can peek at it while it’s on its way.

An SSL certificate is like a special envelope that you put your letter in.

This envelope has a lock on it, and only the person you’re sending the letter to has the key to open it.

Similarly, websites also send and receive information, like passwords or credit card details.

An SSL certificate is like that special envelope, and it’s used to keep this information safe while it travels from your computer to the website you’re using.

It ensures that only you and the website can understand the information, and nobody else can spy on it.

Types of SSL Certificates

ssl certificate types

Just like in the real world, there are different types of envelopes with different levels of security.

SSL certificates also come in various types, and they offer different levels of protection.

Domain Validation (DV): Think of this like a basic envelope. It checks if the website you’re using is who they say they are.

It’s like confirming that the return address on the envelope matches the sender.

Organization Validation (OV): This is like a slightly more secure envelope. It not only checks the website’s identity but also verifies that it’s a legitimate business.

It’s like checking the sender’s ID before sending the letter.

Extended Validation (EV): This is the most secure envelope. It goes through a strict process to confirm the website’s identity and business credentials.

It’s like having a certified, high-security envelope for your important documents.

Wildcard SSL: This is a special type of envelope that can protect multiple pages on a website with a single certificate.

It’s like having one key to open all the envelopes in your mailbox.

Multi-Domain SSL (SAN SSL): This envelope can secure multiple websites or domains with one certificate.

It’s like having one key to open different envelopes for various websites you own.

Why did You need to Switch to HTTPS?

migration or switch

Switching to HTTPS is like upgrading from regular postal mail to secure, registered mail with a locked envelope. Here’s why it’s important:

Security: With HTTPS, your data is encrypted and secure as it travels between your computer and the website you’re visiting.

This makes it extremely difficult for hackers to intercept or steal your personal information.

Trust: Websites with HTTPS show a padlock in the address bar, indicating a secure connection.

This builds trust with your users, and they’re more likely to share their information with you or buy things from your website.

SEO Benefits: Search engines like Google prefer secure websites. They may rank HTTPS websites higher in search results, so more people can find your site.

Compliance: Some industries and regulations require websites to use HTTPS to protect user data and maintain privacy standards.

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How to Change the URL from HTTP to HTTPS?

http to https migration

The first step to moving from HTTP to HTTPS is to get an SSL certificate.

Hosting providers like Cloudways provide a free SSL certificate with any of their plans.

They install, update and renew the certificate automatically (for free) without any tension from your side.

Looking for a more secure third-party SSL certificate then get it from Godaddy.

After getting an SSL certificate, you need to follow some steps.

1. Install Really Simple SSL plugin

really simple ssl plugin

This method is easy to navigate for beginners. Search and install the really simple SSL plugin.

Upon activation, navigate to the Settings>SSL page.

What the plugin does is detect the SSL certificate of your page automatically and it also helps in setting up your WordPress site to use HTTPS.

The plugin fixes the following issues:

  • Detects SSL certificate.
  • Modifies WordPress to use HTTPS in the URL.
  • 301 redirect from HTTP to HTTPS.
  • Fixes contents URL still loading from HTTPS sources.

2. Backup your site 

Whenever you are about to make a major change to your site, what I advise is that you back up your site first.

This is because if anything goes wrong, you can always go back to the working version.

3. Update your site address

To update your WordPress site address, simply go to the settings>general and add https:// to both URLs, then click on the save changes button at the bottom of the page.

4. Change links containing HTTP to HTTPS

The next step in moving your site from HTTP to HTTPS is to update the links in your content that contain the HTTP protocol.

For easy updates, you can make use of the Velvet Blues update URL plugin.

Links that will be altered include:

  1. Media (Images, audio files, PDF, videos)
  2. Internal links
  3. CSS and Javascript files
  4. Web fonts

5. Add the 301 redirects in your .htaccess file

The next step you should take in moving your sites to HTTPS is implementing a redirect that leads visitors to the secured version of your site automatically.

To enable this, I will make use of the .htaccess file that is located in the WordPress root directory of your site.

The file contains settings for permalinks, so it’s very possible you have one already.

To locate it, allow your FTP clients to show hidden files because by default the .htaccess is invisible.

If you don’t have one, simply create a plain text file and name it .htaccess, then upload it to the WordPress root directory of your site.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule (.*) https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

Copy the above code.

With the redirect in place, rest assured that your visitors will be directed to the HTTPS version of your site.

Cross-check to be sure that none of your content is available in HTTP and HTTPS versions.

Duplicate content poses a threat to your site’s SEO.

Note: Most of the good hosting providers will add the rule by itself. So make sure to check before adding the code.

6. Run a test for your site 

After the above steps have been implemented, it’s now time to check that your site functions correctly.

To do this, use the SSL test to do a total check-up of your site.

ssl server test

Simply input your site’s URL and click on the submit button. After this is done, patiently wait for your result.

Once the test is completed, you should also make use of the SSL check to check for leftover images, scripts, CSS, and files that are not secured.

ssl check test

Things to do After HTTPS

So, you’ve upgraded your website to HTTPS, like putting a strong lock on your website’s front door.

Great job! But there are a few more things you should do to make sure everything works smoothly:

Check Your Website: After adding that lock, make sure everything on your website is still working correctly.

Click on links, fill out forms, and test all the features to make sure they work as they should.

Update Internal Links: If you’ve changed from HTTP to HTTPS, you might have internal links on your site that need updating.

Make sure all links on your site now point to the secure HTTPS pages.

Redirect Traffic: Set up what’s called a “301 redirect” from your old HTTP pages to the new HTTPS ones.

This ensures that anyone who tries to visit the old, non-secure pages is automatically sent to the secure ones.

Update External Links: If you have control over it, update any external links or partnerships to use the new HTTPS URL.

This way, people clicking on links from other websites will still arrive on your secure site.

Update Search Engines: Let search engines like Google know about your new secure site.

You can do this by resubmitting your website’s sitemap or using Google Search Console.

Update Social Media: If you’ve shared links to your website on social media, update those links to the new secure ones.

Update Content Delivery Networks (CDN): If you use a CDN to speed up your site, make sure it’s properly configured for HTTPS.

Troubleshooting SSL Certificate Issues

check issues

Sometimes, that lock on your website’s front door might act a little finicky. Here’s what to do if you run into problems:

Check Expiry Date: SSL certificates have an expiration date. If your certificate has expired, your site won’t be secure. Renew it before that happens.

Mixed Content: If your site is not fully secure, it might be because of mixed content.

This happens when some elements, like images or scripts, are still loaded over HTTP. You’ll need to update those elements to load over HTTPS.

Certificate Mismatch: Make sure the domain on your certificate matches your website’s domain. If they don’t match, your visitors might see a warning.

Certificate Chain Issues: Ensure that your SSL certificate is properly installed with all the necessary intermediates and root certificates.

Missing or incorrectly configured certificates can cause issues.

Browser Compatibility: Some older browsers may not support the latest encryption standards.

Ensure your SSL certificate is compatible with the browsers your visitors are using.

Server Configuration: Check your web server’s configuration to make sure it’s set up correctly for HTTPS. Misconfigurations can lead to security issues.

Verify Certificate Authority: Make sure your SSL certificate is issued by a trusted Certificate Authority (CA).

If it’s from an unknown or untrusted source, it can cause problems for your visitors.

Wrapping Up – SSL Certificate (HTTP to HTTPS)

Now, that your website is secured and showing such signs of safety, the visitors seeing your website will be comfortable to use the same without any hesitation.

And thereby increasing the traffic on your website and you will get a higher rank in the list of most seen websites.

So, it is important to purchase the SSL certificate so that you get to enjoy the benefits of SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

After Google announced that the SSL certificate is mandatory for websites, many developers switched to the HTTPS connection in place of the HTTP connection.

Above all, the main reason for the HTTPS connection is to ensure secure communication for users when they access your site.

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