SSL Certificate Guide: How to switch from HTTP to HTTPS?

Last Updated on 1st December 2022 by Ajmer Singh

Are you wondering what an SSL certificate is and why you need one, well, In this article, you will learn what is an SSL certificate and how it works.

SSL certificates are security essential to the World Wide Web. They benefit both website owners and internet surfers.

Consumers can feel safe shopping online or accessing private information without the worry of having their credentials stolen by hackers over a wireless network.

Website owners enjoy added protection from hackers as well as a boost in credibility with consumers.

An SSL certificate is a form of digital identification that allows secure connections between websites and browsers,

encrypting communications sent across networks such as WiFi hotspots or cellular data networks.

What is ssl certificate

The SSL technology is now recommended worldwide by all major web browsers,

including Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Opera browser and others.

It was previously known as Secure Sockets Layer but has now evolved into Transport Layer Security or TSL.

SSL technology is a means of security for data sent from a browser to a web server.

It establishes an encrypted link between them,

which in turn ensures that all data sent remains private and under the sole control of the website owner controlling the webserver.

It also verifies that website owners are who they claim to be.

SSL certificates also add an extra layer of security that prevents e-commerce fraud such as credit card theft or identity theft.

The encrypted link makes it extremely difficult for hackers to intercept data being sent between the web server and browser because,

without the SSL technology, all data is sent in plain text using a numerical code system which can very easily be intercepted by electronic eavesdroppers.

Without SSL certificates, any online business transactions are impossible to ensure true privacy during transmission.

SSL certificates give website owners an opportunity to improve consumer confidence and increase business.

With SSL certificates it is easier to gain trust, which means more sales and greater revenue.

What is ssl certificate

To summarize, an SSL certificate is a digital verification that confirms encrypting data sent between visitors using the internet and the web server is safe.

It enhances consumer confidence which leads to an increase in revenue for website owners.

Table Of Contents show

What is an SSL Certificate?

What is ssl certificate

An SSL certificate is a file hosted in the origin of a web server that attaches a cryptographic key to a website/organization’s details.

The main purpose of the SSL certificate is to provide a secure connection between a web server and a user’s browser.

What is SSL?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a security technology that enables encrypted communication between a browser and a server.

It is used to decrease the risk of losing sensitive information (like usernames, passwords, credit/debit card numbers, etc.) to hackers.

How many times have you been on the internet and clicked “I agree” to the terms of the use of a website?

Well, you are making it extremely easy for hackers to get into your computer. How do they do that?

What is ssl certificate

When you know what an SSL certificate is then you will be able to understand how important it is to keep your computer secure from hackers.

An SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It offers end-to-end encryption through HTTPS protocol.

To put it simply, when you type in a URL, for example, https://www.google.com/ the letters at the beginning of that (https) is an SSL certificate.

When someone wants to record any personal data such as passwords and credit card information – this is where an SSL certificate is used.

When you are sending your data to a particular website, for example,

https://www.google.com/ there is a chance that this could be intercepted by someone who can see all the traffic going over the public network – the internet.

With SSL certificates, there will be an encrypted connection between your web browser and the server hosting the website.

This process involves a third-party digital certificate authority so the two parties can trust each other to share data securely, whether it’s your personal info or even credit card details.

So there you have it.

The use of SSL certificates is vital for any business, especially if they are involved in the financial industry, to protect their customer’s personal information.

The use of SSL certificates can also make users feel safe and secure with the data they are sharing online; without them, any piece of information sent out is not private or confidential at all.

A hacker could easily intercept the user’s information if there was no use of an SSL certificate that encodes the information before it is sent out.

How does the SSL certificate work?

What it does typically is that it activates both padlock and HTTPS protocol thereby causing secured connections from a web server to a user’s browser.

Millions of sensitive information are transmitted by internet users on a daily basis ranging from bank statements to security numbers.

To avoid the interception and manipulation of this data by third parties, the SSL certificate was adopted.

It encrypts the data transmitted by internet users from a web server and decrypts it as soon as it gets to its destination.

They create a secured connection from a web server to a user’s browser.  

Is it necessary to buy an SSL Certificate?

What is ssl certificate

Yes, it is, for preventing the loss of sensitive information to hackers, it is important to decrease such risk.

If you want to improve your google ranking, buy it because a green bar gives your audience confidence that they are not on a fake site.

Where can you get the SSL Certificate?

You can generally be able to purchase that from your domain registrar or from a website hosting provider.

But hosting providers like Bluehost and Cloudways provide free SSL certificates with their hosting plans.

How to install an SSL Certificate?

Manually – If you want to install the SSL certificate manually,

it would be best if you went to the setup or the manage option which is available on the site from where you can purchase the SSL certificate.

You need to give them the details they are asking for such as username, email address, mobile number, etc. 

By using plugins – If you are using the plugin, then you need to download the plugin which is named Really Simple SSL,

and then activate the same and hereby your certificate will get installed automatically and your system will be highly secure to use.

A good hosting provider like Cloudways will install it for you.

How will you know if your SSL Certificate is installed or not?

What is ssl certificate

  1. Padlock at the left of your URL.
  2. HTTPS instead of HTTP.
  3. Green address bar.

How to migrate or switch from HTTP to HTTPS?

Have you been sorting for ways to move your WordPress site from HTTP to HTTPS?

This article should guide you on how to change the URL from HTTP to HTTPS on the WordPress website.

Before we dive deep, I will like to give a clear definition of some terms.

http to https migration

What is HTTP?

HTTP is an acronym that stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It is the fundamental protocol used in the transfer of files online.

It grants internet users the privilege of interacting with web resources by transmitting hypertext messages between clients and users.

Basically, HTTP makes use of the TCP protocol to communicate with servers.

HTTP is not secured because the connection it provides is not encrypted.

Hence, the not secure warning response you receive, anytime you navigate to a site without HTTPS.

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS is the secured version of HTTP, it is an acronym that stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.

It makes use of an SSL certificate to ensure the secured connection between a user’s browser and a server via an encryption method making it difficult for third parties to invade.

Once the data is encrypted, it is transmitted into numbers and letters that can’t be accessed by humans due to their complexity.

For instance, you visit a website to buy some product and you provided them with your bank information and some other personal information,

the job of HTTPS is to provide a secure connection that protects your data transfer and personal information from third parties.

http to https migration

Why you should move from HTTP to HTTPS?

1. It was mandated by Google.

In 2018, Google released an update that covers the intention of improving web security.

Similarly, all website owners were encouraged to move from HTTP to HTTPS.

2. Google also stated that sites that switched from HTTP to HTTPS will enjoy SEO benefits and higher rankings.

3. If you are still stuck with HTTP then chrome and other web browsers will notify users that “this site isn’t secure to navigate”.

Both HTTP and HTTPS are protocols that are essential criteria to run a website on a secured platform.

The protocol is, however, defined as certain rules and regulations we should follow to make the website and the whole system out of danger.

How to change the URL from HTTP to HTTPS on a WordPress website?

http to https migration

The first step to moving from Http to Https is to get an SSL certificate.

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

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

1. Install Really Simple SSL plugin

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

Read our article on how to install a 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.

http to https migration

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 WordPress and site address

To update your WordPress and 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.

Check our guide on WordPress Settings.

http to https migration

4. Change links containing HTTP to HTTPS in your content and database.

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, we 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 as .htaccess, then upload it to the WordPress root directory of your site.

.htaccess http to https redirect code

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.

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

http to https ssl 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.

http to https ssl check

Update your site environment

To be sure that your site has fully moved to HTTPS, there are a few things you should implement, they include;

1. Ensure that your sitemap is updated

If you have an SEO plugin on your website, your sitemap will be updated automatically.

However, if you use the Yoast SEO plugin, you will need to deactivate and reactivate again, after which you update your sitemap.

Ensure that your HTTPS URL is in robots.txt

2. Include your site in Google Search Console

Now that your site has moved to HTTPS, it’s now time to create a new profile for the HTTPS version on Google Search Console.

After this is created, submit your new sitemap files with the HTTPS version of your URL.

In addition to this, add the HTTPS version of your site to all the webmaster tools like Bing, Yahoo, and Google.

3. Update your site’s CDN

If you use a content delivery network on your site like Cloudflare. Update the profile there.

Use our guide for full settings of Cloudflare.

4. Update your Google Analytics

Go to Google Analytics and update it with the HTTPS version of your URL.

To do this, go to Admin>property settings>default URL

Read our guide to install google analytics in WordPress.

FAQS about SSL certificate!

Q: Will my Google rankings drop if I switch from HTTP to HTTPS?

A: No. HTTPS is actually a ranking signal for Google, so your rankings will potentially improve after the switch.

Q: What if I don’t have an SSL certificate?

A: You will need to get an SSL certificate. This is a requirement for HTTPS websites.

An SSL certificate encrypts the data between your website and your visitors, making it more secure.

http to https migration

Q: How long does the changeover take?

A: You can switch from HTTP to HTTPS in a matter of minutes.

All you really need to do is update your website’s URL and redirect people from HTTP to HTTPS, and vice versa.

Q: What happens if I forget about it and my existing HTTP traffic gets redirected to HTTPS automatically (or vice versa)?

A: If there is a mismatch between your HTTP and HTTPS versions (e.g. you have forgotten to redirect traffic), this can cause mixed content errors on your website.

It’s important to make sure that all of your URLs point to the same version of your website (either HTTP or HTTPS).

This will help prevent any errors from occurring.

Q: What happens if I switch my URL, but forget to redirect traffic properly?

A: If you’ve switched your website’s URL (e.g. https://www.mywebsite.com),

your visitors will automatically be redirected to the new HTTPS version of your site if they try accessing a non-HTTPS version.

However, if you’ve mistakenly switched your website from HTTPS to HTTP (e.g. http://www.mywebsite.com),

your visitors will not be able to access your website, as it is only available via HTTPS.

It’s important to make sure that all of your URLs are pointing to the correct version of your website (either HTTP or HTTPS).

http to https migration

Q: How can I get a free SSL certificate?

A: You can get free SSL certificates from different hosting providers like Cloudways or Bluehost.

Q: Do I need to pay for SSL?

A: Yes, you have to if you are getting it from a third party. Usually, they are charged on a yearly basis.

However, you will get it for free (lifetime) with Cloudways and Bluehost.

Q: What are the benefits of using HTTPS?

A: The main benefit of using HTTPS is that it helps keep your website data secure. It also helps protect your site visitors’ privacy.

Q: I’m having trouble getting my SSL certificate to work. What can I do?

A: If you’re having trouble getting your SSL certificate to work, you can contact your hosting provider for help.

Q: How to fix the problem of insecure content?

A: In order to solve this issue, you can follow this tutorial on How To Fix Insecure Content Problem in WordPress.

Q: Why do I need an SSL certificate?

A: An SSL certificate is required to run a secure website.

It helps protect users’ sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, passwords, and social security numbers.

Q: What are the benefits of using an SSL certificate?

A: The benefits of using an SSL certificate include:

* Secures user data and transactions.

* Keeps customer information private and secure.

* Site looks more professional.

Q: What are the minimum system requirements for using an SSL certificate?

A: The minimum system requirements for using an SSL certificate are:

* A web server running a version of Apache, IIS, Nginx, or LiteSpeed.

* A domain name.

* A valid SSL certificate.

* The ability to set the correct HTTP headers.

Q: How can I tell if my website is secure?

A: You can tell if your website is secure by looking for the padlock icon in your web browser’s address bar.

When you click on the padlock, you will see information about the SSL certificate that is being used by the website.

If the certificate has been issued by a trusted authority, then the browser will display the name of the authority in the address bar.

What is ssl certificate

Conclusion

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)

And when the user searches for something then the presence of some keywords will make your website at its peak and this is all done when your content is optimized.

After Google announced that the SSL certificate is mandatory for a website, 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.

Have any recommendations, suggestions, or ideas? Use the comment section.