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What does it mean to move from HTTP to HTTPS? Wait, what is HTTPS?
How does it impact you as a person? Let me give you a scenario which may explain this.
Are you a blogger or a small business owner? Perhaps you have a shop online where you sell products and need people to enter their credit card information.
Or maybe you are a blogger who gets traffic to your website on a regular basis with people leaving comments, connecting with you.
Maybe you’re even working with brands or advertisers.
Now imagine a person landing on your page and getting a message that says , ‘Warning: This site is not secure. Information entered here can be hacked.’
What would you do if you were the customer? Turn around and leave, of course!
Whether you are a blogger or a business, you don’t want people to leave.
That, my friends, is the number one reason you must make the move from HTTP to HTTPS.
What is HTTPS and why do I need it?
Before we get started, I must make a resounding disclaimer. I am not a tech-savvy person, not in the way you’d imagine.
I learn a lot through blogging and of course, Google, but I cannot code or manually overwrite commands in a complex algorithm.
So whatever you read here today is based on my personal experience as a blogger who made the move to HTTPS.
So, why read this then? For two reasons.
One, I can explain to the best of my ability, what is HTTPS and why you need it.
Two, I will be talking about the team that helped do all the heavy lifting on the back end and provided round-the-clock support right through the shifting process. So stick around.
What is HTTPS?
To put it in very simple terms, HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure.
For instance, this means that the data that is sent from my website (shailajav.com) to the browser (Google Chrome), is now secure.
Hackers and other middle men will find it more difficult to break into your site. This gives users a sense of relief.
Do I need HTTPS for my blog/website?
Short answer: Yes. Security is just one benefit of HTTPS. The others include:
- Google indexes your site higher in search results, so you have a competitive edge
- Your site is made AMP-ready (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
- Mobile views of your site will be indexed better
- You have a better experience to offer your users (think of how safe you feel when you visit a banking site)
*For more details, check out this site: 5 Reasons why HTTPS should be enabled on your website
How do I know if my site is HTTPS-enabled?
Enter any website’s name in the browser, using your desktop or mobile. We typically don’t type in ‘http’ when we do this, but that gets resolved automatically by the browser.
Now, notice if there is a green padlock icon at the beginning of the URL. It should look like the one in the image below. If yes, that means the site is secure.
If not, there will be an ‘i’ inside a circle. When that is clicked you will get a message that says ‘Your connection to this site is not secure’.
WordPress and Blogger: Do they have the HTTPS option?
Blogger’s platform has two options, as you may know. There is the free option and there is the custom domain option.
- Free domain: This means you have a blog that has the URL: http://www.xyz.blogspot.com Now, if that’s the case, you are in luck. You have the option to make the switch to HTTPS very easily. Check this tutorial and follow the steps exactly as mentioned: Switch to HTTPS
- Custom domain: This means you are still on blogger but you’ve paid to get the ‘blogspot.com’ removed from the URL. So it may be http://www.xyzl.com. If this is the case, then, follow this method: Switch to HTTPS on Blogger’s Custom Domain.
On WordPress, you have the choice between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
Most bloggers start off on the free WordPress platform. For instance I started off at shailajav.wordpress.com.
- WordPress Free: If your blog is abc.wordpress.com, then this site is already secure. Nothing needs to be done.
- WordPress Custom domain: If you have paid for masking or removing the wordpress.com from your URL but have not moved to self-hosted, that means you have a custom domain. So it would be https://www.shailajav.com, for example.
Good news! This, too, is secure! No effort required on your part.
WordPress.org or the self-hosted option is when you have your website on WordPress but have chosen an external hosting provider such as Bluehost or Siteground or Amazon or GoDaddy.
In my specific case, I originally bought the hosting from Bluehost but have since switched to Chemicloud for hosting services.
*I no longer recommend Bluehost for a variety of reasons. But when I made the switch to HTTPS, I was with Bluehost, so the rest of this post is written with that in mind.
This is what I have for both my blogs: https://www.shailajav.com and http://www.shailajav.in
I bought the hosting plan from Bluehost in August 2016 for this blog and at the time, I did not buy the SSL certificate.
So it fell to me, thanks to the October 1st deadline announced by Google, to make the shift to HTTPS as soon as I could.
How I made the shift to HTTPS
Well, first I panicked, because I had no clue how I would go about it!
Then, after I calmed down, I checked Bluehost and was glad to discover that they were offering free SSL certificates for everyone who was hosted with them!
Considering I have two blogs and needed it for both, this was a huge relief!
(Rajlakshmi, a fellow blogger, has written a very succinct description of the way she moved from HTTP to HTTPS here using Bluehost. You can check it out).
If you are slightly more tech-savvy than I am, I recommend this tutorial as well: Moving to HTTPS Guide
Here’s a handy checklist of things you can check if you are going to do it either on your own or with a tech support team.
For this process, I went with HostMyBlog, as I had been very impressed with some support they had provided for me back in June. I am thrilled to say they came through yet again!
HTTP To HTTPS Checklist:
- Buy and install the SSL certificate from your hosting provider or a third-party provider. (I got it for free from my provider)
- Back up your website before making any changes. Use a backup plugin like BackWpUp or UpdraftPlus.
- Check and install the certificate.
- Set up HTTP to HTTPS redirect.
- Update Google Analytics and webmaster search console.
*Optional: Get a paid social media plugin to restore social media share counts. I loved this feature! When you move from HTTP to HTTPS, you lose all share counts because Google doesn’t track the old URL.
I bought Easy Social Share at a one-time fee and was thrilled to see the share counts restored for all my social media accounts on each post, including Twitter!
If the above steps are freaking you out, relax. That’s where HostMyBlog comes in. So here’s what I did.
How HostMyBlog handled the move from HTTP to HTTPS
- I had to give them access to my hosting control panel as well as my WordPress dashboard. You can do so by changing your password temporarily for this process.
- I told them what I needed in the free consutation e-mail that they provided.
- They started the process after getting the green signal from me.
- Using Team Viewer, they could remotely access my screen and check which plugins I wanted to retain, which ones to discard and if there were any issues I faced. This is something I really appreciated since I had to login with my username and password.
- They remotely updated my Google Analytics dashboard as well as my search console. (These effectively tell you about the traffic you get to your website).
- The move from HTTP to HTTPS was done!
From start to end, there was zero downtime and absolutely no glitches on my site. I was thrilled at how seamless it had been.
If you’re even slightly worried about things going wrong, I recommend going with HostMyBlog. (This is not a paid promotion, by the way. I volunteered to write this post as a sign of gratitude).
*Featured image courtesy: Shutterstock
About HostMyBlog and services provided
- Domain + Web Hosting – They provide domain names & web hosting that come with free SSL Certificate.
- Theme Customization – This includes web development, logo design and a premium theme of your choice.
- Annual WordPress Maintenance – This is a premium support service availed by many top bloggers. It includes daily backups, security, troubleshooting, tweaks, updates and lots of maintenance work.
- #RepairMyBlog – This can include blog migration, http to https, URL fix and any WP related issues.