Why does your blog need an SSL Certificate and what is the difference between http and https?
When browsing online, have you ever taken a look at the URL? Some URLS use HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and others use HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). For years now, it has been required that all ecommerce websites sites use HTTPS or a secured URL. This is done to protect any private information that is submitted when someone purchases online. Now, you may notice that more than ecommerce sites use HTTPs in their URL (including my blog). In fact, half of the first page results in Google are now HTTPS. Why the change? Well, the answer is simple – Google is pushing for all websites to be secure, so that the web can become a safer place for people to browse.
What is an SSL Certificate?
An SSL Certification is a Secure Socket Layer Certificate. By adding this certificate to your website, your URL changes from HTTP://www.yourwebsite.com to HTTPS://www.yourwebsite.com, making your website more secure because this certificate adds an encrypted connection between the server and the browser. This allows visitors to browse your site, submit contact information or make a purchase in a safe environment.
Why do you need to secure your site and switch to https?
In 2014, Google made an announcement that encouraged websites to switch to HTTPS and stated that this update will now be a small part of the ranking signal in their algorithm. At first, this change seemed to only impact e-commerce websites, but as time has gone on, more and more websites are switching over to HTTPS.
Why Switch Your Blog Over to HTTPS:
- Build Trust with Your Visitors:
- Are you collecting email addresses or contact information on your blog? If so, adding an SSL certificate to your site will build trust with your visitors as they’ll know that their contact information is safe when they hit submit/subscribe.
- In 2014 Google announced this change will be part of their algorithm, which in return may help boost your rankings.
- In August 2017, they pushed a warning notification to Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) if your site was not HTTPS – further emphasizing that this update is important to Google. (and that they are making this more of a focus in the upcoming year(s))
- Google Analytics collects referral site data for HTTPs sites, but does not do this for non secure, HTTP sites.
What are SSL Certificate Provider Options?
There are multiple options for SSL certificates – some are free,while others charge a yearly fee. The one you choose will depend on what makes sense for your business. For most blog sites, using the LetsEncrypt SSL option, will work for your blog and some hosting providers are now including this as part of their hosting plan.
Still want to learn more about the differences between SSL certificates? Read this Moz’s blog post about the differences.
How to change to https from http?
Do you have an existing blog and need help switching over to HTTPS from HTTP? There are multiple steps you’ll need to take to switch over to HTTPS, but the first place you’ll want to start is with your hosting provider. Some hosting providers, like SiteGround, include an SSL certificate in their hosting plan. You can find out if your hosting provider includes an SSL certificate in their plan by checking out their hosting details page and/or contacting a customer service representative.
After you switch over to SSL, you’ll want to follow Google’s steps to update your Google Analytics profile, verify your new HTTPS site in Search Console and submit your new sitemap. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/34437
Which SSL and Hosting Option Did I Choose?
My blog is hosted on SiteGround, and one of the many reasons I went with their hosting plan is their SSL options. SiteGround has three main tiers of hosting options for WordPress Sites and all of these tiers have SSL options available. All three hosting options includes Let’s Encrypt SSL – this is a basic SSL certificate that is supported by all major browsers. With their plan, this certificate automatically renews for you, so you don’t have to worry about your site becoming unsecure. If you have a small – mid sized blog, this certificate would be perfect for you.
The second tier SSL option, Wildcard SSL, is included for the first year in their mid-high level tiers (This is a $60 value!) This option allows you to secure your domain and any subdomains. Wildcard SSL also includes a site seal, which is an extra measure to reassure visitors that your site is secure. Worth noting: if after the first year you would prefer not to renew your Wildcard SSL, SiteGround allows you to downgrade to the standard Let’s Encrypt SSL option.
Are you not using SiteGround, but want to switch after reading about the SSL benefits? They offer two simple options to help you switch to their hosting plan. Also, if you’re switching to HTTPS, they handle the 301 redirects for you – helping to make the process for you simplier and quicker.
Have any other questions about hosting and the switch to HTTPS? Ask me in the comments below or contact me today.
*This post contains affiliate links.