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HTTP to HTTPS: Make the Switch & Secure Your Website

Web Security23 August 2017
HTTP to HTTPS: Make the switch and secure your website

As the world of technology evolves, so do the dangers that lurk online; therefore, it should not come as a shock that Internet gurus, such as Google, are working hard to try to create a more secure web. Yet, the fact of the matter is that very few websites have yet to make the switch from HTTP to the more secure HTTPS.

Making the switch to HTTPS is now more important than ever given that Google just recently sent out an email warning to all Search Console administrators of HTTP websites. The email notified administrators that, as of October 2017, its Chrome browser will mark all HTTP forms and other sections where visitors are asked to input information as not secure. This means if your website is not using HTTPS and a prospective customer attempts to submit an inquiry through an online form, they will be notified that it is not secure. This may decrease your conversion rate and the number of leads you receive.

The website design and development experts at FirstPage Marketing understand how important it is to create a secure web, and how something as simple as switching from HTTP to HTTPS is the first step in making that happen.

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The Benefits of Switching From HTTP to HTTPS

HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) works to protect the integrity and confidentiality of data shared between a user’s computer and a website by transferring data through the secured Transport Layer Security protocol. This protocol provides three key layers of protection:

  1. Encryption – this works to encrypt the user’s data, while they are browsing a website, so that any unwanted sources cannot listen in on their conversations, track their activities, or steal their information.
  2. Data Integrity – this prevents data from being intentionally or unintentionally modified or corrupted without being detected.
  3. Authentication – this proves that users are communicating with the website they intended to, while also protecting against man-in-the-middle attacks.

Google has mentioned in the past that HTTPS may be used as a ranking signal when it comes to search engine rankings as well. Meaning, switching from HTTP to HTTPS could help boost a website’s ranking, make it more visible on Google search results, and increase its competitiveness.

It is important to note that while switching from HTTP to HTTPS can help prevent a lot of bad things from affecting a website, it is not a cure all solution. Even after making the switch to HTTPS, a website can still be vulnerable to certain attacks and website hacking. You should also make sure that all other entry points to your website are also secured to prevent access from malicious parties.

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How to Switch From HTTP to HTTPS

Switching from HTTP to HTTPS can be broken down into four steps:

1. Check for an HTTPS Connection

First, check to see if you have access to HTTPS on your website. This can be done by entering https:// in front of your domain. If you arrive at an error page, this means that there is no SSL certificate implemented on the web server and one should be purchased.

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2. Purchasing an SSL Certificate

The next step to implementing HTTPS is to purchase a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate from your website host or SSL seller. An SSL is verified by authorities to ensure that the website is authentic by checking the ownership of the domain. The SSL includes the key to encrypting data sent and received by the website. After purchasing the SSL certificate, it can be downloaded and installed on your website.

3. Implementing HTTPS

There are multiple methods of installing an SSL depending on the type of hosting environment and host that your website has. This should be discussed with your web hosting provider to determine who will install the SSL so it is ready to be used. Once the SSL has been installed on the web hosting server, you will be able to visit your domain by using https:// in front of it, without an error occurring.

Being able to visit your domain without an error occurring does not mean that the website has a completely secure connection. In order to have a completely secure connection, all resources on the page (CSS, JS, images) need to be loaded using HTTPS. It is important to ensure that any resources that are being linked to on the website, whether internal or external, are linked using HTTPS.

Once this has been completed, there should be a green “Secure” notification in the web browser bar indicating that the connection to the website is now secure.

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4. Testing HTTPS on the Website

The final step is to test all pages of your website to ensure that everything is loading through HTTPS and nothing is loading as HTTP. A number of other tests and changes will need to be performed to ensure that the HTTPS is implemented correctly and that the Internet knows about it, including:

  • Updating links on your website
  • Updating canonical tags
  • Ensuring that scripts are working and being loaded on HTTPS
  • Forcing HTTPS on all pages using a script
  • Updating the sitemap and robots.txt file
  • Update Google Search Console
  • Update Google Analytics
  • Update any content management systems connected to the website

Making the change from HTTP to HTTPs does not have to be a scary, complicated process, and you certainly do not have to do it alone. If you would like to learn more about making the switch from HTTP to HTTPS, or if you are looking for someone to help you make the change, please contact us today. The professional digital marketing team at FirstPage Marketing would love to help you take the first step in creating a secure website for your users.

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