HTTPS is commonly seen at the beginning of a website’s URL. Casual users may often not worry about what it is, what the difference compared to HTTP is, and why it matters. However, internet security is now becoming a bigger concern for web users. Below, we cover the most important points on why websites should use HTTPS.
HTTP V.S. HTTPS
The “S” in HTTPS stands for secure. HTTPS is the secured version of HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), which is the main protocol used for loading web pages. The protocol allows web browsers (or clients) to communicate and exchange data with the server, and potential network attacks can happen at anytime and anywhere. HTTPS prevents attackers from stealing sensitive information and helps secure communications.
Why choose HTTPS instead?
Reason 1: Browsers will block insecure HTTP sources
If you notice the changes happening across web browser updates lately, it is obvious that there is a trend towards secure pages (https://) over insecure content (http://). The Google team is moving towards improved user privacy and working to create a safer network environment. The latest Chrome version as of this writing, which launched in February 2020, will block HTTP sub-resources by default. Firefox is also on its way to blocking insecure mixed content.
Reason 2: HTTPS as ranking signal (SEO)
Back in 2014, Google announced that their search algorithm will give priority to HTTPS sites, which make sure that people accessing websites from Google are safe. Although it is still a lightweight factor, Google could gradually strengthen this signal in the future. Secure sources with HTTPS will be recognized as high-quality content in their system. It has been tested that this slight change helps businesses gain higher exposure and can improve traffic by 7% within a month.
Reason 3: Gain trust from clients
Have you ever noticed the padlock icon shown on the address bar of your browser when visiting a webpage?
Web browsers are paying more attention to internet security. Studies from GlobalSign show that 77% of internet users are concerned about their data privacy, 28.9% look for the green address bar, and these numbers are constantly growing. The increasing demand for data security becomes a huge advantage when using HTTPS. Clients want to know if their personal details are protected when browsing your site. 13% of cart abandonments are concerned with payment security, and HTTPS (or the lock icon) is a way to show users that you take data security seriously.
How to migrate to HTTPS?
After understanding the importance of having HTTPS for your site, let’s take a look on how to redirect HTTP to HTTPS for your site.
1. Obtain SSL certificate
HTTPS uses the Security Socket Layer (SSL) protocol to protect user data. SSL is the security link between browsers and servers, using encryption algorithms to prevent hackers from reading data being transferred. There are numerous SSL certificate vendors that you can choose from. Below are a couple of options:
While there are many paid options for SSL certificates, LetsEncrypt and Cloudflare offer free methods to protect your site with HTTPS.
2. Install SSL certificate in your hosting account
Depending on which method you choose, you may need to install your certificate on your web server. Cloudflare has SSL setup on their online system, while LetsEncrypt offers methods for those with and without shell access.
3. Redirect and rewrite access files in your root folder
You will need to do a full sweep by updating all links on your site and database. This might include:
- Replace all HTTP (http://) sites with HTTPS (https://)
- Update custom scripts
- Update Google analytics URL
- Add 301 redirects to your new URL
- Update your URL on your CDN
4. Test your SSL certificate
Once you have finished updating, you will need to check if there are any problems or mistakes. SSL Labs Server Test provides a useful tool to help.
HTTPS is the future
As the user demand for data security continues to grow faster than ever before, websites should really consider moving from HTTP to HTTPS. HTTPS does not only help place our information in a safe environment, but it also benefits your business by ranking higher on SEO and gaining customer trust.
Converting your website from HTTP to HTTPS can cause some issues if not done properly. If you want professional help making your website secure, Maples Design is here to answer your questions and get you protected.