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How to Update Your Website to HTTPS

Update your website to HTTPS

If your website isn’t currently HTTPS, it should be. In this blog post we provide a straightforward rundown of how to update your website to HTTPS.

Are you looking to improve your search engine rankings? Do you want to increase user confidence when they visit your website? Assuming the answer to both of these questions is a resounding yes, you should consider updating your website to HTTPS.

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Security is a high priority for anyone with an Internet connected device, and Google have recognised this. Google give a slight ranking boost to websites that use HTTPS to deliver secure connections. And what’s more, HTTPS websites give visitors peace of mind that their sessions will not be eavesdropped or intercepted, increasing the likelihood of conversions.

In this blog post, we’ll give you a rundown of how to update your website to HTTPS. But before we start showing you the steps, just what is HTTPS, and why is it important?

The Importance of HTTPS

When you visit a website, your web browser needs to exchange information with the web server in order to view the website’s content. Traditionally this has been done by using HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). HTTP is an effective communication language for computers, but it is not encrypted. This means that hackers can potentially eavesdrop, intercept, or even alter the packets of information that you exchange with an HTTP website.

If you’re looking at funny pictures of dogs or reading a listicle on the 10 best cocktails, this may not be a problem. But if you’re accessing online banking or making purchases online, it can be a big one.

This is where HTTPS comes in. HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) encrypts the information that your web browser exchanges with the HTTPS enabled website, delivering three layers of protection: –

  • Encryption: when visiting HTTPS websites, users cannot have their information eavesdropped, intercepted, or altered by hackers.
  • Data Integrity: HTTPS websites prevent hackers from modifying or corrupting transferred data.
  • Authentication: authentication prevents man-in-the-middle attacks, and ensures that visitors communicate with the correct website.

Put simply, HTTPS addresses the vulnerabilities inherent in HTTP. HTTPS is secure and encrypted, and it prevents hackers from accessing highly confidential information such as passwords and banking details.

Google recognises the significantly security benefits that HTTPS brings. That’s why Google prefers HTTPS websites, and will push them up the rankings. If you want evidence of how HTTPS is utilised by major organisations, visit PayPal, Amazon, or Natwest online – they all use HTTPS to protect their users.

How to Update Your Website to HTTPS

Updating your website to HTTPS takes some time and effort, but it is reasonably straightforward and inexpensive if you have the right tools and knowledge. Here are five steps that you should follow to update your website to HTTPS: –

Step One: Preparation

As with any significant change project, thorough preparation is key. Ensure that key internal stakeholders are aware of the change, and plan any website downtime for an appropriate window that will not be service affecting.

You also need to be sure that you webhost is able to deliver HTTPS websites. This is something that can be checked easily with your provider; if your hosting platform is not able to deliver HTTPS, they should be able to make configuration changes that enable HTTPS delivery.

Step Two: Purchase an SSL Certificate

HTTPS utilises code on a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate in order to encrypt traffic. So to update your website to HTTPS, you need to purchase and install an SSL certificate. SSL certificates range in cost from around £10 per year to several hundreds of pounds per year. Don’t dismiss the more expensive certificates out of hand; they often add a green lock to the address bar of a visitor’s web browser, increasing their confidence in your website.

Step Three: Configure Your SSL Certificate

Many webhosts will configure your SSL certificate for you. But if they don’t, you’ll need to do this manually. Your SSL certificate provider will generate keys, which they will give you to copy into your website host control panel.

Step Four: Update References and Tags

Okay, this part may take a while. You’ll need to clear your website’s cache, and then set about updating links in the database and in URLs from HTTP to HTTPS. Make sure to take a backup first so that you have a roll-back point, and then update the following: –

  • References in content;
  • References in templates;
  • Canonical tags;
  • Hreflang tags;
  • Any website plugins;
  • Any settings specific to your CMS.

Once you think you’ve updated all of your links to HTTPS, crawl your website and check for any remaining HTTP links or broken URLs. Chances are you’ll find some, so make sure that these are dealt with.

Step Five: Setup 301 Redirects and Test

You’ll now need to setup 301 redirects to ensure that users and search engines are directed to HTTPS pages. And once this is done, test, test, and test some more. Make sure to test both from inside and outside your organisation’s network, and try to use devices that have had their cookies cleared or have never visited your website in the first place. Once testing is completed, you’re ready to go live with your secure HTTPS website!

Need Help?

Updating your website to HTTPS needn’t be costly. However, it will require proper management, along with the skills to work with some of the advanced functionality of your website CMS. If you feel like you would benefit from some support, Impact Digital Marketing can help. We know how to update your website to HTTPS; we always follow best practices to ensure that your website is secure and functional, whilst hitting the sweet spots that allow you to climb up the Google rankings.

To receive a quotation to update your website to HTTPS, or to arrange a free web audit, please contact us.

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Ryan Sedgwick
Managing Director & Marketing Consultant at Impact Digital Markeitng
A Chartered Marketer, Ryan has gained extensive B2B and B2C marketing experience working across a broad spectrum of industries. Having graduated with a Masters in Marketing Communications from the University of Huddersfield, Ryan successfully utilises his skills and knowledge to effectively support businesses in getting the most from their marketing investments.