How to Switch your Blog to HTTPS | SSL Certificate - Grow your Blog Traffic, SEO Tips for bloggers

How to Switch your Blog to HTTPS | SSL Certificate

Anastasia Blogger Blogging 2 Comments

HTTPS sites are more secure than HTTP sites, and Google announced back in August 2014 that will start giving minor preference to SSL secured sites (those starting from HTTPS).

There were many skeptics who didn’t switch to HTTPS because this process is not so easy, and if done incorrectly, can decrease traffic significantly.

Many bloggers and site owners were hesitant for 2-3 years, until recently, a couple of months ago, when Google started sending to them the following warnings:

Google warning about HTTP - HTTPS - SSL certificate

Google informed them that starting from October 2017 all sites which have any forms for users to insert their data, and working on HTTP, will be marked to visitors as insecure in the new version of Google’s Chrome browser. As you can imagine, people will not feel safe to visit your site or fill any form.  Your traffic and subscriber numbers will drop.

To summarise, switching to HTTPS is almost inevitable if want to continue growing your site. But how you can do it?

How to Switch to HTTPS (activate SSL certificate) for FREE

My instructions on this part are based on my experience, and I use Bluehost as my hosting provider. Bluehost urgent my switch from HTTP to HTTPS at the second day after I purchased hosting from them. My blog was totally new, and I didn’t have any issues with the switch.

This post contains affiliate links to Bluehost. This means I might receive a commission if you buy their hosting using my link. For more information, see my disclosures here.

If you are looking for an affordable hosting company to start a blog, I recommend you Bluehost which I use for this blog. When you use my link to Bluehost, I receive a commission, and you get hosting + free domain name + free SSL certificate (https).

You can use this handy Bluehost’s tool to check whether the domain you are thinking about is available:

If your site is not new, it will be a more complicated task, as you probably have tons of content which has URLs starting from HTTP. But no worries, thousands of site owners have done that before you, and if you keep reading carefully all the recommendations in this post, you’ll be able to minimize the traffic loss.

Activate and set to auto-renew Bluehost FREE SSL Certificate

If you are using Bluehost for your blog, the next part can become a straight instruction for you on how to make the switch in your hosting account.

  1. Log into your Bluehost control panel.
  2. Choose in the top menu WordPress Tools.
  3. On the left side menu, find the Security
  4. From a drop-down form select your site.
  5. Under the form, you can see a checkbox allowing to turn the Free SSL Certificate on and off. You need to move it to ON mode.

Please don’t start checking if your site was switched to HTTPS immediately because it can take few hours to install and activate. In some situations, Bluehost might need to contact you via email with instructions if there is an action needed from your side to complete the process.

I could finish the post at this point, as your site has been switched to HTTPS, but the most difficult part of this switch just started.

Why? The pages are opening with HTTPS, right? The site is working… Seems like everything is fine. However, if you don’t do anything else, and your site is not completely new, the biggest issue you have is that all your old URLs starting with HTTP, were indexed by Google, and if you had some links from other sites, leading to your pages, those links will lose their effect as your new URLs will be like new pages in the eyes of search algorithms.

Make sure that your SSL certificate is set on auto-renew, because if it’s not, at some day your site will automatically switch to HTTP and you’ll spend another day losing traffic and fixing the problem.

Your steps after the switch to HTTPS from SEO perspective

  1. You need to set up 301 redirect to HTTPS pages (mod_rewrite is common)

To do it in Bluehost, you need to the File Manager, and find there Code Editor.

Add there the following lines to the beginning of the .htaccess file. Put your domain name instead of example in this code below:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} 80
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://example.com/$1 [R=301,L]

  1. Check your robots.txt file and allow your HTTPS pages to be crawled.
  2. Verify your HTTPS site in Google Search Console and verify all variants of both the source and destination sites, for both www and non-www versions.
  3. Submit a new sitemap with your updated URLs.

I’m not tellin you to switch your site urgently before October 1, I don’t know what will be the impact of Google’s change on your blog. However, if you do see a significant decline in traffic, switching to SSL certificate should be considered as an important task for you.

Here are some benefits of moving to HTTPS

  1. Chrome and other browsers will show your site as secure.
  2. Google search algorithm considers HTTPS as one of many ranking factors.
  3. It will help you avoid damage by third parties.
  4. It will encrypt data and communication, like browsing history and credit card information – more security for your users.

As I mentioned earlier, my blog is registered on Bluehost hosting provider, and they offered me a free domain name for 1 year, and free SSL certificate, which is set to auto-renewal, so I don’t have to pay anything for having my site on HTTPS.

If you find this post useful, don’t hesitate to save it on Pinterest for your later thorough check.

How to Switch your Blog to HTTPS | SSL Certificate - Grow your Blog Traffic, SEO Tips for bloggers

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Comments 2

  1. Uh-oh! I was waiting until I lauched my first course or product. Sounds like now’s the time! Thank you, I didn’t realize the change was NOW..

    1. Post
      Author

      Ali, it’s now indeed, Google especially notes that any sites with forms will be marked because users provide their info there. Usually, for courses, you need to use opt-in forms, and for paid products, payment details, so yeah, it is a good idea to make a switch before launching your product.

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