What You Need To Know About Changing from HTTP to HTTPS

HTTP and HTTPS are popular terms in the websites and web security realms. They are the two protocols that facilitate the transfer of information and data between communicating ends, such as web servers and web browsers. In most cases, webmasters might be torn between the two internet transfer protocols and might not know which one to choose.

But the decision here is quite simple, never let your website run on HTTP. If you are running on this protocol, it is time to undertake the HTTP to HTTPS migration. This article will explain fine details about the two transfer protocols, why you need the HTTP-HTTPS migration, and how you can carry out this migration.

What is HTTP?

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It is the basis of all online/internet communications. This protocol was invented alongside (HTMLHyperText Markup Language), creating the first interactive text-based web browser. HTTP has remained one of the most essential internet data transfer tools.

However, HTTP is considered a less secure transfer protocol because it lacks encryption features. Communications done via this protocol is vulnerable to eavesdroppers and cybercriminals. They can easily access the communication and steal sensitive data.

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. It works in the same manner as the HTTP protocol, save for the fact that it is a more secure transfer protocol because of its data encryption capabilities. This transfer protocol employs security tools such as the Transport Security Layer (TSL) or the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates.

HTTPS uses a bidirectional encryption approach to safeguard data. It means that the communication remains encrypted both on the servers and the web browser ends. The intended data recipients are the only bearers of the decryption keys required to decrypt encrypted information.

Why HTTPS is Preferred over HTTP

You must note that security is not the only reason you need to undertake the HTTP to HTTPS migration. In this section, we learn more about the benefits of using HTTPS.

HTTPS is More Secure than HTTP

Online security is of the essence these days. By having an SSL certificate, you will be enhancing your web security and protecting your users from security threats. HTTPS has received a warm reception more recently as more and more web owners try to boost their web security. Web visitors have also developed cold feet towards HTTP websites. According to Google’s Transparency report, in March 2022, web visitors spent 95% of their browsing time on Google’s Chrome web browser visiting HTTP websites.

As a result of encryption, HTTPS ensures the safety of sensitive data such as passwords, debit card information, personal financial information, and health records.

HTTPS Establishes a Sense of Trust to Web Visitors

A webpage running on the HTTPS protocol is like a food restaurant displaying a “pass” from a food safety inspection. Customers know they can trust the restaurant and all its products without experiencing negative impacts.

Web visitors will be looking at the URL status of your website. If your website still runs on the HTTP protocol, then your users are less likely to trust you. There are two HTTPS aspects that aid in establishing users’ trust. First, SSL certificates are issued by certificate authorities. Before the certificate authority issues the certificate, it first needs to do its due diligence to ensure it is issuing the certificate to a genuine business. Users can check the certificate details to ascertain whether the website is what it says it is.

Secondly, Google marks HTTP websites as “not secure.” Users would not want to visit a website they know might jeopardize their security.

HTTPS in SEO

In an attempt to enhance web security, Google started using the HTTP/HTTPS factor as one of its ranking factors. HTTP websites now rank lower than HTTPS in the SERPs. You can make this observation by yourself; search for anything on Google. You will notice the top results on the top pages all feature HTTPS pages. SEO is a vital digital marketing element, so you need to ensure you increase your visibility in search engines. And one way of doing so is to buy an SSL certificate.

HTTP to HTTPS Migration

It is now clear that HTTP>HTTPS migration is imperative for the success of your website and your business at large. But how is it done? Switching your website to HTTPS is quite straightforward. It is a procedure that entails four steps explained below;

HTTP To HTTPS Migration
HTTP To HTTPS Migration

Step 1: Buy An SSL Certificate

The first step in migrating your HTTP website to HTTPS is purchasing an SSL certificate. There are two ways you can buy the certificate. First, you can get it from your hosting company or buy it from a digital certificate vendor. 

Although buying from your web hosting provider might be the easiest option, especially when it is part of their package, some web hosts might not give you the suitable type of certificate for your website. Different websites require different certificates. For instance, a website with one domain will need a single-domain SSL certificate, while that with many subdomains will need a Wildcard SSL certificate. On other hand, a higher authentication requires an EV SSL certificate. The authority checks business-related documents and third-party sources thoroughly to issue EV SSL certificates.

Before you go shopping for an SSL certificate, it is always good to do your homework, establish your website’s needs and look for a certificate that fully addresses them.

Step 2: Install the Certificate on Your Website’s Hosting Account

Installing the SSL certificate on your website is a process that requires a lot of attention. It entails generating public keys and placing them correctly on the web hosting control panel. You should follow the step-by-step guidelines that you will be given during certificate issuance. If you are not sure about what you are doing, it will be better to seek the help of your web hosting provider. 

Step 3: Change All HTTP Links to HTTPS

Converting all HTTP links that point to other pages within your website to HTTPS is one of the technical tasks you will need to carry out by yourself. This process involves reviewing all the parts and content on your website to find all links pointing to other parts of your website and convert them to HTTPS. However, I advise you to avoid shortcuts by replacing HTTP with HTTPS as you do so. Instead, this should be a golden opportunity to switch all relative links to HTTPS.

Step 4: Set Up the 301 Redirects

301 redirects are essential because they alert search engines that your website’s URL addresses have changed. Bookmarked HTTP sites will automatically be updated to HTTPS. Most hosting providers offer this service as part of their package. Do not forget to ask your host if they will do the 301 redirects for you. You can as well do it yourself by editing the .htcaccess file in your root folder by adding the following command;

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off

RewriteRule (.*) https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [R=301,L]

Eleggible’s Final Words

In this age and era where cyber breaches and website vulnerabilities are the order of the day, you need an arsenal of measures to safeguard your website and your web visitors. One proven tactic of securing your website from attackers is making the HTTP to HTTPS migration.

This is a straightforward procedure you can do by yourself. This article has explained everything you need to know about switching your HTTP website to HTTPS, why you need to migrate and how to migrate.

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