HTTP, or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, has existed since the early 1990s. Every website you visit has had HTTP enabled at some point. It provides a format for open communication between the browser and the server of the website. One big problem with HTTP is how unsecure it can be. Your business website is far more vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks and other disruptions which put your customers at great risk.
HTTPs has also existed for quite a while and has become more mainstream because Google has used it as a ranking factor. There are many benefits to migrating over to HTTPs, and in this article, we’ll show you what steps you need to take.
You’ll also learn about how to make the migration process disruption-free. The last thing you want on your hands is a redirect disaster that could harm your SEO big time. Take our advice, and you won’t have these problems to deal with.
Benefits of HTTPs for Small Businesses
HTTPs is very similar to HTTP with one defining difference: the addition of an SSL certificate. That’s what the s at the end of HTTPs stands for. The SSL layer is also known as the Secure Sockets Layer, which allows your website connection to be encrypted. This is an excellent feature to have because it prevents intruders from gaining access to confidential customer information.
Having HTTPs for your small business website also provides other benefits such as:
• Better Search Engine Optimization
Google takes security very seriously, and it was confirmed earlier this year that sites without an HTTPs certificate would have a word of caution displayed to the user. By using an HTTPs certificate, you’re keeping your customer’s user experience more secure, allowing you to conduct business better too.
• Higher Customer Loyalty
Want to inspire more confidence in your users? Keeping your website secure with HTTPs lets them know that you’re doing your part to keep their personal information safe. A staggering 42% of all cyber attacks are directed towards small businesses, and people have the right to be concerned. Do right by your customers in this regard, and they’ll have more reasons to trust your brand.
• Better Analytics Tracking
Here’s a big reason why you need to have an HTTP to HTTPs migration performed on your website. You won’t be able to track referral data as easily. Google Analytics actively blocks referral data on HTTP websites. Solve this problem by switching to HTTPs, and you’ll have a more accurate version of where your website traffic is coming from.
• Prevent Annoying Warnings
One of the ways you can keep people from visiting your site is having a warning show up each time they visit your website in Google Chrome. This happens because your website doesn’t have an HTTPs certificate. Google Chrome has over two billion installs and is one of the most popular browsers. Alienating customers on Google Chrome with these warnings will damage your ROI.
Steps to Take for a Successful Migration to HTTPs
You have much to gain by migrating your website over to HTTPs. Here some of the most important things you need to do to prevent issues from occurring as you make the transition.
1. Perform a Website Analysis
Before doing anything, it’s best to perform a site audit to count up your existing URLs. Keep a record of them in an Excel sheet and create a website sitemap with all the URLs you’re going to migrate. It’s better to be safe and sorry by having adequate documentation before making any major changes.
2. Back Up Your Website
If you use a tool like ManageWP, there are automatic website backups each day. Otherwise, go ahead and make a full website back up to save your files, images, and pages. Anything can go wrong during an HTTP to HTTPs migration, and it would be a shame for your website to be lost and to start all over again from scratch. Also, consult with your hosting provider to see if they offer any website back-up tools.
3. Get an SSL Certificate
Once you’re sure that everything on your website is backed up and you have a solid plan, go ahead and buy an SSL certificate. There’s lots of information online on how to do this, but we recommend talking with one of our website development experts first. At Viridian Geeks, we use SSL certificates on all our client websites because we take security seriously.
4. Review Your Website’s Internal Links
Once you migrate to HTTPs, you’ll need a way to make sure all your internal links still work properly. You can create 301 redirects using the Yoast SEO plugin if you don’t have time to change every internal link at the moment.
On the Yoast SEO website, there’s information on how you can change all your links using // rather than typing https:// on each one. We use Yoast SEO all the time for our clients, so we recommend taking a brief look there for other internal linking tips.
5. Go Through Backlinks and External Links
It’s also important to make sure any backlinks you currently have on the website are going to point directly to your new HTTPs domain. Go through Google Search Console, SEMRush, Screaming Frog, and other tools to see how many backlinks you have.
Give yourself enough time to reach out to these websites and notify them of the changes you’re making. Many SEO professionals miss this crucial step, and it causes much confusion on GoogleBot’s behalf. You could be missing out on some extra SEO opportunities by not considering your external links.
6. Integrate Your Certificate with Your CDN
This step is especially important if your website uses a content delivery network like CloudFlare. A content delivery network is useful for improving the page speed on your website, which can improve your SEO and website user experience. In CloudFlare, you have the option to upload your SSL certificate to the platform depending on your plan.
7. Update Links on Your Digital Marketing Materials
Even if you use a redirect to have HTTP URLs link to your HTTPs website, it’s still more professional to have this change reflected in your marketing materials. You should also send out an email letting your customers know about your updated website domain. Write a blog post detailing the changes too and let everyone know on social media as well.
8. Check for Technical Issues in Google Search Console
After you’ve completed these steps, keep a close eye out for technical problems in Google Search Console. It’s a great tool because it tells you exactly what’s happening to your indexed pages. You’ll know pretty soon if something went wrong or if a bunch of website pages was deindexed. It could be because not all of the website links were updated to reflect the changes. Be sure you follow each step outlined here carefully.
But What If I Don’t Have Time to Perform These Steps Myself?
Most business owners aren’t going to be able to complete these steps on their own for many reasons. The steps here are second nature to developers who have been in the field for a while but can be utterly confusing to the beginner. To save time, you can contact our Atlanta-based web development experts at Viridian Geeks by calling 470-440-3434 or sending an email to [email protected].
We will provide an SSL certificate for you and much more! Learn about our hosting plans and keep your website security in top shape and keep reading our blog for more web design, digital marketing, and SEO content!