How and why your website should move from HTTP to HTTPS

While data security is the number one reason to make the move from a HTTP to HTTPS website, there are other factors you should also consider.

A subtle but very important change has been taking place in the web hosting and design world over the last 18 months and anyone who pays attention to the address bar in their browser might have noticed it. It’s the move many websites have made to change from HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) to HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). If you’re wondering about the benefits of making the switch to the more secure version, this post covers all the essential details you need before you make the move.

What’s the difference?

While HTTP is the agreed procedure for sharing information over the internet, HTTPS takes things a step further and uses an SSL certificate to encrypt data. This encrypted data can only be deciphered by a code shared by the sender and the recipient. If a third party happens to intercept or open the message or information exchange, they could not understand it.

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. A SSL certificate contains character strings that act as the keys to unlocking the HTTPS code.

Why should you migrate from HTTP to HTTPS?

Apart from the obvious security benefits of migrating your website to HTTPS, there are some other compelling reasons from making the switch, including:

  • Performance benefits: you can expect 50-70% improved performance
  • Additional security: As well as the obvious e-commerce security features, HTTPS makes a difference to data security of all types, not just credit card numbers and personal details. Even if you’re personally not too worried about security issues – you can bet your customers or website visitors are. Adding an SSL certificate to your site adds credibility and shows visitors you’re serious about keeping their data secure.
  • SEO advantages: Google likes HTTPS as a ranking signal. Sure, at the moment it’s a lightweight ranking signal but that is tipped to change with Google recognising that that a HTTPS site is a signal of quality content.

How to do it

Making the move to HTTPS should be part of any quality web design and hosting packages and while migrating from HTTP to HTTPS is as simple as moving your website to a new domain, things can and do go wrong if the migration isn’t planned and executed properly.

Once you’ve purchased your SSL certificate, there are five main items on the checklist to make sure your new secure site works exactly as it should:

  • Check internal links
    • This includes your menu links, images, css references etc. Any link that still uses HTTP files will not work
  • Change external links
    • You’ll need to change any directory listings as well as the links from your social media profiles
  • Check canonical references
    • All rel=canonical references need to point to the new HTTPS site to ensure page is indexed by Google
  • Implement 301 redirects
    • Treat your 301 redirects seriously because it makes a big difference to retaining your page ranking and maintaining web traffic. Don’t just redirect each of your HTTP pages to the HTTPS homepage. Make sure every HTTP page is redirected to its HTTPS version
  • Setup HTTPS site in Webmaster Tools
    • You will need to add the HTTPS website as a new property in Webmaster Tools and submit your sitemap all over again so Google understands the new structure

The easiest way to ensure a seamless transition from HTTP to HTTPS is to get award-winning web design and hosting agency iFactory to manage the process for you. iFactory is a Brisbane-based leader in website design and hosting and has been providing innovative, secure web design hosting solutions for over a decade. Contact us today to find out how we can help your website thrive in today’s digital landscape.

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