If you are a website owner who just created his first site, you might already have heard about two ways to access any site – one over HTTP, and another over HTTPS. You might also have found that the websites loading over HTTP are few and far between, with most websites choosing HTTPS protocol to load. That is largely because HTTPS is a more secure web protocol than the default HTTP protocol of loading webpages and data. You do not find websites loading over HTTP in Google even.
Does it mean that you too should switch your recently created site to HTTPS? That is precisely the question we will try to answer for you in this article. We will tell you why you should switch to HTTPS, and what exactly it takes to do so. Read on to know more.
Why You Need to Switch to HTTPS
Before we begin explaining the process of switching to HTTPS from HTTP, let us understand in brief why should you do so. There are many benefits of switching to HTTPS, but the core benefits are given below:
- Greater security: The ‘S’ in HTTP stands for security. It offers a much more secure way of transferring user data than the default HTTP protocol because the data packets are encrypted before transit. So, for example, no one can see the username and password of your users by capturing the data packets being exchanged between your server and their computer.
It also protects your users from phishing, which is basically a hacking technique in which your website can be cloned on another similar domain to fool people into entering their login credentials on that site. As soon as the credentials are entered, they are sent to the hacker and not to your web server. HTTPS protects your visitors against it by adding a green padlock icon before your URL that cannot exist before the URL of a similar-looking domain name, thus giving your site a unique identity.
- Improved SEO: Due to the security benefits offered by HTTPS Google rewards websites that use this protocol in search results. They almost always rank higher than a site that is going to load on HTTP, so we can say that it also improves your SEO to some extent.
- Increased trust of visitors: Finally, it also increases the trustworthiness of your business. When your visitors see the green padlock of security before your URL, they feel secure on your site. On the other hand, if your site is loading over HTTP, then a “Not Secure” label is shown by Google Chrome and other web browsers before the URL, thus hurting the trustworthiness of the business.
These are the three main benefits of moving your website to HTTPS from HTTP. Let us see how to do it.
Process of Changing from HTTP to HTTPS
Moving a website from HTTP to HTTPS requires buying and installing an SSL certificate on the server. What you basically do is you generate a certificate signing request (CSR) from the web server, copy the request code from your host and upload it on the website of an SSL certificate vendor. Then, complete the configuration process and validate the domain. Soon, the certificate is then generated for your domain based on that request.
Once the certificate has been generated, you download it from the website of your SSL vendor and upload its content to the server. Once uploaded, you also set a 301 redirect from HTTP version of your site to HTTPS version, to force the loading of your site only on HTTPS even if someone tries to access it over insecure HTTP.
And that is all – once this process has been completed, your website by default starts loading on HTTPS instead of HTTP. The exact step-by-step process varies a little based on your web server, so do refer to their documentation as well before starting the installation process.
SSL Certificates by Validation Level
Now when you know the benefits of moving your site to HTTPS from HTTP and know the process of doing it… it is also important to talk about one more crucial topic related to it. The topic is related to what type of SSL certificate you should choose. It is a tricky choice because SSL certificates come in various forms and validation levels. For example:
- We’ve single-domain SSL certificates that protect only one domain and leave all its SANs unprotected.
- Then we’ve the wildcard SSL certificates that protect the root domain and all its subdomains.
- And finally, there are multi-domain SSL certificates that can protect all your domains and subdomains even of different levels.
For most businesses having unlimited subdomains, a wildcard certificate will work. However, you still need to make one more choice: the choice of certificate validation level! Because wildcard SSL certificates can be further divided into 2 more categories based on their validation level:
- Domain validated (DV) SSL certificates: These certificates like DV Wildcard SSL certificates are issued after validation of your domain ownership alone. Usually it requires nothing more than a CSR generated for your domain name from the web host Control Panel.
- Organization validated (OV) SSL certificates: These are issued after validation of your business existence. As a result, some documented proofs of your business operations are also collected during the issuance process. Needless to say, that they also tend to be more secure and command more reputation than DV certificates because of their stricter validation process.
Feel free to choose any of them depending on your budget. However, if it is not financially difficult, then we would advise you to choose an OV wildcard SSL certificate over DV.
So that is what it takes to move your website from HTTP to HTTPS, and what are the benefits of doing so. We also told you about the various types of SSL certificates that can be purchased to do that.