HTTP is the universal protocol that facilitates the operation of websites worldwide. However, many websites are now transitioning to HTTPS, a more secure version of the same protocol.
Websites operating on HTTPS are encrypted, meaning that all data and information on the site are shielded from potential hackers. Furthermore, any sensitive information collected from prospects and customers, such as email addresses or credit card details, is also safeguarded through encryption.
Why Should You Make the Switch? Every website owner must migrate their site to HTTPS. Google has placed significant importance on website security, exemplified by recent updates to their Chrome browser. HTTPS sites are identified with a lock symbol in the browser bar, whereas HTTP sites display "Not secure" in red next to the site's URL. The presence of a warning message does not leave a favorable impression on visitors.
Moreover, Google considers HTTPS as a ranking factor. If you wish to maintain a prominent position in Google search results, as you undoubtedly do, you must contemplate obtaining an HTTPS certificate.
Even if you do not collect customer data through forms, your website remains vulnerable. With each visitor, data is exchanged between their computer and your site. If this data is not encrypted, it becomes susceptible to hackers and potential attacks on the backend.
How Can You Make the Switch? The good news is that transitioning to an HTTPS site is a relatively straightforward process. WordPress offers various plugins to facilitate this change, and most web hosts provide HTTPS certificates to their clients, often as part of their service.
Hosting platforms like Pressable and WPEngine, tailored for WordPress sites, extend HTTPS certification to all their customers.
If you happen to have an older HTML-based website, the migration may require more effort, but there are numerous consultants available to guide you through the process.
What Happens After the Transition? Once you have completed the transition, your website effectively exists in two versions: one on HTTP and the other on HTTPS. Many hosting providers automatically phase out the HTTP version. Consequently, even if someone enters your site's URL with "http://" at the beginning, it will automatically redirect to the HTTPS version. However, if both HTTP and HTTPS sites are still active, some content remains vulnerable, and it can also lead to confusion for Google, as it may perceive two identical sites.
After acquiring your HTTPS certificate, you should access your Google Search Console and update your sitemap. This action instructs Google to consider only your HTTPS site for future indexing. Within a week after the transition, Google will have moved away from your HTTP site, exclusively displaying the HTTPS version in its search results.
While this may seem like a technical endeavor, the process doesn't require a substantial amount of technical expertise. A quick conversation with your web host and an update to your Google Search Console are the primary actions needed to ensure your website is compliant and that the crucial information about your business and customers is securely protected.