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How to Migrate your WordPress website from HTTP to HTTPS with SEO

Migrate Your WordPress Website from HTTP to HTTPS

If you are planning to migrate your WordPress website from HTTP to HTTPS that too without losing your SEO then, do not worry, I will help you out. You should consider reading the step by step guide provided in this very article.

To start this complex process, first, you should buy SSL certificate from your hosting company which starts as low as USD35/year. Contact your hosting company to get the certificate.

Second, you need to have “FTP access” to the website (if you are a developer) or you can contact your hosting company to help you out. Don’t worry, it’s very easy for a non-developer to do this process by contacting your hosting service provider, lol that’s how I did. We will come back to this topic anyway.

Before involving with the technical details, you should first know what “migrating website to https” means. Is it important? What is the relationship between Google rankings and https?

What are SSL certificate and https?

It will be better to start from the basics to develop complete and thorough understanding about this.

The very first thing that you need to know is that SSL certificate here stands for “Secure Socket Layer.” SSL basically is a security protocol helps in creating encrypted communication medium, between the web browser and the web server that your website uses.

Here, encrypted means that all the sensitive information such as card details, usernames and passwords, and any other such details which are submitted by users are encrypted and secured. In the absence of SSL, all the information shared between the web browser and the server will be transmitted in the form of plain text. Well, you might question why SSL such a big thing is? Just think that if any hacker intercepts the connection between the browser and server, then he can get his hands on all your secure data in no time.

Now moving to the main question what is https and why would anyone want to migrate to https from HTTP. Well, websites that have an SSL certificate configured and installed can only be accessed by using https which for sure is a secure way as compared to the non-secure way of using HTTP.

Browsers label https websites as secure (in the green bar) if you haven’t noticed it yet then you can visit any https website and see it for yourself.

However, if a website uses EV-SSL (Extended Validation SSL), then their company’s name is shown in the green bar. To receive Extended Validation SSL certificate, you will need to verify your company’s details such as company’s address, company’s registration id, and similar information.

Do HTTPS sites have a Better Ranking?

You should know this fact that https isn’t a new thing. Https has been around for years. However, it became necessary and gained popularity in 2014, because of Google’s initiative to make the web security for users as well as webmasters. To make their dream, true Google decided to give a little boost to the ranking of https websites. This means that https websites will have a better rank as compared to HTTP website.

Google Update on HTTPS

It is true that even after such announcements the number of https website is a bit low, but research figures show that the number of https websites is increasing at a steady rate.

Should you consider Migrating your website from HTTP to HTTPs?

Well, this is a simple question with a simpler answer, if you have a desire to migrate to https now then for sure, you must go with your decision. However, you will be forced to migrate to https anyhow. There is no doubt in the fact that https is the next big thing and very soon most of the websites will be rushing to migrate to https, therefore the sooner you do so, the better it will be for you.

In addition to all this, https is more secure than HTTP, and this very feature helps in gaining user’s trust. If you have an e-commerce website, then you must opt for this option.

Final Note;

HTTPS will increase the ranking of your web pages. It doesn’t improve the ranking of your website. Pages with HTTPS will get a good ranking on Google’s SERP.

You may also refer our highest reading blog post; How to do SEO for a New Website

How can you move your WordPress website from HTTP to HTTPS?

Below you will find step by step process to migrate your WordPress website from HTTP to https.

Step 1: Install SSL certificate to your website’s server

You will need to install an SSL certificate on the web server, but before that, you will have to buy the SSL certificate. As long as the SSL certificates support 2048 bit key encryption, you will be able to use it as per rules implemented by Google.

The best thing is that you won’t have to pay a huge amount to buy SSL certificate as you can get it at a price USD$50 (average price) per year from your hosting service provider. It will be issued instantly after completing the payment procedure. Most of the reputed web hosting providers have the option of buying SSL certificate which you can check on your CPanel.

Once you buy the certificate, ask your web hosting provider to install the SSL certificate on your website’s server if you are a non-developer.

Once they install, you can check whether it is working or not simply by navigating to your website by using https. Next step will guide you on that;

Step 2: Change the default URL

The second step involves changing your default URL. You can locate the place where you can change the website’s URL on your WordPress dashboard in the GENERAL option which can be found under SETTINGS menu.

Change your Site Address and WordPress Address and make sure that they start with https. After clicking on the SAVE CHANGES button, you will be logged out from WordPress and will need to log in again.

Step 3: Use Permanent Redirect – 301

If you think that this is the end of the whole fiasco, then you are wrong. To regain SEO advantages, you will need to configure your website to redirect HTTP requests to https requests. You will have to change the default URL of all your posts from HTTP to https.

Creating page by page mapping will need a lot of time, there is a simpler way by which you can achieve the required result. You will need to add the code written below to “.htaccess” file. You can contact your hosting service providers to do the same, how I did, or if you are a developer, add these codes below “.htaccess” file using FTP.

# HTTPS redirect

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off

RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !FeedBurner    [NC]

RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !FeedValidator [NC]

RewriteRule (.*) https://%{HTTP_HOST}/$1 [R=301,L]

</IfModule>

After saving the .htaccess file, you will need to perform few tests to make sure that the required changes have taken place or not.

Step 4: Use “SSL Insecure Content Fixer” Plugin

This step is generally not applicable if you are using VPS hosting. If not, this step may be required to change the internal links (links between your own blog pages) to https. Know this fact that if any internal link shows HTTP in place of https, then this will initiate mixed content warning and your website will not be shown on a secure website.

You can complete this task easily by installing and activating “SSL Insecure Content Fixer” plugin. Just install and activate. Once you activate the plugin, go to setting and tick the 3 options which can see on the below image. Once you tick, then save it.

I still recommend you to use this plugin only when your internal links are showing “HTTP” instead of “HTTPS”

Step 5: Check if there are any External HTTP Links

This step involves checking if there are any external links in the content that start with HTTP and not https.

You can know if there are any such external links in your content or not simply by checking the browser bar while visiting your website. If the page shows it isn’t secure, then you will need to change the URL of external links from HTTP to https. If the external link doesn’t have HTTPS, I recommend you to delete it to show your website as secure. Or else, because of the “HTTP external link’, your site may not show green (secure).

You can either use;

a) Chrome’s developer tool,

Right Click on your homepage, Select Inspect, then select Console

b) You can use a free tool Why no Padlock for finding the external links that need to be changed. It’s free!

Step 6: check if there are any broken links or not

If you have followed the above steps then your website is now fully https, and you won’t have to do anything else, but as an extra measure, you should check your website for any broken links. You can use Xenu, a free tool, to find any broken links either HTTP or https.

Step 7: Add HTTPS variations to Google Search Console

To inform Google that your website is now changed to https, you will need to add HTTPs variations to the Google search console.

Go to Search Console

 

Click on “ADD A PROPERTY”

Copy your new URL – https://www.yoururl.com and click ADD. Then Click on Alternate Methods and select HTML Tag

Then Copy the Meta Tag given in the box, add it in the <head> section, before the first <body> section of the site. It’s again easy;

Go to your WordPress dashboard – Appearance – Editor – Theme Header – Add the copied code as below and Click on “Update file”

Then go back to your Search Console page and Click on “Verify”. If everything is right, you will get the below message.

Continue the same process for https://yoururl.com with out “www”.

At the end of this process, you will have four different variations of your website registered in the Google search console such as

http://yoururl.com

https://yoururl.com

http://www.yoururl.com

http://www.yoururl.com

Step 8: Submit the regenerated XML sitemap to Google

It is important to re-generate the XML sitemap and to make sure that all the links are https and after confirming all this, you will need to re-submit it to Google.

Go to your WordPress dashboard – Click on SEO (Yoast Plugin) – XML sitemap – Click on XML sitemap Link – It will show the sitemap;

Then go to Search Console – Click on https://www.yoururl.com – Click on “Sitemaps” under “Crawl” – Click on “ADD/TEST SITEMAP” – paste the copied link – Click on “Test” first – If is not showing any error come back again and “SUBMIT” it.

Step 9: check you Robots.txt

Check whether your ROBOTS.TXT file is blocking search engines from gaining access to your https website or not. You can check this by logging into Google Search Console and selecting ROBOTS.TXT TESTER under “Crawl”. Click on the TEST button and see if you get green with ALLOWED words on it or not. If you do, then you should proceed to the next step.

Step 10: Submit your website to Goggle

The final step will be submitting your https website to Google. You can go to FETCH AS GOOGLE under Crawl and click on FETCH AND RENDER to speed up the process. You can check for errors by clicking on PARTIAL LINK and if everything is ok then choose the option SUBMIT ALL URLS.

Step 11: Change all the incoming links from HTTP to https

The process is now complete, and you won’t have to do anything as your website now is configured to redirect any HTTP request to equivalent https. If you have a desire to help Google, then you should consider editing all the external links that you can access to https.

Step 12: keep track of your ranking and traffic

If you have followed everything as instructed, then for sure, your ranking will not get affected. However, it is advised to monitor traffic and ranking by using Google Analytics and Keyword research tool respectively to find any issues and address to that issue as soon as possible.

Please comment us for further assistance or if you like post!

 

Reference: ReliableSoft

Summary
How to Migrate your WordPress website from HTTP to HTTPS with SEO
Article Name
How to Migrate your WordPress website from HTTP to HTTPS with SEO
Description
Here is the complete step by step guidelines to Migrate your WordPress website from HTTP to HTTPS without losing the SEO of your site.
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