Why are we talking about migrating websites from HTTP to HTTPS today?

It’s likely you have done the sensible thing of reading my post about how your website needs updating from HTTP to HTTPS, and now want to know how exactly to go about doing it.

Like all website migrations, it’s not always hard, sometimes it is a bit fiddly.

It is exacting and you want to do it right so you don’t lose traffic and rankings.

I’ve yet to lose traffic and rankings from a website migration of any size.

#SEO #HTTPS #Redirects #SiteMigrations

How do you change your website from HTTP to HTTPS?

Contact me. I can help. :-)

There are a few ways to go from HTTP to HTTPS. The key thing is to ensure a smooth transition, so that all users can still access the site and land on the pages they should land on, and ensure that traffic, rankings and revenue, all remain stable.

HTTP to HTTPS Options:

  1. You can just install an SSL certificate. This really isn’t recommended.
  2. You can install an SSL Certificate, update your HTML and 301 redirect to the new HTTPS version of the domain. This is possible, but not really recommended. You may still need assistance with this.
  3. Or you can do a proper HTTP to HTTPS migration. This is definitely recommended and you will definitely need assistance with this.

Simple Steps to go to HTTPS:

  1. Create a Google Search Console account, if you don’t already have one. This is the Google Search Console basic tutorial.
  2. Get an SSL Certificate.
    • Single Domain – if you only have one domain.
    • Wildcard – covers all sub-domains, if you have them.
    • Multi-domain – covers an organisation and all its domains.
    • You can get them directly from an SSL Certificate provider.
    • Or most reputable web hosts include them in their hosting packages,
    • Let’s Encrypt is a free SSL certificate, currently for single domain use. I use Let’s Encrypt for this domain.
    • It needs to be a 2048-bit key SSL Certificate.
  3. Install the SSL certificate on the domain. Usually your host will do this for you.
  4. Update any SRC references which use http:// to the https:// variant.
    • Your CMS may update your internal SRC references automatically.
    • This applies to JavaScript files (eg, Google Analytics code), CSS files, images, rich media, etc.
  5. Update Internal Linking
    • If you have used absolute linking, you will need to update your internal links from http:// to https://.
    • Your CMS may automatically update your internal links to point to https:// URLs. Make sure you check,
  6. Add 301 redirects to point old http:// URLs to new https:// URLs.
    • Your  SSL installation may automatically point http://{URL} to https://{URL}.
    • If not, you will need to create the 301 redirects.
  7. Update old redirect to avoid chains.
    • Current:
      • http://oldurl  301 ==>  http://newurl
    • Becomes this:
      • http://oldurl  301==>  https://newurl
      • http://newurl  301 ==>  https://newurl
    • Instead of this redirect chain:
      • http://oldurl  301 ==>  http://newurl  301 ==>  https://newurl
  8. You may also need to update any PPC landing page URLs.
  9. You will also need to update URLs listed on social profiles, Google My Business and other places you have added your URL.
  10. Simples, eh? Contact me, if you need help :-)
  11. Look beneath if you want to the full experience.

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How to Migrate from HTTP to HTTPS Properly

Steps to take:

  1. Follow the Simple Steps above.
  2. Read How to do an SEO Website Migration Properly fully, and come back here. It really is a detailed plan for doing an SEO Website Migration without losing rankings and traffic.
  3. Now, there are a few other considerations for going from HTTP to HTTPS, once you’ve got the SSL Certificate, and your HTML updates in place.
  4. Update Google Search Console to create profiles for  all four domain variants:
    • http://
    • http://www
    • https://
    • https://www
    • Indexation for 3 of them should reach zero. Although it may not quite get there. It depends on the re-crawl.
  5. Ensure that when you redirect you are canonicalising the three other variants into a chosen canonical variant. I usually recommend https://www because some scripts & 3rd-party apps are strict about enforcing www in the domain name.
  6. As part of the HTML update, ensure you are updating any rel=”canonical” tags to the new canonical URL.
  7. While you’re there, you’ll also want to make sure href.lang tags get updated to the new URLs.
  8. Make sure you create XML Sitemaps containing old URLs and new URLs, and that you submit them to Google Search Console. This helps to ensure that the old URLs are checked and the 301 redirect is processed.
  9. Make sure references to XML Sitemaps are included in robots.txt
  10. Finally, be aware that social share count URLs are at the specific URL level. This means https:// URLs will have different counts than http://. There are a few plugins for WordPress around which circumvent this (by querying for all 4 variants and combining). I’m sure there are for other CMSs as well.
  11. There are a large number of little step and checks not listed here, but these are the main tasks you need to have on your to-do list.
  12. And… relax.
  13. Contact me, I don’t bite.

More info:

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  • Migrating from HTTP to HTTPS is exacting when done properly, but shouldn’t be daunting.
  • Follow the steps, check and double-check, and make sure you 301 redirect to a canonical variant of each URL.
  • Contact me if you get stuck, are not sure what to do, need assistance.
  • Easy :-)

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