After Google announced that they will give ranking privileges to HTTPS domains, many webmasters rushed to secure their websites. But the process of changing from HTTP to HTTPS doesn’t limit only to buying an SSL Certificate. Moving your website to HTTPS is like migrating it to a new URL. In order to avoid disruptions, you must follow industry’s best practices and ensure their proper completion.
Once you’ve bought and installed your SSL Certificate, you must:
- Check if your website pulls content, images and videos from unsecured HTTP links. If you find content coming from unsecured HTTP links, you need to change them all to HTTPS links.
- Put a redirect in the server’s configuration file or in the site’s htaccess file, so that whoever enters your website by typing “www.mywebiste.com”, or “mywebiste.com”, or “http://www.mywebiste.com”, or “http://mywebiste.com” should be automatically redirected to https://www.mywebsite.com. Here are some articles on how to do this.
- Make a list of URLs that you need to replace from HTTP to HTTPS, and keep their corresponding sitemap;
- Continue with configuring your server – you may use the Mozilla SSL Configuration Generator to create sample configuration files for different servers;
- Test you configuration setup – use the SSL Server Test to ensure that you’ve made the proper configuration for your server;
- Make tests to verify if all images and external scripts work properly with HTTPS. If they don’t, then download these files to your server to guarantee the HTTPS’ access to them;
- Essential: Once you are done with the HTTPS mapping, set 301 redirects from HTTP URLs to new HTTPS URLs on your server. If your website was created using a programming language, you can make this redirection inside your website’s codes. Keep in mind that you must not redirect every page to the new HTTPS home page, because it will have a negative impact on your website’s ranking in search engines;
- Make sure all the “rel=canonical” tags from your HTTP refer to the new HTTPS pages, in order to remove Google’s confusion about your website’s structure;
- Update your sitemap.xml and robots.txt with the new corresponding HTTPS URLs;
- Create a new property and submit the according sitemap for the new HTTPS in Google Webmaster Tools. Remember that Google Webmaster Tools treats HTTP websites as separate entities from HTTPS;
- Ensure that Google can index your new URLs (Consult Google guidelines on this topic for more details);
- Monitor the new HTTPS website daily through Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to quickly take care of any issues.
By following the above tips, you will ensure an accurate migration from HTTP to HTTPS and you won’t experience any critical disruptions.