Switching to HTTPS from HTTP – why do it?

People always advise caution in modern-day business. You never know who’s watching or reading what you are researching and sharing with the world. We mostly dismiss this all as unnecessary paranoia that is so often associated with ideas such as Orwell’s “1986” and the concept of “Big Brother”. However, the truth is that you really can never be too secure, especially when it comes to software implementations in your moving business. A classic example of this can now be found in switching to HTTPS from HTTP. So, we are going to explore today why that is and determine how influential it can be.

Man noting the plan for switching to HTTPS on a whiteboard.
Create a detailed plan for improving your website to perfection, HTTPS included.

HTTP and HTTPS – what are they and the difference between them?

The decision of switching to HTTPS from HTTP doesn’t make as much sense when you are not sure what either present. Hence, why not begin our argument with the simple notion of a definition for each of these two terms?

HTTP: Data encryption does not exist

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is a network protocol standard that was created when the phenomena of the Internet began to grow. Tim Berners-Lee created this add-on to URL links with the notion to allow servers and different web browsers to communicate and exchange data. Also known as a “stateless system”, HTTP enable communication on demands. Whenever you follow the link, it triggers a communication between the browser and the server, which grants you access to the page.

Beginning of a website URL, with a magnyfing glass over HTTP.
You should always check for the URL for a HTTP or HTTPS.

The downside of HTTP (and the reason for the existence of HTTPS) is the fact that is more focused on presenting data than it is on protecting it. Basically, HTTP can be intercepted and potentially altered in-between the communication from the browser to the server. This leads to vulnerability when it comes to your data.

HTTPS: All connections are encrypted

Due to the obvious flaw of HTTP and the need for data protection and security, along came HTTPS. These two protocols are basically the same system with the added notion that HTTPS offers the upgraded benefit of security and an upgrade. This is also what the “S” stands for – Secure. So, switching to HTTPS is like installing an extension of the original protocol.

So, what do you gain from this TLS-powered upgrade? An encrypted communication between browsers and serves that is both secure and reliable. Otherwise, any data you enter into websites could be open to interception and hacking. This includes information such as:

  • Login information (username/password)
  • Personal information (name, address, social security number etc.)
  • Banking information (credit cards, debit cards, account numbers etc.)
HTTPS at the beginning of a random URL.
Switching to secure HTTPS protocol is a must-have today.

It is because of this that the need for switching to HTTPS exists. And this is why you should always be on the lookout for this protocol when providing sensitive data on websites. Another added benefit of Transport Layer Security (TLS) is that it can prevent data-tampering through server authentication before you connect. The simplest way to look at it all is like this – HTTPS serves to ensure that the data gets to your screen whereas the TLS (or its predecessor SSL) is there to manage the path of the data. When you put them together, you get one safe and protected protocol.

What’s the process for switching to HTTPS?

As long as you have a basic grasp of the backend of a website, the implementation of HTTPS is fairly simple. Here are the steps to the entire process, from start to end:

  1. You need to acquire a good IP address from your hosting manager.
  2. Purchase and install an SSL certificate.
  3. Make sure to backup your entire system before switching to HTTPS
  4. Make sure to switch all hard internal links from HTTP to HTTPS
  5. JavaScript, Ajax or any other code libraries should be configured.
  6. All external links should be redirected to HTTPS.
  7. Update access applications and your internet services manager function to redirect HTTP traffic to HTTPS.
  8. Ajdust the SSL settings for any CDN you might be using.
  9. Implement 301 redirects on a page-by-page basis.
  10. Update any email links or other links that you use in marketing automation tools.
  11. Update any landing pages and paid search links.
  12. Set up an HTTPS site in Google Search Console and Google Analytics.

What are the advantages of switching to HTTPS from HTTP?

There is no finer word to answer this question that simply – security. By installing HTTPS, you provide your website with the safety it needs. However, this is only the beginning. For those of us that use WordPress to grow an online presence, HTTPS is a minimal precaution. Any content management system (CMS) or login where you host specific information requires absolute online security.

Blue lock in front of a blue background and coding.
Switching to HTTPS is the basis of website security.

After all, switching to HTTPS is not the same as using a firewall. It won’t really offer 100% protection from hacking or even spamming emails for that matter, but it is a good start. It is the foundation of online security and the very minimum you should offer website visitors.

Aside from security, HTTPS also improves trust

More and more people are aware of the importance of switching to HTTPS. So much so that more than 80 percent of people today would abandon a website if they saw that it has no HTTPS (Global Sign research). The more important question is whether the application and influence of HTTPS are only visible in the retail industry or other branches as well? Popular research shows that you can boost your lead generation effort for up to 40% with the help of HTTPS.

Bear in mind that visitors are not the only ones to notice HTTPS in place. There is also the matter of Google noticing – and they do reward such efforts. To be more precise, this has become one of the ranking factors for well-developed websites according to Google algorithms. So, whether you want to or not, switching to HTTPS is a transition you will have to accept sooner or later. However, the sooner you do it, the better off you will be.

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