The deadline is quickly approaching for websites to transition to https by adding an SSL certificate to their site. Sites without SSL certificates will have alerts shown to readers that their site is potentially unsafe, so as a blogger, there are a few things you should know about SSL certificates.
Googe has been warning us for a very long time that they are going to be enforcing stricter regulations on websites in an effort to protect users from possible security breaches. The October 15th deadline is looming, so what do you need to know to be ready?
What Bloggers Should Know About SSL Certificates
Right now you might be wondering what the heck an SSL certificate is and if it even applies to you as a blogger. Let’s start there.
SSL Certificate: a digital certificate that, when installed on a website, authenticates the validity of the site and encrypts data entered by the user.
In plain English, an SSL certificate tells users your site is legit and protects any information they enter into any text field on your site. You’ll know your site is secure by checking for two specific things: (1) https at the front of your URL and (2) a padlock with the word “Secure” in the address bar.
Now that you understand what an SSL certificate is and what it does, there are a few things you need to know.
#1 – Every Blog Needs an SSL Certificate
Yes, even yours. A lot of bloggers think SSL certificates don’t apply to them because they don’t accept any form of payment on their site, but the truth is, Google doesn’t care.
Google looks for any input field, which includes contact forms and email sign-up forms, so if you have either or both of those on your site, and you should, then you need to have an SSL certificate on your site.
#2 – Your Host May Be Able to Help
Check with your hosting provider to see if they can update your site and install an SSL certificate for you. If they will, be sure they also handle redirects from your non-secure URL to your now secure URL for all of your existing content. Be sure you have those redirects set up or you’ll be in a hot mess with all incoming links including those from Pinterest.
If they don’t, there are plenty of reputable companies who can help and the rate should be affordable. It’s a fairly simple and straightforward process.
PRO TIP: Some hosts will offer to provide the SSL certificate for you but will do so by installing a plug-in. This plug-in will work, but if you ever change hosts, you will need to have your new host set it up for you again, so just keep that in mind.
#3 – Check For the Padlock
I’ve heard from some bloggers who had the SSL certificate installed but still did not have the padlock in their address bar. This could stem from any number of insecure items on your site, so use THIS TOOL to find out what the cause may be.
Hat tip to my friend Lesley Clavijo for that one.
#4 – Update Your Google Analytics
After you have an SSL certificate installed on your site, you need to update your web property in your Google Analytics dashboard.
Don’t worry. It’s super easy.
Log into your Google Analytics and click on the gear icon that says “Admin” in the bottom left corner. You’ll see a screen like this:
You’ll need to update two places:
- Property Settings
- View Settings
Click into each one and change the URL to “https” like this:
Good job! One more thing and you’re good to go.
#5 – Update Your Google Search Console
Google Search Console helps Google index your site properly, so you’ll need to add your new properties to your search console after installing an SSL certificate.
First, go to Google Search Console and make sure you’re logged in. You will need to click the red button that says “Add A Property”.
You should have a total of 4 properties listed in your Google Search Console:
If you’d like, you can click “Create a Set” when you’re finished and add all 4 of these domains to a set for your website, like you see in my screenshot above.
RELATED: How to Create an XML Sitemap
SSL Certificates aren’t as scary as you may have been led to believe. Get your site updated so you’re fully prepared and your users aren’s scared away by any security alerts when they visit your content.
BONUS: Google uses HTTPS as a ranking signal, preferring to show secure sites to users over non-secure sites. This has been the case since 2014, according to Google Webmaster.
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