Why and How to Add an SSL Certificate to a WordPress Website

Mary Ann Aschenbrenner

Mary Ann Aschenbrenner, President of Waterlink Web

Follow these five steps to add an SSL Certificate to a WordPress website in a quality hosting environment.

Why Add an SSL Certificate?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is the standard technology for establishing an encrypted link between a server and a client. When a website shows the https:// version of the URL it means that all traffic to and from the website is encrypted. Only the website can read credit card details or passwords entered there. The “s” in https stands for secure.

Some users will not leave personal information on a website without the encryption. Because of this and because users spend more time on secure websites, Google and other search engines include site security as a ranking factor.

From HTTP:// to HTTPS://

Moving a website from http:// to https:// can seem daunting but is easier in a good hosting environment. In this post we will go over the steps to add an SSL Certificate using SiteGround hosting, one of the few hosting services recommended by WordPress.

First, Add Lets Encrypt

On SiteGround, in your website cPanel, go to the Security section and select Lets Encrypt.

Yes, it really is that easy. You will now have two identical websites. One that begins with http:// and the other with https://.

Second, Update Content to HTTPS://

Update your content to https:// by adding the SSL Insecure Content Fixer plugin. This plugin updates content to https:// as soon as it is activated.

Again, that is easy, but there may be come glitches.

Third, Confirm all Content is Linked to HTTPS://

If the green lock to the left of https:// is gray or there is a yellow triangle in front of it, then some of your content is still linked to http://. Check your website by entering the URL at WhyNoPadlock.com. Any problem content will be indicated here.

When I added the SSL Certificate to my own website the images in the widgets near the footer were still linked to http://. In the Dashboard I went to Appearance -> Customize and opened the widgets. Then I edited each image URL to include the “s” after http. After updating I checked the site on WhyNoPadlock.com again and the problem content had been fixed.

At this point the padlock had turned green and the yellow warning triangle was gone.

Fourth, Redirect HTTP:// to HTTPS://

At this point your https:// website should look good and show a green padlock and the https:// at the front of your URL should also be green. You will still have an http:// version. Search engines actually consider this an entirely different website, one with the exact same content.

To save your standing in search engines, redirect the http:// version by adding a piece of code to your .htaccess file. This code will force anyone going to your website to see the https:// version. Even if they enter http://yourwebsite.com it will reconcile at https://yourwebsite.com.

Below is the piece of code you will add to the .htaccess file. Before making any changes in the .htaccess file, be sure to save a copy of the original. If something goes wrong and your site breaks, you can always put the original back and fix the site.

RewriteEngine On
Rewrite Condition %{Server_Port} 80
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://yourdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

It should be entered into the .htaccess file right after this line: # BEGIN WordPress

Fifth, Ensure You Can Measure Site Performance

Even if your site was already added to Google and Bing using the http:// version, you will need to add it again with the https:// version. Add the new version of your website to Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Bing Webmaster Tools if you want to measure your website performance, learn how users are finding your website, and which pages are the most popular.

Portland WordPress MeetUp

This presentation was delivered at the Portland WordPress MeetUp on Monday, February 6th, 2017 at the U.S. Bancorp Tower Conference Rooms. For more information on this MeetUp or to view the discussion please go to this event at Portland WordPress MeetUp. The Portland WordPress MeetUp is an opportunity to learn about WordPress and get help with specific questions.

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