Moving my data from one PC to another is a stressful task for me. Imagine my horror when my website has to be migrated from HTTP to HTTPS?
I guess most website owners can relate to what I mean. HTTP to HTTPS migration is a major step, one that is for the goodness of your website. It is also highly technical, making it a task that sends amateur techies like a chill down the spine.
Well, I must say with time and with the practice of migrating several websites from their HTTP version to the newer and more secure HTTPS version, I have kind of built some serious confidence in my skills. I have learned many lessons, tips, and hacks or whatever you can call it that will make HTTP to HTTPS migration stress-free. I wish to share with you my personally earned wisdom with you today in this post.
In today’s blog, I will take you through the broader steps required to migrate your website from HTTP to HTTPS. The broader steps are as under:
Step 1 – Getting an SSL certificate and installing it
Step 2 – Updating hard-coded links
Step 4 – Adding 301 Redirects to the new HTTPS website
Step 5 – Update the Robots.txt file
Step 6 – Tweaking things in the CDN
Step 7 – Fixing the SEO stuff
Step 8 – Other random stuff
Now, let’s dive deeper into each process.
Step 1 – Getting an SSL certificate and installing it.
You can choose from Comodo SSL certificates, Thawte, GeoTrust, VeriSign and several other branded SSL certificates to encrypt and migrate your website to HTTPS. SSL certificates are usually sold at an annual price, and you can get for $9 onwards from an authorized reseller like SSL2BUY.
Installing the SSL certificate is a whole different story. Depending on your the web server that you use, like Apache, NGINX, Microsoft, Cpanel, etc. the method will vary significantly. I will save that for another time.
Step 2 – Updating hard-coded links.
Despite the common use of relative URLs, sometimes we are forced to use hard-coded URLs. So it pays to do a full sweep of your website to spot such hard-coded links and moving them to the HTTPS.
Step 4 – Adding 301 Redirects to the new HTTPS website.
If your HTTP website had some domain authority and SEO ranking, you might want to carry that forward to your HTTPS website as well. To do that a 301 redirect is needed. A 301 redirect is used to transfer the link juice or the ranking power from the HTTP website to the HTTP website. Make sure you don’t miss out this step. I once missed out this critical step that pushed my HTTPS website down a few pages of search results.
Step 5 – Update the Robots.txt file.
The Robots.txt file is like a route map for search bots and crawlers. Make sure you update the HTTPS version links in the Robots.txt file of your website to help search bots crawl and rank the website better.
Step 6 – Tweaking things in the CDN.
A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is often used to speed up the speed at which data is delivered to users. A CDN uses remote servers located near the user’s location to send data quickly. So updating the HTTPS links and setting up proper redirects to your HTTPS website is essential to keep traffic flowing in. Don’t forget to update all hard-coded links in the CDN as well. Also, enable HTTP/2 support on the CDN.
Step 7 – Fixing the SEO stuff.
Your HTTPS website will need a Google Search Console as well as sitemap and fetch. You can start tracking the performance of your HTTPS website by adding the URL to the Google Search Console. Also, update the revised sitemap in the Google Search Console. Finally, do a fetch and crawl check to ensure that your HTTPS website is indeed indexed and crawled by Google.
Step 8 – Other random stuff.
Finally, some random things that are still important to ensure your traffic volumes remain constant, your search engine ranking is better and to prevent any possible errors. Update your Google Analytics profile URL. Similarly, update the link wherever you have used the previous HTTP version like AdWords, Bing, social media ads, business listing websites, etc. If you have taken backlinks from any external websites or blogs, it is best to update them as well, wherever possible.
These steps should help you migrate smoothly from erstwhile HTTP to HTTPS. Don’t forget to take a backup of your data before performing the exercise on your live website. In case something is to go wrong, you can always reset stuff and make things right again.
If you are still sitting on the fence wondering if you should migrate to HTTPS, be informed that it is the best decision in terms of making your website prepared for the future of SEO and marketing.