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What To Do Before Moving A Site From HTTP To HTTPS

May 9, 2017

Unencrypted HTTP used to be adequate for blogs and websites that didn’t request for any sensitive data. If a webmaster needed to work with financial transactions, utilizing encrypted HTTPS on web pages requesting private data was ample.

At the moment, however, the majority of customers and visitors expect HTTPS to be implemented on all pages. Google Chrome has made the decision to enforce a ‘Not Secure’ warning for every page served over HTTP without considering if the web pages have inserted sensitive input fields. This expectation pressures site owners to proceed in implementing HTTPS on their sites.

If you have decided to make the transition from HTTP to HTTPS, below is a checklist to assure that everything is properly done:

1. Setup 301 Redirects

301 redirects dispatch visitors from the HTTP version to the HTTPS version. It is also effective for search engines to prevent duplicate content. Google has disclosed that it will employ the HTTPS version if the website owner had both available. However, this doesn’t assist the web visitors who open the site’s HTTP version from an external link.

A 301 redirect will ensure that the transition from HTTP to HTTPS is smooth for the guests if they have one of your old pages bookmarked for future reference.

2. Check robots.txt file

Robots.txt governs the approach search engines crawl the site’s content. If the webmaster decides to move the server because of a protocol change, it’s always recommended to check that this file does not obstruct critical files.

If there are no URL structural alterations, the file is likely to be fine without any modifications. Remember to always review the robots.txt file prior to launching it in a live production environment.

3. Change The Site’s Internal Links From HTTP to HTTPS

If the webmaster uses absolute links on his pages, there should be a specification of the protocol in regards to linking it to pages within the website.

If the site owner has made 301 redirects, the web server will transfer readers to the correct version. Although it is still ideal to update the links to follow the new protocol just in case of the 301 redirects malfunctioning.

4. Test The Site Via A Cloud Test Environment

It is never a good idea to promote new infrastructure, especially if it is critical, without rigorously testing it first. A webmaster can set up a test environment situated in the cloud and copying the servers.

Even though an SSL/TLS certificate can’t be used on the test server, a self-signed certificate can instead be utilized for testing HTTPS. Testing assures that no server errors will happen when making the leap to the new protocol.

5. Update Contact References

Updating any email addresses and other contact information such as blogs and email signatures are important. For example, one could have his site referenced on their Twitter page.

6. Update Social Media Account URLs

A website owner has limited control of external links with the exception of affiliates updating backlinks for him. Always remember that a webmaster always has control over his own social media accounts. Therefore, he ought to look through them and update the links. There is no need to update every link,

Always remember that a webmaster always has control over his own social media accounts. Therefore, he ought to look through them and update the links. There is no need to update every link. However, the links that send significant traffic to the site should be updated.

7. Search for HTTP In The Site’s Code

An inexperienced webmaster may require a programmer for this step. In regards to some redirects, the code enumerates HTTP or HTTPS. For example, if one is utilizing PayPal as a convenient payment processor, the system will redirect visitors to a particularized web page after they have made a purchase. This page has to be updated to point to the correct HTTPS protocol.

The page likely already points to HTTPs, though it is always best to inspect the code and verify that it is, in fact, pointing to the new protocol.

Conclusion

Moving to HTTPS is not considered a difficult process, but updating links and code are required for the process to run without constraints.

The website admin always needs to remember to test the site prior to promoting the code to a production server and construct a list of links to update before moving the site from HTTP to HTTPS.

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