Securing your WordPress website with SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and enabling HTTPS is crucial for protecting user data and improving your site’s credibility. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to add SSL and HTTPS to your WordPress website.
Step 1: Choose a Hosting Provider
Before you can add SSL and HTTPS to your WordPress site, you need to ensure that your hosting provider supports SSL certificates. Many reputable hosting providers offer free SSL certificates as part of their hosting packages. Popular hosting companies that provide SSL support include DreamHost, Bluehost, and Hostinger.
If your hosting provider doesn’t offer SSL, you might consider switching to one that does or using a third-party SSL certificate provider.
Step 2: Acquire an SSL Certificate
There are several ways to obtain an SSL certificate:
- Free SSL Certificates: Many hosting providers offer free SSL certificates through services like Let’s Encrypt. Check if your hosting plan includes a free SSL certificate, and if it does, you can often enable it directly from your hosting control panel.
- Commercial SSL Certificates: If your hosting provider doesn’t offer a free SSL certificate or if you require a higher level of security, you can purchase a commercial SSL certificate from a trusted Certificate Authority (CA) like DigiCert, Comodo, or GlobalSign.
- Cloudflare SSL: Cloudflare, a content delivery and security service, offers a free and easy-to-implement SSL solution. You can use Cloudflare in combination with your existing hosting.
Step 3: Install and Configure the SSL Certificate
The process for installing and configuring an SSL certificate may vary depending on your hosting provider. Here are the general steps:
- Log in to your hosting control panel (e.g., cPanel, Plesk, or your hosting provider’s custom control panel).
- Look for the SSL or Security section, where you can find options for managing SSL certificates.
- If your hosting provider offers free SSL certificates, you can usually enable them with just a few clicks. Follow the on-screen instructions to activate the SSL certificate.
- If you’re using a commercial SSL certificate, you’ll need to provide the certificate files, including the SSL certificate, private key, and CA bundle. Most hosting control panels have specific fields for you to paste these files.
- After configuring the SSL certificate, save your changes, and your hosting provider will take care of the rest, including automatically updating your site to use HTTPS.
Step 4: Update WordPress Settings
With the SSL certificate installed, you need to update your WordPress settings to ensure your site loads over HTTPS.
- Log in to your WordPress admin dashboard. Go to “Settings” > “General.”
- In the “WordPress Address (URL)” and “Site Address (URL)” fields, make sure they start with “https://” instead of “http://”. For example, change “http://yourwebsite.com” to “https://yourwebsite.com. Save your changes.
Step 5: Check for Mixed Content
Mixed content issues occur when your site loads over HTTPS, but some resources (like images, scripts, or stylesheets) are still being loaded over HTTP. Browsers may block these resources, affecting your site’s security and performance.
To fix mixed content issues:
- Use a plugin like Really Simple SSL to scan your site for mixed content and automatically fix it.
- Alternatively, you can manually update your content and resources to use HTTPS. This includes updating image and link URLs in your posts, pages, and theme files.
Step 6: Update Google Search Console
If your site was previously indexed in Google using HTTP, you’ll need to update your property in Google Search Console to use HTTPS. This ensures that your search rankings and indexing are maintained with the secure URL.
Step 7: Configure a 301 Redirect
To ensure that all visitors are directed to the HTTPS version of your site, it’s a good practice to set up a 301 permanent redirect from HTTP to HTTPS. You can do this using a plugin like Really Simple SSL or by adding redirect rules to your .htaccess file.
Adding SSL and HTTPS in WordPress is essential for securing your website and building trust with your visitors. With the right SSL certificate and configuration, you can provide a safe and encrypted browsing experience for your users while improving your site’s search engine rankings