April 3, 2019

Why your WordPress website needs an SSL Certificate

It’s becoming more important to have an SSL Certificate installed on your website. “An SSL…what?!” Fair enough, yes another tech related acronym that when first heard means absolutely nothing. However, this one is important and worth learning about.

Have you been surfing the web and found a site that has the URL (website address) starting with https? An SSL Certificate (Secure Sockets Layer) will mean your website address will start will https. The ’s’ stands for secure. HTTPS gives your website increased security and privacy when information is being transferred between website server and visitor.

What are the benefits of using HTTPS?

  • Limit web browser warnings
    If you use Chrome, or another popular modern web browser, you might have seen browser display warnings saying that the website is not secure, and isn’t using HTTPS. Using an SSL Certificate that is installed correctly will remove these warnings. See image below.
  • Improved security
    Having your website run over HTTPS encrypts any data that is sent between your website and visitors. This stops attackers from intercepting information travelling between the website server and the visitors browser.
  • Build trust in your website
    Visitors recognise that your website has an SSL Certificate, as indicated by the green padlock icon in the address bar. This shows a level of trustworthiness and signals to potential customers that you take their privacy seriously.
  • Better search ranking results
    Search engines like Google factor in if a website is using HTTPS into their search engine results and how it ranks your website. This means installing an SSL Certificate boosts website rankings when compared to competition.
Creative Buzz - Blog - Why your Wordpress website needs an SSL Certificate - Insecure Page Content on Chrome browser
Example of Chrome web browser displaying warnings about a website that is not secure. In this case the SSL Certificate was not installed correctly.

So how can I install an SSL Certificate on my website?

Typically most website hosting companies offer SSL Certificates, and depending on the hosting company, they might even install it for you. At worst they’ll have instructions on how to install your certificate. Once your certificate is installed you’ll need to change your URL’s on your website.
If you’re using Wordpress you’ll need to change your “Wordpress Address (URL)” and “Site Address (URL)” to include the new certificate.

For example: If your Wordpress and Site Address was:
http://www.yourdomain.co.nz
Change it to:
https://www.yourdomain.co.nz
When you make this change you’ll be logged out of your Wordpress admin area, and will have to login again, so make sure you know your username and password before making the above changes.

Link clean-up

The next step is to navigate through each page of your website and fix any links that are pointing to “http” instead of “https”.
A lot of the time this will simply mean changing the address on an image, or a link to another page on your site that has been written in absolute form, and hasn’t changed after you updated the Wordpress & Site address.

Time to check

The easy way to check if all links on your pages are using HTTPS is view the page.
Creative Buzz - Blog - Why your Wordpress website needs an SSL Certificate -Secure Icon
If you see the green padlock, your good to go and you can move on to check the next page
Creative Buzz - Blog - Why your Wordpress website needs an SSL Certificate - Insecure Media Icon
If you see a yellow triangle, then you have images that are still using HTTP
Creative Buzz - Blog - Why your Wordpress website needs an SSL Certificate - Insecure Icon
And, if you see “Not secure” or a crossed out padlock, then your certificate might not be installed or configured correctly

Wrapping up

It’s a lot to take in, but installing an SSL Certificate onto your website is worth while. Are you using an SSL Certificate on your site? Do you have any helpful hints when installing a certificate on your site? Let us know in the comments sections below.
Aaron @ Creative Buzz

About the author

Aaron has extensive knowledge in website design and development with over 12 years of industry experience. Aaron is our go-to guy for all things web. When he's not buried deep in code or designing, he can be found gaming on the PlayStation or working on his growing Bonsai collection.

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