Securing your WordPress website: Adding an SSL certificate
What is SSL?
For website owners, prioritizing security is a must for both the site itself and its visitors. Therefore, adding an SSL certificate to your WordPress website is essential in ensuring security and accessibility through HTTPS. SSL, or Secure Socket Layer, is a security protocol that encrypts data being transmitted between your website and the webserver to keep it secure.
HTTPS, or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secured, is a protocol that encrypts internet traffic for secure communication. A digital SSL certificate verifies the authenticity of the website, ensuring that sensitive data is protected during transmission.
Why is SSL important?
There are several reasons why SSL is crucial for website owners:
- Search engines like Google rank HTTPS websites higher in their search engine results pages (SERPs) than HTTP sites, which aids in increasing visibility and traffic.
- Users today are more security-conscious than ever and are less likely to visit a website if they see a security warning, such as “Not Secure,” in the browser’s address bar, which also means that an SSL certificate can improve visitor trust and confidence in your website.
- SSL avoids browser security warnings, such as “Not Secure,” in the address bar.
How to add SSL to your WordPress website
Adding SSL to your WordPress website is a straightforward process. Here are the steps to follow:
Step 1: Purchase an SSL Certificate
The first step is to purchase an SSL certificate from a trusted vendor. There are several options to choose from, including free SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt and paid options from vendors such as Comodo and GoDaddy. Choose the option that meets your security needs and budget.
Step 2: Verify Server Requirements
Before installing the SSL certificate, you’ll need to verify that your server meets the necessary requirements. These requirements may differ depending on the vendor providing the SSL certificate. Here’s what you need to do:
- Check if your web host provides SSL or if you need to purchase it from a vendor.
- If purchasing from a vendor, ensure that the certificate works with your web host and server type (Apache, Nginx, etc.).
- Verify the server has a dedicated IP address to install the SSL certificate.
- Verify that your server supports SNI (Server Name Indication) to support multiple domains.
Step 3: Install SSL Certificate
The next step is to install the SSL certificate on your web server, which can differ depending on your web host and server type. Here’s what you need to do:
- Log in to your web server or web host console.
- Upload the SSL certificate to the server.
- Install the SSL certificate on the server or through the control panel provided by your web host.
- Verify that the SSL certificate is installed correctly by visiting the website via HTTPS and checking the browser address bar for the padlock icon and “Secure” message.
Step 4: Update WordPress Settings
Your WordPress website settings also need to be updated to use the SSL certificate. Here’s what you need to do:
Method 1: WordPress Settings
- Go to your WordPress dashboard and click on “Settings” > “General.”
- Change “http://” to “https://” in the WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL) fields.
- Save changes.
- Verify that your website is now accessible via HTTPS by visiting it in the browser.
Method 2: Using a Plugin
- Install and activate a plugin such as “Really Simple SSL” or “SSL Insecure Content Fixer.”
- Follow the plugin’s instructions to redirect HTTP to HTTPS.
- Test the SSL certificate by visiting the website.
Step 5: Update URLs
After installing the SSL certificate and configuring WordPress settings, you may need to update URLs to ensure all links and resources use HTTPS. Here’s what you need to do:
- Install and activate the “Better Search Replace” plugin.
- Go to “Tools” > “Better Search Replace.”
- In the “Search for” field, enter “http://” and in the “Replace with” field, enter “https://”
- Select the tables you want to update (usually all tables).
- Run the search and replace.
- Verify that your website is fully accessible via HTTPS.
By following the steps outlined in this article, you can secure your WordPress website and protect sensitive data transmitted between your website and web server. It is crucial to add an SSL certificate to your website for website security and user trust, and the process is straightforward and easy to do.