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I recently decided to upgrade my security options by adding SSL certificates to all of my good websites. Take a look at the address bar for this page that you are on right now. See the https:// at the beginning of my URL? The ‘s‘ at the end of ‘http‘ means that my website is secure. Most web browsers also show a locked padlock on secure websites. What exactly does this mean?
- Your connection to my site is private.
- The connection to this site is using a valid, trusted server certificate.
- The connection to this site is encrypted and authenticated.
- All resources on this page are served securely.
There are a few reasons I decided to implement this added layer of security to my websites. One of the main reasons being that it was extremely easy (and free) to do within my good WP Engine hosting account. I figured, why not try it? After I saw how easy it was to put on one website – I added it to the rest of my good sites that I have on that same hosting account. But it wasn’t until after I added it to my sites that I decided to research and find out exactly what the benefits are. What I found was that some of the most popular SEO blogs that I know of have written on this very topic!
Why do I need SSL for my website or blog?
The truth is – you probably don’t ‘NEED’ to be adding SSL certificates to your websites. Life will go on and you will still be able to make plenty of money with your websites if you don’t add SSL. Take a look at Spencer Haw’s extremely popular blog, Niche Pursuits. Or what about Jon Haver’s blog, Authority Website Income. Neither of these guys are using SSL (at the time this post was published) and they are both full-time internet marketers who are absolutely crushing it (income-wise) online. So, SSL certificates might not be directly correlated to income.
However, SSL certificates do provide a few benefits – in addition to the peace of mind that your visitors get, especially if they are encouraged to share information on your site (like their email address). Did you ever consider that http vs https just might be the difference in whether a reader signs up for your email list or not? Or whether they decide to enter their email address just to leave a comment? And if you’re accepting any kind of payment on your website – then having a secure site with an SSL certificate is a no-brainer!
So, indirectly – perhaps SSL certificates DO have a correlation to income. Perhaps Spencer and Jon could increase their trust factor even more if they had more secure websites.
Benefits of Adding SSL Certificates
Here is how WP Engine describes the benefits of using SSL via their platform…
A More Secure Site
HTTPS, the secure protocol for the web, safeguards your visitors by creating encrypted connections between your visitors and your site, protecting your visitors’ privacy and the data they share with you over the internet.
Blazing Fast Results
On our platform, HTTPS also automatically enables HTTP/2 (the latest hypertext transfer protocol), which improves website load times.
By enabling HTTPS with FREE Let’s Encrypt certificates, you can also expect better Google search engine rankings, since HTTPS is used as a ranking signal.
Get Started Today
To get FREE Let’s Encrypt certificates for your sites, sign up for WP Engine today. Easily migrate your site(s) – they have a WordPress plugin that does it for you automatically! Then login to your User Portal, and visit your install > SSL > Add Certificates > Get Let’s Encrypt. It’s really that easy! Just click a button and WP Engine does the rest.
Is it worth the hassle to install SSL?
Is it even worth the hassle of getting an SSL certificate installed and working properly? Well, for one – it wasn’t really a hassle at all with WP Engine to get it installed. I literally just had to click a button within my User Portal, check a few settings and WP Engine did the rest. Here is a screenshot from my WP Engine User Portal for this blog…
I honestly don’t have any idea how much of a hassle it might be to install an SSL certificate on a host other than WP Engine. If you’re curious – just log into your hosting account (on whatever host you use) and look up SSL certificates and see how easy (or difficult) the process is there. I can tell you this – for the few sites that I have on my Bluehost account – it IS NOT worth the hassle. I looked up the options that they offer, and the prices range from $4.17/month to $24.92/month – plus they require you to have a dedicated IP for sites with SSL and that runs another $5.99/month per site!
Bottom Line as far as Hosting Providers and SSL Certificates
I can’t speak for all hosting providers as far as how easy or difficult it is to install an SSL certificate – or for how much extra it will cost. I only use the two hosts mentioned above. But I will say this – WP Engine is a superior hosting provider and their managed WordPress hosting is second to none. Not only can you easily install an SSL certificate at no additional cost – but there are many other benefits of hosting your WordPress site(s) on WP Engine.
They are a premium host and they are not cheap. But I’ve been using WP Engine for a couple of years and I can tell you that they are worth every single penny. If your site(s) are making some decent money and you feel like it’s time to upgrade to a better host – I would definitely urge you to consider WP Engine. One of my favorite things about WP Engine? It’s extremely easy to migrate existing sites over to their platform. They have a WordPress plugin that you install and then simply follow the instructions and it pretty much does everything for you!
Troubleshooting SSL (https) Errors
Although installation was super-simple with WP Engine – my experience with moving over to https for most of my sites did not come without a few new learning experiences for me.
Mixed Content Warnings
After installing my SSL certificates, my sites showed the https in the address bar, but it was gray (not green like it should have been) and I did not get the green locked padlock. What the heck?! I thought this was supposed to be easy!
It took me a little bit of time and lots of searching around on Google – but I figured out and solved my issues. I had something called ‘mixed content warnings’ that needed to be addressed. Without going into detail here (this post is long enough already) – I’ll share with you the link to the article that was (by far) the most helpful in solving these mixed content warnings.
Most helpful troubleshooting post
If you can’t figure out how to fix your mixed content warnings after trying everything within that post – then I don’t know what to tell you.
Tip: add the https:// version of your site to Google Search Console
When you move from http to https – Google doesn’t automatically pick it up in your Google Search Console account. You have to log in and manually add the secure versions of your site(s).
Links from Popular SEO Blogs
Remember how I told you (up at the beginning of this post) that popular SEO blogs have written on this very topic? Here are some of the best and most interesting articles that I found and read.
Search Engine Land
Google says this gives websites a small ranking benefit, only counting as a “very lightweight signal” within the overall ranking algorithm. In fact, Google said this carries “less weight than other signals such as high-quality content.” Based on their tests, Google says it has an impact on “fewer than 1% of global queries” but said they “may decide to strengthen” the signal because they want to “encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.” Read more here…
Insane data-driven analysis (with lots of images) and SSL installation instructions – circa 2014 – Read all about it here…
HTTPS isn’t like other ranking factors. Implementing it requires complexity, risks, and costs. Webmasters balance this out with benefits that include increased security, better referral data, and a possible boost in rankings.
Google’s push for HTTPS adoption appears to be working. A recent Moz Poll found 24% of webmasters planning to make the switch. Read more here…
Brian Dean from Backlinko
We recently analyzed 1 million Google search results to answer the question:
Which factors correlate with first page search engine rankings?
We looked at content. We looked at backlinks. We even looked at site speed.
…we uncovered some interesting findings.
Summary of Key Findings – Point Number 5
5. HTTPS had a reasonably strong correlation with first page Google rankings. This wasn’t surprising as Google has confirmed HTTPS as a ranking signal. Read all about it here…
We recently analyzed the top 10,000 domains to answer one question:
“How well do they use HTTPS to improve their SERP rankings?”
We looked at accessibility via HTTP and HTTPS. We looked at redirects. We looked at status codes.
Today, I’m going to share our findings with you. Read all about it here…
It certainly looks like this whole ‘secure website’ thing is taking the internet by storm. SEO blogs and other website owners all across the internet are talking about moving to https. The benefits of doing so are still debatable.
Most of the posts on popular SEO blogs that I shared above were written in 2014. Almost 3 years ago! And just now, I am starting to see lots of talk in the SEO and internet marketing community about moving sites to https. It certainly looks like those who choose not to go secure will be left in the dust.
Lastly, I feel like I should mention just one more time how super-easy it was to move my sites to https within my WP Engine user portal. Just another one of the many reasons that I absolutely love WP Engine as my ‘managed WordPress host’! If you’re thinking about dropping your crappy beginner host and upgrading to a good hosting provider – the ease of adding SSL certificates is a perfect reason to consider WP Engine! Again, moving your site(s) to WP Engine is as easy as installing a WordPress plugin and following simple instructions.
All links within this post that lead to WP Engine are, indeed, affiliate links. I will receive a commission if you decide to purchase WP Engine hosting after clicking through via one of my links. I thank you in advance for the support if you do decide to do so. I know you won’t be disappointed. 🙂
Matthew Allen is a full-time trucker, part-time blogger, and imaginary entrepreneur. He is the only known trucker who is blogging about creating passive income online. He is also the co-founder and co-creator of the most popular WordPress plugin for Amazon affiliates – AmaLinks Pro.