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Cybersecurity should be a non-negotiable element of your website. Why? Because it means you care about keeping your customer’s data safe. In addition, having a secure website also makes your business look professional and trustworthy. That’s why you should use HTTPS and get an SSL certificate.

In this post, we’ll show you how to do this and what both terms mean while also providing a comprehensive understanding of how to add an SSL certificate to a website and SSL web hosting.

Let’s begin with the basics.

What is HTTPS? 

Simply put, HTTPS encrypts data exchanged between a user’s browser and a website, enhancing online communication security. This video will provide a comprehensive understanding of what HTTPS is and why it is important.

What is HTTPS and SSL?

HTTPS and SSL serve as guardians for your website’s security. They play a pivotal role in safeguarding your connection, ensuring that the data exchanged between your web browser and the server remains impervious to threats, creating a shield of safety for your online interactions.

So what do they stand for? 

HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, and SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. 

We’ll explain both in more detail further in this post.

The difference between HTTP and HTTPS

The HTTP at the start of a website address (URL) frequently goes ignored. But it is a foundational element of the World Wide Web. HTTP, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol, is the protocol used to load web pages using hypertext links. 

If you use HTTP, your exchange of information is done in plain text. If a hacker wanted to eavesdrop on the conversation between your browser and the server, they could easily steal sensitive information. And yes, this includes names, addresses, and credit card numbers.  

Secure HTTP (HTTPS) adds a layer of encryption to that information. So if hackers listen in on conversations between browsers and servers, the information will be unreadable because the hacker doesn’t have the key to understand that information. But how do you get the added S? You need to install an SSL certificate. 

Let’s precisely understand the differences between HTTP and HTTPS.

How HTTPS works?

You can watch this video to understand how the secure HTTPS protocol effectively safeguards online communication and data.

What is SSL?

SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is the authentication protocol that encrypts the information between client and server. 

A browser sends a request to the server, and first checks the SSL certificate validation. If the certificate is valid, the browser uses the public key from the website to encrypt the data it needs to send. 

When the data goes back to the server, it’s decrypted using the public key and its own private key. After that data exchange, both locations can communicate safely.

Along similar lines, SSL web hosting is a type of web hosting service that includes SSL encryption for the data transmitted between a user’s web browser and the web server. It guarantees the security and privacy of sensitive information. SSL not only builds user trust but also positively impacts SEO rankings. In a world where cyber threats are rampant, SSL stands as an indispensable safeguard for websites, fostering a safer online environment.

What about SSL/TLS?

In 1999, TLS (Transport Layer Security) came out as the new protocol with better security to work with SSL. The two frequently get referred to together as SSL/TLS

While it sounds complicated, the process is essentially a secure exchange of information over the Internet.

Why do you need to use HTTPS?

HTTPS is critical for any ecommerce website. Because customers want to know their information will stay private when they proceed with the checkout process on your site. 

Did you know that Google Chrome shows users when they visit an unsafe website? The address bar will display “Not secure” before the domain name, which tells users that their information is vulnerable to being stolen. 

This will obviously raise concerns from customers. They won’t feel safe on your website, and you’ll look unprofessional. Even if you don’t exchange any data, for example if you run a blog, customers might feel unsafe and avoid your website. 

In other words: every website benefits from using HTTPS. 

How to add HTTPS to your domain?

For most websites, adding HTTPS to your domain usually consists of these steps:

  1. Log in to your web hosting plan 
  2. Choose your SSL certificate 
  3. Activate and install your SSL certificate 
  4. Redirect users to your HTTPS domain

With Bluehost, it becomes easy to add HTTPS to your domain name. 

  1. Log into your Bluehost dashboard
  2. Click on Security, 
  3. Click on Buy SSL certificate in the right corner. You’ll be able to purchase a single domain SSL or more.

Please note that once you activate the certificate, it could take a few hours to update your site to use HTTPS.

Redirect your site

After it’s updated, you’ll have to redirect your old HTTP website to your new HTTPS website. You can do that using a 301 redirect, or you can add SSL to WordPress with the Really Simple SSL plugin that helps you convert HTTP to HTTPS and redirect all your links correctly. 

Bluehost uses AutoSSL for its certificate system. AutoSSL generates new certificates for each website with Let’s Encrypt. This happens automatically for each new account and accounts with WordPress installed. 

Once you’ve figured out how to add HTTPS to your domain, verify that your website is working and correctly using the HTTPS protocol. If you encounter any issues, contact Bluehost support to help you troubleshoot.

Installing an SSL Certificate with a Third-Party Provider

Once you learn how to add HTTPS to your website, you might realize that you need to install an SSL certificate with higher security or different specific features. In that case, you can add HTTPS/SSL Certificate to your website using a third-party provider with the TLS/SSL Manager. 

Consider if you need to purchase an SSL certificate from an authority like that better suits your needs. You can also upgrade your certificate through the Bluehost Marketplace. 

Steps to install SSL certificate to a website

Please note: The below steps are for the ones using our Shared Hosting services. If you’re using our VPS or Dedicated Hosting, you can follow this link.

A. Generate a private key

  1. Access TLS/SSL Manager

Navigate to your cPanel and access the TLS/SSL Manager icon.

  1. Manage private keys

Opt for the option to Generate, view, or delete your private keys.

  1. Choose key size

Within the Generate a New Key segment, pick Key Size 2048 or 1024.

  1. Initiate key generation

Initiate the key generation process by clicking the Generate button.

  1. View private key

Your private key will be exhibited. Return to the SSL Manager by selecting the respective option.

  1. Manage SSL Certificate signing requests

Once back on the SSL Manager page, access Generate, view, or delete SSL Certificate signing requests.

  1. Input domain details

Input the domain name and required details into the designated form.

  1. Generate certificate request

Activate the certificate request generation by clicking the Generate button.

  1. Verify details

Upon providing accurate details, your Generated Private Key will be displayed. If it appears empty, navigate back and rectify any inaccuracies.

B. Create the Certificate Signing Request

Steps to generate a CSR:

  1. Access SSL Manager

Access the SSL Manager page and select Generate, view, or delete SSL certificate signing requests.

  1. Enter domain details

Fill in the domain name and mandatory details within the designated form.

  1. Initiate CSR creation

Initiate the CSR creation process by clicking the Generate button.

  1. Check CSR display

If the information provided is accurate, your CSR will be displayed. In case of an empty display, navigate back and rectify any inaccuracies.

  1. Share CSR with vendor

Share the generated CSR with your chosen SSL vendor, who will exchange it for a CRT file.

  1. Receive and access CRT file

Upon receiving the new CRT file, revisit the SSL Manager and opt for Generate, view, or delete SSL Certificates.

  1. Paste or browse files

Either paste the provided CRT file or browse your computer for the .crt file. Repeat this for the CA Bundle file if you have received one.

  1. Upload

Finalize the process by clicking the Upload button.

  1. Install files on the server

For installation of your KEY and CRT on the server, please contact us via Phone or Live Chat.

Both the KEY and CRT files are essential for the installation of your certificate onto the server. Additionally, if the SSL vendor has supplied a CA Bundle, it should also be included. It’s advisable to retain backup copies of each of these files, as they might find utility for this specific domain name across various hosting services.

Does HTTPS influence your SEO?

Since 2014, Google takes HTTPS into account in its ranking process. Plus, Google has been very vocal about making the Internet a safer place. And one way to do that is with HTTPS. So it’s in your best interest to use HTTPS protocols to get your website ranked by search engines. 

SEO best practices with HTTPS & SSL web hosting

After you’ve set up your HTTPS website, verify the HTTPS website in your Google Search Console. You should also update your XML sitemaps to make it more straightforward for search engines to properly index your website. 

Plus, keep in mind that it takes time for rankings to update when you make significant updates to your website. So be patient as search engines recrawl your website. 

Renewing your SSL Certificate

Just like your domain name, you need to renew your SSL certificate. Most certificates are valid for one year. 

If you install an SSL certificate from a third party, stay vigilant about renewing your certification. Losing that secure connection, even for one day, can hurt your SEO and customer trust.  

With AutoSSL, Bluehost keeps your certificate up to date, so you don’t have to manually renew your certificate.

Conclusion: You need HTTPS for your domain

Adding HTTPS to your website is a standard security practice. Customers want to know that they’ll be safe when visiting your website, so having “not secure” next to your website’s name in the address bar can hurt your credibility.

With the help of HTTPS and SSL certificates, the information between browser and servers stays safe from malicious hands. And it’s a simple process to set up your HTTPS website. Are you ready to create a new HTTPS domain? Check out Bluehost’s hosting packages today. Bluehost offers SSL certificates and easy setup on your dashboard. Head over to Security, and you can monitor its function. If you want to upgrade to a premium SSL version, you can head to Marketplace.

  • Devin Sears

    Devin is a Senior Event Marketing Manager for the Bluehost brand. He is our brand steward for all things Bluehost and WordPress. You'll always see him supporting Bluehost at WordCamps around the world!

    Brigham Young University
    Previous Experience
    Social Media, Customer Experience, Field Marketing, Sponsorships, Event Coordinator
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