How to Add HTTPS to Your Domain and Install an SSL Certificate to Protect Your Customers

Cybersecurity is a non-negotiable element of your website. This is true for the sole principle of keeping you and your customer’s data safe. But security also makes your business look professional and trustworthy. 

Google Chrome makes it clear to a user 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. 

But when a website takes its safety seriously by using HTTPS and installing an SSL certificate, Chrome shows a padlock to signify the website has a secure connection. 

HTTPS is a pillar of a safe internet experience. It shows your customers you’re committed to security and that you care about their data and keeping it private. 

An insecure website looks bad to customers, and it can hurt your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking in relevant searches. 

Wondering how to add HTTPS to your domain?

Here’s the good news: 

It’s a simple process. 

Some hosting providers, like Bluehost, offer free SSL certificates for dedicated IP addresses. This way, it’s easy to protect every custom domain and subdomain with HTTPS. 

Once you learn how to add HTTPS to your domain, you can secure your information from hackers and increase your customers’ trust in your business. 

Keep reading to learn about:

  • What HTTPS and SSL are
  • Why you need to use HTTPS
  • Setting up HTTPS 
  • Installing SSL Certificates from third parties 
  • The best SEO practices for HTTPS

The Process of Using HTTPS and SSL

Before you learn how to add HTTPS to your domain, you need to know the basics. In simple terms, HTTPS and SSL are security for your website. They help protect your connection, so the information between your browser and the web server is safe. 

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, including names, addresses, and credit card numbers.  

Secure HTTP (HTTPS) adds a layer of encryption to that information. That way, hackers can still listen in on conversations between browsers and servers, but the information isn’t readable because the hacker doesn’t have the key to understand that information. 

To create that secure connection, you need to install an SSL certificate. 

What SSL and TLS Are

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and it’s 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.  

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 You Need to Use HTTPS

HTTPS is critical for any eCommerce website. Customers want to know their information will stay private if they check out on your website. 

You might think you don’t need to learn how to add HTTPS to your domain if you run a blog or another website that doesn’t sell anything. But every website can benefit from using HTTPS. 

A website that shows “not secure” in the address bar raises concerns from customers. They won’t feel safe on your website, and you’ll look unprofessional. Even if you don’t exchange any data, customers might feel unsafe and avoid your website. 

More than just security, a lack of HTTPS could also hurt your SEO efforts. Google takes HTTPS into account in its ranking process. So, it’s in your best interest to use HTTPS protocols to get your website ranked by search engines. 

How to Add HTTPS to Your Domain

  • Log into your web hosting plan 
  • Choose your SSL certificate 
  • Activate and install your SSL certificate 
  • Redirect users to your HTTPS domain

Bluehost makes it easy to add HTTPS to your domain name. When you log into your Bluehost dashboard, click on My Sites, then choose Manage Site for the website where you want to install the SSL certificate. 

Under the Security tab, you’ll see the option to install your free SSL certificate.

Once you activate it, the certificate could take a few hours to update your site to use HTTPS.

After it updates, you’ll have to make your old HTTP website redirect 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, and it 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 uses the HTTPS protocol. 

You can also go to your control panel to manage your SSL/TLS status. 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 SSL 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 SSL.com that better suits your needs. 

You can also upgrade your certificate through the Bluehost Marketplace. 

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. 

SEO Best Practices With HTTPS 

Google has been vocal about making the internet a safer place, and one way of doing that is HTTPS. And some websites have seen their rankings grow exponentially after switching to it. 

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, know 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. 

Adding HTTPS to your website is a standard security practice. Customers want to know that when they visit your website, they will be safe to do business. 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 gets encrypted and stays safe from malicious hands. And it’s a simple process to set up your HTTPS website. 

Bluehost offers free SSL certificates and easy setup on your Bluehost dashboard. Head over to your cPanel, and you can monitor its function and upgrade to a paid SSL version if you want more security. 

Now that you know how to add HTTPS to your domain, you can make a continued commitment to the safety of both your customers’ information and your own. 

Are you ready to create a new HTTPS domain? Check out Bluehost’s hosting packages today.

Desiree Johnson
Desiree Johnson | Content Specialist
Desiree Johnson is a Content Specialist at Bluehost where she writes helpful guides and articles, teaches webinars and assists with other marketing and WordPress community work.

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