Migration Tips From HTTP to HTTPS for Beginners
Tips For Migrating From HTTP to HTTPS
HTTPS provides advanced site security by eliminating middle man breaches, ensuring data integrity and encrypting data streams. Moreover, Google has incentivized migration from HTTP to HTTPS by giving HTTPS websites a slight ranking advantage in organic search.
HTTPS is definitely an advancement step every site should take but it comes with its challenges such as cost and implementation technicalities. Below are 17 tips that will help streamline the migration exercise.
- Draw up a plan
Without a plan, you may lose traffic and crucial site functionalities due to avoidable mishaps which, as most webmasters know, occur often. A detailed plan will also help you unearth and quickly mitigate resultant negative impacts.
- Hire an expert
If you are not an expert, you will need one. There are many webmasters for hire who understand the migration process intimately. Go for a professional who has a track record to reduce the chances of avoidable, experience deficit inspired mistakes.
- Get a quote
Get a quote to know the related financial ramifications. Your bill will largely be determined by the size and complexity of your website and the expert you choose. The good news is that most agencies give free quotes.
- List all URLs
Make a comprehensive URL list comprising of both main site and subdomain URLs. The list will give you a reference point when checking the URLs to ensure they redirect properly. Use a crawler to achieve this and then export the list.
- Update in a development setting
Using a development setting to implement the migration will give you the opportunity to cross-check pertinent aspects and ascertain that everything is correctly set up before launch. It will also diminish the negative effects of the migration.
- Adopt a progressive approach
Fast-tracked migration, though achievable, increases the probability of things going wrong. A better and safer approach that does not change much in the grand scheme of things is a bit by bit approach where chunks of the site are migrated, monitored, resultant issues ironed out, before migrating the next chunk.
- Picking the initial site chunk to migrate
To kick-start the migration, choose the site portion least affected by multiple dynamics. It should change infrequently without susceptibility to unforeseen occurrences.
- Chose a relevant SSL
Depending on the size of your site, select a befitting SSl. Simple SSL is okay for miniature sites and enterprises while standard SSL is ideal for growing businesses which need a more secure way to obtain payments. For big websites, extended SSL is the way to go.
- Use a 2048-bit key
Still on security certificates, go for the 2048-bit key. If you have been utilizing a lower security key, upgrade as you migrate to maximize on security. While at it, ensure that your certificates are registered on proper host names.
After moving the first chunk, conduct tests and monitor the traffic and performance. A timescale of two weeks or more is advised for comprehensive crawling and indexing to take place as well as substantial traffic monitoring.
- Use of redirects
It may take time to complete the migration of big site portions and you may wish to avoid early indexing. To do so, use rel=canonicals as opposed to redirects as redirects will take away some of the technical testing ability.
- Use separate robots.txt for HTTPS and HTTP
If you use robots.txt to reference your HTTP sitemaps, rather than update it to include the new HTTPS sitemaps, create entirely new HTTPS robots.txt files. Moreover, avoid listing URLs in both files and list them in relevant sitemaps instead. This means that you should develop a different sitemap for the site portions you upgrade to HTTPS.
- Consider HTTP/2
Once you have migrated, it may be a good idea to implement HTTP/2 while at it to maximize website loading speeds. HTTP/2, founded on the SPDY protocol offered by Google, can only be used in HTTPS sites and it increases loading speed significantly.
- HSTS for extra security
Go the whole distance and leverage HSTS preloading once you have successfully migrated. Adopt a progressive approach as you monitor the effects by first sending headers with short max-age as you continually increase the HSTS max-age.
- Update resources
All site resources should be updated to reflect the HTTPS move to ensure no protocol breaks exist. Update the scripts, images, CSS files as well as external resources such that they originate from safe HTTPS locations.
- Update all links
Use the URL list you previously created to confirm that they all direct to the new HTTPS address of your site including hreflang as well as well as canonical URLs. In a nutshell, make sure that all the links in your site are HTTPS based.
- Site review
Review your site using a trusted crawler such as Xenu to ensure that there is nothing you have missed. If possible, use two or more crawlers in tandem just to be sure.
In conclusion, remember to address follow-up specifics such as updating your analytics profile to reflect the HTTPS migration. Paying close attention to detail is important as missing to update PPC, social, or any other URL or site aspect can affect scores and marketing ROI.