What is this HTTPS thing that everyone is talking about? In this article, we will take a look at HTTPS and how the web is changing. HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transport Protocol Secure and requires the addition of an SSL certification to your website. With these two features, your website will have a secure connection to your host server.

In the past, the only websites that needed this SSL certification and HTTPS were e-commerce, membership sites or any site that collected personal information from their visitors. For example, if you collected credit card information, you wanted a safe way for that information to move from the visitor's web browser to your website server. You didn't want to send it through the usual channel that you used for passing your html pages to the browser, because anyone can intercept that transmission. You wouldn't want someone to intercept your customer's credit card information!

Most small artists and businesses avoided this problem by selling their products or services on a website other than their business website. For example, many set up a shop and sold through online marketplaces such as Creative Market, Society6 or eBay. A second option was to move your website to a web host that offered a built-in shopping cart and processing such as Shopify.

To sell from your business website, you needed to set up a shopping cart system that worked with an external credit card payment system. A popular shopping cart is WooCommerce, which works well with several payment systems including AmazonPayments, PayPal or Authorize.Net. However, using this option did required the purchase and installation of that SSL certificate on your website and HTTPS encryption that we mentioned above.

In the past, an SSL certificate wasn't offered as part of a hosting package. The website owner had to jump through a few hoops in order to purchase an SSL certificate and install it on their website.

That Was Then - This Is Now

You might have heard a lot about Google and HTTPS encryption. Apparently, starting in the Summer of 2018, Google will begin treating websites with HTTPS encryption with higher search engine rankings. How much this new Google policy will affect your SEO will vary. But it looks like an SSL and HTTPS for all websites may be the future of the web.

You might have noticed that now has the HTTPS encryption. You can tell by looking at the url at the top of the web browser. If you see a small padlock icon and the "https" in the url, then you are viewing our new secure website!

What You Need For HTTPS

With these new changes for the web, many website hosting systems, such as HostGator, now include an SSL certificate as part of their service. Of course, this extra perk does cost more than what you are paying now for hosting your site. However, usually the host has set up a simple installation process that works smoothly through the cPanel dashboard. Also, their system will be set up to redirect your old http urls to your new https urls.

For example, HostGator offers two new options. The first option is for websites that do not need e-commerce and only need the basic HTTPS encryption. At this time, it will cost you another $33 per year. The second option includes protection for e-commerce processing or customer registrations. This option is an extra few hundred dollars a year.

If your web host doesn't offer SSL certificates, you can purchase one from a provider such as Let's Encrypt. But you will need to verify that the SSL certificate that you purchase will work with your hosting platform and you will probably need to install the SSL yourself.

Once you have the SSL certificate installed, you will need to change url addresses for all pages on your site. This could be a big job. Again, your web host may have already set up a simple process for migrating your web page urls. Of course, you will want to update links that point to your new https website from your social media sites.

Update: Recently, HostGator has added the basic HTTPS encryption for free for their current customers. I assume most hosting companies will follow.

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