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Blogging Basics: Everything you need to know about HTTPS and SSL

Published on: Sunday, 22 September 2019 ✦ Updated on: 2019-09-22T11:43:26Z

https and ssl for bloggers

I think you'll agree with me when I say blogging has changed so much since the early 2000s; what it used to be when it was just getting popularised. And so has the technologies we use to blog.

Nowadays, blogging isn't just hitting publish on a blog post, it's so much more. Marketing, promoting, selling products and services you build, running membership sites and so much more.

As the nature of blogging has changed, new threats emerged, and security questions are being raised. People want to be protected, more and more people are realising the importance of their data and are taking it seriously.

Laws are being formed about the same, and as a digital content creator, it falls on you to keep up with all the latest changes and rules and regulations not only to protect yourself but your audience and give them a secure browsing option on your blog or website.

One of the most recent changes has been awareness about HTTPS and SSL. And I know some of you haven't caught on it, yet. That's why I'm here to help you understand what it is in a non-technical way, and let you know why it's so IMPORTANT.

https and ssl

What is HTTPS?

The abbreviation stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. It is the secure version of HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol).

Google has been pushing HTTPS for a long time now, and even gave a small significance to websites that were being loaded over HTTPS to those that were simply loading on HTTP.

It was all made official, with the release of Google Chrome 68. Google was making it sure that website owners serve their websites over a secure connection.

What is SSL?

Think of SSL as the means by which a secure connection is served by a server to a computer network. The result of which is, that you see a padlock and your web address starts with HTTPS rather than HTTP.

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer.

Why use HTTPS and SSL?

HTTPS signals your web browsers to use an added layer of SSL to protect your site's traffic, in short, you readers and audience. This also helps protect your audience's sensitive information such as credit card information, passwords, e-mails etc.

It prevents attackers from meddling with your site content by changing it when a visitor visits your website.

Why is this important to me as a blogger?

Brilliant question. It is important, especially for site owners such as yourself. Let me explain why. As a blogger, you own your very own space in the world wide web. And so, it becomes your duty to protect your audience the best you can when they visit your website and/or blog.

To safeguard your audience's sensitive information is an ethical thing to do. And if that hasn't convinced you, then, it also helps build trust towards your brand and loyalty over time.

Think about it, do you want to or will buy from a site that gives a "Not Secure" warning to users? I think not. Especially when audiences are becoming more aware of their privacy and data by the day.

In an age of increasing frauds, shady companies, and shady privacy policies there is one thing that customers appreciate and that is transparency and honesty. SSL gives your audience to peace of mind to browse through your website and interact with it safely.

And I believe it should be at the heart of your business to value your customer, their privacy and information safety the most.

But sometimes, just being ethical and good-natured isn't enough for some so here are a few more reasons an SSL is important for you:

  • Chrome browsers/ other browsers won't give a "Not Secure" warning to your visitors.
  • A slight boost in SEO
  • If someone wasn't subscribing to your e-mail list or buying your product because their browser was telling them their sensitive data might be at risk, they will do so now that you have SSL enabled.

What is TLS and does it matter?

TLS is known as Transport Layer Security. It is a succeeding technology to SSL and it is what makes sure that data transfer between your web server and a visitors computer is encrypted (protected) the same way SSL would do.

Does it matter if I don't use SSL/TLS on my website/blog?

I've already mentioned the reasons you should consider adding an SSL on your blog, but apart from the ethical reasons, and some other obvious reasons also mentioned above. Let me say it again.

SSL is important for the safety of your visitors' sensitive information, such as e-mail addresses, credit card information, debit card information, phone numbers, addresses etc.

So if you collect any of the above information from your visitors, you SHOULD use an SSL/TLS encryption on your website/blog.

This isn't just a matter of being ethical it's also a responsibility, and personally, I'm hesitant to purchase or interact with websites that don't use SSL/TLS or don't have a padlock (lock icon) displaying in the address bar.

But having an SSL gives you the following advantages as well:

  • It gives you a boost in SERP over the same niche non-SSL sites that are talking about the same things you are talking about.
  • IF I haven't said it already, it protects your visitor's sensitive information. So if you collect e-mails or sell something on your website, it is a must!
  • It builds trust and shows your audience you take their privacy seriously.

How do I add SSL/TLS to my website?

Each website is just unique in the way that it is built. And what tools go into the making of it.

Some people use website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and whereas others might use or even choose to go the self-hosted route. 

But the ability to have HTTPS essentially is provided by your host, where your website lives (or is hosted). All the above-mentioned platforms offer free SSL for your site except self-hosted blogs (in this case, some hosts do charge for SSL and some don't) and there is a way to go about it if you want to enable it.

How to enable SSL on the platform that you are using is outside the scope of this blog post however, as this is a series I will eventually be covering your platform sooner or later.

TIP : Feel free to subscribe or follow my blog to make sure you can stay updated with my blog posts and don't miss a tutorial. You can even request a specific tutorial or blog post about a topic you wish to know more about here.

What is a mixed content issue?

Mixed content issue is when HTTPS and SSL are enabled on a site yet the address bar shows an icon with an "i" and circle around it.

This means that while your site is using the HTTPS protocol and has an SSL/TLS in place there are some components being loaded over non-SSL encryptions. This is what we call a mixed content issue.

How to fix mixed content issues?

To be able to fix mixed content issues you need to know what scripts, codes, images, media or content are being served over non-secure channels on your website that are causing this issue.

Once you locate this and make sure everything is being served over SSL/TLS then, this issue will be resolved.

Usually, asking your developer or tech is the best thing to do to help you properly fix these issues.

However, if that is not an option you will need to do this manually. In the coming blog posts in this series, we'll explain how to resolve mixed content issues depending upon your blogging/website platform.

Do you help fix mixed content issues?

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. I help bloggers on all popular platforms solve and fix their mixed content issues. I charge my hourly rate of $75/hour for all tech work. If you'd like me to help you fix this, please feel free to get in touch.

I hope this blog post has helped you understand in a better way why bloggers and website owners should start using SSL/TLS. If this blog post has helped you, please help me out by sharing it with your friends on social media, follow my blog or subscribe to receive new posts directly in your inbox.

If you feel that you'd like to help me out please consider donating so that I can keep bringing DIY tutorials and more to you. If there's a request or tutorial you'd like to see on this blog, feel free to suggest it here.

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