May 09, 2018

The HTTP to HTTPS Migration Checklist

Making the Switch to HTTPS

The process of properly switching to a secure site is involved. Google treats a migration from HTTP to HTTPS as a “site move with a URL change,” meaning Google will treat the HTTPS URL structure as a new site. Proper preparation, implementation, and monitoring are required to mitigate any negative effects.

The checklist below will help you navigate through the migration and avoid many pitfalls that could cause your site’s traffic to decline.

The HTTP to HTTPS Migration Checklist

1) Preparation:

  1. Select an SSL certificate from Godaddy, Bluehost etc.
  2. Crawl your existing website to obtain a list of all HTTP URLs
    • Understand the current state of your site
  3. Obtain access with sufficient privileges to all applicable accounts
    • Website Access
    • Google Analytics
    • Search Console
    • AdWords
    • Social Media Account
    • Google My Business
    • YouTube
  4. Download a list of all HTTP 301 redirects currently in place
    • Update the HTTP 301 with new HTTPS URLs to have ready to go upon launch
  5. Download and update disavow file

2) Buying an SSL Certificate 

To begin, you will need an SSL certificate. SSL certificates are small data files which bind a key to a specific organization’s details. When installed it activates the HTTPS protocol, allowing secure connections between a web browser and the server. There are a number of SSL certificate vendors you can choose from. We recommend vendors like:

  • Godaddy
  • BlueHost
  • Hostgator

3) Certificate Installation: WHM/cPanel

  1. Login to the cPanel 'Control Panel'Click SSL/TLS Manager under the Security section.

  1. Click on Generate, view, upload or delete SSL Certificates the 'Certificates' section.

  1. Import Domain/End Entity Certificate.Copy and Paste the contents of 'your domain name.crt' into the text box labeled 'Paste the crt below' in the 'Upload a New Certificate' section.
    - Or -
    b. Click 'Browse' and navigate to 'your domain name.crt' and then click 'Upload'.

 

  1. Click Go Back.

 

  1. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on Return to SSL Manager

  1. Click on Setup an SSL Certificate to work on your site

 

  1. Select the domain you are using from the Domain drop-down menu. The system will attempt to fetch the SSL Certificate and Private Key for you.
    Note: You do have the option to copy and paste these files into their appropriate boxes at this time.In the box labeled CA Bundle, paste the contents of the CA Bundle file that was provided.

 

  1. Click on Install Certificate.

 

4) After Certificate Installation

  • Update .htaccess file to force https (be sure to specify 301)
  • Replace all absolute links
    • Pages
    • Images
    • Stylesheets
    • Scripts
    • CDNs
    • Canonicals
    • Href tang
    • Plugins
  • updated 301 redirects URLs in .htaccess
  • Search Console:
    • Verify HTTPS versions of the website (www & non-www)
    • Submit new sitemap with HTTPS URLs
    • Update robots to include HTTPS sitemap location
  • Ensure that robots is not blocking any HTTPS content
    • Verify and set preferred domain
    • Associate Google Analytics with preferred domain
    • Fetch, render, and submit URLs for indexing
  • Update Google Analytics to HTTPS version
  • Update (if applicable):
    • Structured data markup
    • PPC
    • Email campaigns
    • Additional scripts
  • Update URLs on all Social Media accounts
  • Run an HTTPS Validation Check
  • Crawl HTTPS version of site
    • Make sure nothing is broken and all links are working
  • Crawl the list of old URLs
    • They should all be 301 redirecting
  • Monitor rankings, Search Console, and Analytics over the next several weeks

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