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Currently, almost all websites are advised to use the HTTPS protocol. So, if you want to switch to HTTPS but are still unsure, we will help explain everything, from the differences between HTTP and HTTPS in terms of security, performance, to benefits for SEO.
Apart from that, we will also explain how HTTP vs HTTPS protocols transmit data over the internet and the important role of SSL certificates, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each of these protocols.

Difference between HTTP and HTTPS

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, which is a protocol for communication between systems and transferring information and data across networks. HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, which is similar to HTTP but uses SSL/TLS to secure the data transfer process.

HTTPS secures connections with digital security protocols using cryptographic keys to encrypt and validate data. To use HTTPS and secure your domain, you need an SSL/TLS certificate.

Although TLS is now generally the standard for HTTPS, most SSL certificates support both the SSL and TLS protocols.

How HTTP Works

HTTP is an application layer protocol that web browsers and web servers use to communicate over the internet.

When you want to open or interact with a web page, the web browser will send an HTTP request to the originating server hosting the website's files. these requests are basically lines of text sent over the internet.

Then, a connection will be sent between the browser and the server, then the server will process the request and send back an HTTP response. Thus, web pages can be accessed by website visitors.

HTTP and HTTPS: Which is Better?

Technically, there is no right answer.

It all depends on the type of website you are online on and the data you manage. For example, a simple portfolio website should have different security requirements than an eCommerce website that implements membership features and digital payment systems.

However, whether your website handles sensitive information or not, HTTPS is now mandated to be the standard for all websites. Not only that, there are actually a lot of advantages of activating an SSL certificate on your website.

Consider the following factors when deciding whether to use HTTP or HTTPS.

Security

It is important to implement strong security measures and provide a safe browsing experience on your website. A survey from GlobalSign shows that 77% of visitors worry that bad parties will misuse or intercept their personal data.

When talking about the difference between HTTP and HTTPS, of course HTTPS is superior in terms of security.

The standard HTTP protocol does not encrypt connections. This means the lines of text in an HTTP request or response are visible to anyone monitoring the connection, including cyber criminals.

Using the HTTP standard is actually fine if the text contains only general information, for example to load a public web page.

However, where sensitive data such as usernames, passwords or credit card details are present, using unencrypted HTTP can pose a serious security risk. Since this information is viewable by anyone, it can eventually lead to data breaches, hacking, and identity theft.

Users can see if they visited a website that uses HTTP by checking two elements. First, the icon before the website URL (Uniform Resource Locator) may show an exclamation mark symbol (!) or the words “Not Secure”.

Warnings that appear may also advise users not to enter sensitive or confidential information on those websites. Second, the website URL will start with http://.

HTTPS = HTTP + SSL

To prevent leakage of information containing sensitive data, websites need to use an SSL certificate to establish a secure connection between the web server and browser, protecting the delivery of HTTP requests and responses.

So, one of the most important differences between HTTP and HTTPS is the use of SSL certificates.

HTTPS encrypts the data transport process so that it cannot be protected by hackers or others monitoring the connection. Data becomes more confidential, and information becomes difficult to modify, destroy, or steal during transmission.

The SSL/TLS protocol also implements user authentication to secure information and ensure that data will not be provided to insufficient parties.

To check if a website is using SSL/TLS, you can look at the top left of the website URL and find a lock icon, indicating that the connection is secure. Then, the website URL will start with https://.

Authority

When it comes to building trust and credibility with the audience, HTTPS is a better choice.

Today, HTTPS has replaced HTTP as the standard for all websites. As of September 2021, Google's transparency report shows that 99% of a user's browsing time in Chrome occurs on HTTPS websites.

In fact, nearly 30% of users will first check the lock icon when they visit a website. So, using HTTPS will provide many advantages, both for your personal website, eCommerce store, and business website.

With better protection against data breaches and leaks, websites that use SSL/TLS will appear more credible and trustworthy.

Not only can HTTPS help protect your website's reputation, it can also improve visit time and lower bounce rates. The longer visitors stay on your website, the more likely you are to generate leads.

For example, websites that use HTTPS may experience higher registration, purchase, or download rates. On the other hand, about 84% of users tend to ignore their online shopping cart if the site is still using HTTP.

Benefits in terms of SEO

Not only does Google recommend that all websites use HTTPS for better security, but it will also provide the opportunity to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).

This is evidenced by a study from Rank Ranger which found that in 2018, 70% of Google's first pages were websites that used HTTPS.

The reason is this: for example, a competitor's website may be very similar to yours in various aspects, such as content, speed, and backlinks. However, their website is already using HTTPS, while your website is still using HTTP.

Because HTTPS websites are prioritized by Google, of course, competitor websites will be superior to your website in terms of ranking in the SERPs. So that in the end the traffic that leads to their website will be higher than your website. Of course you don't want this to happen right?

Speed ​​and Performance

Another benefit of using HTTPS vs HTTP is that websites will load faster and run more smoothly using HTTPS, especially if used with servers that support HTTP/2.

HTTP/2 supports HTTPS encryption and complements its security protocol. One of the functions of HTTP/2 is to reduce latency with low resource consumption and maximize bandwidth efficiency.

HTTPS is also a more appropriate choice when loading websites on mobile devices, especially when using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP is a web component framework created by Google that streamlines the browsing experience for mobile device users by loading website content faster.

In order for the AMP version of your website to appear in search engines, you need a secure, encrypted connection. So, the use of HTTPS is of course very important, especially now that almost everyone uses mobile gadgets to browse the internet.

Referral Traffic Management

Using HTTPS helps save referral data, which is an important aspect when considering an SEO strategy.

Referral traffic is any visit a website receives from sources other than direct traffic. An example is when visitors open your website via backlinks, advertisements, or social media, their visits will be listed as traffic references.

By enabling HTTPS, you can identify the most credible and trusted sources of website traffic via the analytics dashboard. On the other hand, analytics software such as Google Analytics often categorize traffic from HTTPS reference sources as direct traffic on HTTP websites.

How to Enable HTTPS

In this section, we will explain how to switch from HTTP to HTTPS on your website.

Important! Backup your website first before doing this process.

Before starting, decide which type of SSL certificate you will use. Depending on the needs of your website, the type of certificate required can be single-domain, multi-domain or Wildcard.

To get started on how to enable HTTPS on your website, you can do it through the hosting control panel. For this tutorial, we'll be using Hostinger's hPanel.

Log in to your account and access hPanel. Enter the keyword ssl into the search box. Click SSL in the Advanced column.

Make sure the certificate status is set to On, then click Force HTTPS.

Wait for a success notification to appear. Finished!


Risks and Tips for Switching from HTTP to HTTPS

No need to worry if your website experiences errors or problems in terms of SEO after switching to HTTPS. This generally occurs early in the process. For example, some websites may experience a temporary drop in traffic because they rank down in the SERPs.

Here are some common risks that may occur with HTTP and HTTPS redirects and how to avoid them.

Visitors Cannot Access Certain Pages

After switching to HTTPS, check your website's internal links. This link needs to be updated and redirected to the new HTTPS website. Otherwise, visitors may be redirected to an error page or see the message “This web page is not available”.

This step is mandatory if you are using absolute internal links, such as https://www.yourwebsite.com/page-title. An absolute URL contains the entire website address, from the protocol and domain name to the page path or location in your website's system folder.

It's different if you use a relative URL that contains only the URL path, such as /page title. Since relative URLs don't use the full web address, these links are considered to belong to the same website, and are part of the same root domain.

Crawling and Indexing Websites

After switching to HTTPS, another potential risk is that search engines like Google may have problems crawling and indexing your website.

Crawling is Google's process of using AI to visit web pages, with the aim of "reading" the content. Then, all crawled pages will be listed in Google's index so that it can display results in response to user's search queries.

You can check whether there are crawling or indexing errors through your website's Google Search Center account, which was previously called Google Webmaster Tools. To avoid this problem, website owners should do the following:

Create a redirect URL.
Ensure that every page on your website redirects to the HTTPS version. Redirects are very important during the crawl process, as they help inform search engines that URLs listed in the index should be replaced with new ones. Otherwise, visitors may encounter a 404 error.

If left uncorrected, not only will web page rankings decrease over time, but can increase bounce rates and decrease traffic. In the end, this can be detrimental to the website's SEO strategy.
Update your sitemap.
Similar to URL redirects helping search engines crawl new HTTPS pages, updating sitemaps helps search engines quickly index new website content.

This step is also important for SEO because a sitemap contains important information about your website, such as the frequency of updates, the location of each web page, and the importance of each page. By updating your sitemap, search engines will be notified that your website has no duplicate content, which can create problems in terms of SEO.

Mixed Content Error

Mixed content errors may appear when the browser tries to load a website that has recently enabled SSL/TLS. The browser may receive a “Not Secure” or “Not Completely Secure” warning.

Most of the time, the cause is a misconfiguration during the installation process. This type of error occurs when a website's HTML code uses HTTPS, but the webpage still contains some elements that were loaded via plain HTTP.

For example, a web browser accepts a secure web page, but the web page has insecure content such as images, videos, or scripts.

You can fix mixed content errors in WordPress using an SSL plugin like Very Simple SSL.

If using another CMS, follow our tutorial to fix it (Joomla or Magento). Or, manually resolve the error by modifying the web page's source code file and replacing http:// with https://.

If the above solution still doesn't work, you can add the following redirect rule to your website's htaccess file

Header always set Content-Security-Policy: upgrade-insecure-requests

Best Steps to Avoid Problems

To prevent or minimize the problems above, we recommend following some best practices when switching from HTTP to HTTPS. Some of these tips are even recommended by Google.

Use a trusted SSL certificate. Not all SSL certificates work the same, which is generally reflected in the price. Some certificates cost thousands of dollars per year, while others are free. But, that does not mean you have to choose the most expensive. Do some research before choosing the SSL certificate that best suits the scale and type of your website.
Allow Google to crawl and index your HTTPS pages. A sitemap and robots.txt file will provide clear instructions to Google bots when crawling your website. As we discussed above, this will prevent duplicate content and weeoe site issues.
Monitor the process of switching to HTTPS regularly. Check out the analytics website to see if everything is running smoothly and there are no errors or sudden drops in traffic.
Pay attention to the latest information about security protocols. Avoid minor mistakes like expired SSL certificates, incorrectly registering your website information, or using old protocol versions.

Conclusion

Finished! You now know the difference between HTTPS and HTTP and what each means. So, if you are confused about choosing between HTTP vs HTTPS, we recommend using HTTPS to increase website security and credibility.

The difference between HTTP/HTTPS is in its security, where HTTP is a protocol that does not use SSL/TLS, and HTTPS is a more secure version because it already uses SSL/TLS to encrypt the connection between the web browser and web server.

Besides security, there are many benefits of using HTTPS on your website, such as increasing the success of your SEO techniques and better website performance.

Before starting how to enable HTTPS, keep in mind that there may be some initial issues and potential risks, such as crashes or decreased traffic. To avoid this, always follow best practices such as purchasing an SSL certificate that best suits your website type.

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