If you want your web traffic to be secured, the easiest option is to add an SSL certificate. This will encrypt the data that is sent to and from your website, so any third parties that intercept it won’t be able to see what the data actually is. In addition, you’ll get a slight SEO boost from Google, so there is really no reason not to do it.
Securing your traffic is fairly easy, and for most sites it is free. These instructions will use HostGator hosting of a WordPress site as an example. Almost all hosting companies and CMS’s, however, will work in a very similar way so you should be able to adjust these instructions to meet your needs no matter what type of site you have.
HostGator (and almost all hosting companies) offer a free shared SSL certificate to their customers, so you shouldn’t have to spend a dime to secure your site.
Step 1: Find your Shared SSL Certificate
Finding your shared SSL certificate should only take a moment. It will be stored on your hosting server. To locate your server name, you can either go to your ‘welcome’ email from your hosting company, or log into your cPanel account (if you have one). The cPanel account can typically be found by going to YourDomain.com/cpanel. Once there, look on the left side, all the way toward the bottom in the box labeled “Account Information” it will look like this:
Once you’ve found it, you can determine your SSL Certificate location. In this example, where the server name is ‘gator3008’ the path to your SSL certificate should be https://secure3008.hostgator.com/~cPanelName (where cPanelName is your cPanel user name).
Step 2 – Installing a HTTPS Plugin
The next step in this process is to install a WordPress Plugin that will have your site access the SSL certificate found in the previous step. There are many different plugins to choose from. One of the most popular, and easiest to use, is called “WordPress HTTPS (SSL)” and can be found by doing a normal plugin search through your WordPress admin page. Once it is installed and activated, follow these steps:
- Click on the settings link for the Plugin
- Enter the URL from above into the “SSL Host” box
- Click “Save Changes”
You can make other changes on that page if you need to, but for the average user, the defaults should be fine.
That’s it. If everything went properly, your site should begin using the HTTPS connections for all your visitors. It may take a few minutes to propagate the changes, so wait a while and reload the page.