Migrating sites to SSL [https]

Migrating sites to SSL [https]

Late last year [2017] we all started seeing web browsers flag sites without SSL certs. Including mine 🙂 I’ve been working on flows to help move sites over with minimal impact. Including mine. Yes, We can all expect my site will be moved over soon to SSL or have the [https] instead of [http] at the beginning of the site name.

Why is this important, and why is it so difficult?

First of all, it’s important to having SSL certificates is critical if you are running financial transactions. You need to make sure the messages are secured [or encrypted] as they travel between the many routers and connections that lye between your mobile phone or desktop and the web server. In an effort to promote a more secure web, Google has started to favor SSL or secure sites over non-secure sites when it looks at ranking criteria.

Now- why is it so difficult? In theory, you can call up your ISP and turn on SSL certs. ISP’s like GoDaddy require the purchase of SSL certs. I’ve found many other hosting platforms that provide certs from Let’s Encrypt for free. So yes- in some ways, it’s easy to obtain the certificates, but if your site was built without them on WordPress, turning SSL certs on will most likely break a few things.. or at least flag a bunch of warnings. Like your old site [if it was NOT secured] may have had links pointing to embedded YouTube videos that were a non-secured presentation. having a secured site point to non-secured content elsewhere, or embedded in your site will get flagged. Your images… yes, the images on your own site.
They are now secure, but the references within your site point to the previous insecure versions. These need to be updated as well. These URL’s need to all be updated to find secure equivalents.

The Solution?

I’ve found that a combination of setting up local [non-public WordPress servers] combined with some of the WordPress migration packages allows me to migrate the site to a local computer, convert links over automatically through the migration flow and inspect as needed without any downtime on the public version of a website. After the cleanup is done, we migrate the site up to an ISP that provides appropriate certificates as needed and change DNS setting to point the rest of the internet to the new server.

I’m in the process of doing this for several sites. I expect most of my business clients are happy to know there a solution without hearing the technical details of how we do this at Fire Media Labs. For those interested, I will be providing the technical details on a personal blog later.