If you are a blogger or a web developer, and you are looking forward to moving from HTTP to HTTPS and install free SSL certificate? Worry no more because this tutorial will give you a step by step non technical guide on how to install free SSL certificate on WordPress with CloudFlare Flexible SSL.
Previously switching to HTTPS was expensive and technical having to buy SSL certificates and install them yourself. Thankfully Cloudflare have released a free version that does exactly the same job and is easier to set up.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS or Secure HTTP is an encryption method that secures the connection between users’ browser and your server. This makes it harder for hackers to eavesdrop on the connection.
Every day we share our personal information with different websites whether it’s making a purchase or simply logging in.
In order to protect the data transfer, a secure connection needs to be created.
That’s when SSL and HTTPS come in.
Each site is issued a unique SSL certificate for identification purposes. If a server is pretending to be on HTTPS, and its certificate doesn’t match, then most modern browsers will warn the user from connecting to the website.
Now you are probably wondering, why do I need to move my WordPress site from HTTP to HTTPS specially if it’s a simple blog or small business website that doesn’t collect any payments.
Why do you need HTTPS and SSL?
Last year Google announced a plan to improve overall web security by encouraging website owners to make the switch from HTTP to HTTPS. As part of this plan, their popular Chrome web browser would mark all websites without a SSL certificate as “Not Secure” starting July 2018.
As part of the announcement, Google also said that websites with SSL will also see SEO benefits and higher rankings. Since last year, a large number of websites have switched from HTTP to HTTPS.
Google has been slowly rolling out the “Not Secure” warning in Chrome. For example, if someone visits a HTTP website using the incognito window, it will be marked as Not Secure. If someone visits a HTTP website on regular mode and tries to fill out a contact form or another form, then the website will be marked as insecure.
When your readers and customers see this notice, it gives them a bad impression for your business.
This is why all websites need to move form HTTP to HTTPS and install SSL immediately.
Not to mention, if you want to accept payments online on your eCommerce website, then you need SSL.
Most payment companies like Stripe, PayPal Pro, Authorize.net, etc will require you to have a secure connection before accepting payments.
Setting up your Cloudflare Flexible Free SSL
- Sign up to Cloudflare
- Select the free plan
- Follow the step for adding your domain name
- When you have registered and set up your domain name, click on your domain
- At the top there will be a row of icons click on Crypto
- The first option will be SSL, select flexible SSL
You have now requested a Flexible Free SSL Certificate from Cloudflare and will normally take around 15 minutes to issue you one. Cloudflare will tell your Flexible Free SSL is active by displaying a green active box below.
Preparing WordPress for Cloudflare’s Flexible Free SSL
IMPORTANT – In your WordPress backend leave your WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL) as HTTP.
Next, you will have to install both of these two plugins below.
CloudFlare Flexible Free SSL Plugin
This plugin is essential for enabling Flexible Free SSL on WordPress and will prevent infinite redirect loops when loading WordPress sites under CloudFlare’s Flexible SSL system.
WordPress HTTPS Plugin
This plugin isn’t essential if all of your plugins and links on your website are already HTTPS. Most people’s links aren’t so this plugin changes them all to https.
Configure WordPress HTTPS Plugin’s Settings
- Go into the plugin’s settings
- Select yes for the proxy setting
Instruct CloudFlare to deliver our content via HTTPS
- Go back to Cloudflare
- Select your domain
- In the row of icons at the top select page rules
- Turn “always use HTTPs” on
- Add your domain name as the page rule in between two asterisks
- Click add rule
Change your WordPress Site Address (URL)
Finally change your Site Address (URL) to “https://”, but make sure you leave the WordPress Address (URL) as “http://”.
**IMPORTANT** If you change your WordPress Address (URL) to “https://” it will break your site. If you change your Site Address (URL) to “https://”, without the Cloudflare Flexible plugin running it will also break.
Check your Cloudflare Flexible Free SSL is working
That should be you setup with your new free Cloudflare Flexible Free SSL Certificate. Just visit your website in a browser and check to see if the green lock is showing on the top left of your address bar.
Submit Your HTTPS Site to Google Search Console
Search engines like Google consider https and http as two different websites. This means you will need to let Google know that your website has moved to avoid any SEO issues.
To do that, you just need to go to your Google Search Console account and click on ‘Add a Property’ button.
This will bring up a popup where you need to add your website’s new https address.
After that, Google will ask you to verify ownership of your website. There are several ways to do that, select any method and you will instructions to verify your site.
Once your site is verified, Google will start showing your search console reports here.
You also need to make sure that both the https and http versions are added in your Search Console.
Once you have both versions, you need to go to the http version in your Google Search Console and click on the Settings Menu. From there, you need to select “Change of Site Address” option.
Google will automatically select your new site in the field below, but if it doesn’t, then you need to select the https version of your website and then submit the change of address request.
This tells Google that you want the https version of your website to be treated as the primary version. Combined with the 301 redirects that you setup earlier, Google will transfer your search rankings to the https version of your website, and you will most likely see improvements in your search rankings.
I believe you will find this post useful, if you have any comments or suggestions or you are having difficulties setting up free SSL Certificate on your WordPress, do well well to inform us through the comment box or our contact page.