Understanding and Configuring HTTPS

Digital marketing can be overwhelming to keep up with for dental practices. Guidelines and strategies are always changing and it can be tough to know which ones are best for your dental practice. A challenge dental brands like yours often face is knowing which strategies to invest in further. Wonderful Dental implements the latest and best practices in its digital marketing strategy to provide users useful and authentic information. Complying with Google and ensuring your users trust your site is a huge benefit to your presence. Having a secure website along with proper dental SEO strategies will help your brand stand out and attract new patients.

 

What is HTTPS?

Websites are accessed either via HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) or HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure). These are methods for exchanging information between network administrators.

While HTTP is not secure and is vulnerable to third-party eavesdropping, HTTPS is secure and ‘scrambles’ or encodes data to help keep you and your customers safe from intrusive third parties. It doesn’t mean that your server is necessarily secure.

Why Should You Care About Making Your Site HTTPS?

Security is important. Users prefer secure connections and Google has reflected that by also preferring HTTPS sites and using HTTPS as one of their many ranking signals. 

Whether you’d like to explore migrating to an HTTPS website or if you’d just like to confirm everything is properly configured with your HTTPS site, we’re here to help.

How to Setup HTTPS

If you have not setup HTTPS previously, the initial basic steps are as follows: 

  1. Reach out to your host to secure a dedicated IP address for the secure site.
  2. Buy an SSL certificate. Shop around and go with a provider that you trust. Example sellers are VeriSign, RapidSSL and GlobalSign.
  3. Activate your SSL certificate. This is usually done through cPanel, but our web host may also do it for you.
  4. Install your certificate. Again, something you can do but your web host may have a service to do it for you.
  5. Update your website to use HTTPS; configure the server to automatically 301 redirect all HTTP pages to their secure and preferred counterpart. Below are examples of code to accomplish this:

Mod-Rewrite (Apache) Code Sample

PHP Code Sample

Once HTTPS is Setup, Update Your Website

After the HTTPS site is accessible and redirects in place, you’ll want to make a few other changes to make the migration as smooth as possible.

  • If you are using absolute URLs to link internally, update them to go immediately to the secure pages and eliminate redirect hops.
  • Update your XML sitemap.
  • Then monitor your data in Search Console and traffic and make changes as needed.

More information: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6033049?hl=en

Update Your Google Search Console Profile

All website versions should be added to Google Search Console and verified in order to get the most complete data. Examples of multiple versions:

  • http://www.domain.com
  • http://domain.com
  • https://www.domain.com
  • https://domain.com
  • And any applicable subdomains

Note: you can pick www or non-www as the preferred version, but not the https version of the site. Pick www/non-www based on what you use but Google will automatically prefer the HTTPS version of the one you select and index that accordingly.

Recommended Next Steps

  • Implement or verify proper implementation of HTTPS by testing your site in both secure and non-secure protocols.
  • Make sure all versions are added and verified in Search Console.
  • Check for any warnings or traffic concerns to investigate further.
  • Put a reminder on your calendar for SSL certificate renewals to avoid issues when yours expires.

Common Mistakes/Pitfalls When Transitioning to HTTPS

  • Make sure 301 redirects are in place for all HTTP URLs to HTTPS URLs
  • All page resources need to be transitioned to HTPS. This includes Java Script files, CSS, images and your CDN
  • Don’t forget to reconfigure your canonical tags to point to the HTTPS version of pages
  • Register the HTTPS site in both Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools but keep the HTTP profiles active so you can monitor the transition to HTTPS
  • Update all XML sitemaps to HTTPS and remove HTTP versions of sitemaps
  • Make sure that your XML sitemap index file is updated to an HTTPS version in your robots.txt
  • If you have a disavow file, be sure to transfer over any disavowed URLs into a duplicate file in your new Google Search Console profile

It is important for any business to adapt to how people find information online. With digital marketing specific to dental brands, you have all the resources to market your practice. You can stay competitive and grow your practice even more when partnering with leaders in the industry like Wonderful Dental.

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