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How to Properly Move WordPress from HTTP to HTTPS (Beginner’s Guide)

Are you looking to move WordPress from HTTP to HTTPS and install an SSL certificate on your website? We have been getting a lot of requests on this topic because Google announced that Chrome browser will start marking all websites without SSL as insecure starting July 2018. In this article, we will show you how to properly move WordPress from HTTP to HTTPs by adding a SSL certificate.

Moving WordPress from HTTP to HTTPS / SSL

Don’t worry, if you have no idea what SSL or HTTPS is. We’re going to explain that as well.

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.

Insecure website warning

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.

Chrome HTTP Not Secure

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.

We use SSL for our websites including WPBeginner, OptinMonster, WPForms, and MonsterInsights.

Requirements for using HTTPS/SSL on a WordPress Site

The requirements for using SSL in WordPress is not very high. All you need to do is purchase an SSL certificate, and you might already have it for free.

The best WordPress hosting companies are offering free SSL certificates for all their users:

For more details, see our guide on how to get a free SSL certificate for your WordPress website.

If your hosting company does not offer a free SSL certificate, then you’ll need to purchase an SSL certificate.

We recommend using Domain.com because they offer the best SSL deal for both regular and wildcard SSL certificates.

By purchasing a SSL certificate from them, you also get a TrustLogo site seal for your website, and each SSL certificate comes with a minimum of $10,000 security warranty.

Once you have purchased an SSL certificate, you will need to ask your hosting provider to install it for you.

Setting up WordPress to Use SSL and HTTPs

After you have enabled SSL certificate on your domain name, you will need to set up WordPress to use SSL and HTTPs protocols on your website.

We will show you two methods to do that, and you can choose one that best fits your need.

Method 1: Setup SSL/HTTPS in WordPress Using a Plugin

This method is easier and is recommended for beginners.

First, you need to install and activate the Really Simple SSL plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit Settings » SSL page. The plugin will automatically detect your SSL certificate, and it will set up your WordPress site to use HTTPs.

SSL enabled on a WordPress website

The plugin will take care of everything including the mixed content errors. Here’s what the plugin does behind the scenes:

  • Check SSL certificate
  • Set WordPress to use https in URLs
  • Set up redirects from HTTP to HTTPs
  • Look for URLs in your content still loading from insecure HTTP sources and attempt to fix them.

Note: The plugin attempts to fix mixed content errors by using output buffering technique. It can have a negative performance impact because it’s replacing content on the site as the page is being loaded. This impact is only seen on first-page load, and it should be minimal if you are using a caching plugin.

While the plugin says you can keep SSL and safely deactivate the plugin, it’s not 100% true. You will have to leave the plugin active at all times because deactivating the plugin will bring back mixed content errors.

Method 2: Setup SSL/HTTPS in WordPress Manually

This method requires you to troubleshoot issues manually and edit WordPress files. However this is a permanent and more performance optimized solution. This is what we’re using on WPBeginner.

If you find this method difficult, then you can hire a WordPress developer or use the first method instead.

As part of this method, you may need to edit WordPress theme and code files. If you haven’t done this before, then see our guide on how to copy and paste code snippets in WordPress.

First, you need to visit Settings » General page. From here you need to update your WordPress and site URL address fields by replacing http with https.

Update WordPress URLs

Don’t forget to click on the ‘Save changes’ button to store your settings.

Once the settings are saved, WordPress will log you out, and you will be asked to re-login.

Next, you need to set up WordPress redirects from HTTP to HTTPS by adding the following code to your .htaccess file.

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]
</IfModule>

If you are on nginx servers (most users are not), then you would need to add the following code to redirect from HTTP to HTTPS in your configuration file:

server {
listen 80;
server_name example.com www.example.com;
return 301 https://example.com$request_uri;
}

Don’t forget to replace example.com with your own domain name.

By following these steps, you will avoid the WordPress HTTPS not working error because WordPress will now load your entire website using https.

If you want to force SSL and HTTPS on your WordPress admin area or login pages, then you need to configure SSL in the wp-config.php file.

Simply add the following code above the “That’s all, stop editing!” line in your wp-config.php file:

define('FORCE_SSL_ADMIN', true);

This line allows WordPress to force SSL / HTTPs in WordPress admin area. It also works on WordPress multisite networks.

Once you do this, your website is now fully setup to use SSL / HTTPS, but you will still encounter mixed content errors.

These errors are caused by sources (images, scripts, or stylesheets) that are still loading using the insecure HTTP protocol in the URLs. If that is the case, then you will not be able to see a secure padlock icon in your website’s address bar.

Not secure

Many modern browsers will automatically block unsafe scripts and resources. You may see a padlock icon but with a notification about it in your browser’s address bar.

Insecure content blocked

You can find out which content is served through insecure protocol by using the Inspect tool. The mixed content error will be displayed as a warning in the console with details for each mixed content item.

Mixed content errors displayed in browser console

You will notice that most URLs are images, iframes, and image galleries while some are scripts and stylesheets loaded by your WordPress plugins and themes.

Fixing Mixed Content in WordPress Database

Majority of the incorrect URLs will be images, files, embeds, and other data stored in your WordPress database. Let’s fix them first.

All what you need to do is find all mentions of your old website URL in the database that started with http and replace it with your new website URL that starts with https.

You can easily do this by installing and activating the Better Search Replace plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit Tools » Better Search Replace page. Under the ‘Search’ field, you need to add your website URL with http. After that, add your website URL with https under the ‘Replace’ field.

Search and replace

Below that, you will see all your WordPress database tables. You need to select all of them to run a thorough check.

Lastly, you need to uncheck the box next to ‘Run as dry run?’ option, and then click on ‘Run Search/Replace’ button.

The plugin will now search your WordPress database for URLs starting with http and will replace them with secure https URLs. It may take a while depending on your WordPress database size.

Fixing Mixed Content Errors in WordPress Theme

Another common culprit causing mixed content error is your WordPress theme. Any decent WordPress theme following WordPress coding standards will not cause this issue.

First, you will need to use your browser’s Inspect tool to find the resources and where they are loading from.

Using inspect tool to find mixed content error

After that, you will need to find them in your WordPress theme and replace them with https. This will be a little difficult for most beginners, as you will not be able to see which theme files contain these URLs.

Fixing Mixed Content Errors Caused by Plugins

Some mixed content resources will be loaded by WordPress plugins. Any WordPress plugin following WordPress coding standards will not cause mixed content errors.

We don’t recommend editing WordPress plugin files. Instead, you need to reach out to the plugin author and let them know. If they do not respond or are unable to fix it, then you need to find a suitable alternate.

Note: If for some reason, you’re still encountering mixed content error, then we recommend using the Really Simple SSL plugin temporarily, so your users are not impacted while you fix the issue on a staging website or hire a developer.

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.

Add https site as a new property in Google Search Console

This will bring up a popup where you need to add your website’s new https address.

Add your https URL

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.

Verify your website

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.

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.

We know that we did when switched our websites from http to https.

We hope this article helped you add HTTPS and SSL in WordPress. You may also want to see our ultimate WordPress security guide with step by step instructions to keep your WordPress site secure.

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393 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Thank you very much for this excellent tutorial.

    I recently installed an SSL cert and was dreading the change-over with WordPress and Google. Not saying there wasn’t any pain, but your step-by-step instructions helped immensely!

    Really appreciated the .htaccess code too, that’s just perfect. I was worried that Google would index both the insecure http and secure https variants of the old vs new website and give me a ranking penalty, but that trick completely avoids serving up insecure legacy http content — a real plus!

  2. I have a mix of domains (all HTTPS) on my WordPress site. Can this plugin go through my site and set them all to my current domain?

    • You would want to check with your hosting provider as some have tools for what it sounds like you are wanting to do.

      Admin

  3. There are just no ‘WordPress Address’ and ‘Site Address’ in ‘General Settings’.

    Now I use wordpress multisite, one site is https and another is http. This wordpress installation is new, I have already set https at the previous wordpress installation in my sitegroud.

    • You would need to go to the network admin to change the URLs of your sites on a multisite installation.

      Admin

  4. I am Using the First Method So Is There Any Need to Make Changes in WordPress and Site Address URL ??

    • So long as there are no hiccups with the plugin you shouldn’t need to edit your address and URL as the plugin would handle that for you.

      Admin

  5. I followed the steps in method 2, but once I reached the step “Once the settings are saved, WordPress will log you out, and you will be asked to re-login.” instead of just logging me out it also now says that “this site is not avalible” when I try to log in to wp-admin again, making the next steps impossible to do.

    So how can I access the wp-admin site following the url change?

  6. after adding this home page is redirecting but posts not redirecting to https.
    http and https .. both are working .. please help.

    • Should you run into that issue, you would want to reach out to your hosting provider to ensure they do not have any redirects set up.

      Admin

  7. Thank you for the SSL upgrade instructions.
    Using Really Simple SSL with my hosting provided certificate was a v simple upgrade process

  8. Thanks for your valuable content.please I want to ask,if I can use the Really simple SSL plugin which is easier,why will I want to do it manually.

    • That would be mainly for personal preference, there shouldn’t be a major difference between using the plugin or manually changing it.

      Admin

  9. Thank you for the guide.

    I going to install a fresh WordPress on hostgator. Do I need to do anything different for the HTTPS ? or follow the guide after installation ?

  10. Hello, I went into settings and changes http to https and now I am locked out of wordpress completely. Do you have a solution to this as it is a clients website and I am concerned I have lost everything completely. Nick

    • You would want to enable an SSL certificate for the site or reach out to your hosting provider to assist you in setting the URLs back to HTTP

      Admin

  11. First, you need to visit Settings » General page. From here you need to update your WordPress and site URL address fields by replacing http with https.

    BUT! After that my page is totally disabled! I can’t backup. I can’t even enter to the admin panel. And I don’t know what’s going on. What should I do? Do you have any idea?

    • It sounds like you may have not enabled an SSL certificate on your site before changing the address. You would want to reach out to your hosting provider to enable an SSL certificate for your site or have them change your URLs back to HTTP

      Admin

  12. Good day, thank you for the guide. I installed a fresh wordpress on a VPS with an ip addresss. Now, I want to change it to a domain name – Do I need to do anything different for the HTTPS:// ?

    • You would want to check with your hosting provider for how their servers are set up for swapping to the domain.

      Admin

  13. Hi! So it looks like, after following the steps through “Fixing Mixed Content Errors in WordPress Theme,” I see that my images are causing mixed content issues. The error I am getting is, “This content should also be served over HTTPS.” How can I fix this?

  14. would it be okay if I change website address and site address to https but didn’t do the rest of manual process, then install the plugin instead?

    • We would recommend if you are planning on using the plugin to start with the plugin method to prevent any hiccups during the process.

      Admin

  15. Hello Sir,

    I have wordpress site running on wordpress 3.5.1 . can I use really simple ssl plugin for it. The plugin says it needs wordpress 4.6 and higher.

    Pls suggest me how can i do it

    Thanks

  16. I am unable to access the admin login URL after updating the site URLs, it keep redirecting to https but I get a “This site can not be reached error” .. I also tried to update the .htaccess file but no luck. the original website is also not getting redirected to https.

    Any ides what might I be missing here?

    • You would want to first reach out to your hosting provider for them to take a look and ensure your SSL certificate doesn’t have an issue.

      Admin

  17. Inner pages and post pages are still opening with http also, which will impact on search engines. What should I do now ?

    • You would likely need to clear all caching on your site and you may want to check with your hosting provider that the SSL certificate was applied correctly.

      Admin

  18. Why would you add define(‘FORCE_SSL_ADMIN’, true) to wp-config file if the .htaccess redirect rule already does the job?

    When adding the line to wp-config file I got a syntax error right after and it was not possible to get to the admin area.

    • The FORCE_SSL_ADMIN is for your admin area to ensure it is using HTTPS. You would want to ensure you copied the entire code correctly. If you were missing the ; it would give a syntax error.

      Admin

  19. Hello,

    Thanks for the detailed guide. After switching from HTTP to HTTPS, I added the new property to Google Search Console.

    Do I need to submit the sitemaps again as well on the HTTPS version in GSC?

    Beginner query. :D

  20. Better Search & replace is 1.3.3 and has not been updated for a year and is not tested on the current wordpress version. It is compatible only up to 5.2.6.

    Is it safe to use, or can you recommend an alternative please?

  21. Solution 2 wasn’t working for me, the website would be unavaible.
    After a few attemps, I noticed my hosting provider already provides a force https option. Turn it on, and bingo.

  22. What of if my hosting provider doesn’t support free SSL certificate can the plugin works also or how can I get it for free?

    • If your current host does not offer free SSL then you would want to reach out to them for what options are available.

      Admin

  23. Hi, if i’m using the 1st method, do I need to follow the Submit my HTTPS Site to Google Search Console step also after that?

    TQ

  24. I installed the Really Simple SSL plugin, which states that you should manually replace every http:// in all .css and .js files to //. That doesn’t sound really simple to me. As a beginner I set up a simple website with a couple of pictures. Is it common that http:// statements are in these files?

    • Normally those links are not common so it shouldn’t be something to worry about.

      Admin

  25. Hi,
    When adding the code to .htaccess, i get a “too many redirects” error. I tryed adding to the existing code above, below, and also erasing the existing code and using only the new. All three option get too many redirects.

    Is there something I should change there? Thanks in advance for your help!

  26. I’ve tried using the plugin but when I do the website becomes not accessible. I’ve tried the manual approach but once I’ve changed the addresses in WP settings the site becomes not accessible again.

    • You would want to reach out to your hosting provider to ensure that your SSL certificate is connected to your domain correctly and they should be able to help :)

      Admin

  27. I am about to make the change to SSL and will be following the guidance in te article, initially using the really simple ssl plugin. Before i begin i have a quick question.

    If I use the really simple ssl plugin, which takes care of everything, i can leave the general settings in wordpress for wordpress address and site address as http rather than change to https as the plugin will be taking care of it?

      • Thanks for confirming. I have one other rquestion.

        having just activated lets encrypt ssl on siteground for a website, i am asked wther i want to switch the following on or leave it off.

        HTTPS Enforce – Forces your site to work entirely over an encrypted HTTPS connection. The redirect is performed on server level and works for any website.

        Do i leave this off as the really simple ssl plugin will take care of this as well?

        • Yes, you can leave that off, you would only want to use that should there be any issues with the plugin or Google finding http links

        • Thanks for your advice. WP Beginner is such an awesome website. Keep up the great work!

  28. I want to thank you a lot. I have been looking for the errors over 12hours and get it done with better replace plugins. Thanks a lot dear.

  29. Can someone tell me, do I replace the contents on my.htaccess. file with the suggested code or do I place it and the beginning/end of the eisting entry.

      • Thanks for the quick reply. So, would that be after the existing and before the # END WordPress, or does it go after the .

        • That should not matter, it may be a good idea to do it after should you need to remove the code in the future :)

  30. Hi!
    Thanks for the article!
    What about google analytics? Same thing as Google search console or not?

    • For Google Analytics you should be able to update to https under your property settings

      Admin

  31. When I enable “WordPress 301 redirection to SSL” option from “Really Simple SSL Plugin” it works fine, but it removes query parameters. For example, when I get users from Adwords campaign it strips off gclid parameters.

    Please guide

    • You would want to reach out to Really Simple SSL’s support to see if there is an option for query strings.

      Admin

  32. Thanks for your helpful article.
    The manual SSL/HTTPS set up seems be be working for the main site.
    However the mixed content error (images) still appears after using the Better Search Replace plug-in.
    At Media Library, images appear with ‘https’, but not at the site’s each post
    Indeed, at all posts, when I right-click on the post image > ‘Copy image address’, it shows:
    http://
    Ideas? Thanks in advance.

  33. Hi,

    I used this tutorial on many sites and it works like a charm. Thanks for that.

    Do you know if I can also use it to update my multisite(s). Or are additional steps needed?

    • Depending on how your multisite is set up there are normally more steps involved. If you reach out to your hosting provider they can normally help

      Admin

  34. Fantastic and straightforward!

    What steps do we need to take to make sure our social share count (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) are still available?

    • You could try 301 redirecting the http articles to https but unless I hear otherwise, social media sites see the two as different links so you are likely going to lose your shares unless they have added a method to update your share counts.

      Admin

    • There are multiple possible reasons for a change in traffic so it is hard to say if that is the only reason or if there were other reasons for a drop in traffic.

      Admin

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