lets-encrypt-wordpress

Free SSL Certificates for Your Website

By now you’ve probably heard that Google wants websites to use SSL Certificates. But do you know what they are, how they work and how much they cost? In this article we are going to explore a FREE, yes FREE SSL Provider named Let’s Encrypt.

What Are SSL Certificates?

SSL Certificates stand for Secure Sockets Layer. when you look at a url in the search bar, you will see the website start with either an http or https which is one way you can tell the difference. The main way is when you look in the url bar above, the url should have a Lock Icon, the word Secure and should lead with green text. This signifies that your connection is secure and it should be safe to interact with the website. Especially if you’re logging in or putting in sensitive information like credit card info.

As you can tell, PixemWeb is using an SSL Certificate and has been for a while. Security is important, especially since we are in the business of selling Premium WordPress Themes and Services.

What is Let’s Encrypt?

Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority (CA), run for the public’s benefit. It is a service provided by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG). The effort was started because the internet can and has become a dangerous place. By having an SSL Certificate on your website, you are encrypting the traffic from a persons computer to your website. This means that if anyone is snooping in on the web traffic, they won’t be able to obtain any of the information that’s being transmitted over the airwaves. This protects your website visitors and your website as well.

Why is it Free?

It’s free because it is the one price that people seem to love which means that adoption should not be limited to those who have the dollars to spend on an SSL Certificate. So price is not a barrier to adoption and hopefully website owners will jump on this opportunity to secure their site and protect their visitors.

Do you Really Need SSL?

As mentioned earlier, Google wants every website to have an SSL Certificate. They want it so much they’ve even made it a ranking factor which means if you care about your websites position in the search engines then you should jump on board the bandwagon and get yourself an SSL.

You will also need an SSL Certificate if you want to sell products from your website. Most payment gateways will require you to have an SSL Certifcate in order to sell things online and use their service to charge people.

Where Can You Get an SSL Certificate?

You can get one by heading over to Let’s Encrypt Website and following the steps they provide.

Do all Web Browsers Support Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificates?

Known Compatible

  • Mozilla Firefox >= v2.0
  • Google Chrome
  • Internet Explorer on Windows XP SP3 and higher
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Android OS >= v2.3.6
  • Safari >= v4.0 on macOS
  • Safari on iOS >= v3.1
  • Debian Linux >= v6
  • Ubuntu Linux >= v12.04
  • NSS Library >= v3.11.9
  • Amazon FireOS (Silk Browser)
  • Cyanogen > v10
  • Jolla Sailfish OS > v1.1.2.16
  • Kindle > v3.4.1
  • Java 7 >= 7u111
  • Java 8 >= 8u101

As long as your browser is on the list above then you should be fine.

Who Backs Let’s Encrypt?

If it’s free, who backs them up financially? You will find some very familiar names when looking at who supports them.

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Mozilla
  • Automattic – The company behind WordPress

How to get your SSL Certificate to work with WordPress

There are a few things you should do to get things going smoothly with your new SSL Certificate. First thing you should do is in your wp-config.php file, you need to place a snippet of code to force https for the dashboard area.

define( ‘FORCE_SSL_ADMIN’, true );

This will force the dashboard to use the https version.

Then you’re going to have to go to your General Settings area and change the WordPress Address URL and Site Address URL to the https version of your site then just click save. There is also a really good plugin that will help you with this process Really Simple SSL

You will then need to run a search and replace on your website’s database to replace all http versions with https versions of the URL’s. You can use this plugin for that Better Search Replace. The plugin is really easy to use, all you have to do once you download and activate the plugin is go to tools -> Better Search Replace to use the plugin and search for http://your-domain-name.com and replace it with https://your-domain-name.com and this should find all instances and replace them.

Redirect HTTP to HTTPS

If you’re using the Really Simple SSL plugin then you can skip this step. You will need to place this snippet of code in your htaccess file.

<ifmodule mod_rewrite.c>
 RewriteEngine On
 RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} 80
 RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://www.your_domain.com/$1 [R,L]
</ifmodule>

Note: Make sure to put your url instead of your_domain.com

The Takeaway

Since Let’s Encrypt is free and supported by some of the biggest names online, it just makes sense to use it. Find out if your hosting provider supports it and if it does, get one.

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