How to Install Free SSL on Your WordPress Website

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One of the many reasons I love Siteground hosting is because they offer a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate for free. Many other hosts do as well but Siteground makes it super simple to install.

If you’re not on Siteground, the installation of your certificate may be different. If in doubt, contact your hosting as they can sometimes install it for you.

First of all, let’s talk about SSL or secure socket layer. In a nutshell, it basically secures the information being passed from the browser to the web server. It keeps this info safe and private and is required if you accept payments on your site.

SSL is what gives you the https:// protocol in your domain name.

In the past, only sites that needed extra encryption or accepted payments were ones who cared about getting SSL certificates.

But now it’s become commonplace to have them and Google will penalize non-secure sites. You’ll also get a boost in your rankings on Google by having SSL.

So if you haven’t set it up yet, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

Activate Let’s Encrypt

The first step is to login to your Siteground account. After that navigate to My Accounts > Go To cPanel and click Yes (Proceed) if you are prompted. 

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and find the Security section. Then click the Let’s Encrypt icon.

You might already have a certificate installed for your domain. If not, go to the bottom and select the domain you want to install SSL for and enter your email. Click Install.

It should work some magic and then show up. If you get an error then contact Siteground support, sometimes something gets messed up in the back end.

Next you’ll want to turn on the HTTPS Enforce for that domain. This will ensure that any url to your site will redirect to the https version.

Make sure it’s set to on. That’s all we have to do within Siteground, now all we have to do is make some changes within WordPress.

Switch everything to https

Next navigate to the WordPress dashboard of the website you just setup https for and go to Settings > General. You’ll want to update your WordPress Address and Site Address to https instead of http. 

After this you may need to clear your cache, refresh your website, or relog into your website. If your site isn’t working when you go to the https version yet you might have to wait a little while and try again, but it’s usually instant.

Next, I like to use the Better Search and Replace plugin to update all the urls throughout the site. After you install it go to Tools > Better Search Replace. 

Search for your old http domain and replace with the new https domain. Make sure the domains are identical other than the https protocol.

Select all the tables by clicking one then pressing Ctrl + A on your keyboard.  Then uncheck the Run as dry run? box. 

Finally, Run Search/Replace and it will update your domain throughout your website database. If you’re worried about running into problems, backup your database first using Updraft Plus

If you have urls in your widgets you’ll need to go and resave them. The info should already have been updated with your new url but the widget needs to be resaved before the changes take place.

Get the green padlock

By now you should have a green padlock on your website on every page. If for some reason you’re still getting a “this page may not be secure” error or there isn’t a green secure padlock in your browser, then use Why No Padlock to determine what the issue is. 

When your site is on https, all the urls to images and files must also be https urls or else it will trigger a warning. The search/replace plugin should take care of most of that but there are cases where a theme or plugin might not be coded well and is using bad protocols.

Why No Padlock will tell you the exact file and place that has an insecure url so you can go in and update it.

And that’s it! Don’t forget to update your Google Analytics and Google Search Console after the switch.

Some people say they lose their social shares after changing but I haven’t had a problem personally. If you’re concerned about social shares get Social Warfare to save them before updating your domain.

Let me know if you have questions down in the comments below!

Installing SSL on your WordPress website is so easy! Follow this tutorial to setup free SSL on your Siteground hosted WordPress website and switch your domain over to https for extra security and more traffic! #ssl #wordpress

Shaylee Smith - WordPress Developer + Tech Expert

The Blog Writer

Hey there, I'm Shaylee! I've been building websites and working with WordPress for several years. I love helping others solve their tech issues, fix up their sites, and bring their business to the next level. My goal is to make it easier for freelancers and bloggers to enhance their websites without needing any tech or code knowledge!
Want to learn more about me? Click here!

4 responses on “How to Install Free SSL on Your WordPress Website

  1. Shani Dee says

    So plan on trying this if I am still blogging next year. Got a deal on it for the first year, but the cost is way more than I want to spend. I love all the tips and tricks that you give… please check out my Group Boards on Pinterest, I have one for WordPress Tips.
    Thanks, Shani Dee.

  2. Mary says

    Hi Shaylee! This was GREAT! I have a question: If we do this before we have any content, do we need to keep doing it for the new pages we create, or do they automatically populate with secure https? (If I used the wrong words to describe this, please substitute with what I probably meant, lol!)

    • Shaylee says

      Nope, after you follow the steps listed above you’re good to go 🙂 The only thing is if you insert an image by its direct url it must start with https.

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