What Is HTTPS: The Definitive Guide to How HTTPS Works

HTTPS is the most secure form of online connection, offering more protection than both HTTP and TLS. This article explains how HTTPS works in detail, so you can be confident your website will serve up a smooth experience for visitors.

The “how https works step by step” is a guide to how HTTPS works. It is the definitive guide for those who are not familiar with it.

A brief definition is as follows: The encrypted form of HTTP, HTTPS, stands for hypertext transfer protocol secure. It is used to communicate securely across the internet or a network. Transport Layer Security (TLS) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is used to encrypt the communication protocol (SSL). 

We’ll take a deep dive into the world of HTTP vs. HTTPs and how they function in this post, and I’ll teach you how to make sure your site survives any technical concerns while switching protocols. Here’s a brief rundown of what I’ll be talking about:

SEOs started with HTTP, a mechanism for delivering online content to the public. The web was primitive back then, and website migrations were limited to moving from one domain to another or from one server to another. You didn’t have to worry about anything other than the standard redirects and ensuring that your website transfer proceeded well. Then there was HTTPS.

New technologies always present new challenges that must be overcome in order to maintain the same (or better) results as before.

The whole backbone of the internet is HTTP, or hypertext transfer protocol. It’s the protocol that allows web pages to be processed, rendered, and sent from the server to the client browser. HTTP is the protocol used to display the majority of the internet.

Requests are what HTTP and HTTPS use to communicate. When a user interacts with a website, the user’s browser generates these requests. This is a crucial component of page rendering; without it, the internet as we know it today would not exist.

Consider the following scenario: someone searches for “how to migrate a website.” The request is submitted to the server, which replies with the query results in a second request. When you finish your search, you’ll see these results on the SERP (search engine results page).

Everything happens in a matter of milliseconds. But that’s only a gist of how the hypertext transfer protocol works.

Hypertext transfer protocol is abbreviated as HTTP. This is the primary way for transferring data from web pages over a network. Web pages are stored on servers and provided to client computers when the user requests them.

The world wide web as we know it today is the outcome of this network of links. The world wide web (WWW) as we know it would not exist without HTTP.

There is one big drawback to using an HTTP connection: data exchanged through an HTTP connection is not encrypted, putting you at danger of third-party hackers obtaining your data. If you are on an HTTP page, any credit card details or sensitive information should not be input since any information communicated over this network through HTTP is not private.

If you’re not a stickler for semantics, HTTPS stands for hypertext transfer protocol secure, or secure hypertext transfer protocol.

I, for one, am always up for a good time. (Bonus points if you can figure out which movie that joke comes from.)

Unlike HTTP, HTTPS secures a connection and verifies that the site is authentic by using a secure certificate from a third-party provider. An SSL Certificate is a kind of security certificate (or “cert”).

The term “secure sockets layer” (SSL) is an acronym for “secure sockets layer.” This is what establishes a secure, encrypted connection between a browser and a server, safeguarding the communication layer between the two.

This certificate encrypts a connection using the degree of security that you choose when you buy an SSL certificate. 

For sensitive data that you don’t want third-party attackers to see, an SSL certificate adds an additional degree of protection. When it comes to operating e-commerce websites, this added protection might be critical.

Here are several examples:

  • When you need to send credit card details or other sensitive data (such as a person’s true address and physical identity) securely. 
  • When you operate a lead generating website that depends on a user’s genuine information, you’ll want to utilize HTTPS to protect the user’s data against harmful assaults.

There are several advantages of HTTPS that outweigh the little expense. Remember that if the certificate is missing, a third party may readily scan the connection for critical information.


Transport layer security is abbreviated as TLS. It may be used to protect email and other protocols as well as assist encrypt HTTPS. It employs cryptographic methods to verify that data has not been tampered with since it was delivered, that conversations are with the intended recipient, and that private data is not exposed.

The procedure begins with a TLS handshake, which initiates a communication session using TLS encryption. This is where session keys are produced and authentication takes place. When two devices interact, two separate keys work together to produce brand-new session keys. As a consequence, communication is deeper and more encrypted.


The following are some blunders Google advises you to avoid.


The most important stage in establishing an HTTPS secure connection is confirming that a web server is who they claim to be.

That’s why the SSL certificate is the most critical aspect of this configuration; it verifies that the webserver’s owner is who the certificate claims. It functions similarly to a driver’s license in that it verifies the identity of the server’s owner.

When you use HTTPS, you add a layer of security against certain sorts of assaults, making it a beneficial addition to your website.

One of the most overlooked advantages of HTTPS is that it aids in the development of user trust. If you own an e-commerce site that takes credit card information, the fact that a padlock shows in the browser offers your consumers trust that your site can process credit card transactions without leaking information to snooping eyes.


It will increase user confidence in your site compared to an unsecure site, and contemporary browsers will tell visitors when a site is not “safe.”

Credit card information, passwords, private user information, and personal information are all encrypted with an industrial-strength degree of protection when using HTTPS. This security is what will allow your site to stay competitive against other sites in your field.

Apart from safeguarding user data from prying eyes, https:// also helps to safeguard your brand’s reputation. People will not want to use your site if you have security breaches on a frequent basis and user data is exposed. This might permanently harm your internet reputation and cost you money in the long term.

Outliers in HTTP

While outliers are becoming increasingly rare, there are still some who have not made the full transition to https://. This makes sense for certain outliers – if you’re not servicing consumers that supply sensitive data on a regular basis for e-commerce or other reasons, you definitely don’t require the improved security.

When everything on a website is equal in an ideal world, https:// is a tie-breaker for rankings. When it comes to SEO, though, we seldom live in an ideal world. As a result, when it comes to http://, you may still rank.

While there are several advantages to using https://, John Mueller has said that HTTPS is just a minor ranking factor, but Google has stated that “when all else is equal, the ranking benefit of HTTPS is tie-breaker status.”

Switching from HTTP to HTTPS has several advantages in SEO, particularly from an SEO standpoint. However, unless you are well-versed in the procedure, you may end up doing more damage than good.

You must inform Google about the move. Choose the finest certificate for your needs, then set up Google Search Console, Google Analytics, adjust internal links, and update any relative URLs. Let’s take a closer look at each of them. 

This step entails creating a new Google Search Console account. Keep your non-secure GSC profile active. Rather, you should maintain all of your profiles active. Create a new profile for your site’s HTTPS version and make sure it continues to gather data.

You should also make sure that your Google Analytics profile is set to secure. You won’t be tracking the proper data if you don’t.

Remember to alter the data collecting settings in Google Tag Manager if necessary. Additionally, if you utilize Bing Webmaster Tools, you’ll need to change http:// to https:// throughout the transfer.

You’d be amazed how often I come across errors in http:// to https:// transfers that are the result of a lack of developmental monitoring during the initial transition process and failure to update crucial data tracking profiles.

These sorts of errors might result in data underreporting or overreporting, which can spell disaster for the accuracy of your SEO strategy selections.

SSL certificates are used for a number of applications. One for a single name, another for multiple domains, and Wildcard certificates are also available. A complete wildcard certificate is typically not required for smaller sites. When attempting to manage URL syntax across your websites, though, it may make your life a lot simpler.

A single subdomain or the single domain itself receives an SSL certificate for a single domain. You may safeguard the main domain name as well as up to 99 SANs, or subject alternative names, with an SSL certificate for multiple domains.

The wildcard enables you to protect your primary website URL as well as any and all linked subdomains. What exactly does this imply? This implies that if you create domain.maindomain.com with a wildcard certificate, it will be secure by default. You won’t have to put in any more effort to ensure that it works with your site’s current security. In other words, it will save you a lot of time and effort.

Clearly, the wildcard certificate comes out on top. However, since it is a comprehensive certificate with several capabilities, it will cost more, so you must measure the higher business costs against the benefits you will get.

Some people advise just utilizing relative URLs for your resources. You don’t need to complete this step if you’re good at handling your website’s continuing demands. All you have to do now is make sure that the proper protocol is used to add all on-site information. Don’t forget to include your XML sitemap!

You’d be surprised how many audits I’ve done on websites that skip this one step: ensuring that all of their material is safe.

It makes no difference whether you use relative or absolute URLs as long as you maintain them up to current on your website. If you want, you may use relative URLs, but if your site is constructed on absolute URLs, utilize a find-and-replace option with your database if your site supports it. This will assist you in removing any instances of mixed material that may already exist.

After you’ve made the switch, make sure your URLs are correctly prefixed with https://, and you shouldn’t have any major difficulties.

From your robots.txt, you must verify that all components are crawlable. Allowing Google to scan everything on your site, including CSS and JS files, makes sense unless you have a particular problem, such as a folder that should not be indexed. You can run into issues if your site doesn’t allow CSS and JS files to be rendered.

For instance, if you restrict an essential CSS or JS element from rendering on the page, Google will be unable to grasp the complete context of the page, which is crucial for getting better ranks. Furthermore, there is no need to restrict CSS or JSS files in this way in almost all circumstances.

The Site Audit tool from SEMrush will provide you with a wealth of information about your HTTPS configuration. It identifies any issues you may have and makes solutions for resolving them. 


Monitoring your site on a regular basis is essential for a smooth transition to https://. Check Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and any other reporting tools you’re using for errors. You must upgrade http:// to https:// as soon as humanly can if you haven’t already. That way, you won’t run into any further problems that might jeopardize your SEO efforts.

SEMrush’s Site Audit Tool is free to use.

See how it may help you save time!

ADS illustration

It might be difficult to figure out the fine intricacies of whether to use a secure or unsecure protocol if you are unfamiliar with SEO. Here are some considerations that may assist you in making your decision:

Are you an e-commerce business that handles sensitive credit card and personal data? Then using HTTPS to secure your website is your best choice. It will help you build trust and goodwill with your online clients while also ensuring that you don’t make the error of being too vulnerable to web assaults. In addition, your internet reputation will be more favorable.

What if you’re not an e-commerce site, but you do business with individuals who submit their information (for example, via a lead generation site)? Then HTTPS is the way to go. People rely on the internet’s security to keep them safe and their personal information secure. This decision adds another another degree of credibility and trustworthiness to your business.

Should you utilize Let’s Encrypt’s free service? That is debatable. Are you just getting started and don’t have the funds? Then this is an excellent choice for you. However, if your organization generates hundreds of thousands of dollars, a more costly alternative such as GeoTrust or Comodo might be preferable. When the execution goes smoothly, they both perform the same thing, but perception is crucial in marketing.

It’s entirely up to you whether you stick with http:// or switch to https://. However, when it comes to developing a more secure online, switching to https:// is a fantastic choice to consider.


HTTPS is an acronym for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure”. It’s essentially a secure version of HTTP, the protocol that most websites use to send information. HTTPS uses SSL/TLS certificates, which are digital credentials that verify a website’s identity and encrypt data sent between your device and the server. Reference: how https works – youtube.

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