How to Get an SSL Certificate in WordPress

How to Get an SSL Certificate in WordPress _ MediaOne Marketing Singapore

If you own a website or blog built on WordPress, it’s crucial to prioritize the security of your visitors’ data. One effective way to achieve this is by obtaining an SSL certificate.

An SSL certificate encrypts the data transmitted between your website and its users, ensuring privacy and protecting sensitive information.

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the process of getting an SSL certificate in WordPress, step by step. So, let’s get started!

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Understanding SSL Certificates

Before diving into the process, let’s quickly understand what an SSL certificate is and why it’s essential for your WordPress site. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and it establishes an encrypted connection between a web server and a browser. This encryption ensures that any data transmitted between the two parties remains secure and cannot be intercepted by hackers or unauthorized individuals.

SSL certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. When installed on a web server, they activate the padlock and the HTTPS protocol, indicating that the website is secure.

In addition to protecting data, SSL certificates also contribute to establishing trust with your visitors, as they can see the padlock symbol and the “https://” prefix in the browser’s address bar.

Types of SSL Certificates

There are different types of SSL certificates available, depending on the level of validation and the number of domains they cover. Let’s briefly explore the three common types:

  • Domain Validated (DV) SSL Certificates: These certificates offer the lowest level of validation and are typically the most affordable option. They verify domain ownership, ensuring the website’s encryption but not the identity of the owner.
  • Organization Validated (OV) SSL Certificates: OV certificates require a more thorough validation process. In addition to verifying domain ownership, the certificate authority also verifies the organization’s details, such as its name and address. OV certificates are suitable for businesses and organizations that want to establish trust with their visitors.
  • Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificates: EV certificates provide the highest level of validation and display the most trust indicators in the browser. The validation process is rigorous, involving the verification of the legal and physical existence of the organization. Websites with EV certificates show the organization’s name in the address bar, contributing to enhanced trust and credibility.

Now that we have a basic understanding of SSL certificates, let’s move on to the steps required to get an SSL certificate for your WordPress website.

Step 1: Choose a Hosting Provider that Offers SSL Certificates

The first step in obtaining an SSL certificate for your WordPress website is to choose a hosting provider that offers SSL certificates as part of their hosting packages.

Many reputable hosting providers include SSL certificates as a standard feature, while others may offer them as optional add-ons or for an additional fee.

When selecting a hosting provider, ensure that they provide SSL certificates compatible with WordPress. Look for providers that offer easy integration and support for installing and managing SSL certificates within the WordPress platform. It’s also essential to consider the hosting provider’s reputation, reliability, and customer support.

Some popular hosting providers known for their SSL certificate support and WordPress compatibility include SiteGround, Bluehost, and WP Engine. Research and compare different hosting options to find the one that best suits your needs and budget.

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Step 2: Verify SSL Certificate Availability

Once you’ve chosen a hosting provider, check if they offer SSL certificates within their hosting control panel or dashboard. Most hosting providers have a dedicated section where you can manage SSL certificates.

Log in to your hosting account and navigate to the control panel or dashboard. Look for options related to SSL certificates or security settings. Depending on the hosting provider, you may find a feature specifically labeled “SSL/TLS” or “SSL Certificates.” Click on that option to proceed.

Step 3: Generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR)

To obtain an SSL certificate, you’ll need to generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR). A CSR is a file that contains your website’s information and is used by the certificate authority to create a unique SSL certificate for your domain.

Within the SSL certificate management section of your hosting control panel, locate the option to generate a CSR. You’ll typically be asked to provide details such as your domain name, organization name (if applicable), location, and contact email address.

Fill in the required information accurately, as any inconsistencies may delay the SSL certificate issuance process. Once you’ve entered all the necessary details, proceed to generate the CSR.

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Step 4: Submit the CSR to a Certificate Authority (CA)

Submit the CSR to a Certificate Authority (CA)

After generating the CSR, the next step is to submit it to a trusted Certificate Authority (CA) for validation and issuance of the SSL certificate. Certificate Authorities are organizations that issue digital certificates to secure websites and verify their authenticity.

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There are several reputable Certificate Authorities to choose from, such as Let’s Encrypt, Sectigo, and DigiCert. Some hosting providers have partnerships with specific CAs, simplifying the process by offering seamless integration and automated SSL certificate installation.

Select a Certificate Authority and follow their instructions to submit the CSR. This typically involves copy-pasting the CSR file into a designated field on the CA’s website. You may also be required to provide additional information or complete verification steps, depending on the type of SSL certificate you’re obtaining.

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Step 5: Complete the Verification Process

The Certificate Authority will initiate a verification process to ensure that you own or control the domain for which you’re requesting the SSL certificate. The verification methods can vary depending on the type of SSL certificate.

For Domain Validated (DV) certificates, the verification process is usually straightforward and involves confirming domain ownership through email or DNS validation. Email validation requires you to respond to an email sent to the administrative contact email address associated with the domain. DNS validation involves adding a specific DNS record provided by the CA to your domain’s DNS settings.

Organization Validated (OV) and Extended Validation (EV) certificates require additional validation steps. These may include verifying your organization’s legal existence, physical address, and telephone number. The CA may request documents or conduct further checks to validate your organization’s authenticity.

Follow the instructions provided by the Certificate Authority carefully and promptly respond to any verification requests to ensure a smooth and timely issuance of your SSL certificate.

Step 6: Install and Configure the SSL Certificate in WordPress

Install and Configure the SSL Certificate in WordPress | MediaOne

Once your SSL certificate is issued by the Certificate Authority, it’s time to install and configure it in your WordPress site. The specific steps for installation and configuration may vary slightly depending on your hosting provider and the SSL certificate management options they offer.

In most cases, your hosting provider will have an automated process for installing SSL certificates. Log in to your hosting account and navigate to the SSL certificate management section. Look for an option to install or activate the SSL certificate for your domain.

Click on the appropriate option and follow the instructions provided by your hosting provider. They may offer an automated installation process that takes care of configuring the SSL certificate for your WordPress site. Alternatively, you may need to manually select your domain and the corresponding SSL certificate to enable HTTPS.

After installing the SSL certificate, it’s essential to ensure that your WordPress site is properly configured to use HTTPS. Update your site settings to reflect the new secure URL. In the WordPress dashboard, go to the “Settings” menu and select “General.” Update both the “WordPress Address (URL)” and “Site Address (URL)” fields to use “https://” instead of “http://.”

Additionally, you can install a WordPress plugin like Really Simple SSL or SSL Insecure Content Fixer to assist with the configuration process and ensure that all resources on your site, including images, scripts, and links, are loaded securely over HTTPS.

Step 7: Test and Verify the SSL Certificate

After installing and configuring the SSL certificate in your WordPress site, it’s crucial to test and verify its functionality. This step ensures that your website is loading securely over HTTPS and that all resources are being served securely.

To test your SSL certificate, open a web browser and navigate to your website using the secure URL (https://yourdomain.com). Check for the padlock symbol in the browser’s address bar, indicating that the connection is secure. You may also see a green bar or the organization’s name (for EV certificates) if applicable.

Inspect the web page for any mixed content warnings. Mixed content refers to elements (such as images, scripts, or links) on your site that are still being loaded insecurely over HTTP instead of HTTPS. These mixed content warnings can negatively impact your website’s security and may cause browsers to display warnings to your visitors.

To address mixed content issues, you can use a plugin like Really Simple SSL or SSL Insecure Content Fixer mentioned earlier. These plugins can automatically fix or assist you in identifying and resolving any mixed content warnings on your site.

It’s also a good practice to test different pages and sections of your website, including forms, e-commerce functionality, and any other interactive elements, to ensure they are functioning correctly over HTTPS. If you notice any issues or errors, reach out to your hosting provider’s support team for assistance.

Step 8: Set Up Automatic Certificate Renewal

SSL certificates typically have an expiration date, usually ranging from three months to a year, depending on the issuing Certificate Authority. It’s crucial to set up automatic certificate renewal to ensure that your website remains secure without any disruptions.

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Most hosting providers have an option to enable automatic certificate renewal or offer integration with Let’s Encrypt, a widely used CA that provides free SSL certificates. By enabling automatic renewal, your SSL certificate will be renewed and installed automatically before it expires, eliminating the need for manual intervention.

Check your hosting provider’s documentation or contact their support team to understand the options available for automatic certificate renewal. They will guide you through the setup process and provide any necessary instructions to ensure a seamless renewal process.

Step 10: Monitor and Maintain SSL Certificate Security

Once your SSL certificate is installed and your WordPress site is running securely over HTTPS, it’s essential to monitor and maintain its security. Regularly check for any security updates or patches provided by your hosting provider or the Certificate Authority.

Stay vigilant for any security vulnerabilities or issues that may arise in the WordPress core, themes, or plugins you’re using. Keep your WordPress installation, themes, and plugins up to date to ensure that you have the latest security patches and bug fixes.

Regularly backup your website’s data and configuration to a secure location. This ensures that you have a recent copy of your site in case of any unforeseen events or security breaches.

Conclusion

Securing your WordPress website with an SSL certificate is a critical step towards protecting your visitors’ data and establishing trust. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can easily obtain and install an SSL certificate for your WordPress site.

Remember to choose a hosting provider that offers SSL certificates, generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR), submit it to a Certificate Authority, install and configure the SSL certificate in WordPress, and test its functionality. Set up automatic certificate renewal, update internal links, and inform external sources about the change to HTTPS.

By prioritizing the security of your WordPress site with an SSL certificate, you contribute to a safer browsing experience for your visitors and enhance the credibility of your website. Stay proactive in monitoring and maintaining the security of your SSL certificate to ensure continuous protection for your website and its users.

Remember to choose a hosting provider that offers SSL certificates, generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR), submit it to a Certificate Authority, install and configure the SSL certificate in WordPress, and test its functionality. Set up automatic certificate renewal, update internal links, and inform external sources about the change to HTTPS.

By prioritizing the security of your WordPress site with an SSL certificate, you contribute to a safer browsing experience for your visitors and enhance the credibility of your website. Stay proactive in monitoring and maintaining the security of your SSL certificate to ensure continuous protection for your website and its users.

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In addition to the security benefits, having an SSL certificate for your WordPress site can also improve its search engine ranking. Search engines like Google prioritize websites that use HTTPS, considering it as a positive ranking factor. By implementing an SSL certificate, you not only protect your visitors but also enhance your website’s visibility in search engine results.

Furthermore, SSL certificates play a vital role in meeting compliance requirements. If your website collects sensitive information such as credit card details or personal data, having an SSL certificate is necessary to comply with data protection regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Ensure that your SSL certificate is up to date and properly configured to meet the necessary compliance standards.

Remember that obtaining an SSL certificate is just the first step. It’s essential to regularly monitor and maintain the security of your WordPress site. Stay informed about the latest security best practices, keep your WordPress core, themes, and plugins updated, and implement additional security measures such as strong passwords and two-factor authentication.

Lastly, don’t forget to communicate the enhanced security of your website to your visitors. Display trust indicators such as the padlock symbol and the HTTPS prefix in the browser’s address bar. These visual cues reassure your visitors that their data is secure and encourage them to engage with your site confidently.

In conclusion, getting an SSL certificate for your WordPress site is a crucial step in ensuring the security, trustworthiness, and compliance of your website. By following the steps outlined in this guide and maintaining good security practices, you can protect your visitors’ data and provide a secure browsing experience. Secure your WordPress site today with an SSL certificate and enjoy the benefits it brings.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.

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