The Complete Guide to SSL Certificates for WordPress in 2024

If you own a WordPress website, you‘ve likely heard about the importance of SSL certificates and HTTPS. But what exactly are SSL certificates, and why do you need one for your WordPress site?

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll cover everything you need to know about SSL certificates and how to use them with WordPress. We‘ll explain what SSL is, why it matters for your website‘s security and SEO, the different types of certificates available, and how to properly install and configure SSL on your WordPress site. Let‘s dive in!

What is an SSL Certificate and How Does It Work?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It‘s a security protocol that allows sensitive information to be transmitted securely over the internet.

Here‘s how it works: when a user connects to a website secured with SSL, the SSL certificate enables an encrypted link between the web server and the user‘s browser. This ensures that any data passed between the server and browser, such as login credentials, payment information, or other personal details, remains private and secure.

Without an SSL certificate, data is transmitted in plain text and could potentially be intercepted by hackers or other malicious third parties. SSL prevents this by encrypting the data so that only the intended recipient can access it.

You can tell if a website is secured with SSL by looking at the URL. If it begins with "https" instead of "http", and has a padlock icon next to it, that means the site has a valid SSL certificate and is using a secure, encrypted connection.

Why SSL Matters for All WordPress Websites

In the past, SSL was primarily used by ecommerce websites or other sites that handled sensitive data like credit card numbers. But these days, SSL is important for all websites, including WordPress blogs, business sites, and personal portfolios.

There are a few key reasons why:

1. Security
Even if your WordPress site doesn‘t process payments, SSL helps protect your users‘ data and privacy. It prevents malicious actors from intercepting any information submitted through your site, such as login credentials or form entries. SSL is an essential part of website security best practices.

2. Trust and Credibility
Having a valid SSL certificate builds trust and credibility with your website visitors. When users see the padlock icon and "https" in your URL, it signals that your site is safe and legitimate. This can encourage more engagement and conversions.

3. SEO
Since 2014, Google has used HTTPS as a ranking signal. This means that websites secured with SSL may get a small rankings boost over unsecured sites. While the impact is minor compared to factors like quality content, it‘s still a best practice for SEO.

4. Browser Warnings
As of July 2018, Google Chrome, the most popular web browser, started marking all websites without SSL as "Not Secure". Other browsers like Firefox display similar "Not Secure" warnings for unsecured sites. This could scare away potential visitors before they even reach your site.

5. Future-Proofing
The internet is moving towards a more secure future. It‘s likely that SSL will only become more important and widely-adopted in the coming years. Implementing SSL on your WordPress site now helps future-proof your site and keeps you ahead of the curve.

Types of SSL Certificates

When you start researching SSL certificates, you‘ll come across a variety of different types. Here‘s a quick breakdown of the most common types of SSL certificates and their use cases:

Domain Validation (DV)
DV certificates are the most basic and affordable type of SSL certificate. They simply verify that you own the domain name.

DV certificates are fine for blogs or informational websites that don‘t collect any sensitive user data. The validation process is quick and can often be completed automatically. Let‘s Encrypt offers free DV certificates that have become popular for use on WordPress sites.

Organization Validation (OV)
OV certificates offer a higher level of validation and trust than DV certificates. In addition to verifying domain ownership, the certificate authority will also verify the legitimacy of your organization or business.

OV certificates are a good choice for businesses, ecommerce sites, or any website that collects personal information from users. They cost more than DV certificates and the validation process is more involved, but they provide an additional layer of credibility.

Extended Validation (EV)
EV certificates are the most expensive and stringent type of SSL certificate. They require extensive vetting of your business and its legal status.

When installed on your site, EV certificates display your business name in the address bar next to the padlock icon, which can boost trust and conversions. They are often used by banks, large ecommerce brands, and other sites that require a high level of security and user trust.

Wildcard Certificates
A wildcard certificate allows you to secure your main domain and an unlimited number of its subdomains with a single certificate. For example, a wildcard certificate for would also cover subdomains like or

Wildcard certificates can be a convenient option if you have multiple subdomains, but they also cost significantly more than standard single-domain certificates.

SAN Certificates
SAN (Subject Alternative Name) certificates, also known as multi-domain certificates, allow you to secure multiple domains with a single certificate. For example, you could use a SAN certificate to cover,, and

SAN certificates are a good solution for securing multiple domains while avoiding the cost and management overhead of purchasing separate certificates for each one.

How to Get an SSL Certificate for Your WordPress Website

So, you‘ve determined that your WordPress site needs an SSL certificate. How do you actually get one? You have a few options:

1. Through Your Web Host
Many web hosts, especially those optimized for WordPress, now offer free SSL certificates as part of their hosting plans. If you host your site with a company like WP Engine, Flywheel, SiteGround, or other popular managed WordPress hosts, you can likely obtain a free Let‘s Encrypt SSL certificate directly through your hosting dashboard.

Some hosts also sell premium OV or EV SSL certificates for an additional cost if you need a higher level of validation and trust. Check with your specific host to see what options are available.

2. From a Certificate Authority
If your web host doesn‘t provide SSL certificates, or if you need a specific type of certificate they don‘t offer, you can purchase one directly from a certificate authority (CA). Some popular CAs include:

  • DigiCert
  • Sectigo (formerly Comodo CA)
  • GeoTrust
  • RapidSSL
  • Thawte

When purchasing from a CA, you‘ll need to generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) on your server, which proves you own the domain. The CA will then validate your domain and issue the SSL certificate, which you can download and install on your web server.

This process requires a bit more technical know-how than obtaining a certificate through your host. If you‘re not comfortable generating a CSR and installing the certificate yourself, you may want to seek assistance from a developer or IT professional.

3. Use a Free Certificate from Let‘s Encrypt
If you‘re on a tight budget, you can obtain a free SSL certificate from the non-profit certificate authority Let‘s Encrypt. Many web hosts now offer Let‘s Encrypt certificates as a convenient, one-click option.

If your host doesn‘t, you can still generate and install a Let‘s Encrypt certificate manually using a tool like Certbot. Keep in mind that Let‘s Encrypt only offers DV certificates, and they need to be renewed every 90 days. But for a basic WordPress site, a Let‘s Encrypt certificate is a perfectly good option to secure your site for free.

How to Install an SSL Certificate and Configure WordPress to Use HTTPS

Once you‘ve obtained an SSL certificate for your WordPress site, there are a few steps required to install it and configure WordPress to use HTTPS. The specifics will depend on your web host and how comfortable you are editing files, but here‘s a general overview:

1. Install the SSL Certificate on Your Web Server
If you got your SSL certificate through your web host, they will likely handle this step for you. But if you purchased your certificate from a third-party CA, you‘ll need to download it and install it on your server yourself.

This typically involves uploading the certificate files to your server, then updating your web server configuration to point to the certificate. The exact steps will vary depending on your server type (Apache, NGINX, etc.) and your host‘s setup.

2. Update WordPress to Use HTTPS
After installing the SSL certificate, you need to update your WordPress settings to use HTTPS. You can do this in a few ways:

  • In the WordPress dashboard, go to Settings → General. Update your "WordPress Address" and "Site Address" to use https:// instead of http://. This will ensure that all your internal links use HTTPS.

  • Edit your wp-config.php file and add the following line above the "That‘s all, stop editing!" comment:
    define(‘FORCE_SSL_ADMIN‘, true);

This forces WordPress to use HTTPS for the admin area and login pages.

  • Update your hard-coded links and references to use HTTPS. If you‘ve manually added links to themes, plugins, or content using full http:// URLs, you‘ll need to update them to https://. A plugin like Better Search Replace can help with this.

3. Set Up HTTP to HTTPS Redirects
To ensure that search engines and visitors always land on the HTTPS version of your site, you should set up HTTP to HTTPS redirects. You can do this by editing your .htaccess file and adding the following code:

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

This code permanently redirects all HTTP requests to their HTTPS equivalent.

Alternatively, you can use a WordPress plugin like Really Simple SSL to handle the redirects and other SSL configuration tasks for you. It‘s a user-friendly option if you‘re not comfortable editing .htaccess files.

4. Update Your CDN and Other Integrations
If you use a content delivery network (CDN) like Cloudflare or StackPath to speed up your WordPress site, you may need to update your CDN settings to use your new SSL certificate. Each CDN has a different process, so consult their documentation or support for specific instructions.

Similarly, if you use any third-party tools or plugins that communicate with your WordPress site via API, make sure you update the integration to use your new HTTPS URL. This includes things like email marketing integrations, social media posting tools, etc.

Additional Tips and Best Practices for Using SSL with WordPress

Here are a few final tips to keep in mind when securing your WordPress site with SSL:

1. Keep Your SSL Certificate Up to Date
Most SSL certificates need to be renewed annually, although Let‘s Encrypt certificates expire every 90 days. Make sure you keep track of your certificate‘s expiration date and renew it before it expires to avoid downtime or security issues.

Many hosts and certificate authorities now offer automatic renewal options to make this process easier. If your host offers this, enable it to save yourself the hassle of manual renewals.

2. Monitor and Fix Mixed Content Warnings
After installing your SSL certificate, you may see "mixed content" warnings in your browser console. This happens when a page loaded over HTTPS also includes HTTP assets, like images, scripts or stylesheets.

Mixed content dilutes the security of your SSL, so it‘s important to find and fix these warnings. Tools like JitBit‘s SSL Check or Why No Padlock can scan your site and identify specific mixed content issues. Then you can update the URLs to their HTTPS versions.

3. Consider Using HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS)
For an extra layer of security, you can implement HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) on your WordPress site. HSTS tells browsers to only interact with your site using HTTPS, even if the user types in http://. This helps prevent man-in-the-middle attacks and other vulnerabilities.

To enable HSTS, you‘ll need to add a header to your web server configuration. Refer to your host‘s documentation for specific instructions on how to configure HSTS headers.

4. Use Security Monitoring and Malware Scanning
While SSL secures data in transit, it doesn‘t protect your actual WordPress site from hacks or malware infections. It‘s still important to follow WordPress security best practices like using strong passwords, keeping your software up to date, and using a security plugin.

Consider using a service like Sucuri or Wordfence to monitor your site for security threats and notify you of any issues. Many of these tools also include firewalls and malware scanning to proactively protect your site.

5. Choose a Host That Takes SSL and Security Seriously
Your WordPress host plays a big role in your site‘s security and SSL setup. Choose a host that offers robust security features like SSL certificates, automatic updates, backups, and malware scanning.

Many managed WordPress hosts now offer SSL certificates and HTTPS configuration out of the box. If you‘re setting up a new WordPress site, choosing a host with built-in SSL can save you time and hassle compared to configuring it yourself.

Wrapping Up

SSL certificates are no longer optional for WordPress sites – they‘re a necessity for security, trustworthiness, and search engine visibility. By following the steps and best practices outlined in this guide, you can secure your WordPress site with SSL and give your users the peace of mind that their data and interactions with your site are safe.

While the process of choosing, installing, and configuring an SSL certificate may seem daunting at first, it‘s well worth the effort. And with so many hosts now offering simple SSL setup and automated tools to help with the process, there‘s no reason not to secure your site.

Remember, SSL is just one part of WordPress security – but it‘s an essential one. Combined with other security measures like strong passwords, regular updates, and security monitoring, SSL helps create a safe and trustworthy experience for your WordPress site visitors.

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