Is HTTPS really necessary for a blog or a website?
You should stop asking this question now as it has become essential to use HTTPS. Not just for SEO, but also for your user experience. In a recent blog post by the Google security team, Google made it clear that starting July 2018, with the release of a new Chrome version, it will start treating all HTTP site as not secure.
In my earlier posts, I have shared a lot of information about HTTPS and how you can set the same for your blog. In case if you have still not moved to HTTPS and need to learn more about it, start with the following blog posts:
- Why should you move from HTTP to HTTPS? – Beginners Guide
- Did you lose traffic after migrating to HTTPS – Here’s how to fix it
- How to enable HTTPS on a BlogSpot blog
All those using Bluehost, SiteGround, Kinsta or similar high-quality hosting, can easily add free SSL. I have shared the guide for setting up free SSL on Bluehost here.
One major issue that most of us face while migrating from HTTP to HTTPS is mixed content. This usually happens when you are use a third party script, which continue to use the HTTP protocol. The challenge is to identify such scripts and links which are served on HTTP. For WordPress bloggers, this guide will help you fix this issue. However, if you use any other platform or even WordPress and are unable to identify the content which is served over HTTP, I have a new solution for you.
This one is from the Google Chrome team and something most developers and bloggers using Mac will love. There is a different version of Google Chrome – called Canary – which is targeted at developers and webmasters for testing their site . I have been playing with it for a while and this is something you must know to test your site in various aspects. In this tutorial, I will focus on helping you set up the Canary browser to check your website for mixed content. I’m writing this tutorial on a Mac OS system. They also have a chrome extension which can be used with a chrome browser that you can download from here.
How to use Google Canary browser for website testing, including finding mixed content
First things first, Canary can be run simultaneously with the existing Chrome browser.
To get started, you need to download and install Canary browser from here. For this audit, we will be using Lighthouse, an open source tool by Google for website audit. Wondering what Lighthouse is? Check this official page or just read on:
Lighthouse is an open-source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages. You can run it on any web page, public or requiring authentication. It has audits for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, and more. You can run Lighthouse in Chrome DevTools, from the command line, or as a Node module. You give Lighthouse a URL to audit, it runs a series of audits against the page, and then it generates a report on how well the page did. From there, use the failing audits as indicators on how to improve the page. Each audit has a reference doc explaining why the audit is important, as well as how to fix it.
Alright, now we have an understanding so let’s get on with rest of the tutorial.
Download and install NPM package from here. (Simple GUI installer)
The next step is to install Lighthouse by using the command line. Open Terminal on your Mac or Linux system and run this command to install Lighthouse.
npm install -g lighthouse
If you get an error stating “Please try running this command as root/administrator”, it means you are not logged in as the root user. Just prefix sudo in the command and Lighthouse should be installed.
Once Lighthouse is installed, simply run the command to view the report. Replace ShoutMeLoud.com with the name of your website.
lighthouse --mixed-content https://www.shoutmeloud.com --view
This is what the report looks like:
In the above screenshot, you can see that our score is 100 and we have no mixed content issue. This is how it should be for your site.
To explore Lighthouse and Canary, you can also run other commands to audit your website or your client’s. Here is the command:
lighthouse --view https://www.shoutmeloud.com
This will create a comprehensive report and will give you a bird’s eye view of what’s going on with your site loading speed and other important aspects like SEO.
Running this command helped me identify many performances and accessibility related issues which are not possible to discover otherwise. You can read more about SEO category in Lighthouse report here.
You can also find the list of all available commands by running the following command in the terminal:
There are many other GUI tools which let you do that. However, this one is free and from Google which adds more reliability to the report. You should use Lighthouse once a month to test any existing issues and start fixing them one by one. Even if you are not a developer, this will help you improve your website usability and SEO score.
Go ahead and test this out. I look forward to hearing your score in the comment section below. If you like this tutorial, share it with other webmasters and developers to help them learn something new.
Here are a few other hand-picked articles that you should read next:
- Complete Tutorial to Add Browser Push Notifications to your WordPress site
- 100+ Blogging Tools For 2018, Categorized (+ Expert Tips)
- The 5 Best Google Chrome SEO Extension for Bloggers
- 5 Mobile SEO Mistakes That Are Sabotaging Your Mobile Marketing Efforts