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How to create a https WordPress blog site with a free SSL cert

Create https blog

In this step by step tutorial I will show you how to create a https WordPress blog site with a free SSL cert.

Why would you want to set up your WordPress blog with https?  Well, with online security becoming more and more important, the fact that google rank https sites higher than non-https sites and with the WordPress move from http to https, if you are creating a new blog site you really should be using https.

 

The following 10 steps will show you how to get your https WordPress blog online.

 

Step 1. Pick a blog name and pick a web host.

You will need to pick a domain name for your blog, register it and find somewhere to host it.
Spend some time picking your domain name because ultimately your domain name will be your online brand name.
My domain name is thevirtualman.com and I host my site on SiteGround.

Your web host is basically a company that will home the files that make up your blog and allow it be accessed online.

I have tried a few different hosts in the past and found SiteGround to be the best in terms of ease of use, value for money and customer service.
You can start on a basic hosting package with SiteGround and if your blog proves popular you can upgrade. Right now I am on a basic package costing  3.95 €/mo.
I have already registered my domain name and set up my hosting but I will walk you through the process in the next step.

 

Step 2. Register your domain name and set up your hosting.

To register your domain, go to the SiteGround site and click SIGN UP

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You will be given a list of options to sign up to.

The "startUp" option should be enough for you to get started with.

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Then select a location and period, I select the 12 month option, the longer options will give you a bigger discount on price.

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Once you are happy with your selection, enter your payment details, thick the T&Cs box and hit Pay Now.

You now have a hosting account. We will install WordPress here soon but first you need to register your domain.

You can purchase a new domain name from SiteGround by logging in to your Customer's area and going to the "Add Services" tab.

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Type your domain name into the “Choose Domain” box and hit check domain.

If your domain is available you should get a message telling you it is available.

Progress down through the page to product info

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And then to the payment section.

Once you are happy with your selection, enter your payment details, thick the T&Cs box and hit Pay Now.

You now have your domain name registered and hosting for your blog. Next we will install WordPress.

 

Step 3. Install WordPress.

WordPress is basically web publishing software you can use to create your own website or blog.

The best things about WordPress are, it is free, easy to install and SEO-friendly.

Let’s start the install process.

Once you have got your domain and hosting set up with SiteGround log in to your account.

There are two options available for installing WordPress. I will show you both options.

Option 1.

Once you login to your Customer Area for the first time, you will see a pop up asking you if you want to have WordPress pre-installed on your account. Select that option and click on the Proceed button.

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The next page consists of two parts. In the first one, enter the login information for your new WordPress application.

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Next, pick one of the free WordPress themes available in the Wizard and click on the Submit button once again. You can change this theme later if needed.

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Finally, you will see a quick summary of your WordPress installation, including from where to access your admin area, your username and your password.

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That's it! You can now go to the front page of your site and check out the newly installed WordPress application.

Open a web browser and type in your domain name. Your site should now be online.

 

Install option 2

Log into your SiteGround account and click on the My Account tab.

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Click on Go to cPanel

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Once in cPanel look for the AUTOINSTALLERS section and click on WordPress

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Click the install tab and you should see a screen like below

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You will have the option to choose you protocol and chose the domain you want WordPress installed on.

For your protocol you should select https:// or www.https://
Either way you should select a https option which allows you to set up your site using SSL.
This is something we will discuss in more detail later but one of the best things about SiteGround hosting is that it gives you the option to install SSL certs on your site for free using your cPanel and Letsencrypt.

 

You can leave the "In Directory" box blank

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Enter your site name and site description.

Enter an Admin username and password and an admin email address, you will use this account to log into the WordPress backend to configure your site so make note of these details for later.

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Choose your preferred language

Leave the Select Plugins options unchecked

And leave the theme option as None (we will discuss theme options later)

Click install

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The install will not take long, once complete you will see the following

https://yourdomain.com

https://yourdomain.com/wp-admin

 

Clicking on the links will bring you to your site.

At this point you will get a certificate error when you click one of the links provided.
This is because we have not configured your SSL cert yet. We will do this soon.

If you click past the ssl error you will see a 404 error. This is because https://yourdomain.com is not recognised yet.

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Access your WordPress install by going to yourdomain.com instead of https://yourdomain.com. For example I would type thevirtualman.com into my web browser.

This should bring you to your WordPress install.

You will see a page similar to this

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Congratulations you are online!

Now log in to the site backend by going to yourdomain.com/wp-admin or by going back to the SiteGround admin tab and clicking Go to Admin Panel next to your domain name.

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You should see a screen like this when you go to youdomain.com/wp-admin

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Enter the username and password you created earlier and click login.

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This is where you will customise your site.

We will come back to the customisation soon. For now let’s get your SSL cert installed.

 

Step 4. Installing your SSL cert with Lets Encrypt

To stop the SSL error you see when connecting to the site you will need to install an SSL cert on your site.

SSL basically means the link between your browser and the server is encrypted so when someone visits your site their connection is secure.

The internet is moving towards secure sites. WordPress will be making https a requirement from 2017 on and google already use SSL as a search engine ranking factor and will begin flagging unencrypted sites in Chrome soon.

So best to get your SSl cert in place now.

 

To do this go back to your SiteGround cPanel and look for the security section.

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Click on the Lets Encrypt option.

You should see a banner like below.

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The install of Lets Encrypt is very easy with SiteGround. The automation offered by SiteGround takes the hassle out of installing SSL certs and saves a lot of time. It’s one of the reasons I moved my hosting over to SiteGround.

 

When you click through to the Lets Encrypt section, scroll down to the Install new Lets Encrypt Certificate section.

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Select your domain from the drop down and enter your email details.

Click install.

You will see different messages as the cert is installed on your domain.

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Once completed successfully you will see the following message.

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Click OK.

That’s it, your cert is installed.

 

Step 5. Selecting a WordPress theme and installing it.

Okay, your site is online and your SSL cert is installed, when you browse to your site you should see something like this.

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While this is functional, it doesn’t look good. So, how do we make our site look good?

We need to install a WordPress Theme. There are lots of themes to choose from and you could spend days looking for a theme. I suggest you spend some time looking for a theme that suites your business or blog but don’t get caught up in it.

There are free themes and premium themes to choose form, I suggest you use a free theme when starting out.

I use the beaver builder theme from the guys at https://www.wpbeaverbuilder.com/

This theme is not free but the beaver builder theme along with the beaver builder plugin give great flexibility when creating your site or blog. You can basically do anything you want design wise with beaver builder and that’s the main reason I chose it. Also the support from the team at Beaver Builder is the best I have come across.

 

When you have decided on a theme you will need to install that theme and activate it.

Log in to the admin area of your site by going to https://yourdomain.com/wp-admin

You will see a screen like below. Enter your log in details and hit log in.

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Once logged in look for appearance on the left hand side.
Click on appearance and then click on themes.

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At this point you will see some pre-installed themes. Leave them as they are for now.

There are two ways you can install your Theme, if you have a copy of your theme on your local computer then you can upload it.

If you don’t have a local copy you can search the online WordPress repository.

Either way you need to click "add new" at the top of the dashboard.

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If you are installing a theme from the WordPress repository, once you click "add new" you will see something like this

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You can browse through themes here and click into them to get a feel for how they will look.

If you know the theme you want then you can search for it by name in the search bar.

Once you find the theme you want you can hover over it and click install.

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Once you click Install WordPress will go about installing your Theme and you should see the following.

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Once the theme is installed successfully, hit Activate.

Your new theme is now installed and active.

 

If you are uploading a theme click the Upload Theme option.

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Then click Choose File and browse to the file on your local computer.

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Then click Install Now.

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When you click Install Now WordPress will go about installing your Theme and you should see the following.

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Once the theme is installed successfully, hit Activate.

Your new theme is now installed and active.

 

If you want to clean up your theme area and remove the pre-installed themes, then do the following.

Go to Appearance > Themes

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Click on the theme you want to remove and click delete in the bottom right.

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Do this for all the themes you want to remove.

You now should have a clean area showing just the theme you are using.

That’s it, your new theme is now active.

Now browse to your site to see how it looks.

 

Step 6. Customise your theme

Now that your theme is installed and active, you will need to make some changes to it.

You can customise you theme in many different ways, what exactly you can do will be down to your individual theme. Different themes will have different options.

Here we will stick with the basic customization's you will need. Check out your theme documentation for more details on customising your chosen theme.

To start customising, go to appearance and select customise.

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What you see when you click customise will be dependent on your theme but you should see an option for site identity. Click on this.

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In here enter your site title and a tagline for your site or blog. Then click save and publish at the top.

Have a look through the other customisation options in your theme, when done click Save and publish and browse to your site to see the changes.

 

Step 7. SEO - Optimize for Search Engine Traffic

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It basically means setting your site up so it can be found by search engines like google for key words or phrases related to your blog or site. This is vitally important for any blog or website.

To help optimise our site we will use a WordPress plugin called Yoast SEO

A plugins is a way to extend and add to the functionality that already exists in WordPress. Click here to find out more about WordPress Plugins.

 

To install Yoast SEO plugin you need to go to your dashboard and click on Plugins and then click add new.

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When you click add new you will see something like the following.

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This is the WordPress Plugin repository.

 

In the search plugins box type in Yoast SEO and press enter. You should see the Yoast SEO plugin listed first.

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Click the install now button and press activate once the install is complete.

Once installed you will see the following in the side bar of your dashboard.

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Click on SEO and you will be brought to the Yoast dashboard.

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From here you will configure the Yoast SEO plugin.

In the notification area you will see two notices. Click the link in the first notification to start configuring the plugin.

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On the welcome page enter your name and email address.

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Click the production option for environment.

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For site type select blog.

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Select company or person and click next.

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If you have any social media profiles already setup, enter a link to the social media platform here and click next.

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For post type visibility leave the defaults and select next.

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If you have multiple authors for your blog select yes if you will be the only author select no. Click next.

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Next is the Google Search Console section. For this you will need to have a google account.

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If you do not have a google account you should create one. The search console will allow you to submit your site to be indexed by google. This will help your site be found by google.

To create a search console account go to the following link.

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6001104?hl=en

 

Once you have the search console account created

Click get Google Authorization Code. You will get a pop up asking for you to confirm you allow the Yoast plugin access your google account.
Click Allow

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Once you click allow you should see your website address listed in the drop down.

Select it and click next.

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The next step asks you to select a title separator. You can leave the default here and click next.

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That’s it. Yoast SEO plugin is now configured and your site is now optimized for SEO.

You should see the following screen.

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The Yoast SEO plugin will also generate your XML sitemap.

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If you want to check your sitemap settings you will need to enable the advanced settings of the Yoast plugin.

To do this, go to the features tab and set advanced settings to enabled.

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Once the advanced settings are enabled you will see some additional options under the Yoast SEO settings on the left hand side of your dashboard.

How to create a WordPress blog

 

To check your sitemap click XML Sitemaps

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Step 6. Set Permalinks

Permalinks are static hyperlinks that lead to a particular blog post or page. By default, WordPress sets your permalinks to yourdomain.com/postID.

We will need to change this so your permalinks are easier to read and give a better indication of what your post is about. Changing this also allows you to put keywords in your permalink which will help your post be found easier by search engines.

To change your permalinks settings, go to Settings in the left hand side of your dashboard.

Select Permalinks.

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Under the permalinks option select the Post name option and click Save.

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At this point we have most of the site configuration complete and we can start creating pages for your site.

 

Step 8. Creating a Home page and a Blog page.

The Next thing we need to do is create some pages for our site.

If you want to create a landing page for your site, like this site has then you will need to create a home page. We will also create a Blog page, this is where all your posts will be listed.

You do not need to create a landing / home page and if you don’t WordPress will use your Blog page as your landing page. I prefer a landing page.

To create a page go to your dashboard and on the left, look for Pages as shown below.

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Click on pages.

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Look for the add new button at the top and click it.

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Now fill in the details for your new page. The first page we will call Home. Type in home as shown below and click the publish button on the right hand side.

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You now have a new home page.

Follow the same process and create a Blog page.

You should now have two pages like below

pages

 

Now we need to tell WordPress how to use these pages.

Go to your dashboard and select Settings and click on Reading.

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Within the reading options, set the Front page displays option to A static page and for front page select Home from the drop down and select Blog for posts page as shown below.

Then click Save Changes

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That’s it. Your site is now configured.

If you are using the beaver builder theme and plugin we will need to put the finishing touches to your site.

We will look at creating a landing page and a blog page with Beaver Builder in another post soon.

If you are using another theme you can now start creating posts.

 

Step 10. Creating your first blog post.

To create your first post, go back to your dashboard and click on Posts on the left as shown below.

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Then click the Add New button on the top.

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Fill in the title of your post as shown below and start typing

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Spend some time playing around with the post interface to get used to it.

Be sure to press the toggle button to enable more options within the interface.

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You can add images to your post by selecting the add media button above post area.

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When you press the Add media button you will be presented with an option to upload images you can drag and drop images in here.

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Also there is an option to set a featured image for your post. This is the main image that will appear for your post. To add an image look to the bottom right of the post page. You will see an option to Set featured image. Press this.

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Again you will be presented with an upload option. You can drag and drop images here.

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Once you’re finished adding your images and typing your post, you are almost done.

You now need to make sure your post is search engine optimized.

Scroll down to the Yoast section of the post page.

There are 4 options here.

SEO title section. You can leave this as the default.

Slug, this will default to the name of your blog post. If you are happy with it you can leave it.

Meta description, type in a description of your post here telling people what your post is about.

Focus keyword, what is the key word for your post, the word you want to show up for when people do a google search. Type these words in here.

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Scroll down and yoast will tell you how you are doing in the analysis section.

You should try to get as many greens as you can, Yoast will tell you where you need to improve.

Its hard to get all green so if you cannot, don’t worry about it, just get as many as you can.

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To learn more about the Yoast SEO plugin and SEO in general, head over to the Yoast site.

Once you are finished the Yoast section you are almost ready to publish. Click the preview option on the right to see how your post will look.

If you are happy you can click Publish.

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That’s it. Your first post should now be online. Go check it out.

Congratulations!

 

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.
Was this tutorial helpful?
Were you able to get your blog online?
Do you have any questions?

 

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1 Comment

  1. فیلم on September 17, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    tanks

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