Have you just created a WordPress website, or have an existing one, you are hosting with HostGator?
And you want to activate your HostGator’s free SSL certificate by Let’s Encrypt, on that website?
I’ve got you covered in this tutorial!
As long as you can navigate your way around WordPress you can follow along.
Let’s get started.
Step by Step Guide to Enabling Your Free SSL on WordPress (in 2 Steps)
HostGator is one of the leading web hosting companies with international recognition and for good reason.
If you are on any HostGator’s hosting plans, here’s the good news, you have a free SSL certificate.
The free SSL is automatically added to every domain of their new and existing cPanel and Plesk platform customers as from July 2018.
Let’s Encrypt, a renowned free SSL/TLS certificate authority is the provider of HostGator’s free SSL certificates which last for only 90 days from the day of issuance.
However, HostGator automatically handles both the integration of the Lets’ Encrypt free SSL and it’s auto renewals every 90 days at no additional cost to customers.
Step 1: Connect your domain name to your HostGator package
Note that you might have done this step already if you can access your website with your domain name. (Just skip to step 2 which is the meat of this tutorial).
But if not…
There are two ways to go about it:
A. Set “A records” to point to your HostGator’s package or IP address from your domain provider’s dashboard.
B. Change your DNS at your domain name provider to Hostgator’s (recommended)
Changing DNS at your domain provider’s dashboard to HostGator’s is easier to do. Because then HostGator can populate other DNS records automatically and you can skip the headache of
To do this on NameCheap:
1. Log in to your NameCheap.com/dashboard.
2. Select “Domain List” on the left hand sidebar.
3. Click the “Manage” button to the right of the domain you wish to edit.
4. Next to the “Name servers” section, select “Custom” from the drop down menu.
5. Enter your Name Servers given you by HostGator.
You will find this information in the welcome email when you signed up for hosting or in your cPanel control panel (if you bought a shared web hosting plan).
6. Click the “green check mark” to save your changes.
Now give this some time, North of 24-48 hours for the DNS to propagate.
To confirm that you can proceed, check if you can now access your website when you type your domain name into the browser.
Step 2: Install WordPress SSL Plugin
This is where a lot of people face challenges, in getting the already provisioned SSL by HostGator to work on their WordPress websites.
The Free SSL certificate DOES NOT automatically force HTTPS onto your domain and will need to be manually updated to work. This can be made to work via updating your website’s .htaccess file to force HTTPS on every page.
Fortunately, there are plugins on WordPress that does all of these without you seeing any codes or meddling with any settings.
Introducing the WordPress SSL plugins:
I have found Really Simple SSL to work the best and it’s what I personally use on my website.
Really Simple SSL is an open source and lightweight plugin needing no setup, that forces the SSL certificate on your website to work.
To install this plugin:
1. You might want to first make a backup of your website.
2. Download and activate the plugin on WordPress.
3. You will see a notice asking you to enable SSL. “Go ahead, and activate SSL!”.
Note that this might require you to log in again to WordPress. Because you would now have, hopefully, been switched over to HTTPS and your browser would notice the change and adjust accordingly.
4. Viola! You are all set. You can view your configuration on the settings page and it would be like mine below.
5. You can confirm everything is fine and dandy by clicking on the green padlock next to your domain name and verifying “Let’s Encrypt issued the certificate”
That is how simple it is with WordPress site owners who have their websites hosted on HostGator’s web host.
Note that Really Simple SSL is and would be the ONLY plugin you would need to install on your WordPress for this to work.
And the same goes for those who would want to take things a notch higher by proxying their websites through CloudFlare (which I highly recommend) for added security like DDoS protection.
That all! Go ahead and enjoy your new secure website.
If this tutorial worked for you please let me know in the comments below and also share it with your connections to help someone else.