An SSL certificate is a small data file that digitally binds a cryptographic key to a company’s information.
When used on a web server, it acts as the padlock you see and allows there to be secure connections between the browser and the web server.
An SSL certificate will bind together the domain name of the website, the server name/hostname, and the location and company’s identity.
What is so important about an SSL certificate?
While the internet is a magnificent place to find customers for your business, shop online for your amenities, and generally find some pretty good entertainment those who own insecure websites are going to find themselves with quite a big issue. Google explicitly flags websites that do not have an SSL certificate and warns visitors if a website is not secure.
If you don’t plan on adding an SSL certificate to your website, you might as well get off the internet, and here is why.
Over the last few years, cyberattacks have become quite a problem due to 2/3rd of the internet having non-encrypted websites.
When cybercriminals get a hold of a non-secure website, they can identify weaknesses in your network, capture your information data, and sell it off. If your website sells products or services to customers and it is hacked, sensitive information like credit cards, addresses, and banking information can be stolen.
Customers who are aware of what SSL encryption is (and those who read Google’s warnings) will be less inclined to visit your website or use it at all.
Here is how it impacts your search engine optimization.
- Users are unwilling to send sensitive information over insecure connections, with 80% of users actually abandoning their carts completely. This will have a massive, negative impact on your sales.
- Google wants to create a fully secure web, meaning your insecure website is going to get flagged over and over again. Not only will your users think that you have security issues with your site (which you do!) but they are likely to bounce (leave) away, sending you less traffic.
- You can enable SSL without sacrificing your website’s performance.
- HTTPS has higher search rankings. This is primarily due to users visiting websites with HTTPS secure websites.
Why Must You Have an HTTPS Website?
Traditionally, you are probably used to seeing HTTP:// in your omni-bar (URL section of your browser), and while many of us don’t know what it stands for, it is what we associate with website addresses.
Now though, websites are using HTTPS, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.
Why use it over HTTP?
It creates a secure and encrypted connection between the server the website is hosted on and the browser that the individual is using.
This protects all of the data that is being transferred between the server and the browser from being stolen.
If you were to use an HTTP website to make a transaction online and a hacker managed to get into the website’s network, they would be able to see the data because it was not protected with encryption.
You can visit this link for more information on what is HTTPS.
How Do You Get an SSL Certificate for Your Website?
You can either choose to get one for free through a Certificate Authority that offers them for free or you can purchase one from any of the reputable and trusted Certificate Authorities.
Before going ahead with a 3rd party, make sure that your web hosting plan does not come with one, because if it does, you can just use that and save yourself some time.
Some WordPress companies have hosting plans with SSL certificates, including Bluehost, SiteGround, HostGator, WPEngine, and iPage. If you don’t want to grab a free one and your website hosting package doesn’t come with one, head on over to a Certificate Authority that sells them and choose one of the many SSL certificate packages. The advantage of purchasing one is that it will work with all of the big browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera).
When Making the Switch, What Certificate Do I Purchase?
Choosing a certificate will be completely dependent on your situation.
- Domain Validation: this type of certificate will offer encryption coverage but will not authenticate your data. This means that if your data is intercepted, it cannot be used as the attacker must have a key to decode the encrypted information. Features of it include: 2048-bit SSL certificate signature, can secure www and non-www domains, an encryption strength of 256-bit, and is compatible with 99.9% of web and mobile browsers.
- Organization Validation: this type of certificate offers both encryption and authentication, ensuring that your customers cannot be tricked into providing sensitive information to the wrong people (hackers, scammers, etc.). This type of validation checks to ensure that the applicant has the right to the specific domain name and vets the company or organization. This information is shown to the customers when they click on the padlock.
- Extended Validation: This is primarily used on large e-commerce websites and large organizations like banks, as it provides the highest security possible with HTTPS. It provides the name of the website owner, setting it apart from websites that could be imposters, and activates a highly visible padlock, HTTPS, and validated company name and country.
While there may be some minor annoyances when making the switch from HTTP to HTTPS, it is well worth it as Google is continuing to place more emphasis on secured connections.
Plus, if you want to remain competitive online, a padlocked website is a necessity for both your business and your customers.
If you have any trouble with this or need help feel free to fill out our contact form and we will help!