What is an SSL certificate? Does your website actually need to have one? Did you know that Google is now showing any and all non-SSL websites as “Not Secure?”.
When going through the process of setting up a website, most people tend to typically opt out of buying an SSL certificate. This is likely due to paid SSL certificates coming at a rather expensive price. What’s more, is if you are just starting out with a DIY e-commerce store or a blog then you likely want to keep costs low. In addition, most people aren’t too keen on what an SSL certification is or does.
Nonetheless, if you’re reading this article, you must be in your digital path where the ghost of that SSL certificate that you did not get at checkout is currently haunting you. In the event that an SSL ghost is haunting you, you’re probably trying to put it to rest by asking if you really need one. If you’re looking for a quick answer, then yes. You really do need that SSL certificate.
In this article, you will see exactly what an SSL certificate is, what it does, and why you need it. You’ll even understand how to easily get a free SSL certificate for your WordPress website, and set it up all by yourself.
What Is an SSL certificate?
While browsing the internet, you most likely have noticed that “http://” is at the beginning of many URLs. On the other hand, you may have also noticed “https://” at the beginning of other URLs. More specifically, when on websites requiring you to provide sensitive information, you may have noticed that extra “s.”
So where is that extra “s” coming from, and what does it mean? The simple answer is that the extra “s” means secure; while signaling that your connection to that website is safe and encrypted. That’s where the SSL certificate comes to play its part. The technology that powers that little “s” is called SSL, which stands for “Secure Sockets Layer.”
Simply put, an SSL certificate is a small data file that cryptographically establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. By doing so, this link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browser remain private (or secure.)
How Does an SSL Certificate Work?
A secure session is established via a “handshake” process, one that involves a back-and-forth between the web browser and the web server, and it occurs behind the scenes — all without interrupting the shopping or browsing experience.
An SSL works to protect valuable information passed between the two parties. Any data you enter into a website with an SSL certification is safely shared with that website.
As an online consumer, you always want to see “https://” especially if you are inputting any private and sensitive information. And, as an online business, you’ll want to make sure you have an SSL, or even two, for your audience.
Why Does Your Website Need an SSL Certificate?
If you’re still not convinced of the importance of having an SSL certificate attached to your website, there are other reasons. SEO reasons to be exact.
Did you know that Google shows all non-SSL websites as “Not Secure?” Even if you aren’t selling anything and requiring your site’s visitors to submit sensitive information, you still benefit from having an SSL certificate. In the event that you aren’t using an SSL certification on your website, your rank on Google is negatively affected.
Apparently, in a study published by the Pew Research Center, 68% of internet users believe that current laws for protecting their rights are not good enough. This correlates with Google taking a strict approach to ensuring that the privacy of online consumers is safe.
So, in order to do just that, in 2014 the search engine giant announced HTTPS as a ranking signal. Moreover, since October 2017, Google has been utilizing the new version (version 62) of Google Chrome to show a “NOT SECURE” warning.
In addition to Google cracking down, other web browsers have followed.
How Do You Get an SSL Certificate?
Don’t feel defeated just yet. Even though you’ve been hesitant or unaware until this point, the solution to this problem is simple. There are many legitimate certificate authorities and hosting providers that offer SSL certificates. Not only that but there are also free certificates as well.
Obtaining your own SSL certificate only requires you to verify your domain name and business ownership. It’s as simple as that.
Types of Certificates
If you’re like most, you probably did not know that there are a few different types of SSL certificates; several types to be exact. One certificate can apply to a single website. On the other hand, certificates can also apply to several websites. However, this is only possible depending on the type of SSL certificate.
Types of SSL Certificates
- Single-domain: With a single-domain SSL certificate, only one domain is able to be certified.
- Wildcard: A wildcard SSL certificate is like a single-domain SSL certificate in which it only applies to one domain. However, it also includes your domain’s subdomains. For instance, both a wildcard and single-domain certificate will cover your domain name, www.yourbusinsess.com. However, a Wildcard SSL will also cover subdomains such as blog.yourbusiness.com and store.yourbusiness.com.
- Multi-domain: As the name indicates, multi-domain SSL certificates can apply to multiple unrelated domains.
SSL certificates also come with different validation levels. A validation level is like a background check, and the level changes depending on the thoroughness of the check.
Should You Get an SSL Certificate?
If you are running an eCommerce store, selling online services or have some other business where your users have to put their credentials, an SSL certificate is a must for you. Additionally, if you are running a small blog or magazine website you should still obtain an SSL Certificate.
Before Google flags your website, secure it today with an SSL Certificate. Since Google officially announced that SSL certificate security is a ranking factor, all website owners should take note. By doing so, you may see a bump in traffic as well as more trust from your visitors.