SSL Certificates Explained (Yes, It’s Important!)
You may have heard the term SSL certificate before but weren’t quite certain what it meant. It’s one of those technical terms that pops up now and again in the sea of technical terms that we seem to navigate on a daily basis.
With regard to your website, an SSL certificate is actually pretty important. In this article, we will examine what an SSL certificate is, how it functions, and why it’s likely time for you to get one for your website.
What is an SSL Certificate?
An SSL certificate is a tiny data file used to encrypt data that moves from one location to another on the internet.
SSL is an acronym for Secure Socket Layer, which is the protocol designed to secure this data being transferred.
The purpose of an SSL certificate is to prevent hackers from accessing private information about your clients and customers via your website. This may include names, email addresses, phone number, credit card information, and logins/passwords.
Why You Should Buy an SSL Certificate for Your Website
SSL certificates have traditionally been used for e-commerce websites. With e-commerce websites, a great deal of private information is transferred between the customer and the website.
It is now becoming common practice for websites that do not sell products to have SSL certificates. Here are the benefits:
One of the things that I’ve learned as a business owner is that things don’t always go as planned. By installing an SSL certificate on your website you are showing your customer or client that you take their security seriously. Even if it’s a matter of filling out a form with private data, an SSL certificate is an indicator that you want your clients protected. This can go a long way with trust.
In 2014 Google announced that having an SSL certificate on your website can offer you a boost in rankings. In 2017 however, Google has placed a major emphasis on SSL, and has suggested it should become common practice for websites to install one. So previously, you might get a slight rankings boost if you had a certificate on your website, but now it appears that you may be penalized for not having one.
Browsers are now increasing the amount of blocking they do with websites that do not have SSL certificates. You may have seen this before when searching for a website, and you get this alarming looking page popping up:
Nothing will drive traffic away from your site faster than a Google warning. This is becoming more and more common among sites without SSL certificates.
Best Practice & Cost
SSL certificates cost between $80 and $120 per year, a minor expense for a company to avoid all of this trouble. The benefits more than make up for the cost, and it is unquestionably best practice for all websites.
SSL Certificate Misconceptions
Now that you see the high value and low cost of having an SSL certificate, let’s look at some of the common misconceptions about SSL certificates so that you are fully informed moving forward.
- SSL Certificates do not slow down your website load time.
- Your entire site should be protected with an SSL certificate, not just the pages with web forms
- SSL Certificates do not protect websites from viruses.
- Standard SSL Certificates do not secure subdirectories (Wildcard SSL certificates do)
At a minimal cost, there are tremendous benefits to securing your website with an SSL certificate. This is a no-brainer for anyone with a company site.
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