An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a small data file installed on a web server which encrypts the connection between a browser like Google Chrome and your web server.
Photo by Muhammad Zaqy Al Fattah on Unsplash
When you land on a website which uses an SSL certificate you see a padlock next to the website address.
A few years ago the only websites that really used SSL certificates were e-commerce websites. At the time SSL certificates weren’t really deemed that necessary for small brochure or marketing websites.
However, thanks to Google advocating the use of SSL certificates as a ranking factor and the rise of free open source certificates issued by non-profit authorities like Let’s Encrypt more and more website owners are making the jump and securing their websites.
So if you’re not selling online do you really need to use an SSL certificate and is it worth the effort to put one in place? Personally, I’d say yes and here’s why.
Using an SSL certificate on your website gives your customers a positive impression of your business which in today’s brand obsessed culture is never a bad thing.
Having an SSL certificate on your website makes your customers feel like they’re in safe hands and shows that you’ve gone that extra mile to make your website safe for them to use.
When customers interact with any forms on a website that uses an SSL certificate, the technology encrypts information such as names, email addresses and phone numbers before they’re transmitted over the internet. If you don’t use an SSL certificate some browsers, including Google Chrome, will mark your website as ‘not secure’ and that might put people off returning to your website or interacting with it.
In recent years Google have acknowledged that websites that use an SSL certificate get ranked better than websites that don’t. Personally, I’m not sure how much of an improvement in ranking you get but as always when you’re looking to improve your ranking the more best practices that you can put in place, the better.
How do I get an SSL certificate?
You might already have a free SSL certificate included as part of your website hosting so it’s worth checking with your hosting company and talking to them and your web designer about getting it set up properly.
What options are there?
As well as free certificates premium SSL certificates are also available that in some cases might be more appropriate for your business. Premium SSL certificates differ from free certificates in a few key areas.
Firstly premium SSL certificates are issued by reputable authorities and that extra level of trust can sometimes make a big difference to the integrity of your website.
Premium SSL certificates are compatible with any hosting service as well as self-managed or dedicated servers which means they can sometimes be easier to set up than their open source counterparts.
Premium SSL certificates also include options such as warranty protection which acts as a form of insurance in the event that your website gets compromised by hackers.
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