People want to feel safe when they are online. There are hackers trying to steal your identity and data, as well as marketers tracking your every move. That is why companies like Google and Apple implemented technologies to help consumers and internet users feel safe.
In most browsers, like Chrome and Safari, you can tell that you are protected when visiting a website if you see a lock in the address bar. You will also notice that the URL begins with HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), which means the domain (website) is secure. For this to happen, the website owner needs to have an SSL certificate.
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer (SSL). It is a security protocol that allows encrypted communication between a web server and internet browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. This means that all data transmitted between the server and the user is encrypted using an encryption key that resides on the server. The data being relayed between the server and internet browser is only visible to the user and the website.
SSL certificates will have the following information:
- Name of the certificate holder
- The certificate’s serial number and expiration date
- A copy of the certificate holder’s public encryption key
- The digital signature of the certificate-issuing authority
If a website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, a secure connection will not be established. This is important because people that visit your website may not stick around, or worse, not convert because they do not trust that their information is secure and they are not protected.
Not having an SSL certificate can also affect your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Sites that lack an SSL certificate tend to rank lower in search engine listings. Make sure that you are not taking an SEO hit and are able to help your website rankings by having an SSL certificate,
If you are reading this and find yourself needing an SSL certificate, there are a few things that you need to know.
First, there are three types of certificates:
- Single Domain Certificate – Covers one domain
- Mutli-Domain Certificate – Covers multiple domains and multiple host names in a domain. You can list a primary domain and add up to 99 additional Subject Alternative Names (SANs) to one certificate. This means if you have sub-domains, you are covered.
- Wildcard – Covers all of the subdomains you have on a single domain.
When starting a new website, it is easy to add an SSL certificate. You simply purchase one from your hosting provider (Godaddy, Bluehost, etc) or an external vendor like CloudFlare, Comodo, or Network Solutions.This will help you create all of your pages in the HTTPS format. There are some providers that offer simple SSL certificates for free. This would be good for those that do not sell products, but maybe have a blog.
If you need to add an SSL certificate to an existing domain, there are some things that you need to be aware of:
- Configure your website to use HTTPS instead of HTTP.
- Redirect any pages that use HTTP to HTTPS
- Re-verify your ownership and configurations in Google Search Console and Google Analytics
- Make sure to test your configurations so that you do not have page load errors.
I hope that I proved my case that you HAVE to have an SSL certificate on your website. The benefits outweigh the risks. Your profits will grow and your website visitors will thank you.
Written by Hank Hoffmeier, Sr. Manager of Client Solutions at J2 Global.