You’ve sorted your domain name and hosting service. You’ve had a designer create a stunning website and you’re ready to conquer the online world. But now you’re told that you really should consider getting an SSL Certificate to secure your site.
So what is an SSL certificate, and do you really need one? Let us give you the low-down.
What is an SSL Certificate?
Short for Secure Socket Layer, SSL Certificates are small data files that encrypt data as they are sent through the internet. Basically, the certificate ensures that all traffic between your server and the user’s browser is secure and cannot be read by outside sources. It protects your clients’ information, as well as your own.
There are numerous ways to tell if a website is secure (and you can be sure that your clients are looking for these tell-tale signs).
- If a site has an SSL Certificate the URL changes from HTTP to HTTPS
- There is a padlock icon (and in some browsers the word ‘Secure’) in the address bar of your browser
- Google Chrome will tell you if a site is not secure before you enter sensitive information
The Benefits of Obtaining an SSL Certificate
Increase Client Trust
Seeing a padlock beside your url automatically instils trust in visitors to your site. You go from being an unknown entity to a reliable brand. That little icon can do more for your brand image than the entire ‘About Us’ page on your website.
Increase Sales or Lead Generation
Having a secure site reassures customers and clients that any information they enter into your site, whether it be credit card details or an email address, will remain protected and out of the hands of hackers and crawlers. For eCommerce sites, this is especially important as most people won’t purchase from a site that isn’t visibly secure. In fact, most merchant accounts require that you use an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate will also secure all information input into forms and queries by users, ensuring that their details are not accessible to anyone but you.
Increase Google Ranking
Google loves SSL certificates and has publicly stated that a strong HTTPS encryption is a factor within their search algorithm. So even if you’ve got your SEO buttoned down, that little bit of extra help could be what pushes you further up the google ranking system.
Protection for Sensitive Information
SSL certificates are not only there to protect your clients’ information, it will also protect yours. If you have a password protected website (and most of them are) an SSL certificate will keep those details safe. It also keeps all of the information in your databases private and secure, protecting both you and your clients.
Before you go rushing off and purchasing an SSL certificate, it should be noted that when you change from HTTP to HTTPS, all of your existing SEO reports/statistics and information will not be carried over in relation to the Google Webmaster system, this includes Analytics and Search Console. Your SEO is based on your URL, and even though it is only a minor visual change (by one letter), Google sees this as an entirely new address. There are a number of steps you will need to undertake to help you maintain your existing google ranking, including re-indexing your site, updating references and links and updating plugins and sitemaps (the list goes on). It may be in your best interest to enlist the help of an SEO specialist to ensure that nothing is missed and you maintain or improve your rank on Google. All of that being said, the benefits of acquiring an SSL certificate far outweigh the minor hassle and outlay in the initial setup phase.
If you would like to add this extra layer of security to your website and reap the benefits, contact us today and we can help you set it up.