What is a SSL
A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate is a security protocol that encrypts data and allows information to be safely passed between a user’s browser and a server. This has been particularly useful for ecommerce sites that regularly receive payment information. For over 10 years, SSL has been the standard encryption method for websites and is still one of the best systems for protecting sensitive information sent by users. However, with the recent surges in identity theft, malware, and hacking, more and more websites need to utilize SSL certificates to make their sites more secure.
When you have an SSL certificate installed on your server, your site url switches from HTTP to HTTPS and shows a green padlock to the left of the url. It’ll look like this.
How Can It Affect Your Business?
SSL Certificates provide 3 main benefits for all websites:
- The main benefit of SSL is increased security. Ecommerce stores frequently send and receive sensitive information and securing this data is a top priority for all businesses. Having a security breach or leaking information and dealing with consumer backlash is messy and something all businesses strive to avoid. That being said, SSL certificates greatly reduce the chances of such information being intercepted.
- The other benefit is customer trust and site authority. That green padlock in the url bar communicates to customers that your website is trustworthy, credible, and secure. Now, we’re not saying a SSL certificate will cause conversion rates to skyrocket, but it doesn’t hurt to ease a customer’s fears about sending payment information and purchasing anything from your business.
- The third attraction is that Google openly supports data encrypted sites and wants to create a more secure internet. Some may feel that simply having an SSL certificate on your website will grant your website higher search rankings. This factor alone does not, however it's the combination of efforts that counts. If you're website is freshly updated with valuable content that is being promoted, your business has a great reputation online, and your website offers a great user experience, securing your site will only make your brand better in Google's eyes. Having a secure website leads to increased trust and an awesome user experience.
Does Your Site Need a SSL Certificate?
Ecommerce - Yes, SSL certificates are a necessity for a majority of ecommerce sites. However, some ecommerce sites may not need it if the site uses external payment methods such as PayPal and Stripe. By external payment methods, I mean that all sensitive information is transferred using another trusted domain. Basically, if your customers don’t submit any billing information while under your domain, then you won’t be needing an SSL certificate for the usual transactional security reasons.
Membership sites - Yes, if your site requires users to enter a username, password, and other information, then it is in everyone’s best interests to protect customers that are logging in and willingly sharing sensitive information with your site.
Blogs & photography & personal sites - Although, blogs with SSL will get a small possible SEO boost and more and more sites will be using SSL certificates, personal sites and blogs do not need https, but it's best that they do.
The Take Away
It is highly recommended to acquire a SSL certificate, because https will likely be the standard in a few years and it would be wise for many websites to stay ahead of the pack and switch now. Currently, people can choose from free or premium SSL certificates. The free certificates, like Let's Encrypt, certainly do their job well, but usually require manual installation. Premium certificates bought from your hosting provider are often installed for you, but at a cost. So, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, attaining a SSL certificate would be a smart choice.