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When it comes to running an online business, the internet is an awesome place to meet your customers. Unfortunately, it’s also a good place for hackers who want to sell your data for a few quick bucks to find you. 

Hackers put your business at risk and can expose sensitive customer information. Cybercriminals can intercept transactions between your customers and the website and steal important data. 

What does this mean for you?

You need a secured web connection to prevent any of these misfortunes. 

Here’s the good news:
There is a way to protect your traffic by installing an SSL certificate. 

Here’s what you’ll learn in this guide:

  • What an SSL is 
  • Does your website need SSL?
  • The benefits of SSL for websites
  • Types of SSL certificates
  • How to get an SSL certificate

Why Do I Need an SSL Certificate?

You might be wondering, “Does my website need SSL?” Whether you already have a website or you’re creating a new one, security must be a top priority. One of the foolproof ways to do this is by having an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate from a recognized authority. 

You need to safeguard the transfer of your clients’ sensitive information on your website against illegal access. 

An SSL certificate is a way to communicate data between your clients and your web server that’s indecipherable to anyone who might try to seek out the information. 

If data between a server and a web browser is sent as plain text, it can get exposed to malicious cyber attacks. An SSL certificate establishes a safe connection when this data is being transferred to ensure privacy.

Using a website without an SSL means it isn’t secure and can expose any data being transferred to threats. 

Here are other benefits of SSL for your website.

Browsers’ Way of Securing the Web

An SSL certificate is a must-have for popular web browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox. Anyone using the internet wants to feel secure. 

After Google launched a new version of Google Chrome in October 2017, the browser would flag a page lacking an SSL certificate with a “Not Secure” warning. This applied to websites dealing with sensitive client details such as credit card numbers. 

Another way to know if a website is secure is if it has “HTTPS” in the URL instead of “HTTP.”   

Protects Webforms

Websites that ask for detailed client information in a contact form such as their name, email address, and phone number need strong measures to secure the information

So, why does your website need SSL? An SSL certificate and seeing HTTPS in your URL will encourage clients to sign up without feeling anxious about losing information.

Helps Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Besides the direct benefits of SSL, SSL encryption is one of the most important ranking factors for Google. SSL-certified websites will rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Non-secure websites are automatically pushed to the bottom of the results.

Besides, website visitors are more likely to stay on your page if they have a secure connection. If Google flags a website as not secure, this can potentially reduce your traffic and your revenue.

The boost in search rankings is standard for all websites, whether you’re handling sensitive data or not. You will still get the SEO benefits of SSL by installing an SSL certificate.

Protects Password Logins

Black-hat hackers are always looking to attack web pages without strong passwords. They can delete or even steal your data. 

If you’re still asking, “Does my website need SSL?” keep in mind that data-driven websites with password-protected pages, including a login page for the administrator, will require an SSL certificate. 

Avoid sharing your login credentials with anyone, whether you have an SSL certificate installed or not, and observe basic password precautions. 

Protects User Information on Membership Websites

Data theft is real in the online world. Even if only a small amount of data falls into the hands of a hacker, your entire business could be in trouble. 

Encrypting your users’ data will protect your brand. Encryption will boost your company’s credibility and help earn the trust of your clients. An SSL certificate assures your visitors that their data is safe with you.  

Earn Customers’ Trust

Most eCommerce websites planning to use major credit cards will need to use a merchant account in their transactions. To open a merchant account, you need an SSL certificate. The certification keeps your customers’ credit card information safe when shopping on your website. 

An SSL certificate ensures your customers can always shop in confidence. When a user checks in to a website, their browser verifies if the login is secure. 

If your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, your client will quickly drop their shopping cart and leave. They might never look back.

How To Get an SSL Certificate

Now you know the benefits of SSL and the answer to “Does my website need SSL?” The next step is getting an SSL certificate for your business. 

While SSL is a Google recommendation for all websites, not every eCommerce website needs it. Some websites use shopping platforms with a built-in secure payment system. These websites use a third party to handle transactions.

If you use a platform where a third party processes the data, it will take care of any sensitive information, and you don’t need to worry about security. If you ask, “Does my website need SSL?” the answer in that case would be no.

Apart from those instances, all other websites must get an HTTPS status according to Google, including small businesses.

You can tell if your website is secure by checking the browser’s address bar. A secure website will show a padlock icon and an HTTPS at the beginning of the URL. 

You need to ensure every page of your website loads using the right protocol. You can search and fix any URL loading as not secure using your browser’s inspection tool.

You can also confirm whether a web page is encrypted using a free SSL checker tool.

The Different SSL Certificates and How To Get Them

Now that you know the benefits of SSL, the question isn’t “Does my website need SSL?” but rather, “What type of SSL certificate do I need for my website? “

The certificate you choose will depend on your website’s type and your budget. Plus, the encryption level might be the same, but the vetting and validation process is unique for each. 

Domain Validated SSL 

A Domain Validated SSL is ideal if you want a fast and inexpensive SSL certificate, as no paperwork is required. The certificate authority (CA) validates your right as an applicant to use a particular domain name and that you have properly registered your domain. 

You don’t need to present any company documents to receive a Domain Validated SSL. The only information displayed within the secure site seal is encrypted.                                                           

Organization Validated SSL 

After thoroughly vetting your company and validating its right to use a certain domain, the CA will issue an Organization Validated SSL. The CA confirms the organization is legally registered and you’re lawfully acting on its behalf. 

Anyone can find additional information on the vetted company by clicking on the secure site seal button. This allows them to see who is behind the website and is a great way of gaining trust with your customers.

Extended Validation SSL

As users move toward online shopping and banking, they need to ensure the websites they are interacting with are genuine. It can be challenging to verify all identities online.

That’s why an Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificate might be useful for your eCommerce website. This is typically the highest level of authenticity and can greatly boost your customers’ trust in your website. 

But you must be ready for a thorough vetting process to receive an EV SSL certificate. The CA will verify your organization’s identity and your rights to use a specific domain by:  

  • Making sure your business has exclusive rights to use the domain as specified in the EV SSL certificate
  • Vetting organization-related information such as phone number, business address, and operational existence 
  • Verifying your company has adequately stated why it needs an EV SSL certificate
  • Confirming that official records match your organization’s identity

Get a Free SSL Certificate for Your WordPress Website

If you want to buy an SSL certificate, the cost differs widely. But the truth is, an SSL certificate can be expensive. Some providers also offer additional perks with their SSL certificates, and the extra services may make the final cost even higher. 

If you’re a new website owner with a limited budget, there are some free options available for you. For example, Let’s Encrypt’s free SSL certificates are available from some web hosting companies. 

If you’re using Bluehost as your hosting provider, we offer free SSL certificates. This is a shared security solution where multiple websites share the same certificate. 

Premium versions of the SSL certificate are private and usually bear the name of your business. Though the free version has its limitations, both will display an HTTPS status in the browser.

Transactions are happening online every minute. While developing on-page content and building backlinks can take time, one of the major benefits of SSL is that it’s a quick way to improve your SEO rankings

Does your website need SSL? If it’s still loading under HTTP, then yes, it does. Most SSL certificates are easy to implement, but a web hosting company can also do it for you. If you need a reliable hosting solution for your website, check out Bluehost for affordable packages today.

What is an SSL certificate?

An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a digital certificate that provides secure, encrypted communication between a web server and a user’s web browser. It ensures that the data transmitted between the two remains confidential and protected from potential eavesdropping or tampering.

How does an SSL certificate work?

When a user connects to a website with SSL, their browser requests the server’s SSL certificate. The server then sends the certificate, which includes the server’s public key, back to the user’s browser. The browser verifies the certificate’s authenticity and uses the public key to encrypt data before sending it to the server. The server uses its private key to decrypt the data and respond securely.

How often do SSL certificates need to be renewed?

SSL certificates have a validity period, typically ranging from one to three years, depending on the certificate authority (CA) and the type of certificate. It’s crucial to renew your certificate before it expires to maintain continuous security protection on your website.

Do SSL certificates impact website performance?

SSL certificates do add some encryption overhead, but modern hardware and software optimizations have minimized the performance impact significantly. The benefits of SSL in terms of security and user trust generally outweigh any minor performance differences.

  • Machielle Thomas

    Machielle is a content enthusiast who has a passion for bridging the gap between audiences and brands through impactful storytelling. Machielle has also spoken at dozens of WordCamps throughout the years.

    Texas State University
    Previous Experience
    Brand Content, Content Marketing, Brand Lead, Operations Lead, Course Instructor
    Other publications
    Shopify, Contently
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