5 Critical Questions About SSL Certificates

Google is done playing games when it comes to online security. The internet is often compared to the Wild West because it seems like there are no rules or limitations keeping it under control, but that is quickly changing.

The good: improved security means more trust. When people don’t have to worry about their passwords being compromised or their personal information falling into the hands of fake collections agencies, they’re more likely to utilize the internet as a customer.

The bad: if your website isn’t currently utilizing an SSL certificate, your rankings have already dropped and you run the risk of being labeled an untrusted website.

The ugly: purchasing an SSL certificate is more confusing than it should be, and if you try to fix the problem yourself, you could find yourself falling into a false sense of security with an SSL certificate that doesn’t meet your website’s standards.

How familiar are you with SSL certificates? If your answer is not very, don’t worry; you’re not alone. We’ve compiled the five most important questions about SSL certificates for the uninitiated.

What Is An SSL Certificate?

An SSL certificate is a small piece of code that can be installed on your web server to improve the security of your website and protect online communications. When a web browser connects a user with your secured website, the SSL certificate encrypts the connection to ensure that personal information is safe. You can tell if a website has an SSL certificate by determining whether or not it has “https://” before the URL. If it does, the site is safe for browsing. On the contrary, “http://” websites are not secured with an SSL certificate which means users’ information is not necessarily protected.

An SSL certificate ensures that malicious users can’t gain access to your information or usage data. It’s like sealing a letter in an envelope before mailing it; you’re submitting information into an external system, but it’s protected from other entities in that system.

Why Are SSL Certificates Important?

SSL certificates are important because the information you send on the Internet travels from computer to computer until it reaches the destination server. Without the encryption provided by an SSL certificate, any computer between you and the server can access your credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, and other types of sensitive information. When your business welcomes customers to your site without an SSL certificate, your customers can be exploited for valuable information. With a new wave of data protection policies on the horizon, ensuring that your website protects your customers is imperative. An SSL certificate will ensure that you serve customers effectively while minimizing the possibility of litigation.

When Did SSL Certificates Become Important?

SSL Certificates have always played an important role in providing users with a secure connection, especially for e-commerce; however, they have recently started to play a larger role in SEO rankings and paid advertisements in Google. Websites that do not possess a valid SSL certificate are being flagged as “not secure” by the search engine giant. This warning can derail your business by effectively  terminating web traffic. The average user isn’t going to trust a website that is labeled a security threat by Google, which means all of the progress your business has made from SEO and other online marketing strategies will be rendered inconsequential. Therefore, if your website does not currently possess an SSL certificate, it’s integral that you contact a digital marketing agency to help you sift through the SSL marketplace to find the certificate that is right for your business.

How Do SSL Certificates Affect My Website?

Having an SSL certificate can have an effect on search engine results page (SERP) rankings, visibility, and perception among customers. In 2014, Google announced that having a secure site would be an important factor when ranking websites. While studies vary in terms of how significantly this factors into ranking, our agency’s internal studies have noted a positive increase in rankings among sites that have been converted to https://.

Previously, Google has stated that in instances where there are two sites of identical value, they will give preference to the site with an SSL certificate. This is evident in a recent report from Moz that states that 40% of Google’s first page organic search results are from https:// sites.In terms of customer perception, a report from GlobalSign states that 84 percent of consumers would end a purchase if the site was not secured.

The lack of an SSL certificate will now be more visible than ever. In addition to Google’s “not secure” warning , their browser, Chrome, has started using an exclamation mark in the address bar to alert users that they are on a site that isn’t secure.

How Much Do SSL Certificates Cost?

The value of SSL certificates is undeniable, but figuring out the most cost-effective and secure option can put your business at odds with itself. SSL certificates range in value from free to hundreds of dollars. However, not all SSL certificates are built the same, and depending on the size and type of business you oversee, your SSL needs will vary.

You might be inclined to perform a quick Google search to weigh your options, but shopping for SSL certificates isn’t like shopping for televisions. Investing in the wrong SSL certificate could have extensive legal and financial ramifications later on. Free SSL certificates, like those offered by Let’s Encrypt, are an effective stopgap solution while considering your options. However, if you want to eliminate worry and ensure that your website maintains its current rankings, you should invest in a paid certificate that offers liability protection, multi-domain certification, superior server compatibility, and more.

Are you working with an award-winning digital marketing agency like Leverage Digital to ensure that your site is secure for your business and your customers? SSL certificates are here to stay, and without one, your business risks losing out against your competitors. Online security is critical to the success of your business, so don’t let your website get flagged for lacking adequate security measures. Contact our agency today to find out how you can get the right SSL certificate for your business today!

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