Have you noticed that some website URLs start with HTTP, while others start with HTTPS? This is because the “s” actually stands for encryption, which is what you receive with an SSL certificate. What does this mean exactly? For users visiting your site, it means they can navigate safely without the threat of their personal information being stolen. It is very simple, if you have a website, you ABSOLUTELY need an SSL certificate.
What is an SSL certificate?
SSL stands for “secure sockets layer” and it is a security protocol used to secure data between two servers using an encryption. Millions of websites use it as it allows securing connections and keeping your data and customers’ data safe.
How to recognise it
There are several elements that indicate an SSL certificate. A secured website will display in the browser bar, either:
- A green padlock;
- The ‘HTTPS’ protocol;
- A secure site seal;
- Or the website’s name written in green for a more advanced encryption.
All these are indications that the site you are visiting has an SSL certificate and the information you provide is secured from attackers.
SSL certificates from past to present day
The first SSL version was developed by Netscape in the early 1990s, with the first public release dating from February 1995. It took many years for SSL to become standardised, with statistics from January 2021 revealing the following facts:
- 89% of pages loaded in Chrome, on all platforms, were over HTTPS;
- 2% of the browsing time on Chrome is spent on HTTPS pages;
- 77% of all certificates on the internet are issued by just 9 authorities;
- Let’s Encrypt is the most popular authority with 58.21% of all issued certificates
- 8% of the top 100,000 sites still support SSL 2.0 and SSL 3.0 (outdated versions);
- 4% of the unencrypted user traffic to Google comes from mobile devices.
The Internet is still far from being a 100% secure place, but small and steady steps have been made throughout the years to ensure the safety of users and prevent cyber-crime.
Top 5 benefits of an SSL Certificate
Here are some very good reasons as to why you need an SSL certificate:
1. Encrypting sensitive information
Only the intended recipient can understand information encrypted through SSL technology, and this is vital considering that information you send on the Internet passes from computer to computer until it reaches the destination server. Such information may include credit card numbers, usernames, and passwords. You absolutely don’t want this type of data to be accessible to anyone except for the recipient. E-commerce websites are required to have an SSL certificate to protect their customer’s sensitive data.
2. Securing your website from hackers
SSL is known to protect against hacking, as it secures a connection between a sender and a receiver to avoid unauthorised access to data from a third party. SSL technology makes encrypted messages meaningless to any hacker who would be able to intercept a message, and thus, useless. Moreover, SSL also provides authentication, which means you can be sure that you are sending information to the right server and not to a hacker trying to steal your details.
Without an SSL certification, users trying to access a website will get the message ‘This website is not secure’. What most sensible people do is close the respective browser tab when seeing this message. Nobody wants to have their data stolen or give access to unauthorised persons to their computer and accounts. Google has been flagging these insecure sites since 2017 and displays a ‘not safe’ message if a website lacks an SSL certification.
3. Improving speed and user experience
With regular data breaches affecting major companies and making headline news, consumers have become more aware of the importance of Internet security. Having an SSL certificate is a must for all websites, but especially e-commerce, as users are more confident about making a payment on a secured site. An SSL certificate will improve your conversion rate and ultimately boost your sales and business growth.
Worries that this protocol could make your website load more slowly are now a thing of the past. HTTPS works with HTTP/2, which enables much faster connection for all modern web browsers compared to the regular HTTP protocol. This means that your website performance will only benefit from the SSL certificate. Having a faster website will also boost your SEO, as Google rewards fast sites!
4. Improving SEO rank
In 2014, Google announced HTTPS as a ranking signal as part of their strategy to protect consumer privacy. Studies conducted shortly after its popularity surged around 2015 discovered a correlation between HTTPS and higher search rankings on the first page of the search engine. Google has incentive moving to HTTPS ever since and lately the measure of switching to HTTPS is more effective in terms of SEO.
Today, we have definitive evidence that HTTPS is utilised as an SEO ranking parameter. If you prioritise the discoverability and ranking of your website on search engines, it is highly advisable to promptly install an SSL certificate.
5. Inspiring trust and confidence
An SSL will also enhance your brand by making your company look more trustworthy and reputable. Nowadays, consumers are increasingly mindful of security issues and will avoid sharing personal data with websites that don’t instil trust. Making users comfortable enough to share information with you is vital, from simply encouraging someone to subscribe with their email address to attracting online sales through e-commerce platforms. The simple action of installing an SSL certificate will contribute to building your image as a professional and reliable business.
BONUS: Avoiding penalties from Google
If these aspects are not enough to determine you to install an SSL certificate for your website, there is something that will probably convince you. Google has been enforcing that every website have an SSL certificate if they want to be found in their search engine.
The search engine giant has been focusing on user experience for quite some years and is coming up with every possible way to make us feel secure on the Internet. Not adopting this requirement will determine Google to penalise your website. As a result, your rank position could drop significantly and your business performance will be considerably affected as a result.
How to get an SSL certificate
Most web hosting companies should include a standard SSL certificate, but some may charge you extra. Here at Visual Marketing Australia will provide a standard SSL certificate for all websites that are hosted on our server without additional costs laid.
The first step when looking to add an SSL certificate to your website is to contact your web hosting provider and ask them. They can provide you with a standard SSL or a more advanced certificate. If you operate an e-commerce website, it is highly recommended that you acquire an Extended Validation Certification, which is currently the most advanced certification available in the market.
This is the highest form SSL Certificate available as of 2021 and includes all levels of SSL:
- Extended Validation (EV);
- Organisation Validated (OV);
- Domain Validated (DV).
Why an Extended Validation Certificate?
In order to get an EV SSL certificate, the owner of a website passes a complete standardised identity verification process. The website needs to adhere to a set of policies ratified by the CA/Browser Forum, thus demonstrating it has the rights to use the domain and that is a legal business.
Inspiring trust to customers
Displaying this type of SSL certification increases visitors’ trust that your company is the actual operator of the website. They will be more confident about financial transactions and communication.
Supporting the most sensitive areas of your website
Whenever you need to communicate a high level of trust to your users, you can rely on EV SSL certification. They provide security for sensitive parts of your website such as account areas and logins, order processes, and front-facing webpages. You will easily avoid serious issues such as phishing scams, fake login areas, and shopping cart abandonment.
Easy to purchase
The GlobalSign Internet Group offers the strongest EV SSL certificate and has an experience of more than 20 years of providing SSL certificates.
Available in three options
EV SSL certificates are available in three different options:
- One domain – securing only one domain and recommended to small websites and online shops;
- Multi domain – suitable for complex websites and online stores;
- Code signing – used to secure digital products, like software and device drivers.
These certificates represent a necessity to big institutions, while for middle-sized companies they help improve customer confidence and conversion rates. Getting an EV SSL certificate requires the CA to conduct extensive company verification, and this is why it costs more than other certificates.
If you want to instil trust, enhance your visibility on Google, and establish your business as reputable, SSL certificates are an essential requirement. Without an SSL, your website puts site visitors, customers, and your own website data at a high risk of having their important information stolen. For more information on SSL certificates and what type is best for your website, contact our expert team at Visual Marketing Australia. Feel free to ask us about this encryption technology and how we can help secure your current website, or any other issues regarding your website security!