What is an SSL certificate?

If you look at the address bar you’ll sometimes the prefix http or https in the URL. HTTP stands for hypertext transfer protocol and HTTPS means that the site is using an encryption method through SSL.

SSL stands for (Secure Sockets Layer). The SSL certificate is a digital certificate that authenticates the identify of a website and encrypts information between the browser and the server and returned using a decryption key. This means that the data undecipherable and keeps sensitive information such as personal or credit card information safe from hackers.

Why it’s important to have an SSL certificate in 2017

Google Chrome which has nearly 60% market share of all browsers and has recently released v62 which displays a an SSL certificate on the address bar. If one is provided then the site will display as “secure” if not then it will display as “non-secure” which could impact how users perceive a website.

Browser Market Share 2017Currently 50% of websites are still not using SSL certificates, however this number is quickly increasing as site owners or businesses are realizing the impact it can have on user experience, security and search ranking.

Impact on user experience

This can have a negative impact on users visiting your website especially if you’re running an ecommerce website. Think about it? Would you enter your credit card information into a website that you didn’t feel secure shopping on? mmmm.. probably not.

In fact a GlobalSign survey reported 84% of users would abandon a purchase if it were sent over an insecure connection or concerned that there data could be vulnerable to hackers.

In the past I would only install SSL certificates strictly on ecommerce websites however today installing an SSL certificate has become part a standard with all websites launched by NexToronto.

In 2014 Google included having an SSL certificate in their algorithm however today there much more weight placed on having one. While it’s not a major ranking factor it could be the tie breaker between two similar sites and every bit counts when it comes to search engine optimization.

There are several methods of obtaining an SSL certificate:

1. You can purchase it from your hosting company
2. Purchase it directly from SSL certificate companies such as GeoTrust
3. Install a free SSL certificate which is what I do with small or low budget sites using Cloudflare.com.

Cost of an SSL certificate

If you depend on your hosting company to install an SSL certificate it can end up costing you anywhere from $40-80/year of course the price differs for each hosting company.

SSL and Site Speed

10 years ago I had a client ask me to install SSLĀ  and have his entire website HTTPS however I suggested it was a bad idea because it would bog down his website. This has changed a lot with modern browsers and in fact having an SSL certificate installed can improve your website performance which is yet another benefit to acquiring an SSL certificate.