SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and it is simply a technology which creates an encrypted (ie. secure) connection between a server (where you're website information is stored) and the client (your website visitors). In even more simplified terms, SSL is a secure website that visitors can trust.
How Can You Tell if a Website is Secure (SSL Certified)?
- Look for a url beginning with https:// instead of http://
- The small lock symbol before the website url
- A green url bar
Even if a website has the https:// and padlock symbol, their SSL certificate may be expired. To check, click on the padlock icon and scroll down to the validity dates.
In the past, only businesses who accepted private information such as payment and billing details would find an SSL Certificate a necessity for their website. But in the lead up to 2017 that has gradually been changing. Now SSL is a standard that most websites should adhere to in order to provide the most secure website possible and reassurance to their site visitors.
Why Do I Need SSL on My Website?
As more people become familiar with SSL and the little green lock icon that appears in the url bar of their internet browser the demand for more secure websites is growing. Many website users are wary of typing in any personal information such as credit card, Paypal, billing information or even email addresses on a site that does not have the lock symbol (SSL). And with all of the news of stolen data and hacking threats, they should be wary. As a website owner, so should you. You're not only protecting your website visitors, but you are protecting your business as well.
How Does SSL Help with my Google Ranking?
It's not a myth, SSL Certificates actually DO help you rank better in search results. A while back Google Webmaster Trends Analysts Zineb Ait Bahajji told the world that SSL is now part of Google's search ranking algorithm:
"Over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We've seen positive results, so we're starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal."
So basically, you secure your website which protects you, protects your visitors, increases your level of trust with visitors AND improves your ranking in search results. This is a no-brainer! Okay so now you're probably wondering...
How Can I Get My Website Secured with an SSL Certificate?
- First contact your website and/or domain host to see if they offer SSL Certificates.
- There are often different levels of SSL. Most websites will only require the most basic, common SSL Certificate.
- Companies like GoDaddy offer SSL Certificates at an additional annual cost which is usually around $70 per year.
- Or, you can choose a website host, like Squarespace, who offers SSL Certificates for free as part of your annual hosting expense. I prefer this method since it saves me having to pay another seperate company.
And Then There's HTTP2 Which Requires SSL
This is one of those, important for early adopters statements...HTTP2 is going to become the defacto standard eventually, for all websites. It will allow websites to load significantly faster than HTTP. Not sure what I'm talking about? Don't worry, just know that having an SSL Certificate is a prerequisite for implementing HTTP2 when the time comes. So basically, you'll be prepared and avoid some headaches down the road
I Don't Like Reading...Tell Me About SSL in a Short Video
Check out this short video from SSL.com about what SSL is and what it means for your website. Note: I'm not promoting SSL.com's services, in fact, I prefer to keep the hosting and SSL certification in the same place which is why I use Squarespace's SSL Certification. It's included in your web hosting fees so you don't have to pay extra for it.