Do You Know What an SSL Certificate Is? (You Should)

Why you need an SSL Certificate

Have you bought an SSL certificate for your website yet? Are you familiar with what an SSL certificate is and what it can do for your site? Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t hold off on this vital addition to your company’s online presence.

What an SSL Certificate Is and Why You Should Care

If you look at the top of your browser, you will notice that most web addresses begin with “https://” followed by the website URL. The “s” on the end stands for “secure.”

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates affirm that your web address is secure, allowing visitors on your site to know it’s a safe place to enter sensitive information like emails and credit card information. And while in the past this has only really been important for sites that require credit cards for purchases, it’s been announced in the past by Google that secure sites gain a higher ranking in its search engine, even if they are non-ecommerce websites.

To put things in perspective and encourage site owners to get an SSL certificate, Google Chrome’s browser has been adding this warning on sites that aren’t secure, making your site look unreliable to visitors.

What Information Does an SSL Certificate Contain?

An SSL certificate will contain the following:

  • The domain name
  • The person, organization, or device that the certificate was issued to
  • Which certificate authority issued it
  • A digital signature from the certificate authority
  • Associated subdomains
  • Issue date
  • Expiration date
  • Public key

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Not only that, but around 68% of the top million websites are already using a secure address. Keep reading to find out how this could also be affecting your search engine optimization efforts.

How to Obtain an SSL Certificate

Domains should obtain an SSL certificate from a third-party certificate authority. According to Spice Works, the top five certificate providers are:

  1. GoDaddy – A name we all recognize as one of the leaders in web products. GoDaddy is convenient choice for those looking to fulfill multiple site needs with one provider.
  2. Comodo – With more than 100 million certificates issued, Comodo is the largest certificate authority in the world.
  3. The SSL Store – The SSL store is a broker that partners with a number of certificate authorities, including Comodo and DigiCert.
  4. DigiCert – With over a decade of experience issuing certificates, DigiCert is a provider with a global presence.
  5. GeoTrust – Issuing certificates since the 90s, GeoTrust is one of the oldest and most experienced in the business.

The Benefits of Switching to a Secure/HTTPS Site

Previously, many people weren’t interested in the thought of switching over to an HTTPS site. As recently as 2014, over 57% of people said they weren’t interested in the switch, according to a poll conducted by Moz. But the tide has certainly turned in recent years.

Now more than ever, there are clear benefits to getting your site secured. Here are two key reasons you should consider it:

  1. It can help prevent your site from getting hacked – Web hosting providers such as GoDaddy suggest that protecting your site is a smart move, even if you won’t be collecting sensitive information from visitors.
  1. It can boost your SEO – While numerous companies practice many of the same SEO tactics to increase their online rankings, you can get ahead and receive a boost by making your site secure as soon as possible. In 2023, SERPWatch states that SSL remains a vital search engine ranking factor.

Consumer-Facing Benefits of HTTPS

Some recent security stats help break down why sites with HTTPS are more appealing for consumers:

  • The total number of cybersecurity attacks have increased by 31% year over year
  • A report from Splunk suggests that one of many trickle-down effects from the pandemic is cybersecurity. More than 65% of organizations face a substantial increase in cyberattacks and companies report having trouble protecting remote employees from attacks
  • A report from Gartner predicts a 45% increase in cyberattacks by the end of 2025

As consumers spend more time online for remote work, it’s arguable they’re spending more time on a computer or mobile device than ever before. Consumers are attracted to safe and simple processes. They’ll become less likely to click past Google’s warning for insecure sites and will simply find a competitor whose site doesn’t come with an ominous security warning.

Projected Growth of the Internet Security Industry

According to SERPWatch, global cybercrime costs could grow by 15% per year, amounting to a $10.5 trillion per year market by 2025. This means protected and encrypted internet traffic will likely become a necessary second-nature aspect of internet browsing. HTTPS has already become the norm, but with an increased focus on cybersecurity, it will become an immediate deterrent to browsers if a site does not have an SSL certificate.

Getting Started on Making Your Site Secure: Things to Keep in Mind

Going through the process of making your site secure is no easy feat. Make sure to keep these things in mind when you start the process:

  • One of the first steps in securing your site is to find out which type of certificate your website needs. You have three options:
    • Single domain
    • Multi-domain
    • Wildcard certificate (for websites with subdomains)
  • Purchase your SSL certificate through your web host provider, such as GoDaddy, Bluehost, etc.
    • This is to make sure you get SSL certificates issued by trusted certificate authorities to ensure all legal regulations are in place, and so the site is verified as a trusted resource
    • There are plenty of spammy sites out there that will say you can get a certificate for free, but be wary of what you are agreeing to
    • And if you use WordPress, you should check with your hosting provider to see if they offer SSL certificates for free, like Bluehost.
  • You will need to redirect pages to point search engines like Google, as well as the users visiting your site, to the newly secured HTTPS pages
  • Make sure you use a server that supports HSTS (HTTP Strict Transport Security)
  • Just in case any mishaps happen during the process, make sure to have a backup of your site and database

Need Some Help Making Your Website Secure?

We know that if you aren’t familiar with the complexity of a website’s inner workings, all of this can look a little overwhelming. And while it may be tempting to secure your site on your own, experts will know how to secure your site without putting any files at risk. That’s why we’re here to help!

Contact us today to see how Sixth City Marketing can help your company’s site become secure, along with providing you with a wide range of other web design and development services.

We look forward to working with you!

Sarah Blocksidge

About the Author

Sarah Blocksidge

Sarah is the Marketing Director at Sixth City Marketing and has been with the company since 2016. Her main role is to attract more B2B clients for the company. Over the years, she has been mentioned on HubSpot, Content Marketing Institute, Fast Company, Mashable, and many other notable sites.

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