Back in mid-2018 Google announced that they would begin marking all sites without an SSL certificate as not secure. This identifier tells potential visitors whether their personal information is going to be safe and secure while they’re browsing (and potentially buying) from your website. When an SSL certificate is present on a site, the site’s URL will display as HTTPS and you will see a green lock next to the words Secure inside the browsers URL window. We all know that HTTPS basically indicates the website protects user data and will ensure the user is connecting to an authentic site. However, when Google made this statement it was clear that they are wanting a more secure web and is giving more weight (in terms of SEO) to site’s that are using it.
What is an SSL Certificate?
The term SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and it’s a protocol which allows encrypted communication between a web server and internet browser. The protocol encrypts all data transmitted between the server and the user by utilizing an encryption key that is located on the server. Basically, an SSL certificate ensures that the information being relayed between the web server and browser is only visible to the user and the website. Anytime someone navigates to your secure website, your site will send the SSL certificate to the visitor’s browser with the key needed to begin a secure session. This initiates the SSL handshake and allows for secure transfer of information between your website and browser.
What Is HTTPS
The HTTPS acronym stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure and it’s the secure version of HTTP which is the protocol used for communication between your website and the internet browser a visitor is using. If your website is secure, it will have https:// in front of the web address instead of http://. When your website is secured with an SSL certificate, HTTPS will appear in your website’s URL.
Google Says HTTPS and SSL are Necessities
In terms of search engine optimization, SSL certificates have been a ranking factor since way back in 2014. But, as time has moved on Google has gradually worked towards a more secure internet and therefor, gradually given this metric more weight when determining ranks. Anyone who currently uses HTTPS for their website should consider this a good thing for business as it gives you a competitive advantage against businesses who do not have an SSL certificate on their site.
The Cost of an SSL Certificate
The cost of an SSL certificate can vary depending on your who you buy the certificate from and what type of certificate you are wanting to buy. Overall, there are three different types of SSL certificates:
Single Domain – This type of SSL certificate is only valid on one domain URL.
Multi Domain – Also known as a Universal Communication Certificate (UCC), this secures multiple domain names and multiple host names within a domain name. You can set a primary domain and then add up to 99 additional Subject Alternative Names (SANs) in a single certificate. This is great for businesses with multiple sub domains and URLs for different services, product lines or geographic locations.
Wildcard – This type of certificate is for securing all of the subdomains you may have for a single domain.
If you’re unsure about how to purchase or install an SSL certificate it’s probably best to contact your web hosting provider and ask them for assistance. The price might be slightly higher purchasing through the provider instead of on your own, but they will make sure the certificate you buy will work on their servers and they will most likely install the certificate for you at no extra cost.