Ever noticed how some website URLs start with HTTP while others start with HTTPS? Maybe you’ve noticed a tiny lock icon in the top left corner of your browser? What’s all that about?
Well, when you see the “S” in web addresses, that means the site has an SSL certificate.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. That’s a fancy name for information protection. Basically, an SSL certificate means that a site’s sensitive information is secure and protected. So if you enter any personal data on that website (i.e. and address or credit card number) – you can trust that it’s protected. The information shared is safely shared only with that secure website.
How does SSL work?
SSL provides what we call, “asymmetric (or public-key) encryption”. Each secure site has a public and private key pair. The public key, while visible to the public online, can only be unlocked by a private key, which is concealed from hackers.
For instance, if you fill out a form on a website without an SSL certificate, your information is at risk of being intercepted by a hacker. This site is NOT secure.
Whether it’s your address or your credit card information, a hacker could intercept your information in a number of ways. Oftentimes, hackers place small, undetected listening programs on the server that is hosting a website. That program ‘wakes up’ when a website visitor starts typing their information. This listening program then captures the information and sends it back to the hacker.
When you visit a website that has an SSL certificate, your browser forms an instant connection with the webserver and binds to it. (You don’t have to do anything for this to happen; it’s automatic.) This connection is automatically secure, and no one besides you and the website you’re on can see it.
Why is SSL so important?
What if you’re not selling things or asking for personal information on your site? Whether you accept delicate information or not, your site can benefit from having an SSL Certificate. Perhaps the most valid reason is to improve your ranking on search engine results pages.
SSL and SEO
Google’s algorithms for SEO are constantly changing. In 2014, Google made adjustments to flag websites without SSL certificates as untrustworthy.
Sites with an SSL certificate get a big SEO boost. Searchers will stumble upon them by default. Basically – if you want to be found on Google, an SSL Certificate is a must-have!
SSL and Online Payments
If you’re accepting payments via your website, having an SSL Certificate is imperative. You owe your customers the assurance that the information being exchanged via your online store is protected.
It’s your responsibility to prove to your customers that their usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers are safe. No one wants their personal information revealed to malicious hackers? Make sure you have an SSL certificate!
SSL Builds Trust
44.5% of internet users search the web using Google Chrome. It’s the most popular internet browser out there. With Chrome, you are easily able to spot a site with an SSL certificate. Next to the URL is a tiny lock icon. Sites with an SSL certificate show a locked icon. Sites without it show the lock open or unlocked, and therefore not secure. Red text will even say, ‘not secure’ which will undoubtedly raise a concern with those browsing the site. Users feel less comfortable even being on the site, even if there is no sensitive information being transferred. For your business to be perceived as trustworthy, your site needs to have an SSL certificate.
Choosing to have an SSL Certificate on your site is a great way to build trust for your customers, but also to demonstrate that your business knows you value their trust. This is essential to your success. Considering the marketing benefits of being more easily found in a Google search, and there’s no denying the essential need for an SSL certificate. Your website needs one to boost your brand and grow your online presence – two integral keys to online success.