SSL is a security protocol that stands for "Secure Sockets Layer." Even if you've never heard the term before, you've undoubtedly experienced the benefits of SSL as you surf the web. SSL helps visitors authenticate the page they are visiting and protects any data they may send or receive.
SSL has become a significant part of internet security, but hosts need to install SSL certificates manually. But since this is wholly optional, does your website need an SSL certificate? Furthermore, how will an SSL certificate affect your website?
Security is a primary concern with online shoppers, so anything that you do to put their mind at ease is more likely to get them to shop with you over a competitor. Web users can recognize that your website has an SSL certificate by the web address: it will show "HTTPS" instead of "HTTP" and will show a small padlock icon in the search bar next to the URL. However, SSL adds credibility in another critical way: SEO.
Google gives preference to websites with SSL because it recognizes that they are more secure than those without a certificate. As a result, you'll appear higher in relevant search results when your site meets these criteria. In addition, Google will sometimes remove pages it deems security risks from its results.
Modern web browsers also throw up a warning when visiting a page without SSL. Often, the notice expresses that the page may not be secure, potentially scaring away customers for good. With SSL, you don't have to worry about your site receiving such a label, and you remove friction in the user experience of your site.
Hacks are unfortunately very common these days, and there's no sign that they'll slow down any time soon. While it's always good practice to incorporate the latest security measures into your website, you should take additional care to protect data as it's being transmitted to your site as well. Criminals can capture user data (like credit card info) during submission, rendering many security assets useless.
SSL encrypts user data before anything is submitted. Then, once the data reaches your servers safely, your SSL certificate will decrypt it so you can use it securely. In doing so, no one can capture or eavesdrop on transactions during transmission.
Remember that SSL alone isn't the only security you need to keep data safe, but it does cover a common point of attack. Therefore, you should treat it as a vital piece to your overall security toolbelt. Without it, you risk exposing your customers to untold dangers.
We've talked a little bit about how SSL can help you, but let's take a moment to dispel a myth. The idea that SSL adds additional load time to websites has persisted since the protocol's introduction. Unfortunately, this belief is so common some web design agencies insist against it for more complex builds.
While it's true that SSL did increase load times in the past, that was a long time ago. Like all other web technology, it's been refined and improved over the years. At present, SSL absolutely does not slow down your website.
You only need to look at Google's search engine for proof of this. All searches use SSL to protect user data without adding additional machines to process requests. If it doesn't hinder the world’s largest search engine as it processes 5.6 billion searches per day , you can be confident it won't slow you down, either.
Even when presented with these benefits, some people are still hesitant to add an SSL certificate to their website. Even if it's harmless, they assume that it requires advanced technical knowledge to install correctly. In addition, some fear that an incorrect or incomplete installation could even damage their site.
Thankfully, installing an SSL certificate requires no technical knowledge on your part. Most major hosting services can walk you through the process, which only takes a few minutes at most. In addition, if you can navigate your website on the backend, you can easily install an SSL certificate.
Once you've successfully installed the certificate, you just need to perform a little maintenance work. The big thing is to switch all of your internal links from "HTTP" to "HTTPS" to ensure visitors won't encounter a 404 error. Of course, if you rely on a design agency to build and host your websites, they can perform all of these tasks for you from the beginning.
SSL is essential, but it's only one piece of your website. Security is vital, but if you're looking to boost business, there's so much more you need to focus on. Do you know where you should even start?
At Stoute Web Solutions, we specialize in creating custom website care plans, managed WordPress hosting, SEO, and web design services. Based in Portland, Oregon, we are ready to help your business grow and specialize in working with small and medium-sized businesses with affordable SEO services and web design.
If you would like to take your business to the next level, please reach out to us to schedule a consultation today.