If you have your own website or blog or if you are thinking about creating one then one of the more common questions that you might be asking is “Do I Need an SSL Certificate?” for my site. This article will help you to get an answer as well as to share some additional information about SSL certificates and the HTTPS protocol.
The HTTPS protocol allows data (information) that is being sent to and from a website that is running on the HTTPS protocol securely as it is encrypted. This adds an extra layer of security so that other people, hackers, software and bots cannot gain unauthorized access to the data.
In order to have a website or blog be able to run on the HTTPS protocol you must have an SSL certificate for the site and have it installed on the web server that a particular site is using for its web hosting.
If you have ever gone to a website and you have seen a green lock or green bar in the address bar of your web browser that means that the site has an SSL certificate installed on the web server of their site for their particular domain name.
One of the mains reasons for having an SSL certificate for a website or blog is for the added level of data security but there are other reasons why they are good to have for your site. Besides the security benefits of using the HTTPS protocol for a site there is the search engine optimization (SEO) benefits since Google and some of the other top search engines use the HTTPS protocol as a ranking factor in their search ranking algorithms.
The SEO benefits of using the HTTPS protocol for a website or blog are not huge right now and it is only a small ranking factor but it will more than likely be a bigger ranking factor for the search engines over time since there is a big movement to make the internet and websites on it more secure.
Although there is only a small SEO benefit for running a site using HTTPS it can mean the difference between ranking above (if you have an SSL certificate for your site) or below (not having an SSL certificate for your site) other competing sites.
Ranking higher than a competitor’s site can mean that you will get more traffic, leads, sales and other benefits due to your higher rankings. Sometimes just being a spot or two higher in the search engine results pages (SERP’s) can mean that you will get a lot more clicks/traffic for your site.
Some of the top web browsers like the Chrome web browser from Google and the Firefox browser from Mozilla have started to show warning messages in their web browser address bars. They will show a message in the browser’s address bar saying “Not secure”, “Connection is not secure” or other warning message alerting people that a site does not have a secure connection. Other web browsers are or will most likely do this as well.
Another key benefit for having an SSL certificate for your site and having it run using the HTTPS protocol is the fact that is helps with the trust factor that people may have towards your site. If they know that your website or blog is a secure one then that may be a sign that your site takes security seriously.
If you have an e-commerce website that people will enter credit card or other payment information to make a purchase of some kind then having an SSL certificate for your site is an absolute must so that the payment information of your customers is secure.
If your e-commerce website is not using the secure HTTPS protocol then that will cost you some customers and sales as people will not feel safe entering their credit card or other payment information.
Even if you don’t have an e-commerce website it is still a good idea to have an SSL certificate for your site for the added SEO benefits as well as the trust factor with the visitors to your site. Since these days you can get an SSL certificate for just a few dollars there is no real reason why you shouldn’t have one. You can even get free SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt for your site.
If you can afford a paid SSL certificate then those will be the better option for a few reasons. Paid SSL certificates will usually come with support in case you need help setting it up for your site where as the free ones usually don’t have any support or it is in the form of a support forum. Paid certificates also usually come with a warranty that covers loses and damage that may occur have happened.
Paid certificates are also valid for a longer time frame. You can usually buy one for 1-3 years at a time where as the free certificates are usually only valid for 3-6 months at which time you would need to renew or reissue your certificate. This can be a time saver if you don’t want to have to renew your SSL certificate every few months.
Based on the benefits that having an SSL certificate offers and that fact that you can get them for a few dollars or even for free, the answer to the questions “Do I Need an SSL Certificate?” is YES since there is no good reason why you should not have one!