SSL Certificates- What Are They and Why do I Need One?

Photo by Christopher Gower on Unsplash

If you’ve ever tried to click into a website and received a “Warning: Connection Not Secure!” message, then you have seen firsthand the importance of SSL Certificates. SSL Certs are important to have for your safety and for your website visitors’ security.

What is an SSL Certificate?

The internet used to work mainly on HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol). As the internet grew and updated, things have been moving over to HTTPS (hypertext transfer protocol secure). Google has forced traffic onto HTTPS because it offers a safer browsing experience. Google also warns users if they are about to visit a page that is not on it. 

Example of a website without an SSL Certificate
An example of what you may see when clicking on a site without an SSL Certificate. Image from https://www.androidauthority.com/sites-still-on-http-889265/

In order to get your website onto HTTPS, you need to have an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate. SSL Certs are a form of secure encryption on your website. An SSL-certified website offers trust and privacy for your website visitors as well as for your business. SSL certificates keep user data secure on both ends with both public and private encryption keys connected to your site. They contain your domain name, the person or company the certificate was issued to, issue date, encryption keys, and any subdomains you have attached. 

Why Do I need an SSL Certificate?

If a user is trying to get on your website and a warning message pops up, most likely they will not feel safe visiting your site and they may question your validity as a company. You want your users to feel safe browsing your site, so ensure their browsing experience is a secure one. Ensure your site visitors’ browsing experience is a secure one so they feel safe browsing your site. SSL Certificates are also important on your end because they prevent your business from phishing scams and data breaches.

If you are trying to gain website traffic and rank on Google, SSL Certificates are an important piece of your marketing and branding mix. Google ranks websites with SSL certificates higher than those without. So, securely encrypting your site is important for marketing purposes as well. Even if your SEO optimization is perfect, Google will not reward you with a higher ranking if you aren’t on HTTPS.

How do I Buy SSL Certificates?

You can buy an SSL Certificate on various websites, but our favorite is https://www.namecheap.com/. It is relatively inexpensive to purchase one of the basic DV SSL certificates here. DV stands for Domain Validation, which means the SSL company does some light validation that you are the domain owner. This is the most commonly purchased SSL Certificate and is relatively easy to acquire.

Once you purchase your SSL Certificate, there are a number of steps (depending on the level of validation purchased) to validate the buyer identity and additional steps to install and configure your SSL Certificate with your website. Talk to your webmaster for details on how to do this for your site specifically.

What Kind of SSL Certificate Do I Need?

In general, there are 6 types of SSL certificates to consider. Each one differs slightly in price and has a different lock indicator and amount of information needed to verify site ownership.

Extended Validation Certificates (EV SSL)

This is the highest level of SSL Certificates and is mostly used for high profile websites or sites that have a lot of personal information on them like healthcare or banking.

Organization Validated Certificates (OV SSL)

The main purpose of an OV SSL is to protect information when performing transactions, so this one also has a high level of security.

Domain Validated Certificates (DV SSL)

DV SSLs have a lower encryption and a lower validation process and price. This is a great choice for blogs or sites that don’t have a lot of confidential information attached. DV SSLs also take the least amount of time to obtain.

Wildcard SSL Certificate

Wildcard SSLs can be obtained as a DV or OV SSL and is one of the cheapest SSLs to purchase. These are beneficial because they allow you to add subdomains off of your base domain.

Multi-Domain SSL Certificate (MDC)

Multi-Domain SSL certificates can secure up to 100 domain and subdomain names. If you have multiple domains or subdomains, this is your best option to save time and money.

Unified Communications Certificate (UCC)

UCC’s were originally created to secure live communications domains, but they now work the same way as an EV SSL. You can also secure multiple domains under a UCC.

How can Software Harmonics, LLC Help?

Our team offers managed SSL services and we will ask the right questions to discover which SSL will be most beneficial to your company. There are many options for SSL, and we can help you choose which is best for your current situation and future plans. SSL Certificates need to be updated every 2 years and are also able to help you with that process.

Schedule a free discovery call with our web experts to talk about your SSL Certificate and website strategy!

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