Every website that wants to perform well in Google needs an SSL Certificate.
Having an SSL certificate installed has become a necessity for anyone who wants to attract organic search traffic to their website. An SSL Certificate adds an extra level of security to your site, reducing the chances of a data breach, and Google looks at whether your website has one installed when deciding where to place you in it’s search result pages.
If your competitors have an SSL certificate and you do not, they could be ranking higher than you in Google, making it harder for your potential customers to find you.
What is an SSL certificate?
An SSL certificate signifies to users that your website encrypts the data they input, so hackers can’t easily access the data as it gets transmitted. You’ve probably seen SSL certification before – ever noticed a link starting with HTTPS:// instead of HTTP://, or a website URL that has a ‘Secure’ tag next to it? Those are examples of a website with SSL certification.
An SSL certificate is required by law (PCI DSS) if you are handling payment information directly. This meant that only online commerce stores that aren’t outsourcing their payment processing through another provider, such as PayPal, legally have to have an SSL security certificate.
But Google wants everyone to use SSL to handle personal data – not just those who are legally obliged to – and is rewarding those who comply with better rankings in their search engine.
Do I Have an SSL Certificate on my Website?
If your website is over a year old and it does not process payments online, then there is a pretty good chance that your site does not have an SSL certificate installed. You can test for certain by having a look at whether your site uses ‘http://’ or ‘https://’ at the start of the domain name – the additional ‘s’ in the second example signifies an SSL certificate has been installed.
If you are still uncertain, it might be best to reach out to the organisation that built or hosts your website.
How Do I Install an SSL Certificate?
The first step to upgrading your website to include an SSL cert is to purchase one – these range in price from about $20 – $250, but the best option if you want to make sure that it is installed correctly is to go straight to your website hosting provider and purchase one from them. Most hosting providers will install the certificate for you free of charge if your website is already hosted with them.
If you don’t want to go to your own hosting provider, or they don’t sell SSL certificates, then you will need to purchase one from another provider and pay a developer to install the certificate for you.
Once the certificate is correctly installed you will need to go through your website to update all of your internal links and images so that they are using ‘https’ instead of ‘http’ – this is quite a tedious task, and again, if your are uncertain of what you are doing then it might be best to ask a professional to do this for you.
Alternative PRACTICES Aren’t Effective
There are of course alternatives to getting SSL certification if you’d like to avoid paying to get one installed and set-up, but these come with their drawbacks. If for example, you run a restaurant and you normally use a form system for bookings, you could resort to an external booking system, such as Dimmi. If the only form you have on your website is a contact form, you could remove it and tell people to call or send an email, but this reduces customer engagement by making communication more difficult. In the long-run, an SSL certificate keeps more opportunities open in terms of customer engagement, and users tend to feel safer on websites that have SSL certification.
I guess what we’re trying to say here is that avoidance isn’t a long-term solution for not having an SSL certificate installed.
BeKonstructive Marketing can help you get your website security certification sorted – we’ll liaise with your hosting provider on your behalf, ensuring that the certificate in installed correctly, and then we’ll work our way through your website to update all of the links, running tests as we go to ensure we haven’t missed anything.
If this is something that you’d like more information about, shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch on 0413 844 190.