What is an SSL & Why is it important?

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What You'll Learn

Have you ever wondered “what’s that green lock in the address bar?” Or perhaps you’ve seen some sites that start with https:// while others may be http://?

So what makes a small letter change cause such a huge difference in user trust and search engine rankings and why should you care whether your website has one? Keep reading to discover what an SSL is and why it’s important to your website.

What is an SSL certificate?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, in short, it establishes a secure connection and safeguards any sensitive data being sent. This connection makes sure that any data that passes through remains private.

Think about how much information you submit online, whether it be through a contact form, purchasing a product, registering an account. This is all sensitive information that can be stolen from an unsecured website.

That’s where the SSL certificate comes into play. Once you visit a web page with an SSL installed, a secure connection is made between the server and your browser. This secure connection then encrypts any information submitted on the site ensuring the information is passed through privately.

Is an SSL certificate necessary?

So now you know what an SSL certificate does, let’s look at the reasons why you should have one on your website.

It establishes trust among visitors to your website

Think about how many times you may have been online and visited an unsecured website. What was your first reaction? Most people when they see an unsecured site will immediately leave. The green lock and the https:// have become a symbol of security for most web users. Not only does it show you care about the privacy of your web users, but it also shows you’ve taken the time to ensure their information remains secure – which is essential when building relationships with your customers.

Some browsers may block unsecured sites

Have you ever clicked on a link that your know you trusted but then were flashed a warning sign from your browser? Believe it or not, this is becoming more and more common among web browser providers. 

In 2018 Google began cracking down on http sites warning web developers that their site users would be shown a warning message before proceeding to the site. 

From Google: “Chrome’s new interface will help users understand that all HTTP sites are not secure, and continue to move the web towards a secure HTTPS web by default.”

To prevent this warning message Google and other browsers highly encourage web owners to switch their sites to https://.

Better Search Engine rankings

A secure site not only builds trust among users and passes information securely, but it also plays a factor in how search engines rank your site. According to Google and other search engines, SSL is part of the search engine algorithm. Say you have two sites, one with an SSL and the other without. Both sites have similar content, but the one with SSL enabled would have an advantage over the other in search engine rankings.

Just because your site doesn’t contain or pass personal information, doesn’t mean you can forget how important an SSL is to your site. This is because the search engine boost for using SSL applies to all sites, no matter the content.

So now you know! The next time you visit a website take note of whether you see a padlock next to the URL address. If you’re someone without, make them part of your website maintenance so you can protect your visitors’ data and start ranking higher.

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