Your SSL Certificate
Look at the top of this page. In the address bar, you’ll see “HTTPS”—that “S” signifies that we have a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, meaning your connection is secure. You should see one on any site that asks for personal data, especially payment information. Actually, these days, you should see one everywhere.
SSL certificates are important, especially if you’re running your own website. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got a small blog or a full e-commerce site: you need an SSL certificate.
Here are 5 practical reasons why...
1. Protection Against Hackers
HTTP is the text protocol which sends information between your device and the website you’re visiting. HTTPS is the secure version of this. It encrypts information between the two, so anything sent between the pair is scrambled, rendering it virtually unreadable.
This is essential if you’re inputting sensitive details like your password, or credit card info. But equally, it protects you from man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks: this is when a third party (i.e. a hacker) is intercepting transmissions between two clients.
You might not consider this a major issue. However, without encryption, a cybercriminal can display a fake webpage. Links on this false site could download something malicious onto your computer, like malware.
Your readers will receive the messages you intend them to read if you install an SSL certificate.
2. You’re More Trustworthy to Users
It should go without saying that readers trust a secure site more than one which can be harmful to their device. Hopefully, you always check whether a site is safe by checking the URL, particularly ecommerce pages. Some users will even employ a virtual private network (VPN) to make sure a good level of security is maintained.
Some years ago, relatively few people knew about SSL certificates. Now, many more recognize the need for such security. We can probably thank Google for the increase in awareness.
With a certificate, you’re sending out a message to your readers and customers, proving to them that you take them seriously. You take their privacy seriously. And by doing so, you’re instilling confidence.
Without an SSL certificate, you’re waving a red flag to your readers, which may put them off future visits.
3. Chrome Displays Your Site Properly
While it’s not a fabric flag, it is a warning displayed by Google Chrome. Any readers trying to visit a site which doesn’t have an SSL certificate will instead see a page alerting them that the connection isn’t private.
Bear in mind that Google Chrome is the most popular mainstream browser. People like its interface and love that its largely very secure. For much of its life, Chrome has loaded encrypted pages with a padlock and green “Secure” message displayed.
In 2018, Google switched its stance on the issue. Instead of viewing HTTP as the standard model for sites, Chrome will expect HTTPS as default and only show non-secure sites reluctantly, i.e. after warning users it’s not safe.
4. Improved Search Engine Rankings
We’ve established that Chrome won’t like your site without SSL; Google, as the search engine, won’t either.
Many rely on search engine optimisation (SEO) to achieve a higher ranking on Google. But search for anything, and the chances are the vast majority of results on the first page will have HTTPS addresses. Ask any SEO experts, and they’ll tell you that it’s vital for sites to be on the first two pages of results. Comparatively few look beyond that.
Anything (legal) you can do to stay ahead of the competition—particularly by prioritising security—is crucial.
With an SSL Certificate, not only will readers trust you more, but search engines will too. This results in more readers, and the more popular your blog becomes, the higher it’ll rank on Google! It’s a win-win.
5. Improved Site Speed
Your site ranking is also partially determined by site speed. The faster your website, the more people will visit, and the higher you’ll appear in search results.
So it’s a good thing that shifting to HTTPS also improves the loading speed of pages—despite what you’ve heard. It’s a myth that adding an SSL certificate slows everything down. In fact, there’s a whole site dedicated to demonstrating how much faster HTTPS is, compared to HTTP.
Except that’s not the whole truth. The margin between HTTP and HTTPS is slight, but the latter is often, in reality, a relatively-new protocol called HTTP/2. And HTTP/2 really is faster than HTTP and standard HTTPS.
You’ll benefit from increased performance, and so will your audience. Users are more likely to return if they know everything loads in quick time.
At Lemo, we purchase and implement an SSL Certificate for all of our clients websites as standard.