Posted On Wednesday, 16 October 2019
Author: David Armitage (Technical Director)
The use of SSL for websites has been a subject of debate in recent years. Website owners have been asking questions such as “How will an SSL certificate affect my site?” and “Do all websites really need an SSL certificate?”.
In February 2018, Google declared that it will be flagging websites which do not have an SSL certificate in Chrome. With the July 2018 deadline looming, the simple answer is yes. Your website needs SSL.
The SSL acronym stands for “secure sockets layer”. It is a standard security technology which ensures that information transmitted between a web server (where your site is hosted) and a browser (what your customers use to view your site) is encrypted. In order to create that secure connection, a website needs to have an SSL certificate, which you can purchase from your web host provider.
A website without SSL has a URL starting with HTTP. A secure website will display HTTPS. Given Google’s initiative, if your website has HTTP pages, the search engine will be marking them as “unsecure”.
Inherently, SSL is about ensuring security. By implementing this standard, you are are adding a layer of security to all the data transmitted to and from your website. Whenever a customer visits your site, their data is then kept safe. In the same way, any information that you transmit is secure.
No one can argue against the importance of encryption technology. However, the underlying technology on its own doesn’t mean much to your customers. What matters more is what an SSL certificate stands for -- it conveys the message that you care about your customers’ data and that their privacy matters to you.
An SSL certificate is especially important for websites that collect customers’ personal information such as names, addresses, bank accounts, and credit cards.
E-commerce websites need an SSL certificate more than any other sites. When customers see that the website has an SSL certificate, they are likely to feel more confident about making a purchase. It is a signal that they can trust the website.
In the same way, recruitment websites and sites offering job services benefit from SSL. Applicants and employers will have assurance that their data is safe when SSL is implemented.
Circling back to Google and its call for websites to use SSL encryption, following the search engine’s missive is essential to your SEO efforts. To increase organic reach, your website has to rank well in search engine results pages (SERPs). As much as possible, you want your website to be listed on the first page of SERPs for your target keywords. This will be highly unlikely if you don’t use SSL. Not only will Google explicitly mark your site -- publicly -- as “unsecure”, it will also flag your site on the backend. With that goes your chances of being discovered by people searching for websites in your niche.
An SSL certificate will boost your customers’ trust, increasing engagement and conversions. It will also contribute to your search engine ranking, increasing traffic to your website. If you want your business to flourish, acquiring an SSL certificate is necessary.