What is SSL? Why Do You Need It?
What is SSL? It’s been around for years and it stands for Secure Sockets Layer.
In short, SSL creates a safe connection for sharing information online.
On the front-end/visual side of things it has the following benefits.
It gives you that little green padlock in the address bar that reassures visitors your website is safe and secure.
It also gives you that all important https: (as oppose to http:) at the front of your website address.
Both of these visuals are now widely recognised as a signal of trust by most internet users.
The other visual benefit is that search engines (namely Google at the time of writing) give sites with SSL a boost in rankings which in turn of course, means more traffic.
You used to only see this on pages of a website that contained or requested personal data input (payment pages being a prime example) but more recently there has been a push for website owners to keep their entire site secure.
Here’s a good quote from GoDaddy…
Think of an SSL certificate as a giant windshield for when you drive on the information super-highway. You wouldn’t head out on your local freeway — especially at night in a rural area — without something between you and all the bugs. You likely couldn’t see, and besides, you’ve already had your protein for breakfast. In much the same way, an SSL certificate protects your site — and its visitors — from many digital bugs, worms and other nasty web creatures.
Now before you think “It doesn’t affect me, I only have a small website” it’s worth noting that EVERY website faces hacking attempts on an almost daily basis. Hackers use sophisticated software to seek out insecure websites they may be able to penetrate.
Don’t believe me?
If you have A WordPress based website try installing a plugin like Wordfence. In less than a week you’ll see a substantial record of hacking attempts on your website.
In the interest of sticking with the ‘Plain English’ version of our frequently asked “What is SSL” article, I don’t want to bog you down with technical information. But, this is a complex topic so it does require a little in-depth attention.
First of all. There is more than one type of SSL Certificate.
FREE SSL CERTIFICATE
All of our plans come with a free (done for you) SSL certificate. They are provided by companies like “Let’s Encrypt“. For bloggers and many small business owners a FREE SSL certificate is perfectly adequate.
The 2 main differences with a Paid SSL is better liability protection and an Organisation Validation. “What the hell is that?” I hear you shout.
An Organisation Validation (OV) validates the company behind the website. It requires a more rigorous vetting process and will show your company name in the green section of the address bar.
What is SSL – The Downside…
So SSL is Easy. It can be FREE. It can help you rank in Google. It helps to gain trust with your website visitors. What’s not to like?
Well, there is one major downside with SSL. If you have an existing website on HTTP: (Not Secure) and you switch to HTTPS: then any backlinks or SEO advantage you’ve acquired to the original URL (web-page) will be lost. As far as Google is concerned it’s a new web-page.
If you were to simply switch your current site to SSL it would look like a new site to Google (and other search engines of course) but there IS a way around this. It’s called a 301 redirect.
It creates a permanent redirect to the new (HTTPS:) web-page and tells Google that your page has moved. This way any SEO love should be passed along to the new page.
Of course – If this is something you’d like us to handle for you, you’d only need ask. Just get in touch via our contact form and we’ll be happy to help.
For our tech’ savvy readers I’m aware that this doesn’t cover all aspects of SSL. That’s intentional. But if you still have questions let me know in the comments and I’ll get back to you…