What is SSL
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is a protocol which “allows applications to communicate in a securely across a network, preventing tampering with and eavesdropping, on emails, web browsing, messaging and other protocols.” (MDN)
Once upon a time, these certificates were extremely expensive and remained out of reach for most people. Only internet giants such as Amazon and Twitter. Not too long ago, an SSL certificate cost several thousands of pounds. Most businesses didn’t have that kind of money to splash out on such a luxury.
Over time, the price has not only declined significantly but has all but disappeared (most hosts now provide them for free). They have now a staple for any websites and are essential for ranking and e-commerce. People are much savvier when shopping online, and look for the lock and green writing to ensure the site is reputable before opening up their virtual pocketbooks.
How it works
First, the person connecting to a website is known as the client. The client’s computer will attempt to connect to a website hosted on a web server secured with an SSL certificate. The client’s browser will request that the web server identify itself. If the browser trusts the SSL provided it will send a message to the web server.
Then, the web server sends back a digitally signed acknowledgment to start an SSL encrypted session. After that acknowledgment, the client’s browser and the web server will send encrypted information to each other.
Do You Need One?
In January 2017, Google marked all websites that collect any information from visitors without SSL insecure. If your business is an eCommerce site or collects ANY kind of information from your users, you absolutely MUST have an SSL certificate. Even if your website doesn’t fit into these categories I would recommend you get one. It makes your site look more reputable and can even help your rankings in the search engines. In 2014 Google confirmed their search algorithm prefers HTTPS sites over HTTP. In a blog post on August 6, 2014 Google stated, “we’re also working to make the Internet safer more broadly. A big part of that is making sure that websites people access from Google are secure.”
So, bottom line, yes yes yes…get an SSL certificate for your website.
How Do You Get One?
The easiest way to get an SSL certificate for your website is to contact your Web Hosting Company. In most cases the certificates are free, and if you ask really nicely (not really, they will probably do it anyway) to activate it for you. That’s pretty much all you need to do.
SSL certificates make HTTP sites HTTPS. This means they are encrypted by both your server and your visitor’s browser. This makes it much more difficult for those with malicious intent to steal information broadcasted through a server/client network, such as card details.
Search engines are phasing out the outdated HTTP protocol for the more secure HTTPS protocols. This makes the internet safer for everyone. A cause Search Engine Giant, Google, strongly believes in. This also means that it will be harder to rank without an SSL certificate on your website.
They are free in most cases and if you are hosted with a reputable company, they can sort out everything for you.