Google is notorious for keeping its ranking factors a secret. This is why it was a big surprise when the company representatives revealed that websites using HTTPS encryption would get a boost when it comes to search results. With that said, HTTPS keeps websites safe on the web. There are plenty of malicious people out there who mean others harm and might take advantage of a website’s lack of an SSL 2048-bit key certificate on your site to cause harm to your site.
Now that HTTPS is the key to getting strong ranking, websites are being encouraged to get an SSL certificate and ensure that it is properly implemented. What keeps many webmasters away from SSL certificates is that the implementation of said certificates costs time and money to get it right. However, for a company that values its clients and wants to offer the most secure environment for their customers, this should not be an issue and is supposed to be viewed not as an expense but a necessary step in improving the general user experience on the site.
What is SSL?
For the ones that are not techies, SSL means Secure Socket Layer. This is encryption used between a user’s browser and the web server. SSL is necessary for websites today as it is usually the only thing standing between valuable client data obtained from checkout pages or registration forms and malicious hackers looking to steal that information for their own needs. SSL works on the principle of public and private keys which are used to scramble and decrypt data being exchanged between the two parties.
Why should I switch to HTTPS?
Switching to HTTPS is beneficial not only in the security aspect but also has several benefits in regards to SEO. Some of these advantages include:
- More referrer data
Whenever there is traffic movement from a secure website using HTTPS to a site that’s not using https, the referral data is removed. In your analytics report, this traffic is usually marked as “Direct”. This becomes a challenge because you have no idea where the traffic is originating from.
The good news is that the answer to this problem is quite simple. When there is traffic exchange to a site using HTTPS, the referral data remains intact regardless of its origin.
- More privacy and security
Many people think that websites using SSL certificates are for the vast commerce related sites. This cannot be further from the truth. Every website can benefit from having an HTTPS / SSL encryption. HTTPS beefs up security on a site in the following ways:
HTTPS makes sure that the website communicating with the server is authentic and is the correct one to be communicating with.
Many hackers employ the man-in-the-middle attack when trying to intercept data from a browser to the server. HTTPS prevents this by scrambling data in transit which makes the website more secure for clients who would want to share sensitive data such as credit card information with you.
By encrypting all communications, critical data doesn’t fall into the wrong hand. This data includes browsing history, payment information, and even personal information.
Factors to consider when getting an SSL certificate
On a business website, trust and reliability are key to success. This means that if an e-commerce website has an SSL certificate, the visitors on the website tend to trust you, which can mean more conversions for you. However, it’s important to note that there are different types of SSL certificates and there are a few things that need consideration before choosing one.
Getting a trusted certificate
Many entities are purporting to be legitimate certificate authorities out there. As such, you should be very careful to purchase an SSL certificate from certified authorities. Without official certificates, websites are left vulnerable to attack. These bodies are associated with legal regulations and as such want to verify that the website can be trusted. When it comes to trusted Certificate Authorities, i.e. (CA), there are a few vendors that are trusted on a global scale. Some of the vendors include GeoTrust, Symantec, Comodo, RapidSSL, and Thawte.
Decide on the certificate that’s best for you
Here, you get to decide which type of SSL certificate is best for you and the needs you have. There are different certificates for different users.
- Single Domain SSL certificate: This is one of the most popular licenses. It provides authentication and encryption for a single domain
- Wildcard SSL certificate: This type of SSL certificate gives users the freedom to secure sub-domains without limitation on the number of sub-domains
- Multi Domain SSL certificate: This gives users permission to secure several Fully Qualified Domain Names (FQDN) with just one certificate
Once you have migrated to HTTPS, you need to test and retest your website to make sure that everything is working as it’s supposed to. This also ensures that you do not get some errors that would scare off potential visitors from your website. When proper testing is completed, only then can you make steps to index the pages properly on search engines.
So, which type of certificate is right for your needs?
The first and most important thing to take note of at this point is that all SSL certificates supply the same level of encryption. With that said, what you are choosing here is authentication – the extent of which the certificate verifies your identity. Therefore, when it comes to a non-e-commerce businesses websites and those that don’t collect personal information, domain validation (DV) which is the lowest level of authentication should do just fine.
When it comes to websites that need to inspire confidence in their visitors such as medical organizations, e-commerce business, financial institutions, etc., you will need to get a business authentication. With business authentication, you can either choose Organization Validation or the Extended Validation. In Organization Validation, the validation process includes just a simple business vetting. For Extended Validation, there is more intensive authentication which also activates the green address bar that displays the company name and the location of the company next to the URL.
Validation certificates to boost conversions
The world has moved to online shopping as the preferred means of shopping. This is because of the convenience and ease one has when buying online. But since everyone is selling something online these days, how can you differentiate yourself from the crowd? The answer is an Extended Validation SSL Certificate.
As stated above, this is the best type of SSL certificate available when it comes to online businesses and websites that collect personal information. Since EV SSL is so comprehensive in full authentication of a website, it is known to inspire confidence in customers and therefore increase conversions. For a website to obtain an EV SSL certificate there is information that must be disclosed such as;
- Authentication of the organization
- A physical address
- Proof of operational existence
- Verification of the telephone number provided
- Domain authentication.
The requirement might seem a bit much but always remember that they are doing all of this or you. Once you have the certificate, it’s as if you’re announcing to the world that your business is legitimate and that the users can trust you.
Benefits of having an Extended Validation SSL Certificate
The benefits that EV SSL certificates bring to the table are definitely undeniable. A recent study performed by Tec-Ed showed;
- A whopping 100% of people who participated in the study did notice whether or not a website had the green EV bar.
- A staggering 97% of the survey participants were ready to share personal information such as credit card data on a website with a green EV bar as compared to 63% who shared the same response with non-EV websites.
- A staggering 93% of participants said they were more disposed to shopping on a website with the EV bar than that without.
- 77% of the people said they would be hesitant to shop on a site that previously had the green EV bar and suddenly didn’t have it any more.
The world has definitely changed a lot when it comes to the internet and how people are in regards to their security online. With billions of websites all over the world serving billions of people all over and collecting information in various forms, having adequate security measures in place is critical for a successful digital strategy. To inspire trust and confidence in the content or products you offer online, your visitors need to feel safe and protected. In an environment where trust is as valuable as gold, it might mean the difference between success and failure if your potential clients feel safe while on your website.
SSL certificates might not be free as many people hope for many products on the internet. It will cost you money and time to implement properly. This however should not be viewed as a loss but as an investment in your business. This investment when properly implemented will see you rank better on search engines, be more trusted and in turn make more money.