The Importance of a SSL Certificate

Security is a top concern today for both consumers and businesses. It’s also a priority for Google, so much so that sites without HTTPS will be less visible on search engine results pages because Google will identify them as not being secure. What makes a site secure in the eyes of Google is an SSL certificate. Websites that have this certificate will be designed as HTTPS (hypertext transfer protocol secure). Here’s what you need to know about SSL certificates.

What Is SSL?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a data file that digitally encrypts information sent from a Web server to a browser. The purpose of this technology is to ensure that transmitted data is only viewable by the browser that it’s going to by making it unreadable if another source tries to access it. SSL is normally used to provide added security for transactions involving:

• Credit card information
• Social security numbers and other personal information
• Login information
• Securing browsing on social media platforms

What Is an SSL Certificate?

An SSL certificate is what needs to be installed on your website to make it secure. Once the certificate is installed, all website traffic will be coming to a site where data is protected. Your certificate will include a public key and a private key. Installation involves three basic steps:

• Obtaining the certificate: Find a trusted certification authority (CA) and decide which type of SSL certificate you prefer: single domain certificate, wildcard certificate, multi-domain certificate, or extended validation (EV) certificate.

• Activate and install the certificate: If you get the certificate from a Web host, they will handle activation. An administrator can active it with Web Host Manager (WHM) in the dashboard. You’ll also need to fill out the certificate signing request (CSR) and enter your domain name after generating your private key.

• Update your website: Finally, you’ll need to update your website from HTTP to HTTPS to show that you have a certificate.

How Do You Get a Certificate?

In order to obtain an SSL certificate, you’ll need to provide details about your business to a CA that issues SSL certificates. Do an online search and you’ll come across lists of trusted CA root certificate providers, like this oneavailable from Apple. Also with a certificate, you’ll have to decide when you want to activate SSL on your server. Information associated with the certificate includes:

• Type of certificate
• SHA fingerprints (e.g., certificate signature algorithm and value)
• Issue date and expiration date

How Does It Work?

When a certificate is installed, a searcher will make a secure connection on your website. The browser will get the IP address from a computer’s server to request a secure connection. The browser will request a copy of the SSL certificate from the server. The browser will verify that it’s valid, from a trusted CA, and in line with standard security requirements.

The public key is what is known to the server. It’s what’s used to encrypt data. The only way the transferred data can be decrypted is with the private key that the certificate’s owner has. If someone intercepts the data being sent before it gets to the intended recipient, all that will be see is unreadable cryptographic code.

Why Does SSL Certification Matter?

If you have a website that requires visitors to enter contact information, email addresses, and credit card information, an SSL certificate can provide an added incentive to provide such details. Ultimately, this can boost your online marketing results and lead to more traffic and conversions. Companies with SSL certificates often enjoy the following benefits:

• Secure website data that’s less likely to be compromised
• Better Google rankings and increased online visibility
• Increased customer trust

Searchers will know your server has an SSL certificate when they see HTTPS instead of HTTP in their address bar when they visit your website. They’ll also see a green padlock icon. If you opt for an EV certificate, the address bar will include the name of your business, the name of CA that issued your certificate, and a security indicator.

Security is just one element of what makes a website appealing to searchers. An effective website is also one that’s properly optimized for search engines and designed with the user experience in mind. For assistance with the finer points of web design, SEO, and online marketing, turn to the team at Create Web Studios for solutions specific to your needs. Contact us today to learn more about our services.