Google leans on websites to adopt SSL certificates.
Here’s what you need to know to stay ahead of the curve.
What is an SSL Certificate?
An SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate is an encryption that runs between two machines. It ensures that the data is safe and secure when traveling between the web browser and server. Essentially, the certificate secures the transfer of credit card information, social security numbers, etc., to make sure sensitive data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. When a site is secure and has a certificate, the HTTP in the browser will change to an HTTPS with a green padlock icon to the left of the address.
To be clear, the SSL certificate offers protection only when the information is in en route from the browser to the server. This does not include protection when the information has arrived at either location. There are many other components to building a secure website. The SSL certificate is merely one layer in this many tiered cake (mmm, cake). We will discuss other components of site security in another post.
So, now that you have a basic understanding of what the SSL certificate does, let’s get down to…
Why Your Site Needs an SSL Certificate
1. Protect Personal and Sensitive Information
It’s an obvious place to start but it’s crucial for your site to have an SSL certificate if you deal in e-commerce or require your consumers’ personal information online. This certificate serves as an armored vehicle during the transfer of your consumers’ sensitive information between the web browser and server. An SSL certificate shows your consumers that your site is trustworthy and that your business is taking the necessary steps to protect their information.
2. Because you Love Outranking Your Competition
It is relevant to have an SSL certificate to boost your search presence even if your site doesn’t deal with sensitive information (like us at DeCort Interactive). Google has been campaigning for quite some time for a safer internet and announced in 2016 that websites who have an SSL certificate will rank over those who don’t. This ranking is soft (currently) but can mean the difference between your site coming up first in Google search instead of your competitors’ sites.
It’s important to recognize that migrating your site from HTTP to HTTPS will require thorough mapping and redirects to maintain and grow search rankings. Many companies fall short on this process and we will address a solution to this in our next post.
3. Website Search Rankings will be Penalized if you Don’t.
All shall assimilate or pay the price. It sounds like something out of Star Trek when the Borg try to take over (“Resistance is futile”). But, the reality is, we do what Google says. Starting in 2017, Google will begin to penalize a website’s search rankings if the site requires personal information and doesn’t have an SSL certificate. So, in addition to your competition ranking above you, your site will also be buried under every other site that has a certificate.
Right now, this only affects sites that require personal information, but Google is clear in stating that this is one step on the path to requiring ALL sites to have an HTTPS, regardless of the type of site. The search ranking gap will soon become wider for those that do have a certificate vs. sites that don’t.
4. Now it’s Free
That’s right. Many sites can obtain an SSL certificate for free thanks to Let’s Encrypt. Cost used to be a major deterrent in obtaining an SSL certificate, especially for companies like ours that do not deal with sensitive information. But now, thanks to the campaigning efforts by large companies like Mozilla, Chome and Facebook, Let’s Encrypt is able to offer the internet SSL certificates for free.
The success of your site really comes down to its ability to adapt. Technology is an organic industry that is in constant motion which is the inspiration behind our logo. Your site and its development team must be able to navigate the current climate and prepare for good and bad weather ahead.
SSL Certificates are beginning to become a game changer in regards to a site’s web presence. It’s imperative to protect your consumers’ information and now it’s affordable to do so. Also, as a community, we have a responsibility to support the growing trend for a safer internet. Make sure your site is ready for the future by utilizing the above tips.