What’s the point of having an SSL certificate?

Security is a crucial part of website success. Very few people want to go onto a website if they know there is a good chance their information will be compromised or stolen. One of the easiest and most effective ways to keep your site safe is to have an SSL certificate. If you’re not familiar with these certificates or how they work, don’t worry! They are fairly simple to obtain, and there’s very little work needed on your end. Here’s an overview of what an SSL certificate is, how they work, and why you should invest in one.

What is an SSL certificate?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. This is a digital certificate that gives websites an encrypted protective link that leads between a web browser and a web server. This means people visiting your website have the benefit of knowing their connection is safe and secure. When this connection is encrypted, it prevents others from accessing the information that goes to and from the web browser and server. Any personal information is safely stored and is unreadable to hackers or malware attacks. 

SSL certificates are especially important for online shopping, or any situation where users need to provide personal information. However, every website benefits from having this extra protection, no matter what the site’s purpose is. You’ll know a site is SSL certified if it has a padlock beside its URL in the address bar. SSL certificates also have an HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) protocol as opposed to the standard HTTP. 

How does it work?

SSL certificates mix up any data flowing from websites and users, scrambling letters or numbers so hackers can’t see the real information. The process is commonly called an SSL handshake. This graphic from Entrust shows how the process works. 

As you can see, a user’s web browser will try to connect to the server, and will request its SSL certificate. Once it approves it, the browser acknowledges this to the server and the server can begin showing encrypted content to the user. If you click on any website’s padlock, it will show certain information such as the validity of the SSL certificate and any cookies that are in use. This process all happens super fast, allowing a website to load within a couple seconds. 

How much does it cost?

With Atom, security is always top of mind and is fully integrated into how your website operates. With that in mind, all Atom hosting plans include a free SSL certificate. This means your site is automatically HTTPS-protected, increasing your trust and authority from the get-go. On other platforms, you can get a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt, or buy one from any of the main domain registrars. Expect to pay $10 to $100 a year for these paid options.

What are the benefits?

There are tons of benefits to having an SSL certificate, and therefore an HTTPS protocol. These are some of the top reasons to invest in this certificate.

Increased security

Most obviously, SSL certificates make your site safer for everyone. All data on your site is encrypted and all customer information is safe, giving them peace of mind their browsing session is secure. Even if your site is attacked and data is stolen, it will be scrambled to the point where it’s useless and unreadable to hackers. Since your site has the padlock showing it’s the real secure site, this also helps customers avoid potential phishing sites that try to look like legitimate sites. 

Better for business

Of course, internet users value their security, especially when transactions or personal details are involved. By having an SSL certificate, you’re building trust and authority with your brand, which is way better for your business. You may have come across a non-SSL-certified website before. If you tried to enter it, you were likely met with a big warning sign from Google telling you the site and connection isn’t secure. This is enough to drive most people away, and it’s definitely not going to help you increase traffic to your site.

Better search ranking

Having an HTTPS protocol is part of Google’s algorithm to determine their search results rankings, meaning websites with an SSL certificate are likely to rank higher than those without. Since Google wants to display the best sites first, it prioritizes those with established authority and trust. Getting an SSL certificate is one of the easiest ways to increase your ranking. A better ranking obviously leads to more site traffic and revenue. 

Investing in an SSL certificate is a simple way to improve your site’s security and performance, and increase trust in your brand all at once. Whenever you’re ready to make the most out of your site, we’re here to guide you. If you’re looking to improve your website’s speed, security, and reliability, Atom is here to help. Get in touch with us here!