If you’re like almost 90% of North Americans, then you use the Internet. Whether for browsing, shopping, banking, or selling, there’s probably been a moment when you’ve been concerned about or had issues with Internet security. From nasty viruses to browser hijackers and horror stories about bank account details being stolen and used… many people think twice before parting with their hard earned cash online.
But while most consumers have come to trust in the larger corporations and well-known names; what about small and medium-sized sites that are new to them?
What is SSL?
Internet security is a serious issue, consumers and corporations need to know that their sensitive data, such as credit card details, social security numbers, login credentials and Protected Health Information, is transmitted securely.
Without SSL technology, data sent between servers and browsers is in plain text, which leaves it vulnerable to being intercepted and misused. Sites that rely on SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) technology are working towards keeping the Internet a safer place by creating an encrypted connection between their company’s web server and their customers’ web browsers.
This allows for private information to be transmitted without running the risk of being tampered with, intercepted, or forged. All companies that manage online transactions or need to adhere to governmental regulations, such as HIPAA compliance, should make use of this encrypted technology to protect private electronic information.
What is an SSL Certificate?
There are varying types of SSL certificates, designed to suit the different needs and budgets of online businesses. Essentially though, SSL certificates are small data files that bind a cryptographic key to your company’s details. What does that mean for you? That when your SSL certificate is installed on the server, it will activate the familiar padlock and https protocol that allows for secure connections.
How to Install an SSL Certificate
You can purchase an SSL certificate from a reliable online vendor, including GoDaddy and FatCow, and they will guide you through the process of generating a CSR (Certificate Signing Request) on your web server. Do make sure that you purchase your certificate from a trusted vendor and make full use of their expertise in installing your certificate.
Different Types of SSL Certificates
Your programmer or SEO specialist will know the right kind of certificate for your business based on the kind of information you deal with and your budget, but they are generally grouped into three categories:
- Dedicated SSL – This is the most common way of setting up an SSL certificate and also the most secure. Which means that it comes with a higher price. But when your https connection is verified for your root domain only and applies to your server only, this will give an extra boost to customers concerned about security, such as health care providers or law firms.
- Shared SSL – If you’re working with a lower budget and just dipping your toe into SSL, then a good option for your company would be a shared SSL set up. As it sounds, there will be multiple domains sharing the same secure connection.
- Wildcard SSL – This is similar to both the dedicated and the shared SSL options, however a Wildcard SSL set up is really best for companies with multiple subdomains. So, if you have several different sites that you want to secure, be sure to ask about this option.
Advantages of SSL
As no business would be in business without its customers, the main obvious advantage of installing SSL technology in your site is for their additional peace of mind and confidence to carry out transactions online.
Keeping their sensitive data secure at all times is a legal obligation of many companies and a moral one for others. Ensuring that all your communications are encrypted so that only the intended party can understand them will reduce your liability and encourage more sales for your ecommerce site.
There are many fraudsters out there, especially on the Internet. That’s just a fact of life. And with constant news of so many different types of Internet scams, sometimes it’s hard for consumers to know which sites they can trust and which ones are dubious.
The great thing about using SSL, is that trusted SSL providers have strict protocol in place and will only issue an SSL certificate to a company after it has been verified and passed through several identity checks.
Because you’ve worked hard over the years to gain a reputation synonymous with professionalism and trust, using SSL technology is just one more way of letting your customers know how seriously you take their private information.
It’s also a great way of instantly assuring any prospects that your company is serious; all they need to do is take one look at the green bar on the left hand side of the navigation bar to immediately know that your site is safe, authentic and approved.
Yes that obnoxious anacronym once again. Google has many ranking factors when it comes to SEO and how good your SERP will be. So if you studied SEO 101 and you’re already using your keywords, building up links and key alliances, improving your online content and speeding up your site, then what else can you do to increase your Google ranking? Get an SSL certificate installed. Why?
HTTPS Boosts Search Rankings
Google is rewarding sites that are making the effort to get secure by boosting their search rankings. Of course, this is just one out of over 200 factors in Google’s infamous algorithm, but if you’re looking to boost your visibility and your security, now you have another reason to get SSL.
Improved Referral Data
Currently, when traffic from a https site is directed to simple http sites, the referrer’s data is lost and the traffic is classified as direct. However, when https refers to https, the information is transparent, giving you a better idea on where your referral traffic comes from and how to adjust your marketing strategies accordingly.
Of course, getting SSL certified should be a part of your overall online strategy and if you’re just starting up, or you’re a small blog, or don’t handle payment information, then getting SSL may be more of a nice to have, than a need to have. But if you work with sensitive data, a shopping cart, or want to take advantage of the boost in rankings, then your company needs SSL technology now.
Image credit: jhphotos