How do SSL Certificates Work & Why Do I Need One?First thing’s first: what are SSL Certificates?

SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, protects sensitive information transmitted over the internet. It’s essentially a maximum security certificate for your website to help protect it from being hacked.

An SSL Certificate is a computer file that encrypts your website for added protection and enables secure connections to a web browser. For end users, it’s as simple as the difference between “https://” with a comforting green secure padlock next to it and “http://” with no reassuring security padlock.

How do SSL Certificates Work?

There are different types of SSL Certificates for different types of organizations. A Certificate Authority, or CA, issues the SSL Certificate and performs various levels of security checks depending on the SSL Certificate you use. (Are you tired of the word Certificate? Cause it ain’t over yet.)

So, it seems convoluted, I know, because it is…

…and if you confuse easily or don’t care about the hairy details just skip this next bit and mosey right on down to “Why Use SSL Certificates?”…

…but basically when an organization is given an SSL Certificate, it’s obtained from a Root Certificate held by the Certificate Authority. End users must have the same Root Certificate on their computers for the issued SSL Certificate to function properly. How do they get onto their computer, you ask? Operating system and browser vendors work directly with Certificate Authorities to make sure these Root Certificates are embedded into all necessary software.

Why Use SSL Certificates?

Having an SSL Certificate on your website has a dual advantage:

  1. It communicates to site visitors that information transmitted over the Internet via the website is confidential and secure.
  2. It tells users, customers, prospects, whoever’s going to your site, that you’re legit and you’re working with other legit organizations to maintain your website security. (HostingAdvice.com)

What happens to my website if it needs an SSL Certificate but doesn’t have one?

Bad things. Very bad things. (No, not the movie…that would be REALLY bad.)

Two, specifically:

1. Visitors are warned about entering your site.

The first thing that happens is visitors are met with a warning message about your website’s security:

SSL Certificate Error Messages

91% of people browsing the web have seen this message at one time or another. 40% of those users think someone’s trying to steal their information (SSLShopper.com). It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this likely has to do with the use of the words, “Attackers might be trying to steal your information,” and “Back to safety.”

Yeah, not good.

People can still access your site by clicking “Advanced,” but that’s not clear at this point. And even when visitors click it, they’ll see this:

SSL Certificate Message Advanced

Notice the word “unsafe” next to the option that allows you to continue to the website. Quite unsettling.

2. Google Chrome will stop serving your website.

Google says you have to have an SSL Certificate on your website. And c’mon, what Google says goes, am I right? If you don’t, Google’s web browser, Chrome, will stop serving your website when people go to search for you or your content, products or services online.

That’s a healthy double-dose of “not good.”

What do if I don’t have an SSL Certificate, or it expires?

If you’re a MayeCreate Design client, give us a call and we’ll get things squared away for you. If not, reach out to your web developer and they should take care of it for you.

The Importance of SSL Certificates

All in all it’s clear the main purpose of SSL Certificates is to protect your website and any sensitive data transmitted to and from your site, like credit card, username and password information, identity specifics and more.

This protection creates a few extremely beneficial by-products, too:

  1. When visitors to your website see your site is secure, it builds and enhances their trust in your company.
  2. Because of this trust, your conversion rate on your website goes up.
  3. SSL Certificates increases Google Rankings because Google considers your website not only legit, but SAFE.

As convoluted as SSL Certificates can be, securing sensitive information on the Internet is an easy concept for people to wrap their brains around. They’re just smart to have, and hey, having a secure website is one less thing on your list of concerns for running and growing your business, right?

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