Before we get in to the ‘Why?’ it’s worth quickly explaining ‘What’ an SSL certificate is….
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a security technology that encrypts data sent between a computer (or mobile device) and a website. Without SSL any data sent from your computer to a website and back again could potentially be picked up and read by someone. To make this a bit easier to understand, imagine one of those old 1970’s spy movies where someone is at the top of a telegraph pole pretending to be a phone engineer but really they are listening in to a telephone conversation.
SSL will make the digital data being sent between your website and a computer impossible for someone to intercept and understand.
In order for your site to run SSL technology you need to switch your site to https, purchase an SSL certificate and install it (don’t worry, we can do this for you). When a website is using an SSL certificate the full address will change from http://www.yoursite.com to https://www.yoursite.com. The additional ’S’ indicates your website is running on a ‘Secure’ connection.
Let’s get back to the ‘Why?’
Until recently, the need for securing a site via SSL was pretty much reserved for websites selling products or requesting personal information such as names and addresses, but changes from Google and new web technology will soon make SSL a necessity for all websites.
Web users are becoming much more aware of online security (such as looking for the green padlock symbol that indicates a secure site) and they are much more likely to trust a site that is secure over a site that isn’t secure. Aside from this obvious reason there are three (not so obvious) reasons why your site needs an SSL Certificate…
- Last year Google announced that it was introducing changes to their search engine that would rank secure sites higher than non-secure websites. Initially the effects of these changes were relatively small but all studies released this year show that sites switching from http (non-secure) to https (secure) are more likely to perform better in search engines than sites that haven’t switched.
- If you use the Google Chrome web browser then you may have seen a warning appear when you try to view a website that has switched to https but doesn’t have a valid SSL certificate. The result of this warning is that a potential site visitor will most likely disappear to another site rather that ignoring Google’s warning. Early next year Google plans to issue warnings for all sites that aren’t secure regardless of whether they have switched to https or not. It is unlikely that the warning will be as strong as ‘Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here’ but any warning from Google stating that your site is not secure is likely to have a negative effect on your site visitor numbers and ultimately your business.
- The World Wide Web is 25-years old and for the whole of this time websites have been delivered to us over the internet using a protocol called HTTP. This has served us very well to date but with the recent demand for an ever faster internet this old protocol is under pressure. Herald a new age of the faster web! A new protocol called HTTP/2 is already live and supported by most web browsers allowing websites to load much quicker. We aren’t going to get all geeky on you explaining the technical differences between HTTP and HTTP/2 but we will highlight one important technical factor = HTTP/2 is only available to websites secured via https with a valid SSL certificate.
Security is likely to become the biggest consideration for anyone using the web in the near future and for this reason we are advising that now is the time to secure your website.