SSL certificate for SEO, traffic, and trust
An SSL certificate installed on your website provides security and authentication. Improve SEO plus earn customer trust, traffic, and repeat business by installing SSL protection.
What is an SSL certificate?
You may have wondered why some websites begin with http:// and others use https://. The “s” reflects the SSL certificate and business validation on that website. SSL (secure sockets layer) is a method of encrypting data that is passed between your website and the server, scrambling the information so that only the intended recipient can properly view it.
An easy way to tell if a website is safely secured with SSL protection is by looking for the little green lock beside their URL in the address bar. There are different levels of SSL security and so some address bars will even include a green highlight. These more advanced levels of SSL are often higher priced and require more extensive business validation in order to qualify for them.
SSL certificate benefits
An SSL certificate is not mandatory for owning and operating a website. However, recent Google updates and reports are suggesting that having one will soon become the standard practice. For businesses, you may lose traffic or repeat customers by not including this extra level of protection. Here are two important reasons why:
Google ranking and SEO
Google has announced that they are taking further measures to alert users of untrusted and insecure websites. Alerts are displayed as an exclamation point, red lock, or as shown in this red page example from Google. They are also giving search engine ranking priority to websites that comply with a valid SSL certificate. SEO points are always a nice bonus!
Accept payments and personal information securely
If you operate an e-commerce site and accept credit card information, an SSL certificate is strongly recommended for a safe user experience. If you are using a third party payment plan to collect this data (such as PayPal), that service will offer the SSL security in the transaction. However, if you have any online forms or user login areas (including WordPress login areas and Membership sites), consider adding SSL protection.
Buying and installing an SSL certificate
As mentioned, there are a number of levels of SSL security and a ton of purchasing options to consider. To get the SSL certificate for Fetching Finn, we went directly through our hosting service, GoDaddy, where basic SSL certificates are less than $100 per year. We wanted a solution that was reputable, compatible with our server, and offered easy installation with good customer support.
There are initial steps to submit your business details for review in order to receive the certification. Depending on the certificate, this can take a few minutes to a few days. After that, the installation process will vary depending on your server and the SSL certificate you selected. Through GoDaddy, the set up is easily completed via the C-Panel.
Once installed, some manual work will be required to troubleshoot any errors and places where the http:// URL is still being referenced (calling images, for example). There are plugins that can assist with this, but you may find that your WordPress theme design could still require some manual coding in order to see that little green lock of success!
New URL? No, way! (big misconception)
One common worry is that switching to an SSL certificate will lose all traffic where your http:// URL is listed. As you can see by clicking or typing in http://fetchingfinn.com, that is not the case. Traffic going to your non-SSL address will still get to your domain name. We set Fetching Finn to always show the secured version, so you’ll see the URL flip to https://fetchingfinn.com once you arrive at the site. But the important answer is NO, you will not lose visitors.