Up until about a year ago, having a secure socket layer, or what’s commonly referred to as an SSL certificate, was only considered essential for websites set up for taking highly sensitive and personal information like credit cards. If you had a website with a retail component, it was critical that you carried extra security on your site.
In 2018, Google changed this by announcing that any website without an SSL certificate would, essentially, be penalized. Anyone who visits a website without the certificate would get a “not secure” message before the site opens and in the URL. The warning would likely make people leave the unsecure site and instead visit sites that are secure. Thus, making the unsecured site lose traffic which in turn would affect its ranking on the search engine.
Google doesn’t make big announcements often, so when the world’s leading search engine made it clear that SSL certificates would be required on all sites, it made every web developer, ad agency and digital marketing company in Cincinnati and beyond take notice. But Google isn’t the only reason to have a secure website.
Here’s three more reasons having an SSL certificate on your site is just plain good business.
First: It builds customer confidence
Every day, customers and clients all across Cincinnati are entering in passwords, filling out forms with pertinent information like their address and phone number, and paying for items online using their credit card. It’s normal for them (and for anyone) to be concerned their information may be shared or stolen.
If your site is secured, they’ll know it by the URL and web browser. A secured URL is an HTTPS site, and an unsecured site is merely an HTTP. That’s the first giveaway about the site’s security. But other cues include a green icon bar and a lock symbol that indicates the site is secured. And if it is, it’s a website customers know they can trust.
Second: SSL sites are authentic sites
Why does this matter? Because a secured site has been verified and authenticated, which means that when someone sends personal information to your website, they can be assured knowing that it isn’t instead going to a server that will steal the information and use it illegally.
Third: It’s an absolute necessity for online payments
Now when you apply for an SSL certificate, you’ll have to pass audits to prove that your website follows the Payment Card Industry standards. This is critical if you’re taking online payments. In fact, without an SSL certificate, you can’t.
How you can get an SSL certificate for your website
The good news for businesses who need an SSL certificate is that there are plenty of verified, trusted SSL certificate providers out there. If you host your site on Go Daddy or Host Gator, for example, you can purchase a certificate through them. For an extra fee, or depending on the package you have with the host, they may be able to install it as well (otherwise it’s best to work with a web developer).
Don’t be surprised, however, if the SSL provider asks you for a significant amount of information about your business and website to verify it. It may take a few weeks at the most to get your site approved but those identity checks are worth it and the reason your customers can trust to share their information.
Making your site secured isn’t the difficult
While it may take a few steps to secure your site, it’s important to do so. The SSL certificate is one of the easiest ways to stay in Google’s good graces (certainly easier and faster than making your site mobile responsive – another Google must).
Many sites are still not secure, but when they are – and if yours isn’t – you’ll see a significant drop in your search engine ranking and your organic traffic (and Google Ads traffic) will plummet.
Remember: always work with a verified SSL certificate provider, and if you need help installing the certificate, work with a web developer with experience adding the certificate to your site. Not all developers do this, so it’s important to ask.
Today, all Cincinnati businesses – no matter if it’s a doctor’s office or a bicycle repair shop – must have a secured website. Basically, if your website is important to the success of your business, you need an SSL certificate.