What is SSL and Why Do I Need It?

Close up of an green lock and https on browser address bar.Whether you’re looking to upgrade a current website or get a new one built, you’ve probably heard the term SSL come up. Often, this is in conjunction with warnings about security, search engine ranking, and even getting blocked by web browsers. Today we get to the bottom of SSL with a short explanation of what it is, why it’s important, and why you need it.

What is SSL?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is the gold standard for establishing an encrypted link between your website and a user. All data transferred in this connection remains private by generating cryptographic keys (a public key to verify identity, and a private key for the actual data transfer) for both the website’s server and user. To create this SSL connection, a website must have an SSL Certificate, which is issued by a Certificate Authority, which acts as a certifier that your SSL is valid. This whole process is automatic: the only thing a user will see is the green lock on their address bar.

How SSL Requirements Have Changed

SSLs started back in the mid-nineties as the need for secure transfer of data (such as financial information and sensitive data) started to rise. Generally speaking, this is where it saw first use, where people purchased items online or transferred other forms of private data. Now, most major websites have an SSL so customers can make purchases or submit private data securely.

How Your Browser and Google is Making It Mandatory

Recently, you might have started to see warnings on your browser, depending on which you use. This might come in the form of a pop-up asking you to make sure you want to proceed to a website, a simple “Not Secure,” or red lock next to your address bar. Likewise, Google uses SSL as a “ranking signal,” meaning it factors into where you appear in search results.

Should You Get an SSL Certificate?

We tell our clients that yes, they should get an SSL certificate. Search engine and browser companies understand that if something bad happens to a user due to bad website security, that hurts their value to the user, and thusly their company (and potentially its stock price). This is why they have begun putting warning labels on non-compliant web sites, as explained above. They don’t want to reward non-compliant websites with traffic – intentionally. Website owners should get an SSL, become compliant, and then they can avoid that warning label because it hurts search engine ranking and traffic, which takes a great investment to earn and maintain. Finally, it’s important to understand that any websites with any data collection whatsoever are subject to the warning labels if they don’t have an SSL.

Getting an SSL

You can get an SSL Certificate from many Certification Authorities (though you should do your research first as a bad SSL is worse than none at all), and your website hosting company may also have options. However, validation and installation of your SSL Certificate can be tricky, the least of which requires access to your server and being somewhat fluent in the technical side of website domains. If you’re interested in getting help to improve your website’s experience, visibility, and functionality, contact Vision Advertising. We’re a full-service website design and development agency, including SSL Certificate installation and online stores, and it would be our pleasure to help you get your web site secured.

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About the author : Alex Geyer

Alex wears many hats, and not just because he’s bald. A writer by background, Alex writes “content” for Vision – anything from social media statuses to blogs to website copy and beyond. In addition, as Senior Brand Strategist, he builds and maintains all search engine advertising for Vision, manages multiple client projects, and herds many meetings. In his free time, he starts and stops writing novels, reads a copious amount of fiction, plays video games, and an enthusiastic chef at home. He’s trying to become a better plant daddy.