What is an SSL Certificate and how can it help your website succeed

What is an SSL Certificate and how can it help your website succeed?

We have all been taught about checking for the ‘HTTPS’ and looking for a green padlock before entering our card details or logging into our banks. These security signals are all based upon the SSL certificate assigned to that website.

Over the years, security concerns have risen and as a consequence expectations have increased. SSL certificates are now more common place and this article will explain why your website should have one, whether you’re taking card details or just people’s contact details.

What is an SSL?

SSL is the backbone of your secure Internet and it protects your sensitive information as it travels across the world’s computer networks. SSL is essential for protecting your website, even if it doesn’t handle sensitive information like credit cards. It provides privacy, critical security and data integrity for both your websites and your users’ personal information.

User Trust with Visual Cues

Discoveries over the last few years of vulnerabilities and increases in cyber-attacks in the news have made consumers more and more aware of their online security. More and more consumers look for the Green Bar and HTTPS when doing online transactions.

GlobalSign carried out a survey in 2014 to understand user behaviour when it comes to online security, here are some key stats:

  • 77% of website visitors worry that their personal data could be intercepted or misused online
  • 84% of website visitors surveyed said they would abandon a purchase if they knew the data was going to be sent over an insecure connection

This will be particularly important if you are asking users to register, book, purchase, or give up any of their information, for that matter. This, therefore, is a simple way to increase the conversion rate of your website by at least a few percent.

Google & SEO

Going back as far as August 2014, Google stated that it used SSL/HTTPS as a ranking signal. Google is ranking sites based on two factors: relevance and trust – an SSL certificate is a clear trust signal. This may not catapult you to the top of the rankings but every little counts!

Types of SSL

In order of security levels, here are the three main certificate options:

Domain Validation (DV)

Domain Validated certificates are certificates that are checked against domain registry. There is no identifying organisational information for these certificates and thus should never be used for commercial purposes. It is the cheapest type of certificate to get, but this is a high-risk certificate to use on a public website. It is comparable to the “hooded man” or the zero star rating sellers. Visitors to a website with DV certificates cannot validate via the certificate if the business on the site is legitimate and thus often DO NOT trust this type of certificate. It is recommended using these types of certificates where security is not a concern, such as protected internal systems.

Organisation Validation (OV)

Organisational certificates are trusted. Organisations are strictly authenticated by real agents against business registry databases hosted by governments. Documents may exchange and personnel may be contacted during validation to prove the right of use. OV certificates, therefore, contain legitimate business information. This is the standard type of certificate required on a commercial or public-facing website.

Extended Validation (EV)

EV certificates reinstate the trust users have for a secured website. The criteria for issuing EV certificates are defined by the Guidelines for Extended Validation and provide a vetting process that is much stricter than that of OV certificates. We would strongly recommend looking at this process as it can be fairly bureaucratic; be prepared to be patient. Apart from improving trust and confidence via the strictest authentication process, EV certificates trigger a visible green bar on modern browsers to distinguish the secured site from the others.

We would recommend you speak to your hosting provider for advice and prices. To give an idea of cost, we were quoted £155 +VAT per year by Monkey Tree Hosting for an eCommerce client of ours. However, these are the costs offered by 123 Reg, as you can see there is a small difference depending on your provider.

What is an SSL Certificate and how can it help your website succeed? 3

We would suggest this as it’s a small price to pay for giving your customers reason to trust your brand and your website.