Everything You Need To Know About SSL Certificates: A Beginner’s Guide
A website is an essential part of digital marketing for most businesses, whether it’s sharing the company information with its stakeholders or selling goods and services to customers. A website plays a vital role in a business’s online presence.
A business website creates lots of opportunities including wide exposure on the web where your potential customer could find you just searching for products or information related to your business. However, to make it happen, the business owner must make sure their website is search engine friendly and appears on SERPs.
But how about the security of website visitors and the business website itself? Is all the information safe? Is the connection between visitors and web servers secured?
Today we are going to make you understand everything about SSL certificates including their types, how to secure your business website along with visitor information, and how you can get one for your website.
What Is An SSL Certificate?
The term “SSL” stands for Secure Sockets Layer, a global standard security technology that enables encrypted communication between web browsers and a web server. Here, a web browser means a browser that you use from your computer, tablets, or mobile phone such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari and etc to surf the internet. Whereas a web server is a location of the website where website data is stored.
SSL Certificates are digital certificates installed on a web server that secures the information of visitors while browsing websites. In addition, it authenticates a website’s identity and enables an encrypted connection with two parties. But how do you identify if the website you are surfing is secured or not?
How To Identify If A Website Is Secured With An SSL certificate?
There are mainly 4 visual clues that everyone can identify if the website has SSL certificates installed or not. Check the following things on the URL address bar.
- Padlock icon to the left of a URL
- The website appears as HTTPS instead of HTTP. (HTTPS means “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.”
- A trust seal
- A green address bar if yes and a red bar with a warning if it’s not.
Types of SSL Certificates
Single SSL Certificate
A single SSL certificate secures one fully-qualified domain name or subdomain name. For example, if you have a website called; www.example.com these types of SSL certificate does not secure the subdomain associated with the main domain.
Therefore, a single-domain SSL certificate is best for small business websites that are operating single websites for their business without any subdomains. These are available in Domain Validated, Organization Validated, and Extended Validation SSL Certificates types.
Wildcard SSL Certificates
Wildcard SSL certificates are an affordable and effective option for businesses with multiple subdomains under the main domain. To make it more understandable, here’s an example:
Move Ahead Media has a main domain www.moveaheadmedia.co.th. Subdomains variations can be either shop.moveaheadmedia.co.th or blogs.moveaheadmedia.co.th and so on, for example.
Wildcard certificate offers full encryption for the main domain including all existing subdomains. These certificates are available in DV and OV validation options.
Multi-domain SSL Certificates
Multi-domain SSL certificates are perfect for organizations that own multiple domain names and want to be secured with a single certificate. These types of certificates allow you to secure up to 250 unique domain names, rather than purchasing individual certificates for each one! Multi-domain SSL certificates are available in Domain Validated, Organization Validated, and Extended Validation validation options. Alternatively, it is also known as the Subject Alternative Names (SAN) SSL certificate.
After knowing the types of SSL certificates, now you might know and will be able to decide what types your website requires.
3 Levels of SSL Validation
Domain Validation (DV) Certificates
This level is the least expensive and covers basic encryption and verification of the ownership of the domain name registration. In this validation process, an organization only needs to prove that they own the domain to get a certificate.
It’s a good option for blogs, portfolio sites, or small businesses that do not sell products via a website. This type of certificate usually takes a few minutes to several hours to receive.
Organization Validation (OV) Certificates
These are more trustworthy compared to DV certificates because a domain owner needs to go through a manual process to verify the ownership. In addition, the Certificate authority will contact the organization to provide further information in order to confirm the legitimacy. This type of certificate usually takes a few hours to several days to receive.
Extended Validation (EV) Certificates
This provides the highest degree of security because of the thorough examination that is conducted before this certificate is issued (and as strictly specified in guidelines set by the SSL certification industry’s governing consortium).
In addition to ownership of the domain name registration and entity authentication, the legal, physical and operational existence of the entity is verified. This type of certificate usually takes a few days to several weeks to receive. Large enterprises, financial institutions, and eCommerce stores should obtain EV certificates because most of these handle sensitive and financial information about the customer.
What Is The Purpose Of An SSL Certificate?
There are numerous reasons why your website must have an SSL certificate. However, to keep it clear and simple. We have listed the main reason so you are aware of the importance of securing your website using an SSL certificate.
SSL Protects Data
Once an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is installed into your website, every bit of information stored on the website is encrypted which makes it impossible to access by a third person. It will secure sites from hackers and leak sensitive information to any third party that means it protects both website and visitor data from any cyber-attacks.
SSL Affirms Your Identity
The internet is a deceptive place and many people have fallen prey to scams like the man who traveled 400 miles only to find out he was duped by two guys. That’s when SSL certificates come in handy because these provide authentication for websites that can protect customers from falling victim to scam sites or other forms of cybercrime.
To prove your identity and ensure that you are who you say, the Certificate Authority will need to go through a validation process. This is done by checking everything from business registration documents all the way down to physical proof of residence on file with them to verify ownership. After this has been confirmed they’ll be able to provide an SSL certificate for your website which in turn provides trust indicators vouching for their integrity as well as yours!
Better Search Engine Ranking
Google prefers websites that put users’ privacy and security first. for this reason, getting an SSL certificate for your website is essential from an SEO perspective. You might have invested a lot in the Search Engine Optimisation of your business website. However, with a slight error and mistake not adding an SSL Certificate would push you back ranking higher in search results.
SSL Helps You Satisfy PCI/DSS Requirements
The payment card industry (PCI) has 12 requirements that all websites must meet in order to provide a safe browsing experience for customers.
The most critical of these is an SSL certificate, which secures sensitive data like credit card numbers, Social security numbers, etc. So, If you have a website where customers are required to add sensitive information, an SSL certificate is mandatory.
SSL Improves Customer Trust
Would visit a website that is not secured or there is a chance of getting your information compromised? Definitely not! Nobody would visit a website like that and no one would trust it as well. Therefore, installing SSL certificates would give visitors confidence and build trust.
With all these, you might probably know now how important is an SSL certificate, for your website? From securing the connections to google penalization for a website with no SSL. Building trust and confidence to meet the payment card industry requirement. There are lots of benefits to installing an SSL certificate and which types are best for your business website.
- SSL Certificates keeps user data secure including personal information and private key.
- Check 4 visual signs in the address bar to identify secured and unsecured websites.
- SSL Certificate enables a secure connection between a web server and a web browser.
- SSL certificate is essential for any type of website because it builds trust and helps in ranking higher in google.
You might think, how do we install it or how do I get one for my website? Well, we have covered that part below with some amazing offers along with it.
How Can I Get An SSL Certificate For My Website?
If you have a website where a visitor is not required to add their information to access the site, you might not need to go for premium-paid SSL certificates. However, if your website required visitors to log in or enter personal data, credit card information, SSL certificates with higher security levels are essential.
How much does it cost?
The cost of an SSL certificate can range from zero to hundreds of dollars, depending on the level of security you require. If you are running a small website, you can contact your hosting provider to install free SSL certificates for your website. Most hosting providers now offer the standard certificate for free with their plans.
However, if you are selling products via a website where a customer needs to add their personal and financial information. You might go through the verification process and add EV SSL certificates with the strongest security for your website which can cost you up to 1000 USD.
And remember SSL certificate expires, so make sure to update it before it runs out!
If you need an SSL certificate and are struggling with what types your website requires and can not decide which one to use, we are more than happy to assist you. Contact the experts at Move Ahead Media for a free SEO Audit! We will happily explain the SSL protocol in more detail and help you fix your website security and digital certificate.