If you’re a new blogger or just launched your website, it’s important to get it started right! The goal of having any online presence is to gain traffic on a website. Nowadays, tech companies are making it a point to exercise safety and security on the web, which is where SSL certificates come into play.
Here’s what you will find in this post:
What is SSL and how does it work?
What is SSL? SSL is short for Secure Sockets Layer and its main purpose is to protect the information that’s transferred between your website and your visitor’s web browser.
The SSL certificate secures the personal information submitted on a website’s internet form by encrypting the data that’s transferred from the form to its final destination, making it impossible for a hacker to read. In other words, the SSL certificate helps prevent the activities and data gathered on your website from being tracked or stolen.
How to Tell If a Website Is Secure
There are 2 instant and very simple ways to tell if a website is secure:
- Check to see whether the web address starts with http or https. Both are hyper text transfer protocol, but the one ending with an ‘s’ is secure (hyper text transfer protocol secure).
- Web browsers may indicate the secure sign with a symbol. For example, on Safari, you may notice a small lock symbol before the url or a lock and the word Secure, such as that on Chrome below (second image).
The Benefits of an SSL Certificate
So yes, you WANT to make sure people are comfortable when they enter your site. There are enough hackers and spam going on all over the internet. Having an SSL certificate keeps your visitors from having to question whether or not your site will cause their personal information to be misused in any way.
The following are significant benefits to consider for both your website and the visitors traveling through it:
- Creates and Improves Trust
- Improves Your Website’s Speed
- Optimized Ranking
Have you ever been on a website and suddenly found yourself on a different one that looked a bit odd? One that perhaps didn’t look like it had any rhyme or reason or purpose to it? It’s more likely a fake site attempting to gather your credit card or personal information from you. It’s your reputation on the line if a situation like this were to happen just as someone was surfing through your website.
Having an SSL certificate will ensure anyone who lands on your site that their presence on it will be safe and secure.
For those who are familiar with search engine optimization, speed is one of the factors measured to determine online ranking status. And it is believed that load time between a secure vs non-secure websites are significantly different. Check out this average test run between an http and https site.
A website’s speed is a great contribution towards search engine optimization. However, time spent on a website also makes a significant difference to its ranking status. For example, click through opportunities and repeat visits are increased when people trust websites, improving search engine ranking. Would you want to revisit a website that’s not secure, especially after you’ve become aware of the differences between what secure and non-secure websites are?
What to Consider Before Making the HTTPS Move
Before you make the leap from http to https, you need to consider two very important points:
- You will lose share counts
- You will lose traffic, but only temporarily
- You will need to update Google Analytics, Google Search Console and other search engine tools to reflect your new, secure website. This will help Google and other search engines find your site faster. Without this little push, your loss in traffic might take a little longer than anticipated.
Yes, this is inevitable, because your social share counts are linked through your url. However, there may be plugins you can use. For now, the most popular is the one created by WarFare Plugins. This could be worth it, especially if you’re an influencer. Influencers often share their social counters as a sign of how active they are in social media.
How to Move Your HTTP Site to HTTPS
WordPress.com sites already run on HTTPS, which is a great advantage on their part. However, as your site grows and becomes more robust, you may find that transferring your server could be beneficial. Website owners without an SSL security should contact their hosting provider. Social Media Panel uses Hostgator for all of its hosting needs. The only thing we’ve done is purchase an SSL certificate from them.
After we purchased our SSL certificate, we just downloaded the Real Simple SSL plugin and activated it. This plugin will help transfer your HTTP url to HTTPS. *Remember that it won’t work until you’ve purchased your SSL certificate.
Hosting providers, especially the big ones, typically offer SSL certificates. The setup process is usually quite easy and some of them, like Hostgator, will even walk you through the entire process.
Don’t Wait Until Google Marks Your Website as Non-Secure!
Google has given us plenty of warning about the increase in security over their search engine. In 2014, they announced HTTPS as a ranking signal with the idea to start “making sure that websites people access from Google are secure.”
At the end of 2016, Google’s SSL update read: