Some people still have questions about SSL Certificates, the impending Google deadline and how it will affect the information highway. Here’s what you need to know about the new “Rules of the Road.”

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL stands for (Secure Socket Layer). So what does that mean? In regular English, SSL encrypts sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive information being sent across the internet. With a secure site, this information is safe and protected in transit, but understood by the intended recipient. Here are a couple of quick points about SSL for the everyday internet user.

  • If a website is secure, you will see HTTPS:// at the beginning of their URL, not just the HTTP://. In this case, the “S” is important, because it stands for “Secure.”
  • In the near future, you will also see a closed (or locked) padlock if the site is secure. If the site is not secure, the padlock appears opened, unlocked or not at all.
  • These padlocks may appear in different colors, depending on the browser you are using. The color isn’t really important. The main thing is that the padlock appears locked.

Why is an SSL Certificate Important?

Internet commerce is becoming more and more common all the time. From pizzas to prom dresses, we’re ordering everything online. SSL protects your information while you shop. The minute you hit “Confirm Purchase” in your shopping cart, information about you and your credit card begin a journey. This information travels across a number of other computers (servers) until it reaches the computer of your destination. And during this journey, any computer between your shopping cart, and the computer of the company where you are shopping, can see your information if it isn’t encrypted. Hackers would also be able to see it, if not secure.

So having an SSL Certificate on your site can be very valuable to your customers. It also shows anyone who visits your site, that you have taken all possible steps to protect their privacy and data. Even if you don’t sell anything through your website, contact forms can also be intercepted. So you will still need an SSL certificate for the protection of your visitors, and to meet Google’s requirements. If you want to read further about this, here is a piece Web Design by Knight recently published about SSL and the Google deadline.

SSL May Also Affect Your SEO Rankings

Even if you don’t collect any kind of sensitive data, nobody these days wants anything to do with any website that isn’t secure. Business owners need to understand that soon  Google will begin flagging any sites without SSL as “not secure.” This could scare away potential visitors, customers and sales. The result could also have an extremely negative impact on your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) rankings.

How Do I Get an SSL Certificate?

If you go to your website and don’t see the closed padlock, here’s what you can do:

  • Contact a certified SSL provider and purchase a certificate through them. Certificates can normally be purchased through your website server host. The price can range anywhere from “free” to $175 for a basic two-year certificate.
  • After SSL has been installed on your server, the website has to be configured to accept the SSL and show the padlock. This normally requires a page-by-page review of all items on every page.
  • For a large website, it could take hours to comb through all the pages, images and links to make sure all is secure. This is where Web Design by Knight can help. 

We at Web Design by Knight have been working for several months already, making sure all our clients are prepared for the upcoming changes, which we believe will ultimately make for a better and safer internet.