What is an SSL and Why do I Need One?

According to the BBC recently, search engines such as Google are going to begin giving ranking priority to sites that are visibly secure. Many businesses have steered clear of encryption in the belief that it slows page loading times and incurs additional costs but that trend is beginning to change as search engines move towards it as part of their ranking criteria.

What is an SSL?

It stands for Secure Sockets Layer and essentially provides an encrypted link between a browser and a web page which means that your information is kept safe and private. SSL is the industry standard and many websites use it to protect online interaction and transactions with customers every day. Generally website that use SSL have their address prefixed with https rather than just http. A higher level of security is available with the Secure HTTP which is prefixed by s-http.

Why Your Business should have SSL

what is an sslWe all need to make sure we protect ourselves online but for businesses it is also a question of keeping our customers safe too. The main benefit of SSL is that it encrypts or codes any information, including credit card details, so that data can only be read by the intended recipients.

The customer immediately knows that your site is safe and secure when they see either the https prefix or the small lock icon at the bottom of the task bar on their browser. Most security conscious shoppers are aware of these signals and if you don’t have them they may well go and spend their money elsewhere.

When you get your SSL certificate you also receive a server certificate, which means that you, and any visitor to your site, can be sure information is being handled by the appropriate server and not being hijacked.

You need an SSL certificate, if you are handling online payments, with a higher encryption rate providing the right level of protection on any page that is being used for customer personal information. SSL also guards against phishing emails where customers are sent ads pretending to be from your company.

SSL strengthens your brand by showing that you are a trusted company and customers can use things like credit cards and put in their personal details without fear of their details being misused.

SSL and Google

Now that a search engine is actively encouraging websites that have SSL it means you are more likely to be ranked higher if you have it compared to those that don’t. According to Jason Hart of SafeNet, encryption technologies have improved, allowing for much faster page download times that means the customer experience is not hampered. Google are rolling their new ranking algorithm out slowly, giving webmasters a chance to change to https, but the benefits for all business is there to be seen.

Whilst switching to SSL may not affect your ranking too much if everyone else is doing it, the cost of not going https will. You could see your page falling down the rankings even if you don’t offer an online payment service.

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