Do I Need an SSL Certificate? Here’s How to Know

The following popup is sure to send a shiver down your spine:

Screenshot of security warning in Google Chrome for site without SSL certificate

Even if a site visitor doesn’t share any sensitive information with the above site, they’ll probably feel unnerved by its insecure connection. When people lose trust in a website’s security, that site loses potential customers and fans.

This is why your website needs an SSL certificate. You owe it to your site visitors to provide a secure connection and peace of mind. You also owe it to yourself to install an SSL certificate to guarantee your website’s security and maintain the trust that you worked so hard to build. Not to mention, browsers like Google Chrome now require sites to have them.

Today, you’ll learn what an SSL certificate is, what it does, and three reasons why your site needs one (whether or not you’re collecting visitor data).

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, which is the standard protocol that establishes encrypted connections between websites and web browsers.

Having an SSL certificate installed on your website positions you to create a secure connection between your site and its visitors. This is critical if you ever request any personal data from them, including names, addresses, credit card details, or other sensitive information.

To obtain an SSL certificate, you need to use a Certificate Authority (CA). CAs are companies and organizations that verify a website’s legitimacy.

Upon request, certain site hosts will handle the SSL process for you. Others may offer lists of recommended providers.

You can also get a free SSL certificate in just a few quick steps. Learn how to get a Free SSL Certificate here.

Why you need an SSL certificate for your website

1. It validates your identity

Verifying the credentials of the entity requesting an SSL certificate is part of the process that Certificate Authorities go through when issuing them. It’s a fairly comprehensive process that involves multiple credible sources of verification. Thus, when you have an SSL certificate on your site, savvy visitors know that you’re in fact who you say you are, making them more likely to trust you.

2. It enables you to securely accept payments, protect passwords, and gather information via forms

Making sales on your website requires more than just establishing trust with your potential customers. Oftentimes, you need an SSL certificate in place to accept credit card payments.

If your site pages require passwords to be accessed, you will need an SSL certificate to keep those passwords safe. Additionally, if you have forms on your site — from contact forms to robust questionnaires that request personal information — you need an SSL certificate to protect the data being submitted by visitors.

3. Google will flag your website as unsafe

Google Chrome will generate and present a message to site visitors whenever they land on a website that doesn’t have an SSL certificate installed.

The cascading impact of lacking an SSL certificate goes beyond creating negative experiences for current site visitors. It’s likely to prevent future visitors from finding your site, as Google will rank it lower in its search engine results.

According to the SEO experts at Search Engine Land, it doesn’t matter whether there’s a specific algorithm in place for having an SSL certificate or not. If enough visitors notice that your site isn’t secure and leave, your bounce rate will increase, and your time on page will decrease. This negative change in metrics can cause your site’s search engine ranking to suffer.

Consider an SSL certificate to be a necessity

Preventing site visitors from receiving warnings that your site isn’t secure is enough of a reason to have an SSL certificate in place (even if you never collect any sensitive data).

Even if you don’t sell products or store sensitive information on your website, an SSL certificate gives your visitors a sense of security while they’re browsing through your content. It can also be the deciding factor for ranking higher than competitors in search results.

Don’t let a lack of trust and lost revenue from an oversight like not having an SSL certificate happen to you.

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Victor Hammerle profile
Victor Hammerle

I have over a decade's worth of experience in online marketing. I love to write. And Peticolas is the best.

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