Do I need an SSL certificate? By July of 2018, the answer is YES!

Photo by Farzad Nazifi on Unsplash

Updated on Feb 9th, 2018: Google has announced that ALL SITES WILL BE MARKED NOT SECURE IN JULY OF 2018

For a couple of years now, I’ve been expressing to clients that the time is coming for SSL certificates on all websites. Google has been increasingly pushing to get more websites in compliance. Last year, it was announced that if your site had membership login or took credit card info it was a must to have an SSL certificate. Now, a general contact form is enough to require it. And, finally, Google is giving a ranking boost to secure sites over those that aren’t secure. In this article, I’m going to explain what an SSL certificate is and why you need to jump on board with it in 2018.

What is SSL?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer.  In technical terms, it stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, which is the https:// in front of your domain name in a browser.  This means that the connection between your website and your visitors’ computer is a secure, encrypted connection.  If a visitor submits information, it is secure as it transfers across the internet.  It doesn’t mean you have a hack-proof website.  No one has that.  Here is a terrific article from Tony Perez of GoDaddy/Sucuri on what SSL does and doesn’t do.  GoDaddy has this great, short video explaining it:

How do visitors know your site has SSL?

The most used browser, Chrome, started displaying SECURE next to your URL in the browser window to alert website visitors that they are safely accessing a website last year.  An “i” for more information appears on sites without a certificate (http://).  See the two examples below from ABC News (surprisingly on the httpshame list).

ABC news is not a secure site
ABC news is not a secure site
WebCami.com is secure:
WebCami Site Design is a secure site

Why you need this? SSL means TRUST

Each year, the need for security increases across all areas of our lives. In addition, the importance of privacy and safe browsing is on everyone’s mind as they access the internet, on their computer or more likely, their phone. People aren’t just looking for services and information, they are looking for safe access to both. If you have an SSL certificate, you are showing the visitor you care about their information and you are investing in taking it security seriously.

Why else do you need this? SSL and SEO

Google prefers websites with SSL.  From their website, “We encourage you to adopt HTTPS in order to protect your users’ connections to your website, regardless of the content on the site.”  If you care about search engine optimization, you need SSL.

How much does an SSL certificate cost?

I have seen SSL certificates offered from $0 to $100 annually for a basic SSL. Pricing depends on your hosting company.  Many free certificates require 90-day renewals but most hosting will do this automatically. Some hosting companies will not allow an outside SSL to be applied.  I recommend finding a host that will allow Let’s Encrypt (free SSL).

I highly recommend MDD Hosting.  

Can WebCami do this for me?

If you are currently a WebCami Site Design client, I can help you obtain and apply your SSL certificate.  It will be purchased in your account and name and I will need full access to your hosting account to apply it.  Often when an SSL is applied, it takes 72 hours to take effect.  Odd coding issues can occur and checking websites like “Why no padlock?” can help to find adjustments needed to get your certificate fully implemented.

For care plan clients with domain & hosting in the SAME account at GoDaddy:  There is no charge for my time in setting up your certificate.  You are still responsible for purchasing (I will send you a shopping cart from GoDaddy directly).

For care plan clients that want to move their sites to MDD Hosting for free SSL, I will do this move for you free of charge.

For all other clients:  I charge hourly for this work and most installations take between 20 minutes – 3 hours to apply.  This includes making the purchase on your behalf in your account (you are charged directly for the certificate by your hosting company).  I take care of the entire process from start to finish.  If you want to do this yourself, you can find many tutorials online. Set aside a couple of hours just in case and make sure you follow-up to make sure it applied correctly.

Chieko Watanabe trusts WebCami Site DesignIn an ever-changing environment, Cami takes away all my website management stress. She implemented the SSL certification on my site, completely taking it off my hands. I now have a secure site and no worries!
Chieko Watanabe, Business Coach

Resources:

  • Browser stats –  If you don’t use Chrome and think this doesn’t matter, view browser stats to see what people use to browse the web most often
  • Google on SSL – Everything Google has to say about the subject
  • Tony Perez on SSL – mentioned above.  Note this article is from July 2015.
  • GoDaddy Garage –  why you need SSL

About Cami MacNamara

Owner/Designer at WebCami Site Design. Providing web design services in Seattle since 2002. Follow me: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram