SSL certificates are a pretty hot topic at the moment, to the point where most popular browsers and search engines are using pretty strict rules against websites without an SSL certificate, but does your website need one?
SSL certificates help encrypt data being transferred via your website which helps protect your customer’s personal information such as billing data and login details. SSL certificates are a sign of trust to your customers, which means if you want your customers to trust you, you need to have an SSL certificate. Many hosts now offer free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt.
An SSL certificate encrypts the data being transferred via your website such as credit card information which is why it is essential for an e-commerce website to have an SSL certificate.
Your customers are placing a lot of faith in you when they put in their credit card information onto your website and if their billing data gets exposed and you lose the trust of your customers, you could potentially lose your business overnight.
A big thing to remember about SSL certificates is that not only do you need one, but your website has to run it. If you know you have an SSL certificate but your website doesn’t display the lock symbol, then your website isn’t running the SSL certificate. If you use WordPress, then all you need to do is install a plugin called Really Simple SSL and activate https.
SSL for e-commerce
SSL certificates are important to encrypt data being transferred via your website, which means if you run an e-commerce website and you have customers putting their billing data on your website then you need to have an SSL certificate.
While you may be able to get away without an SSL certificate in circumstances, for example, if you use Paypal for your payment processing you can set it up so your customers will be redirected to a Paypal payment page and leverage their SSL certificate. However, even if you can set this up I would still recommend having an SSL certificate on your website.
There can be other issues other than billing data as well because people tend to reuse usernames and passwords, so if hackers could get a hold of their logins and passwords, they could try to access accounts they have at other websites.
Free vs Paid SSL certificates
A lot of hosting companies now offer free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates, Let’s Encrypt is a great option for a lot of people who run any website from e-commerce to blogs.
However, there can be a lot of benefits to buying a premium SSL certificate.
Premium hosts offer warranties which is insurance against financial loss to the end user on payments through an SSL secured site.
Let’s Encrypt offers no warranty which means if you use their free SSL certificate, you could be left empty-handed.
Most premium SSL certificates will offer warranties that range from tens of thousands to millions depending on the company and the package.
While most hosting companies that offer Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates are really helpful if you need help with the installation, the can only help you to a point.
Which means if you’re having issues with the certificate itself, you could be stuck.
However, most premium SSL certificate providers also offer 24/7 support, which means if you’re having an issue with the certificate itself you always have someone to talk to.
Premium hosting companies will also provide you with a trust seal to display on your website so your customers can feel confident when they put their credit card information into your site, that their billing data will remain safe, this can go along way to increase conversion rate as people are very cautious about their privacy.
SSL certificates and Browsers
Because of the importance of SSL certificates, most of the popular browsers are taking steps to warn their customers.
If your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, browsers such as Chrome will display a Not Secure sign next to their URL. If you’re running an e-commerce website this could negatively impact your conversion rate even if you redirect your customers to Paypal as customers will see this as a negative-trust factor.
Even worse, if your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate but your website is trying to run on, most browsers will see this a malicious and deceptive and won’t even allow their users to visit your website.
SSL certificates and Search engines
Search engines have stated that SSL certificates are a ranking factor and is often seen as a tiebreaker, if the search engine sees two articles of equal quality then the one with the SSL certificate will gain the top spot.
Many believe that SSL certificates will become a stronger ranking factor in the next few years and since most hosting companies will offer a free SSL certificate, you may as well activate it.
Why do I need an SSL certificate
While in some circumstances you can get away without having an SSL certificate, one of the main features that the SSL certificate brings is trust.
The SSL certificate is a symbol of trust that lets your users know that their data is safe and the reality is, that if you want to build a relationship with your users then you need to have their trust.
So if you want to know if you need an SSL certificate on your website, then you need to ask your self a question, do I want my customers to trust me? If you answered yes to that question, then you need an SSL certificate.
This is why it’s essential for e-commerce websites to have an SSL certificate, your customers are cautious about where they put their billing details and if they feel that the website isn’t safe, they’re not going to buy.
Even worse, if you don’t have an SSL certificate and have your customers billing data or logins exposed, you could lose your business overnight.
You have a duty of care towards your customers and are responsible to do whatever it takes to protect your customer’s data.
This is why you need to have an SSL certificate.