What is SSL? Do I need SSL certificate for my website?

What is SSL? Do I need SSL for my website?

Having an SSL certificate in your website is recommended in many ways. In many cases like if you’re running an e-commerce website, SSL certificate is mandatory.

As a full-time Web Developer, I often come across with the same question “What is SSL? and do I need SSL certificate for my website?” Today, in this article, I’ll discuss what is SSL, its benefits, whether you need an SSL certificate or not and if you need one, what type of SSL certificate will you need.

What is SSL certificate?

First things first, SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer”, in simpler terms it’s a security protocol that handles the information like username, password, credit card information, cell phone number etc. i.e. all the private information. SSL secures data from hacking by encrypting them and thus protects user’s privacy.

So how do you know if a website has SSL certificate or not? Just look up the URL and you will see our domain is starting with “https://”. That means our website has SSL certificate. Any website that starts with “https://” means the website has SSL certificate and if a website starts with “http://” this means the website does not have SSL.

Benefits of SSL certificate

SSL Protects Information

When you submit a form on a website, the information often travels through many computers before it reaches to the main server. Thus your information becomes vulnerable and can get easily accessible by the hackers. SSL encrypts the information by changing the data with some unrecognizable pattern so if an attacker gets the data they will see some random value instead of your actual information. If your website accepts payments, it is not only necessary but also mandatory to have SSL certificate. For accepting credit cards you will need at least 128-bit encryption. More is better.

Builds Customer Trust

Earlier, even a couple of years from now, people don’t really care about whether a website is secure or not or you can say they don’t really know anything about the term ‘secure’ when it comes to websites. But with time the increase of online security scams and data hacking makes people think twice before they share any sort of information over the internet. It does not matter if they fill up a signup form or enter credit card number.

Having an SSL certificate in your website clears those hesitations of your users. This green padlock with https clears almost all questions about security regarding your website. When a user visits your website and sees the green https before your domain name, doesn’t matter if your website is an e-commerce website or a normal blog, they just feel safe consciously or subconsciously. As in some cases, you must need SSL certificate to accept credit cards, in other cases, some customers would rather not purchase your product if you don’t have SSL on your website.

SSL Increases SEO Performance

Having an SSL certificate may impact a website and can improve their SEO rankings from their competitors.
Lets say there are two competitors in a specific business and both of them are serving same contents, same title tags, same meta etc. but one of them is HTTPS and another is not. In this case google will rank the HTTPS website higher than the HTTP website.

Google never said that directly that HTTPS increases SEO ranking but this clear to us that that Google prioritize HTTPS over HTTP.

Do I need SSL Certificate for my website?

Well if you have read the article so far then I think you already know the answer.
In short terms, SSL is not mandatory but recommended for non e-commerce website. But it’s mandatory if you run an e-commerce website which has inbuilt payment gateway.

In my personal recommendation, I’d say every website needs SSL certificate. This helps your website in so many ways. Even if your website is not e-commerce or not for google ranking, I’d recommend SSL certificate. Because when a visitor comes to your website and sees the Green padlock, they already feel safe and trust worthy.

Now that you understand the basic concept of SSL Certificate lets take a quick look at Free vs Paid SSL.

Free SSL vs Paid SSL

SSL certificate comes both Free and Paid version. Now I am not going to discuss both of them in details but I’ll give you the quick idea about which one to choose.

Free SSL:
Provides HTTPS
No Support
No Warranty
Short Validity
Known provider: Let’s Encrypt

Paid SSL:
Provides HTTPS
Provides Support
Provides Warranty
Long Validity
Known Providers: Comodo, Symantec etc.

In conclusion, if you run a small business or not non e-commarce website, then free SSL is the best suit for you. And if you’re running e-commerce website or a reputed company, then I’ll recommend you to go for the paid SSL.

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