Just what is an SSL Certificate? Do you really need an SSL Certificate for your site? Well, Google says you do.
If you've got a blog, or even if you've just been thinking about starting one up, chances are you've heard quite a bit of buzz about needing an SSL Certificate. An SSL, or Server Sockets Layer, sits between your reader and your website — it's a way of allowing you to collect their information while protecting their privacy. And Google is going to be flagging websites that can't provide a certificate proving they provide this extra layer of protection.
SSL Certificates work in two ways:
- They provide data encryption, so when your readers are entering their information into any forms on your site that information is protected from any potential attacks.
- They verify you as the site owner, which gives your visitors peace of mind and confidence that their information is being sent to the correct person or business.
Essentially, having an SSL Certificate can only be a positive thing. It helps you create trust between you and your reader — they know you are who you say you are, and you're doing everything you can to make sure that their personal information is protected. And in today's online world, more and more people are looking for those little lock icons depicting a secure website.
As long as there is a cyber world, cybercrime will always be an issue. Hackers, malware, thieves…it doesn't matter why they are trying to break into website data, all that matters to your readers is that you are protecting their information so that if an attack happens at your site they don't have to worry about it.
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Why the sudden push to get an SSL Certificate?
Google announced its plans to change its policy regarding sites missing their SSL Certificate in 2018. Google began flagging sites that accept personal information and are missing an SSL Certificate. Google is doing this as part of its ongoing strategy to protect its users. It doesn't matter what type of information you're collecting: whether email addresses for a newsletter sign up or credit card information for a payment.
If you collect any information from your visitors in any form, then you need an SSL Certificate or you risk being flagged as a potentially unsafe site by Google.
How do you get an SSL Certificate?
If you need an SSL Certificate, the easiest way to get one is to purchase directly from a company that offers web hosting. Many hosting companies today offer plans which include their SSL Certification built in. You can usually find SSL Certificates ranging in price anywhere from $25/year (for specially qualified customers) to upwards of $299/year (depending on the site and level of security needed, and other criteria) or more. You can also get an SSL Certificate through me starting at $64.99/year no matter who you purchased your domain hosting from.
How Long is a SSL Certificate Valid for?
A SSL Certificate is valid for 13 months (397 days) announced in March of 2020, which has changed from them being valid for 2 to 3 years at a time. This change helps with maintaining updates from algorithm changes, lessens a chance of a security breech, and protects users better. It also helps maintain that you are who you say you are, with shorter gaps in between checks. The less time between checks the better secure your site is going to be, and the more that Google and its users are going to trust you.