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You’ve probably heard the term ‘SSL Certificate’ a lot over the last year and are wondering what it is, and why it’s relevant to you as a business owner or marketing person.

Think of an SSL Certificate as a digital padlock. An SSL Certificate ensures that any communications between your website and website visitors are secure and encrypted. GoDaddy defines an SSL Certificate as: “An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a digital certificate that authenticates the identity of a website and encrypts information sent to the server using SSL technology. Encryption is the process of scrambling data into an undecipherable format that can only be returned to a readable format with the proper decryption key.”

So where does HTTPS come into it?

HTTP, the bit at the start of a web address, is the protocol through which data is communicated between your internet browser and the websites you are connected to. HTTPS is the secure version of this protocol which you can achieve by installing a valid SSL Certificate on your website, and forcing HTTPS on your website. This means that any web pages previously with HTTP at the beginning of the URL will automatically display over HTTPS instead, encrypting all communications between the browser and web page.

HTTP vs HTTPS

HTTP vs HTTPS

You can tell if a website is secured by an SSL Certificate, as a green padlock will display in the browser to the left of the URL, as shown below.

HTTPS

HTTPS

What’s the significance to my business?

There are several benefits to adopting HTTPS and installing an SSL Certificate, the biggest and easiest to get behind for most small businesses is the SEO boost migrating to HTTPS delivers.

Google said over two years ago back in 2014 that they would be using HTTPS as a ranking signal and further supported this in 2015 and 2016, strengthening the significance of HTTPS as a ranking signal over the years.

We are now in the situation where Google is giving priority to websites using HTTPS as default, those websites still serving their pages over HTTP will be performing less favourably against competing websites in search serving their websites over HTTPS.

How do we make the move to HTTPS?

Making the move to HTTPS is a relatively straight forward process. To adopt HTTPS you need to:

  • Purchase an SSL Certificate
  • Install it on your website
  • Force HTTPS on your website

If you use WordPress and a large reputable hosting provider like GoDaddy, this process is pretty painless. If you aren’t using WordPress or a hosting provider with less developed infrastructure, it could take a bit more elbow grease from either you or your developer.

If you’d like to make the switch the HTTPS painless, we offer SSL Setup on our Pay As You Go Support rate.

James Thomas

James is the owner of Square Internet and helps build, grow and scale WordPress based businesses for a living.