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SSL Certificates – What the heck are they?

If you’re having a new website built, you’ll probably hear the term “SSL certificate” or “SSL encryption” at some point.  And if you’re like most, you probably have a vague idea of what it means, but don’t know exactly how important SSL encryption is to your website.

 

So what is this three-letter acronym, and what makes it such a vital part of website building?

 

What does SSL mean?

 

SSL, short for Secure Sockets Layer, is a level of protection for your website that will help keep your website, and its users, safe and secure.  It makes website hacking more difficult for those who would harm it, and ensures that easy-to-steal data is being kept safe.

 

When you have an SSL certificate on your website, it acts like a digital agent, reaching out to make safe contact with users via a “handshake”.  The “handshake” is actually a connection that is automatically made between the server and the user’s browser, telling both of them that this is a secure process.  

 

How does an SSL certificate help your website?

 

SSL certificates protect credit card numbers, user log-ins and passwords, and other personal information from being able to be accessed by anyone other than the authorized viewer.  This not only makes your website safer and informs users that their information is secure, it establishes a layer of trust with users that they otherwise may not have had.

 

It’s also good for Google rankings.  The search engine giants made it known in 2013 that SSL certificates pushed a website higher than websites without one.  Other search engines, like Yahoo or Bing, also look for SSL certificates – we all want to be safer online!

 

What if I don’t have a SSL certificate?

 

For one thing, you’ll be open to hackers who might wish to highjack important information on your website.  That would not only significantly damage your business through loss of possible sales, but could also cause your website to no longer become trustworthy.

 

This is bad news, because Chrome doesn’t like untrustworthy websites.  In fact, customers who visit your website while using Google Chrome as their browser will see a pop up when they attempt to go to your page, telling them that the site is unsafe.  This warning will scare potential clients away before they actually see your website – A hacker could damage their computer, or could walk away with private information

 

You can also lose your ranking on Google, and overall see a drop in SEO.  That means that you won’t be on the first page, and allows for your competitors to take their chance.

 

With all the protection offered by a SSL Certificate, it makes perfect sense to have this added to your website during its build.  

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