Navigating SSL Certificates: The Key to Website Security and SEO Success

Written by Ethan He

June 15, 2024

SSL Certificate Secure Website

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. It’s a crucial protocol for securing and authenticating data on the Internet.

Since 2018, Google Chrome has been marking websites without HTTPS connections as “not secure.” Combined with the reduced cost and increased ease of obtaining an SSL certificate, securing your website with SSL is now one of the most cost-effective ways to enhance security and user trust.

For those unfamiliar with SSL or unsure where to get a certificate, you’ve come to the right place. This guide defines SSL/TLS certification and explains how it can benefit your site.

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL stands for “Secure Socket Layer.” It’s an internet protocol that encrypts data transmitted between a visitor’s browser and the server hosting your site. An SSL certificate enables HTTPS protocol on your website, making the encryption process seamless in the background.

Why Do You Need an SSL Certificate?

SSL is a necessary protocol for website security and makes your site more trustworthy to visitors.

If a website lacks an SSL certificate, Google flags it as “Not Secure,” causing a drop in SEO ranking and user trust. Without SSL, you might not rank as high on search engines and could lose potential visitors.

1. Security of User Data

An SSL certificate protects your visitors’ data from being stolen through various hacking methods. Without SSL, your site won’t load over HTTPS, leaving you vulnerable to cyberattacks. Hackers can intercept data packets transmitted between your site and visitors’ browsers.

With SSL, your site loads over HTTPS, displaying a padlock symbol in the browser address bar to verify legitimacy. This prevents hackers from creating fake copies of your site. Encrypted data packets can only be decrypted with a private key, ensuring security even if intercepted.

2. Improved SEO

SSL certificates help improve your website’s SEO ranking. Since 2018, Google has given higher preference to websites loading over HTTPS. Security is now a ranking signal for Google, meaning HTTP sites rarely appear on the front page of search results.

To rank higher on Google, your site must load over HTTPS, requiring an SSL certificate.

3. Increased Trustworthiness

SSL certificates boost trust in your brand. Websites not using HTTPS are marked “Not Secure” by Google, negatively impacting user perception. An SSL certificate ensures your site is viewed as safe and reliable, protecting your brand’s image at little to no cost.

4. Faster Page Load Speeds

An SSL certificate can increase your website’s loading speed. HTTPS works on HTTP/2, the latest and faster version of HTTP. According to Google, “HTTP/2 will make our applications faster, simpler, and more robust.”

With HTTPS, you can enable Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) technology, which compresses your webpage for faster loading on Android smartphones. This improves user experience and retention rates.

5. Better Website Analytics

SSL certificates provide more accurate traffic statistics. Without HTTPS, you can’t get referral information from Google Analytics, causing referral traffic to be counted as direct traffic. This can lead to data inaccuracies affecting your digital marketing campaigns.

Upgrading your site from HTTP to HTTPS with an SSL certificate resolves this issue, offering complete and accurate referral analytics.

Conclusion

These are the top five reasons why an SSL certificate is essential for any business website. An SSL certificate not only improves your website’s security and performance but also enhances referral analytics, increases site trustworthiness, and boosts your SEO.

If you need help implementing an SSL certifcate for your website, please contact me! You know I am always happy to help. 

Ethan He

About Ethan He

Ethan is a Full Stack Web Developer and SEO Specialist based in Pittsburgh, PA. In his free time, Ethan enjoys working on various projects involving Ruby, Vue and AWS applications.

Ethan graduated from The Firehose Project coding bootcamp in 2016 with a focus on Ruby on Rail and Computer Software engineering.