4 reasons why your website needs a SSL Certificate right now
Plus how to get one and what it costs in South Africa.
Have you noticed when a URL begins with https and has a green lock that says secure at the top of your browser? This indicates that the website has an extra layer of protection known as a SSL Certificate.
A SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate adds an additional level of security by encrypting the communication between the website and the visitor’s internet browser. This protects people’s data from being intercepted by hackers or spyware when they’re filling in an online form or making a payment online.
SSL Certificates used to be only necessary for ecommerce websites and websites that dealt with sensitive user data like financial institutions. Today, however, it’s becoming important for every website to have a SSL Certificate and here’s why:
1. SSL protects your website’s users
How can you ask your visitors to give you their personal information if you’re not going to do all that you can to protect that information?
Almost all websites contain some sort of form that requires visitors to fill in their details, whether that’s a simple contact form or newsletter/blog sign-up box. Make sure you have a SSL Certificate so you can encrypt this information.
2. IMPROVES your reputation and level of trust
Don’t you think your website visitors are more likely to trust your website if it has a global standard security seal that the SSL Certificate provides?
The green lock is an important visual way for you to show your visitors that you value them and will do whatever you can to protect their valuable information.
People are more likely to choose to do business with you over your competitors if they see your website is secure (and your competitors’ is not) because they will trust you more.
3. Google gives secure websites a ranking boost
In 2014, Google announced that it wants the entire web to be encrypted so as to offer users better data protection. This means that websites that have a SSL Certificate will score better in search engine rankings than those that do not have one.
So, essentially, having a SSL Certificate will improve your website’s SEO score and will see you appearing higher in search engine results.
4. It will help you increase conversions
Going back to the trust thing because it’s so important. Visitors are far more likely to complete a lead action on your website (fill in your contact form or sign-up to your blog) if they trust you.
The best way you can ensure this is by having a SSL Certificate that then shows users that very important green lock and even states ‘secure’ in Google Chrome browsers.
How to get a WEBSITE SSL Certificate
For a straight-forward business website, SSL Certificates are inexpensive and some hosting providers even offer them for free. Usually, your website hosting provider will install the SSL Certificate for you so you don’t even have to do much.
If your website is developed using WordPress, then once your hosting provider has installed your SSL Certificate on your server, you can simply download a free plugin called Really Simply SSL.
This nifty plugin does all of the hard work by automatically detecting your hosting server settings and configuring your website to run over https. I’ve recently changed my own website (www.rubystudio.co.za) from http to https, and with Really Simple SSL it was a breeze. It literally only took 5 minutes and my website worked perfectly afterwards.
One thing you must remember to do after switching to https, is update your Google Analytics and Google Search Console settings. Here’s a detailed article from Really Simple SSL explaining how to do this.
COST OF A WEBSITE SSL CERTIFICATE
Below is a list of the top South African hosting companies that will set-up a SSL Certificate on your website (plus how much they charge):
Hetzner – Offers free SSL Certificates via Let’s Encrypt.
Domains.co.za – SSL Certificates from Rapid SSL starting at R249 per year.
HostAfrica – Offer a free SSL Certificate with every hosting plan.
EliteHost – SSL Certificates from Rapid SSL starting at R240 per year.
Let’s Encrypt – While Let’s Encrypt is not a hosting service, they do offer free SSL Certificates to everyone. But before getting your free SSL Certificate through Let’s Encrypt, please check whether your particular hosting provider will allow you to install your Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificate on your website.