What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. When they’ve been installed, they activate the ‘https’ protocol and padlock (usually seen in the address bar of your web browser) and allow a secure connection between your web browser and the server it’s trying to connect to.

Why Do I Need An SSL Certificate?

If you have any kind of website where you:

– Sell products/services and process payments through your website for those products/services
– Capture sensitive customer data within forms on your site
– Have username/passwords for customer logins to your site

…you’re going to want an SSL certificate. If you’re using a third-party payment gateway (eg. Paypal), or you use an ecommerce solution such as Shopify (which has the option to simply enable one), then as long as you’re not capturing payment info before it goes through to the third party site it’s not essential you purchase one. However, the reasons below show you why it can still be a good idea to have an SSL:

– It keeps data secure and encrypted between servers
– It’s displayed in the browser address bar when a site is secure, showing your customers the security of the site and building trust with them to purchase/register
– It’s beneficial for SEO – Google have mentioned the use of SSL certificates as giving a site a boost in search engine rankings.

How Do I Get An SSL Certificate?

You can usually buy SSL Certificates through your website hosting provider – who may also provide a service to install and set it up for you. However, there’s also a free version called Let’s Encrypt that is now supported by most website hosting providers, so this is a really great solution for many small online businesses.