Until recently, most website owners have not had to worry about special measures to secure their web pages unless they had an online shop, or collecting sensitive information such as medical or banking data. But now all that is changing.
Google now officially recommends securing websites with HTTPS, which means that not only will this be important for businesses that want their websites to perform well in search, but more and more visitors will start to expect it.
In short, website security is no longer something for only certain types of websites to worry about – it’s a best practice for all businesses that want to optimize their search engine performance, establish credibility with visitors, and maintain a professional web presence.
What is a Security Certificate/SSL?
SSL is a Secure Sockets Layer and is the standard technology for establishing an encrypted link between your web server and the computer or devices browser. This ensures any data passed between the two is private.
SSL certificates are issued to companies or legally accountable individuals. It will contain your domain name, your company name, your address, expiration date and details of the Certification Authority that issued it. When a browser connects to a secure site it will retrieve the site’s SSL Certificate and check that it has not expired, it has been issued by a Certification Authority the browser trusts, and that it is being used by the website for which it has been issued. If it fails on any one of these checks the browser will display a warning to the end user letting them know that the site is not secured by SSL.
Why are Google (and others) doing this?
Google are in the business of providing a safe search environment for their users. They have deemed that the risk posed by non-secure sites warrants this action. If websites are not encrypted it is possible for a third party to intervene either way to replace the website or steal the information that users input.
How do you get a SSL certificate installed?
It is possible to install one yourself if you have access to your website control panel. You can purchase an SSL certificate through an issuing authority. It is usually easier and cheaper buy it through your hosting company. You then need to install it on your website which can be a bit trickier, if you are using WordPress there are a few plugins that can help.