Pixel Fish Digital Marketing Blog

What is an SSL Certificate And Do I Need One for My Website?

Posted by Mark Fouche on Aug 17, 2017
Mark Fouche

So, your business has just launched a new website.  It looks great, and you’re getting lots of compliments from customers—until one calls you up and asks, “Why does Chrome say your site’s not secure?” 

You’re dumbfounded.  You answer, “Of course it’s secure—what are you talking about?”  So, you look up your site in Chrome.  Turns out your concerned customer was right.  Chrome is telling your customers and prospective customers that their personal data—like credit card information—isn’t safe on your site.  “Why,” you wonder, “are they saying my site’s a danger to my customers?”

What is an SSL Certificate And Do I Need One for My Website?

What is an SSL Certificate And Do I Need One for My Website?

What’s Going On?

Last year, Google Chrome warned businesses that they would need to take the necessary steps to make their customers’ personal information secure.  Doing so would help (slightly) with search engine rankings.  More importantly, not doing so would mean that sites which didn’t protect customer data by January 2017 would come with a warning in search engine results, a warning that those sites were “not secure”—and that would arguably drive down website traffic, and lead to customer mistrust.  Fortunately, there would be a relatively simple way to make those sites secure—by adding an SSL certificate.

What’s an SSL Certificate?

SSL is an acronym which stands for “secure sockets layer.”  If that sounds pretty technical, what it means in simple terms is that adding SSL to your site will make it safe for site visitors to browse, purchase products and services and share information.  Adding SSL creates a safe connection for all of those activities.

GoDaddy gives a nice analogy to explain how SSL works on your website:

“Think of an SSL certificate as a giant windshield for when you drive on the information super-highway. You wouldn’t head out on your local freeway — especially at night in a rural area — without something between you and all the bugs. You likely couldn’t see, and besides, you’ve already had your protein for breakfast. In much the same way, an SSL certificate protects your site — and its visitors — from many digital bugs, worms and other nasty web creatures.”

Now, you might think that your business is too small to worry about adding this layer of security—but before you dismiss the idea, consider that, whether you’re big or small, your customers will still see those pesky warnings if you don’t have SSL—equally important, their personal data might be compromised if those data are stored on your site.  The truth is, the smaller your business is, the less able you’ll be to absorb those kinds of business disruptions.  And remember—no site is too small to get hacked.

Here are 3 reasons you should consider adding an SSL certificate to your business website:

  1. You’ll be able to accept payments securely:  if you accept credit card payments on your site, you’re going to need a merchant account, and you might not be able to get one if you don’t have an SSL certificate.  GoDaddy’s terms of service, for example, require that your site is secured with SSL if you’re planning to accept credit card information.  Even if that weren’t the case, however, would you really want to take the chance of putting your customers’ credit card information at risk?
  2. You’ll enable password logins:  if any of your webpages are password protected (as they are with WordPress and Joomla! sites) or database-driven, you’re going to need an SSL certificate.  Sites which require passwords but don’t have SSL are to potential hackers what a flame is to a moth.  And don’t fool yourself—the internet is filled with bots just looking for poorly protected password pages.  If you don’t have SSL, you might go to your site one morning and find that multiple pages have been deleted or defaced.
  3. Your web forms will be secured:  it’s not just ecommerce sites that benefit from adding an SSL certificate, and it’s not just financial information which needs to be protected.  If you have online forms to collect visitor information, you need to secure that information with SSL.   That information could include everything from name, address, phone number and email address to employment history.  If a hacker steals that information, your company will have a lot of explaining to do—and probably lose a lot of business. 

Conclusion

Adequately securing your business website with an SSL certificate is one way to effectively grow your business online—but it’s just one.  To maximize the potential of your company’s online presence, you need both a beautiful website that works and a smart digital marketing strategy.  To learn more about the ways our website design and digital marketing services will help you grow your online business and boost your sales, contact us today.


Speak to us about your new business website. We’d love to hear from you.

Topics: Website Design, Website Security