Have you ever noticed how some websites have a little lock symbol on the left-hand side of the browser, while others do not? This lock, usually followed by the word “secure” is called an SSL certificate. That left-hand space next to a URL is where you will find information on the website’s connection, and whether it is secure or not.
In addition to this locked symbol, the ‘http’ will have an ‘s’ added to the URL—the ‘s’ stands for secure, not Superman. It looks like this:
SSL certificates are an important part of web security. SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer and the protocol encrypts the information going between your website and a user’s browser. SSL Certificates have become so important that Google will even give websites a ranking boost if they have one! As a website owner in a time where cyber attacks only keep evolving like Pokémon, an SSL certificate is a must-have.
Websites with an SSL certificate will make it look more reputable and trustworthy. Not having one, and expecting users to input personal information like their name and email address, or worse, their credit card information, may even cause them to flee. It’s a blatant warning sign when the lock is open, there is no lock at all, or the words “not secure” are displayed in red. It doesn’t mean that the website is malicious, but it does mean that it is susceptible to malicious attacks. Is that samurai outfit for your cat really worth ordering if means potentially having your credit card information compromised?
Depending on your business’ needs, you will either require a free or paid SSL certificate. What’s the difference? Let’s take a look.
Free SSL Certificates
Free SSL certificates are convenient for bloggers and small website owners that don’t necessarily need to process payments online. Free SSL certificates are becoming more common to find online and they’re moderately quick and painless to set up.
The best part about a free SSL certificate is that it’s, well, free. Canadian Web Hosting shared hosting customers can request to have AutoSSL set up, a free 3-month certification with the option for renewal. There are also SSL companies online that offer free domain-validated (DV) certificates. A DV certificate is a server security certification that provides the lowest level of validation on the market.
Free SSL certificates do have their drawbacks. SSL providers have stricter term lengths and set up limitations for the renewal process. Many companies only offer 3-month SSL certificates, after which the customer has to request to have it renewed again, which means setting up regular reminders for yourself if you go the free route.
Because free SSLs are generated automatically, most SSL providers only offer DV certificates, which offer the lowest level of affirmation on the web. If you want extended protection and verification for your organization, you’ll have to pay for an Organization Validation (OV) or Extended Validation (EV) certificate, as these require an actual person to set up and the process is a bit more in-depth.
Like paid SSL certificates, free SSLs boost your SEO. Google cares less about whether you paid for your certificate and more about whether your website information is encrypted.
Level of Difficulty
Not only are DV SSL certificates free, they’re often completely automated, which means they’re super easy to set up. Some hosting providers, like Canadian Web Hosting, will set up automated SSL certificates for their customers upon request. In general, providers that offer free SSLs will have a customer service department to help you set up your certificate. If the provider doesn’t include customer support that’s where you’ll need to be a bit tech-savvy and check out community forums if you encounter an issue.
Paid SSL Certificates
Paid certificates can be purchased from a variety of retailers and they vary in price, from $50-$1000 for a year. They can be expensive but they’re a necessary cost if you are selling things online. If you want customers to feel secure on your website, you’ll need to add an SSL certificate into your business’ budget.
[epq-quote align=”align-center”]If you want customers to feel secure on your website, you’ll need to add an SSL certificate to your business’ budget.[/epq-quote]
Paid certificates terms last for 1 year. They’re often more affordable the longer you commit, so you may want to think long-term if you know your business will be around.
Paid certificates offer further liability protection and coverage of affiliated subdomains. If you’re a business owner or own an eCommerce store, think of a paid certificate as insurance. The higher-quality the certificate, the more protection you and your customers will have against potential risks.
In addition to validating your domain like a regular SSL certificate, paid certificates come with Organization Validation (OV) and Extended Validation (EV). OV SSLs mean the actual business behind the website is also verified. OVs are common with corporations, governments, and other entities that want to build an extra level of trust. EV SSLs provide the maximum amount of trust to your visitors and take the most effort to validate. A fully validated EV certificate will display the organization’s name on the left-hand side of your browser in green.
Google has confirmed that having an SSL certificate gives your website a ranking boost. Increasing your site’s SEO is already enough reason to secure your website!
Level of Difficulty
Setting up an SSL certificate can be a little daunting if you’ve never done it before. You’ll have to download the certification and generate a CSR (certificate signing request). If you’re unsure, contact your hosting provider to walk you through the steps or even set it up for you.
Free or Paid? The Decision is Yours
SSL certificates aren’t mere web decor; they’re an important part of security and web marketing. Whether you choose a free or paid one, having an SSL certificate will give you and those who visit your website peace of mind. If you wouldn’t trust a website without an SSL certificate, why should your customers trust your website if you don’t have one?
Speak to our support team about setting up free AutoSSL or purchasing a paid SSL certificate for your website.