So, you’ve registered your domain name and got your website up and running. Everything’s looking great, and your business is off to a good start – and then a contact asks if your website will be secured with an SSL certificate. Don’t panic, and don’t be ashamed if you don’t know what one is – it’s more common than you think! And we’ve made a handy little guide for you, so get ready to become an SSL expert.

What is a SSL?

First, the basics. SSL is short for Secure Sockets Layer. Simply, it’s a way for small businesses to show their customers that they can browse, purchase products and share information with you safely via an online connection. The SSL is effectively a safety net that catches all the digital ‘bugs’ and keeps them away from site visitors and potential customers, so to speak. It’s a protective barrier for you, your customers and your website. And if you’re thinking ‘surely, my website’s too small and insignificant to be a target for such things’, then you’d be wrong. Keep in mind that most hacks and such are done electronically and automatically, without human decision. All that’s being searched for is vulnerabilities, in a large target or a small one. So it’s better to be safe than sorry.

So, does your site need an SSL certificate?

To answer this, you’ll need to ask yourself a few important questions. Firstly, do you plan to accept major credit cards online? If yes, you’ll probably need a merchant account, and most of these already require an SSL certificate regardless. An SSL certificate is usually needed before accepting major credit cards, and you’ll probably want one anyway if you want to reassure your customers that your connection is secure. Why would they want to risk their credit card information being stolen? Having that SSL certificate gives them peace of mind and pretty much guarantees repeat visits to your site. On the other hand, some online store programs offer build-in secure payment systems, so in this case, you might not need an SSL certificate for your small business website.

There are other reasons you could need an SSL certificate, however – not only does it protect your customers credit card information, it will also protect password logins. If any of your pages required a password to gain access, and they aren’t properly protected, it provides a hacker with an easy opportunity to get into your website. This also applies for WordPress websites with a login page for the administrator, not just customer login pages.

Some websites collect information instead of money – for example, a website involving questionnaires. Having an SSL certificate on these types of websites secures all the information that these online forms take in, as some types of form mail can be easily intercepted by hackers. Do you really want to risk information like names, addresses and phone numbers? Probably not.

An SSL certificate is always recommended if you want to protect the information on your site and help Google improve the rank of your site. Getting an SSL means you will get more traffic from Google because it will have ranked higher. If your site is without an SSL Certificate get in touch with us and we will be happy to help.

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