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What is an SSL Certificate and Why Do I Need One?

Website owners might be hearing more about SSLs lately. If you’re a busy business owner (is there another kind?), you probably wondering what that means and whether you care. The answer to the last part is: Yes, you do. But let’s back up a minute.

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. The simple explanation is that this is a way of keeping files secure online by encrypting data as it is transferred between websites and servers. Websites that handle credit card transactions, data transfers, and passwords use SSL to prevent hackers from grabbing that information. You obtain and then install an SSL Certificate on your server to establish a secure connection. Websites that use SSL have “https” instead of “http” in the URL — the “s” standing for “secure.” You will also see a padlock or green bar and the word “secure” at the top left of your browser.

Why Do I Need an SSL Certificate?

Many business owners have not needed this type of security. B2B businesses, for example, use their websites as lead generation tools and brochures, but may not directly accept credit cards or handle sensitive information. However, Google is now giving more weight to websites with SSL Certificates. Remember, Google and other search engines want their customers to feel confident when searching the web. So they are going to push more secure pages higher in the search engine rankings. The king of search engines has made it clear that SSL is the new normal. While the SEO weight of an SSL is not as high as many other factors, it is making a difference.

How Do I Get an SSL Certificate?

Speak to your website provider or host for more information about obtaining an SSL Certificate. You can, of course,  buy one through Green Geeks and other domain sites, but you might be paying more. Check with your web expert about the best place to get one. This certificate will cover your website and all of its pages.

What is a Wildcard SSL?

If your website has subdomains, you will need to buy a wildcard SSL Certificate. The wildcard certificate will cover an unlimited number of subdomains. For example, your site might be awesomebusiness.com with pages such as awesomebusiness.com/about. That’s covered under a normal SSL Certificate. But a subdomain such as myra.awesomebusiness.com would not be included.

Confused? We understand! Contact us with your questions about how to manage this and maintain a secure website for your business.

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