In 2018, we shared this blog explaining about Google’s latest security update. This update declared your website as unsecure to users if you do not have an SSL certificate. It seems like a lot of you clued on that this may impact your SEO (search engine optimisation) as we received a lot of questions post-blog. You’re right—it will impact your SEO and we have the statistics to prove it.
After we published the blog, we also received many questions asking what SSL encryption protects, if it can be compromised and how exactly you get one. We’re going to answer all your questions as well as tell you how to ensure your website is safe and secure.
Tip: The SEO question is answered midway down.
What does an SSL Certificate do?
You can skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know how an SSL certificate works. Basically, SSL encryption is the 21st century’s version of a wax seal on an envelope. Without getting into the SSL protocol and Root SSL certificates (trust us, it’s a brain cruncher), it combines the cryptographic key with data so it’s safely transferred. For example, website data going from the server to the user’s browser. HostingAdvice.com has a more in-depth explanation if you’re looking for more technical information.
Right now, an SSL certificate is not a legal requirement, however if there is a data breach and you’re sued, you may not have a leg to stand on.
So, what does SSL certification protect?
Pretty much, having an SSL certificate protects the information of the user and the website. For the user, this may be credit card and personal information, and for the website, it may be login details to their system, compromising their customers’ data. You can see why it’s so important.
The type of SSL certificate you get will depend on the number of domains and subdomains you have. If you have a single domain (www.yourbusinessname.com.au), you’ll be able to have a single-domain SSL. A wildcard SSL will cover multiple subdomains, such as if you have a blog. If you have multiple domains, websites or subdomains, you’ll need a multiple domain SSL. You can always contact us if you need any help with what domain you need.
How do I know if I have an SSL Certificate? And is it good enough?
Our Head of Search Strategy, Stuart Brown, made this video to give you the easiest way to check if you have a current SSL certificate.
However, even this may not be enough to protect against those pesky hackers. What you need to know is not all SSL certificates are made equally, and the free ones you can find online aren’t necessarily safe. Popping your website URL into an SSL checker will help pick up any potential problems.
Will not having an SSL certificate impact my SEO?
YES! From our own research, we have identified that 86.73% of the top 20 websites on Google’s search results use HTTPS (have an SSL certificate). Wow, right?
When you think about it, it makes sense. Google’s job is to provide the most relevant information to browsers. No one wants their information stolen, so Google sees non-secure websites as irrelevant—flagging them in their system. The less relevant, the further you are on the results pages and the less you’re seen.
So, what do you do about it? Firstly, check your website has HTTPS before the URL. Then, perform a scan on the SSL checker. If there’s a problem, such as not having that secure network, contact us now to get fixed up. Don’t waste your time trying to figure out legitimate from illegitimate and working out the coding of your website. We’ll do it for you.
When do I need an SSL certificate by?
Technically, if you have a website, you should of had one by July, 2018 in time for Google’s security update. No website should be deployed without one.
If you’re considering saving money by creating a free website, you may also want to think again. Unless an SSL certificate comes with your domain (if you’re registering one), you’re most likely not going to have an encrypted website. There’s also all the reasons we listed in our article Is a Free Website Any Good?
The best thing you can do is go with a trusted website developer who can provide everything you need, from hosting to website design and content all at once.