Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the past few months, I’m sure you’ve at least seen a few headlines talking about SSL and blah, blah, blah. If you’ve been ignoring all this information, it’s time to stop! At the beginning of 2017 Google and other search engines are paying more attention to sites that are secured with SSL certificates. In the next few years sites that are not encrypted with an SSL certificate may even be blocked. Bottom line — SSL = better SEO.

You may be wondering, what’s the point of all this fuss? Well, unless your website is encrypted with an SSL certificate, it’s available on the network (mulitple computers that the information is sent over before reaching it’s destination server) for anyone to see and even change. It is especially important to have this extra layer of security when collecting information from your website visitors. If you are not careful, it can be rather easy to have your personal and private information or even your entire website hijacked and fall into the wrong hands on the Internet. WordPress sites are especially vulnerable to being attacked. SSL encryption allows for secure connections from a web server to a browser and vice versa. Here are some common FAQs:

Do I absolutely need to have an SSL certificate for my website?

Yes! It’s time to stop putting this off. If you collect any information on your site such as payment, email, and other personal details, SSL is a must. Besides promoting trust between you and your website visitors, you get an SEO boost.

Aren’t SSL certificates only necessary for e-commerce sites?

This used to be true, but not anymore. With the increase in cyber crime, having an SSL certificate is more important than ever. Having a visible sign of security provides your website visitors with a lot of confidence.

How can I tell if my website has an SSL certificate?

If your website has an SSL certificate the url prefix will display as https instead of http. Your browser will also show a green lock next to the url showing that it’s secure.

Is an SSL certificate expensive and how can I go about purchasing one?

SSL certificates are very affordable and well worth it. If you have traditional hosting, there are a number of free options such as Let’s Encrypt or Amazon Web Services. If you’re using Managed WordPress Hosting, you can purchase an SSL through your provider and they’re very easy to set up. There are a lot of pros and cons when choosing a free SSL vs. a paid one.

Any tips on setting up an SSL certificate myself?

Once you have your SSL certificate setup through whatever service provider you go with, you’ll have to make a few adjustments to your site before you get the nice green lock next to your url. The first thing I like to do is install Better Search and Replace and find/replace all http://yourdomain.com with https://yourdomain.com. If you’re lucky this will be enough. A lot of times you’ll have third party links or assets on your site like google fonts which use http in their urls. This mixed content will prevent the nice green lock from showing up. If so, you’ll want to install Really Simple SSL which will take care of the mixed content most of the time. The last step is to update Google Analytics and Webmaster tools to reflect your new url.

Is there a way I can have someone set up my site with SSL for me?

Absolutely! Reach out to one of the web designers in the Elegant Marketplace or the Website Care Team at Site Rockstar and someone would be happy to help you out.

Leave a comment about what your experience has been with getting your website set up with SSL and any tips you’d like to share.

Anna Buzzelli
Anna Buzzelli is a Graphic Designer turned Web Developer. She's a lifelong learner with a strong entrepreneurial spirit which makes her specialty of WordPress Website Maintenance the perfect fit!