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What is an SSL Certificate and Does My Website Need One?

As a marketing agency, we normally include setting up an SSL Certificate for any client website that we design or build. After all, a website that is not Google-friendly is kind of like that old saying, "if a tree falls in the woods..." right? If no one can hear the tree, if no one can see your website, what is the point?

In this article, we explain what an SSL Certificate actually is and why you may need one to help your website get found on search engines around the world.

What is an SSL Certificate?

"SSL Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the https protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser. Typically, SSL is used to secure credit card transactions, data transfer and logins, and more recently is becoming the norm when securing browsing of social media sites."


How Does an SSL Certificate Work?

"SSL Certificates use something called public key cryptography. This particular kind of cryptography harnesses the power of two keys which are long strings of randomly generated numbers. One is called a private key and one is called a public key. A public key is known to your server and available in the public domain. It can be used to encrypt any message.

If Alice is sending a message to Bob she will lock it with Bob’s public key but the only way it can be decrypted is to unlock it with Bob’s private key. Bob is the only one who has his private key so Bob is the only one who can use this to unlock Alice’s message. If a hacker intercepts the message before Bob unlocks it, all they will get is a cryptographic code that they cannot break, even with the power of a computer.

If we look at this in terms of a website, the communication is happening between a website and a server. Your website and server are Alice and Bob.

When a certificate is successfully installed on your server, the application protocol (also known as HTTP) will change to HTTPs, where the ‘S’ stands for ‘secure’."


Why Do I Need an SSL Certificate?

"An organization needs to install the SSL Certificate onto its web server to initiate a secure session with browsers. Once a secure connection is established, all web traffic between the web server and the web browser will be secure. SSL Certificates protect your sensitive information such as credit card information, user names, passwords etc."


Installing the SSL Certificate will add to the trust between you and your customers, and also, between your website, and Google search.

As of 2018, Google has marked a warning on all non-secure pages with a "Not Secure" in the URL bar.

"This type of warning may easily be interpreted by visitors to mean that your site has been hacked or compromised affecting the perceived credibility of your website."


Installing an SSL Certificate will also help to boost your Google rankings and SEO. For years Google has encouraged websites to install SSL Certificates, and have pushed the protocol by boosting the rankings of HTTPS secure websites in Chrome browser searches.


An SSL Certificate can usually be purchased along with your domain name from your host provider (ie: GoDaddy, HostGator, etc.).

If you STILL have questions about SSL certificates, (admittedly, the information above is fairly dry and technical), please don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at Beyond The Trend. I’d be happy to speak with you personally, or have one of our crew take a look at your current web set-up. They are tech-savvy pros that have worked with all kinds of websites, old and new, and would be happy to help you better understand your SSL, SEO, and hosting situation.

Wishing you smooth sailing and search engine optimization,

Captain Morgen

Morgen Reynolds, Founder, Beyond The Trend - Brand Production

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We're easy to reach. Really.




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