Did you know that is now a requirement to have an SSL Certificate associated your site? That’s right. What was once only a requirement for sites who were doing money transactions online is now for everyone. This is in addition to a few critical pages that all sites needs (more on that in a future post). I have attended several webinars and watch tons of YouTube videos but have only come across one person who has ever mention this topic.
I’m not sure why but since I have created my own shop right here on this site, I started doing my own research to make sure I was meeting all of the new requirements. So in this post, I’m answering a very important question that any beginner business owner should be asking themselves.
What is a SSL Certificate?
An SSL Certificate a small data file that you purchase. This file is linked to your domain and is install it on your hosting account. It changes your URL from http to https. This gives a signal to anyone who comes to your site the comfort of knowing that it’s secure and his or her information will be encrypted. It is highly recommended that you get one if you are collecting any type of personal information.
Why should you have one?
Some tools you may use to collect payments on your site may be required you have an SSL Certificate. Another reason to have one is that Google has stated that they will give better rankings to secure websites. Since its harder to rank on the first page of a Google search these days, any advantage is better than nothing.
What type of certificate should you get?
When you go to purchase an SSL Certificate, it can be very confusing because there are so many different types. There are three main groupings that you will come across. The first type is a Domain Validation Certificate. This certificate only requires that you prove that you own the domain name. The second type is an Organization Validation Certificate.
For this certificate, you have to prove ownership of the domain. Plus your business needs to be legally registered. The last is the Extended Validation Certificate. That one requires that you also prove that you own the domain, your business is registered, plus prove additional information. What is unique about this type of certificate is that it’s the only one that displays a green bar with your company’s name in the web browser.
What are your options if you can’t afford a certificate?
If you cannot afford to purchase an SSL Certificate at the moment but you still want to protect yourself, there are some options. For starters you can use PayPal buttons. How does it work? Well, when someone makes a purchase on your site, they will be redirected to PayPal to make the payment. Upon successful payment, you can have PayPal redirect them back to your site. Or you can use plugins like WooCommerce with PayPal.
Unless you have the SSL Certificate, you should not require customers to create an account at checkout. They will still be redirected to PayPal to make a payment. There are other payment option to use but they require the certificate. Other methods include using third-party websites such as GumRoad, Selz, Etsy, Big Cartel, Shopify, to name a few. If you are using Squarespace, you should be using either their business or online store packages.
Where can you purchase an SSL Certificate?
If you are going with the third party site you may be able to hold off on getting a certificate. They should already be a secure website. If you do not see the “https” at the site of their url, don’t use them. However, you are the type of person who doesn’t want to put all their eggs in one basket and sell on multiple platforms, including your own website then you are going to need a certificate.
I would first check with your web hosting provider, some plans come with free certificates. However, you have to make sure it’s the correct one for what you will be doing on your site. The Domain Validation Certificate only covered so much. Another reason your hosting is the first and best place you should get your certificate is because they may be a fee for installing one that was purchased somewhere else.
If you are like myself and purchase your web hosting and domain separately, you will have two places to do a price comparison. I recommend HostGator (*affiliate link) for hosting. They are affordable and provide great customer service. I also recommend Name Cheap (*affiliate link). You can get your domain name at a very affordable price, including one year of WhoisGuard for free. Plus they also offer a variety of SSL Certificates, especially for eCommerce websites.
How many SSL Certificates do I need to purchase?
It depends on your needs. There are SSL Certificates that will just cover a single domain and others that include multiple domains as well as subdomains. So what does that mean? Your domain is www.yourdomain.com and its cover by a basic certificate. If it also covers a subdomain, that’s anything resembling: www.mail.yourdomain.com or www.support.yourdomain.com. Remember your budget.