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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 plan on creating 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 all business owners should be asking themselves.
What is a SSL Certificate?
An SSL Certificate a small data file that you purchase. The file is linked to your domain name. You have to 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.
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.
Recommended Reading: (1) Google Security Blog: Indexing HTTPS pages by default; (2) Digicert: Google Gives SSL-Secured Sites Search Ranking Boost
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.
Important Note: When you are purchasing be sure to look out for the certificate that is good for eCommerce and has at least a 256-byte encryption.
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, PayPal has button you can use to collect payments. 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. If you are on WordPress you can use plugins like WooCommerce with PayPal, Square and/or Stripe. All three of those are secure payment processors. Until you have the SSL Certificate, you should not require customers to create an account at checkout. Although Stripe will receive you to have the certificate in place before you can use it.
Where can you purchase an SSL Certificate?
If you are going with the third-party site (like Shopify) you may be able to hold off on getting a certificate. They should already be secured. If you do not see the “https” at the beginning of the site of their url or a lock in the browser bar, don’t use them. If this is not the case, I recommend first checking 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 there 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 (aff link) for hosting. They are affordable and provide great customer service. For domains I use Name Cheap (aff link). You can get your domain name at a very affordable price, including 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.
However, remember your budget. You don’t want to pay for things you don’t need. I hope I’ve been able to answer all of your questions about SSL Certificates. If you still need some clarification, please do not hesitate to leave your questions in the comments below.