Do You Need a SSL Certificate?

The folks at Google are on a mission.  They want all websites to use SSL certificates in order to make the Internet safer for everyone.  In other words, they’d like to see all website URLs start with HTTPS instead of HTTP.

In the past, Google encouraged people to make this move by giving them a small SEO boost for having a SSL certificate.  Starting next month, Google is taking things one step further.

In October people using the Chrome browser will see warning messages in the URL bar on website pages with forms unless the pages are HTTPS.  This means that people will get warning messages on pages that contain:

  • contact forms
  • newsletter signups
  • comment forms
  • search bars
  • login panels

These warning will be in the URL bar will look like this:

No SSL Warning

Image from The Chromium Projects

So What’s an SSL Certificate? What’s the Installation Cost?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates make an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. The process of enabling a SSL certificate on a website depends on the website host as well as the website structure.

Some website hosts, like SiteGround, offer free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates. With Let’s Encrypt adding a SSL certificate is easy and fast.  For a simple WordPress site on SiteGround, it can take as little as half an hour to add the SSL certificate and change the settings so that all URLs start with HTTPS.

Some website hosts charge for SSL certificates.  I’ve seen prices ranging from $100 to $70 annually.  Some hosts also insist that you have a dedicated IP address and that’s an additional annual charge.

Once the SSL certificate has been added to a site, it’s important that all URLs within that site start with HTTPS.  If not, visitors to your site will get a warning message saying that some aspect of the website page isn’t secure.

To avoid those scary messages, it’s necessary to look at the site’s structure.  Is it done in WordPress or is it a hand-coded site?  Is there any custom code? Hand-coded sites or sites with custom coding may require some extra work to render error-free pages.

Does the site use advertising or newsletter services that come from another party? If so, are those codes secure?

As you can see, the cost and time involved in adding a SSL certificate to a website varies. If you’d like an estimate for adding a SSL certificate to your website, contact me.  I’d be happy to help.

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