Is an SSL certificate really essential for your freelancer website?

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Have you got an SSL certificate for your website?

No?

Oh. I guess you don’t care about your SEO then?

Look, that might be pretty rude, but I’m only thinking about your traffic volumes here. Without that trusty green padlock next to your website’s URL, you’re going to see your traffic drop.

Allow me to explain.

HTTPS is now an important ranking factor when it comes to search engine optimisation

Until recently, the requirement for a secure site was for those websites selling products or requesting personal information. For everyone else, it was a ‘nice to have’.

Now, Google has determined that it should be a necessity for all websites.

In 2016, Google announced that it was introducing changes to their search engine algorithms, meaning that secure sites would rank much higher than non-secure websites.

Until now, the effects in terms of actual ranking have been relatively small, but all that’s set to change come October 2017. That’s because Chrome version 62 will be released. Because of this update, any websites requiring any kind of text input – we’re talking contact form, email subscriber collection, etc, will require an SSL certificate. Failure to do so will result in a ‘not secure’ warning in the address bar.

Ok, so that’s hardly mandatory then, right? I mean, there are other browsers out there.

Sure, you can carry on without one, but you’ll certainly see your traffic drop as a result. That’s because Google Chrome dominates the browser market with 62% of people using Chrome to navigate the internet. When you consider that other browsers don’t even come close (only 15% of people use Safari and a shockingly low 5% choosing FireFox), you can take a pretty safe bet that most of your target audience are using Google Chrome

Business owner writing blog posts in advance for social media marketingThe problem lies with the fact that as consumers today, we’re wary about insecure websites and hacking attempts. If you see a ‘this website is not secure’ warning, you’re going to click away, right? In fact, many anti-virus programs are actively denying you access to non-secure websites.

If you don’t have an SSL certificate on your website, potential customers might not be able to access it

 

It’s not just the fact that customers might not be able to land on your website, at all. There’s some evidence that Google has blacklisted non-https websites that allowed password and credit card fields to be filled.

Many SEO industry experts believe that Google will eventually make the move to blacklist or penalise all non-https websites in the future.

So what is an SSL certificate?

SSL stands for ‘Secure Sockets Layer’ and is a security technology that encrypts data sent between your computer, or mobile device, and a website. Without that encryption, any information sent from your computer to the website (and back again) can be picked up by someone else.

Essentially, SSL keeps data confidential and safe. It actually makes the information impossible to be intercepted and understood.

To have this on your website you need an SSL certificate.

The good news is that you can get an SSL certificate for free – so don’t get caught out by hosting companies and developers trying to cash in on the change.

Let’s Encrypt provides free SSL certificates and has a useful guide here. Insecure content on your website can be an issue and prevent that padlock from turning green, you can learn how to resolve those issues here.

Security is always going to be an important consideration for websites in the future, and I think it’s a good thing that Google is taking steps to protect the safety of its users. It might seem like a hassle to switch to https but it is worth it to ensure your website can be found easily and will protect the information of its users.

This blog was updated on the 26th February 2019 to include latest browser usage statistics. 

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Zoe Hughes

Zoe is an experienced content writer with a genuine passion for crafting creative content for websites to help businesses of all shapes and sizes gain a strong web presence and rapport with their target audience.
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