Until recently, SSL certificates were mainly found on websites using e-commerce and/or collecting large amounts of personal information and credit card details. However in the last few years, changes by Google have made it necessary to consider SSL for even the simplest of sites. In late 2014 Google announced that SSL was going to be rolled out as a ranking factor, meaning those websites using SSL will receive a boost in their search rankings, and in 2017 they announced that any website that does not have SSL will display an “insecure connection” error message.
What is SSL?
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. The indicators of websites that have SSL are they start with “https://” (rather than “http://”) and have a green padlock nearby. This secure link ensures that any data passed between the server and browser remains private and safe.
The Google “Not Secure” Error Message
If your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, it will display a ‘Not Secure’ in the URL bar.
Types of SSL
Depending on what type of website you are running will determine the type of SSL you require. If you are running a shop where you process payments online, a premium SSL certificate is recommended, which will offer higher levels of security and extended validation. But if your site, like mine, doesn’t process payments, you’re totally fine to use a SSL service like Lets Encrypt or Auto SSL, of which many major hosting companies are now including as part of their hosting package.
So do I need SSL?
If you care about your Google rankings and wish to instill trust in your website visitors, then yes!