SSL Certificates: Importance & Advantages

Anyone who conducts business or transactions on the web needs to be aware of the importance of SSL certificates.

Many people who make purchases or share sensitive personal information online will not visit a website unless the SSL certification is present; sites that don't have this feature may end up losing out on a high level of web traffic and conversions to sales.

Below you'll find an explanation of the terms commonly used, how the process works to protect you and your customers, and the advantages of having SSL certification on your site.

What is SSL?

SSL is short for secure socket layer. It provides important security features for websites that helps to protect against hackers and identity thieves who are seeking to obtain sensitive customer or website owner information through cyber attacks.

SSL guards against unauthorized access to customer information such as credit card numbers, names, addresses, telephone numbers and so on. It does this by securing the connection between the web browser used by the customer or site visitor and the server of the website they are visiting. This ensures that their information is kept safe from unintended or third parties.

All websites that conduct business transactions or deal with personal information need to have this type of security.

Everyone's information goes through a network of multiple computers

Each time you visit a website your information is sent from one server to another and it flows through more than one computer on its way to the intended destination server. The information that customers complete in order to conduct a transaction is no exception.

This makes it easy for skilled hackers to access the data unless it is secured by SSL certification. They are looking for sites which are not secured so they can prey upon your visitors for their criminal activities.

How SSL certification works

SSL encrypts sensitive information in a manner that makes it difficult for anyone outside of your site to understand. The information which is sent between you and your customer from one computer to another may be intercepted by hackers unless it is encrypted. The encryption makes all information shared between you and your customer impossible to read by inserting random characters which are unreadable by third parties. This renders the information totally useless to them and it provides protection for both you and your customers from becoming the victims of theft.

Your site will have the encryption key available for translating the information so business may be conducted seamlessly. This is known as a "public key infrastructure" or PKI and is how SSL certification creates a secure connection so both you and your customers are able to maintain privacy in the information that is shared.

Advantages of SSL certification

Visitors who are savvy with regard to SSL certification and the need for this security will be able to recognize whether or not your site is protected in a few different ways.

The first indicator is that the http protocol for your web address will be replaced with https and this will show that the page is secure. In addition to this, an image of a lock will appear in the location bar of the browser.

SSL certification will help to build a greater degree of consumer confidence in your online business. If potential customers visit your site and realize that there is no SSL cert security in place, they are very likely to go to sites that are secured to conduct their business.

Web traffic may increase to your site if similar businesses are not protected with SSL certification as customers would rather do their business with greater peace of mind that their sensitive information is being protected.

Authentication is an additional advantage that is provided by SSL certification.

A server certificate is issued at the same time that you receive your SSL certification. What this does is to validate your SSL certification and allow customers to see that the page they are about to enter is secured and is not a phishing scam.

It helps in ensuring that the information being transferred will not be rerouted to the server of a criminal who is out to steal your information.

Visitors will have greater confidence that they can trust that your website is not an imitation that is set up to gather personal information.

Compliance with industry regulations

If your website accepts credit card payments, then you are required to have SSL certification with satisfactory encryption of 128 bit or greater.

Verification of the SSL cert from a trusted source that provides the required level of encryption for security purposes with a private connection on all pages which gather sensitive information is necessary. Sites which do not meet these standards will not be allowed to accept payments by credit card.

SEO rankings are improved

Search engine optimization is important for reaching the people looking for your goods and services with your message. Google has joined the effort to help make web commerce safer from hackers and cyber thieves.

Google's initiative has tagged https websites in the search algorithm to be placed ahead of those without in search engine rankings. Any site that does not have an adequate strength of SSL will move down in rankings, potentially affecting web traffic.

Additional reasons why SSL certification is needed

Webmasters put time and effort into online businesses. It only takes one bad transaction to ruin what could otherwise be a successful and profitable business. Reputations are built by satisfied customers recommending your site through both word of mouth and by online ratings and reviews.

Customers who are satisfied with their experiences with your site will let others know. When something goes wrong, there is often even more incentive for them to share negative information and warnings about visiting your site.

SSL certification sends a definite message to all who visit your site, that you are concerned about the safety of your visitors and you've taken all possible measures to ensure their privacy for safe and online business transactions.

When it comes to website security, there is no substitute for SSL certification. Adding a SSL Certificate to your website may be one of the most important steps that you can take to enhance your attractiveness to potential visitors who are likely to be wary of sites who do not offer this service. With media publicizing the thousands of scams affecting internet shoppers, the greater public is well aware of the risks of entering unsecured websites.

You will have a definite edge over competing websites that do not offer this security.