SSL Certificate

What is an ssl certificate
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Written by Simon

Last Updated 16/12/2023

SSL Certificate

This tutorial will guide you through activating and forcing an SSL Certificate on your WordPress website. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and it is a security protocol used to secure data transfer between two machines using encryption.

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL refers to an encryption protocol. SSL functions similarly to how encryption works on WhatsApp on your phone. What this means is that your device and the device you’re messaging have a key and this gives only these devices access to the information needed to read the messages. The same is true with website data.

Websites use SSL to ensure that the connection between your visitor’s computer and your website’s server is secure and that no one can jump in and hijack the information as it’s streaming back and forth. This becomes even more important when your website begins to take payments. SSL safeguards your customers’ personal information during a transaction.

Every day, we encounter websites with SSL certification. More than ninety per cent of web traffic is now believed to be encrypted! So how can we tell the difference between a website which has SSL and one that doesn’t? 

Each web browser has its unique way of displaying a website that has SSL encryption. Some may show a padlock before the website URL. But if you are unsure whether the site you are visiting has an SSL Certificate, the best thing to do is check the domain. There are two types:

  • HTTP
  • HTTPS
Example of HTTPS in URL

Only HTTPS websites have an SSL certificate. This means if we look at the screenshot above of PODTech’s URL, we can see it reads:

https:// www.podtech.co.uk

As the URL contains HTTPS, we can rest easy knowing PODTech’s website is running an SSL protocol. 

SSL can be expensive, but every PODTech hosting plan comes with a free SSL Certificate installed as standard! Hosting plans >

Do I Need an SSL Encryption?

There is no requirement by law to have an SSL protocol on your website. Consider from your visitor’s perspective: compromising personal information, such as location and credit card details, could deter them from visiting a website. I think not. There are rumours that Google ranks down websites not running an SSL protocol, which makes sense! One of Google’s main ranking criteria is Credible Content. Google wants to ensure it is recommending reliable websites to its users, and what better way to show this than with an SSL Certificate? 

 Since October 2017 Google now flags any website that doesn’t have SSL installed with a warning message. 

So whether you take payments or not we would always recommend installing an SSL certificate. 

Recommended Reading: What is SEO?

Will SSL Keep My Website Secure

The SSL protocol only deals with the encryption of data. Many beginners fall into a false sense of security and overlook that SSL serves for encryption only. To ensure your website is secure from hackers, you will need a security system in place as well as a firewall. Without this protection, you run the risk of your website being infected with malware. There are some great companies out there that can remove malware from your site and give it the protection it needs. We recommend Sucuri. 

Sucuri are the best out there, but they can be quite expensive. If you are looking to give your website a basic level of security, we have created a tutorial for a free option below.

Security company: sucuri.net

Recommended Reading: Installing a free WordPress security system

Recommended Reading: WordPress Website SSL Installation

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