Online security breaches have been making headlines over the last few years, and consumers are understandably concerned that their personal data could all too easily fall into the wrong hands. With more and more of our time and money being spent online, the focus is firmly on digital security, ensuring that users and their data are properly protected.
Fortunately, tech giants such as Google are committed to keeping online users safe, and are bringing in additional measures to do just that. While it may seem as though businesses are constantly jumping through hoops to conform to ever-changing practices, the more care and attention that a company puts into data protection, the better the outcome for everyone. Businesses should aim to treat their customers’ personal information as carefully as they would treat their own.
You may have heard that SSL certificates are becoming essential for business websites, and this article aims to give you an overview of what this actually means.
Google is flagging websites as “Not Secure”
With the release of Chrome version 62, Google has begun to flag unencrypted websites as “Not Secure”. This means that if you don’t have an SSL certificate, Google Chrome users will see a warning next to your URL in the address bar.
Google has estimated that two-thirds of the web will be deemed “unsafe”. While you likely don’t have any malicious intentions, lack of digital security is a big turn-off for consumers and they are much less likely to trust your website and, by extension, your company.
What is an SSL certificate?
A Secure Sockets Layer or SSL certificate is a data file that establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a browser.
When information is sent without encryption, any computer between the input and the server is able to read it. This includes passwords, credit card information and contact details. An SSL certificate essentially scrambles the data before it is sent, making it unreadable by anyone other than the server that the certificate is linked to.
Does my website need an SSL certificate?
You will need an SSL certificate if:
- Your website receives any kind of text input, including log-ins, contact forms and even search bars
- Your website sits on http rather than https
The bond of trust between company and consumer is vital to brand reputation and repeat custom, so it’s essential that, no matter what your industry, you put privacy and security at the forefront of your business strategy.
If your competitors’ websites are marked as unsafe and yours isn’t, you’ll give potential customers another reason to choose you over them. Far from poaching business through underhand tactics, you will be able to tempt them over by demonstrating your trustworthiness and commitment to keeping them safe, developing customer loyalty and retention.
Chrome makes up almost 60% of the world’s browser market share, so if your website is flagged as unsecure, a huge chunk of your potential customers are going to see it. A recent survey by internet marketing researchers HubSpot found that 82% of Chrome users would leave a website upon learning that it unsecure.
With over 2 billion Chrome users worldwide, it’s essential that you act on this to avoid loss of revenue and damage to your reputation.
Will not having an SSL certificate affect my Google rankings?
Google has publically stated that security features such as https and SSL certificates are ranking factors, so a website that uses SSL may be favoured over one that does not. Non-compliance with Google’s recommendations is therefore highly likely to have a negative effect on your SEO, leading to a drop in your organic search traffic.
If Google chooses in the future to highlight websites as “Not Secure” within the search results page, users may think that the site is untrustworthy or that it has been compromised without even visiting it. We all know how important first impressions are, so there’s a risk that you could lose their custom forever.
Will not having an SSL certificate affect my PPC campaign?
If you’re running PPC adverts through Adwords and aren’t using an SSL certificate, you may end up paying for a whole lot of nothing.
No matter how enticing your ads are, if a visitor click through to your website only to discover that it’s not secure, they’re probably not going to stick around. If you’re not careful, your cost per conversion will skyrocket, as you’ll be paying for clicks that aren’t yielding sales.
Don’t undo the hard work that you’ve put into crafting your adverts and budgeting your bids by letting customers click through to an unsecure site.
How do I secure my site with an SSL certificate?