Do I Need SSL For My Website?
(Not Secure Website Fix)
Yes, you need to have a SSL Certificate setup on your website today. Google uses this as one of many ranking factors to determine whether to show your website on page 1 of the results when people search for the products / services / information that you offer. If you don’t have a SSL Certificate setup, Google may penalize you (drop you lower in the search results) and potential visitors will be clearly shown that their information is not secure on your site.
Should All Websites Have SSL?
Today? Yes! Before 2014, you really only needed to have an SSL certificate on your website (and only on specific pages) when you were collecting personal information from a visitor (like the checkout page of an ecommerce website, or a page where they enter their email / phone / address to contact you).
In 2014, Google changed all of that though. They hinted that whether a website had SSL would become a factor that determines that website’s ranking in the search engine. In other words:
If your website has an SSL, you will begin to outrank the websites that do not.
And, if you have noticed, when you visit a website that does not have an SSL, Google Chrome now just flat out tells you in big letters that the site is not secure. This alone can drive potential customers away from your website very quickly – especially if your competitors do have their SSL setup.
But, Why Is SSL Required For A Website?
The short answer is because that is what web searches told Google they wanted. Google’s own data from Google Chrome shows that more than 70% of searchers are choosing to browse HTTPS websites (sites with SSL Certificates) over plain HTTP sites (those without SSL).
To Google, this indicates that their users want safer, more secure websites to use. And, this has pushed two pretty dramatic steps regarding websites, and how they rank in their search engine:
Starting in 2014, Google indicated that whether or not a website used SSL would be one of the factors that determined the ranking within search results (and data indicates that this is indeed in place and affecting search engine results). In other words, if you are not using HTTPS, and your competitors are, they will start outranking your in the search results.
Since 2018, browsers who use Google Chrome and visit a website that does not have SSL installed properly are shown a “Not Secure” tag right next to the URL when they are on the website (essentially a warning that they should be wary of this website and find another provider for the service / product / information that they are looking for).
The message from Google is very simple – if you want Google to trust your website and send potential customers to you, and if you want those visitors to stay on your site and do business with you, then you better be using HTTPS (SSL) website security.
How Much Does An SSL Certificate Cost?
An SSL Certificate used to be extremely expensive (with few, if any, affordable options). Today, things are a little different. Most web hosts (Godaddy, Blue Host, Hostgator, etc) will sell you an SSL certificate for a rather reasonable price (typically under $100 / year).
However, there are now free options as well. the website LetsEncrypt will now give you a free SSL Certificate that you can use on your website to deliver the HTTPS experience that Google wants your visitors to have.
My research has found that the prices for an SSL Certificate ranges from 100% free at LetsEncrypt up to $1,499 / year at Symantec. And, in reality, both of those options provide the same level of protection for your visitors.
What Type Of SSL Do I Need For My Website?
If you are running a small business website for your service business, your medical practice, or even a emcoomerce site to sell your merchandise, a standard SSL Certificate (such as the free one that you can get from LetsEncrypt or purchase from your hosting provider). In reality, you don’t need anything more special than that.
How Do I Add SSL To My Website?
The process is acutally a lot simpler than you think. If you want to purchase your SSL through your hosting provider, purchase the SSL Certificate and they will assist you in adding it to your domain(s) – they might even do it for you automatically once its purchased.
If you are going to go with the free SSL from LetsEncrypt (which I do recommend as I use it on my own websites – including this one you are on right now) you can just follow my simple process.
Let’s go through it step-by-step while I add a new SSL Certificate to one of my websites.
* Note – if you go with the free SSL option, you will have to update it every 3 months to remain current.
Step 1: Get Your SSL Certificate
There are a few simple ways to get a LetsEncrypt certificate online, but I usually use this simple online SSL generator for mine: https://www.sslforfree.com/
Step 2: Manually Verify Your Domain
I always choose manual verification – which is simple if you have FTP access to your website server, or access to the File Manager in CPanel. So, go ahead and click for manual verification (see below).
Step 3: Upload The Domain Verification Files
Download files #1 and #2 to your computer, and then upload them both to your web server using your favorite FTP program, or the File Manager inside your CPanel.
They need to be uploaded to the following directory:
Note – if the .well-known/acme-challenge/ directory doesn’t exist yet, you need to create it.
Once it is created, simply upload the two files you downloaded into it.
Step 4: Test The Domain Verification
After you have uploaded the two verification files, you need to check that the verification worked correctly. All you have to do is click the two links on the page (see image below) – as long as they show a long string of numbers / letters when you open them, everything is ok and you can go ahead and install your new SSL Certificate.
Step 5: “Download” Your New SSL Certificate
Click the “Download SSL Certificate” button and you will be taken to a new page with your SSL Certificate on it for you to install inside your CPanel. See the image(s) below.
You can simply copy paste the 3 separate Certificate documents from the next page that loads. See the image below.
The three (3) documents that you need are:
Step 6: Install Your New SSL Certificate In CPanel
Start by clicking the “SSL / TLS” module inside CPanel. See the image below:
Then go to “Manage / Install SSL Certificates” – See image below:
On the next page, select the domain that you are installing the new SSL Certificate for, and then paste the 3 separate Certificate documents into the appropriate fields and click the “Install Certificate” button to complete the process. See image below:
Work With The Best Small Business Website Designer
I am Matthew, and I specialize in small business website design, ecommerce web design, and search engine optimization for small & medium sized businesses. If your website is outdated, needs a little bit of cleaning up, or isn’t really generating the kind of business results you had hoped, contact me today and let’s see what we can do get you more traffic, more leads, and more business with a powerful, modern online presence.