Before we get into answering that question, let’s start by looking at how to recognize if a site is secure and what an SSL certificate is. If you look at the address bar on this page, you’ll see “https” at the beginning of the web address. The “s” on the end lets you know that your connection is secure. There is also a lock pictured in the address bar, further signifying the security of the site.
You’ve seen this before, and you’ve seen sites that aren’t secure and don’t have an SSL certificate. So what exactly is an SSL certificate? SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. SSL is the standard security technology that enables encrypted communication between a web browser and a web server. It allows for a private conversation between the website and its users, decreasing the risk of sensitive information like usernames, passwords, emails and credit card numbers from being stolen by hackers or identity thieves.
To break that down even more, an SSL certificate is installed on a web server to authenticate the website and encrypt data being transmitted.
We all have so much sensitive information and we have ways of protecting that sensitive information. Unique usernames and passwords, some that require a change every 60-90 days, and require a combination of characters…capital, lower case, numbers, special characters, etc. We have PIN numbers, and are asked for billing zip code for an extra layer of security.
After knowing about what an SSL certificate does and thinking about the sensitive information that we possess and want to protect, I’m certain you have several reasons right off the top of your head for why your website should have an SSL certificate. I’m going to give you my top 5 reasons. See how many made your list.
- Trust and credibility for your customers.
This is an absolutely huge one, especially if you collect any kind of information from your customers via your website. Almost every website has some sort of lead capture or contact form to collect emails and other customer information, but even if you don’t collect information from them and your site is purely informational, it’s still important. The simple fact that the browser address bar shows that lock and says it’s secure gives your customer piece of mind and trust in your business.
People do business with people and companies that they trust. This one seemingly minor thing could mean that a potential customer that is considering doing business with you just moves on to the next business offering the same or similar service. You can’t always calculate the lost business, but you can certainly calculate the revenue when that new customer contacts you and you close the sale.
- Protection against hackers and cyber criminals
From what we know already about SSL certificates, it’s understandable that this one makes the list. We hear about it in the news all the time when some company or government gets hacked and millions of customers’ sensitive data gets leaked.
When this happens, it really hurts the credibility of the company and can really hurt the bottom line. The cost of lost customers and the cost of making it right can really add up. Even worse, think about the millions of customers worrying about what could happen to them. What if their identity is stolen and used? Credit, financial future and reputations could be destroyed. That is a far worse cost.
To be clear, an SSL certificate can’t protect from the kind of attacks we hear about in the news. That’s something else and of course is large scale, but it gets to the point of risk to the company and the customer that inadequate security poses. An SSL certificate will help make the individual transactions and exchanges of information across your site secure.
- SEO advantages
If you have a business and a website, chances are you’ve at least had some conversations about how your site ranks in search and how SEO can help improve your rankings. And if your wondering how SEO can help your business, read my blog post on Local SEO. If you rank on the first page, and better yet in the first 2 or 3 listings, you have a tremendous advantage over your competition. There are many layers and strategies, an SSL certificate is another piece of that puzzle.
We’ve already talked about the trust factor that an SSL can have with your customers. It will do the same with search engines. Across the internet companies are working to improve the UX (user experience) of their customers. Google is no different, and with Chrome being the most popular browser, and Google search the most popular search engine, it’s important to understand what Google is doing.
Google wants its users to feel secure using the internet and part of how it is doing that is by giving secure sites, those with an SSL, a ratings boost. We’ll talk about Google some more below.
- Improved site speed
An SSL certificate can also improve the speed of your site. If you’re a reader of this blog, we’ve talked about the importance of site speed before and how the average human attention span is down to as little as 8 seconds!
Improved site speed helps improve the users experience and help keep them from bouncing to another site. If you’ve invested time, energy and money on other aspects of your site to keep the user engaged, your site speed can help get them there.
And site speed is another factor in SERP, so improved speed, even a modest one, can have a positive effect on how your site ranks in search.
- Your site is displayed properly
This is another big one. When someone types in your address, or clicks on your site in search, what do they see? You’ve made an investment in your website, hopefully they see what you intended for them to see.
If you don’t have an SSL certificate, the best case is that your visitor sees that your site is not secure and continues on to interact with your site.
We’ve already established that Google search will favor a secure site over one that isn’t secure. How does it affect your business if this is what a user sees when they get to your site?
As unfortunate as it is for this local business owner, the user will move on to the next business. One that they can learn more about and one where the company can begin establishing a trusted relationship.
OK, I said top 5, but I’m going to give you one more reason. It doesn’t cost much! When you add this on top of all of the other reasons above, you can quickly see how it can end up costing you more…much more…NOT to have an SSL certificate on your site.
Between the speed and SEO advantages, your site being seen as intended (versus potentially not at all), and the trust built with your site’s visitors, you’re far ahead. Add in the protection against hackers and it really is a no-brainer.
Ben McVay leads PinPoint Local in Northeast Cincinnati. We work with local Cincinnati businesses and focus on driving more customers to you by improving your online presence. Looking for more information? You can request a free website audit or consultation by completing the form below.