Google is Cracking Down on Unsecured Websites

You may have received an email informing you that you should look into purchasing an SSL certificate for your website.  Here we go again with another acronym in the tech cyber world…..

Wait, what is an SSL?

Let me translate…

SSL, otherwise known as Secure Sockets Layer, is a protocol that websites take in order to ensure a secure connection between the website visitor and the server where the website is being hosted.  This secure connection is needed especially if the website visitor will be sharing personal information like their address, credit card numbers, or anything else a cyber stalker could potentially be interested in.  An SSL Certificate is an assurance that the information shared on a website will be sent in an encrypted (or secret coded), safe way. You usually can tell whether a website has an SSL certificate if you see HTTP with an “s” at the end, (HTTPS).  To put this in simple English, an SSL certificate tells you that a site is trustworthy and deemed as safe enough for you to share information.  

It used to be that the SSL certificates were required for sites that collected personal or payment information like credit cards or addresses.  But with the rise of spammers and cyber hackers, the need for additional security is essential.  

SSL Certificates consist of the following information:

  • The name of the holder (your business name)
  • Two keys to encrypt the data
  • A Serial number and an expiration date
  • A copy of the certificate holder’s public key
  • a digital signature of the certificate-issuing authority

Because the people at Google love their users, they are coming up with every possible way for them to feel safe and secure.  As a result, Google made an announcement last year that they will be flagging sites that do not have one.  If you use Chrome as your website browser, you may have started to see messages like this:

Not-Secure-URL-myrna-pd-daramy.jpg

Effective July 2018, Google will be cracking down on unsecured websites and flagging the sites that do not have SSL certificates. 

How can I tell if I have an SSL certificate?

The easiest way to find out whether you have a certificate is if you type in https://www.yourwebsite.com into a browser window and see what comes up.  If your site comes up and you see a little lock next to your URL address, then it is secured.  If your site does not come up and you don’t see a lock, then you don’t have one.  But to my Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly website owners, you’re in luck because your sites automatically come with one and you just need to make sure that it is enabled.  :-)

What do I need to do and how do I get an SSL certificate for my website?

  1.  Check and verify whether your site has an SSL certificate. If your website has a contact form or collects any information from website visitors (sales funnel pages, pop up windows, etc.) you will need to purchase an SSL Certificate to avoid any risks or warnings.  
  2. Contact your hosting provider and tell them that you want to purchase one.  Going through your hosting provider is the easiest and fastest way. 

How much do SSL Certificates cost?  

Although there are services that can provide free SSL certs for 90 days to a year,  these certificates don’t usually come with customer service support.  The average cost ranges from as low as $60/yr to $300, depending on how many pages your site has, or how many websites you own.   

Why Should I Get an SSL Certificate?

There are several reasons why you should make your site secure:

  • Google deems this as a way to establish trust with website visitors
  • An https site will get a stronger ranking on a search engine result page (It’s good for desktop SEO.)  In fact, 70.4% of all Google home page results are secured sites. 
  • HTTPS sites will dominate VOICE SEARCH results.   
  • Your site will build customer trust and improve conversions over time
  • You will protect both sensitive customer and internal data.
  • You will increase the security of your mobile site which is now very important to search engines

As always, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out.  Also, let me know in the comments below whether you've been seeing the "Not Secure" messages and whether it is making you think twice about sharing any information.