Your Ultimate Guide to SSL Certificate and Why You Need it

Your Ultimate Guide to SSL Certificate and Why You Need it

Wed Nov 04, 2020
Waqas Waheed

Have you ever opened a website and noticed the words “Not Secure” before the URL?

These words in red indicate that the said website isn’t secured by an SSL certificate. Which means, if you give over any sensitive information on this site, such as credit card details while paying bills online, or passwords, your personal info won’t be safe and it can be stolen and misused by hackers.

The difference between http:// and https:// doesn’t end here.

If you’re a website owner, there’s lots of other stuff that you need to know about an SSL certificate, including how it helps build customer trust and aids in improving your rankings on Google.

Keep reading to find out more about SSL certificates, the many reasons why you need one, where to purchase it from, how you can get a free SSL for your website, and so on.

What is SSL?

While visiting any website as a consumer, you would definitely want to see the secure ‘padlock’ symbol in the address bar, especially if your activity on the site requires you to give away some personal information.

The extra ‘s’ in https://, the absence of a “Not Secure” warning, and the presence of a padlock symbol indicates that the site is protected by a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

This means, any information or data that you enter while on the site would be encrypted and hence secure from attacks by hackers.

What it actually is?

An SSL certificate is a small data file with the major function of encrypting the communication between a web server and a browser.

What does an SSL do?

It cryptographically establishes an encrypted link that ensures all the data exchanged between the server and the browser remains private.

So, by purchasing an SSL certificate, you’d be securing the connection between you and your online customers and no one except you or the customer would be able to see or access any sensitive data entered on the site.

Different Types of SSL Certificates

Various types of SSL certificates are categorized by the number of domains or subdomains that a single certificate can protect OR the level of encryption and validation that an SSL offers.

Both categories are further classified into three types of SSLs each.

In terms of certificates that’re categorized by domain number, you can buy one for a single domain, a multidomain one, or a wildcard.

Under the encryption and validation certificates category, you’d come across domain, organization, and extended validation (EV) options.

Let’s explore!

DV SSL or Domain Validation Certificate

This type offers low encryption level that’s represented in form of a green padlock visible in the address bar. It’s cheap, quick to receive, and there’s no need for any documents to apply for this type of Secure Socket Layer.

To put it precisely, it’s a low level of SSL encryption and can get the job done if you can’t afford a EV SSL or an Organization Validated Certificate.

OV SSL or Organization Validated Certificate

Next comes the type that offers medium encryption level. With this one, your users would be able to see a small green padlock symbol on their screens, accompanied with your company’s name. To apply and issue an EV SSL, you’d need to submit a few documents.

An OV SSL is ideal for site owners who want a better level of encryption than DV but can’t afford an EV SSL.

EV SSL or Extended Validation Certificate

This is the real deal!

With an EV SSL, your users wouldn’t just see a padlock, but also the HTTPS protocol followed by your business name in their address bars. This encryption certificate provides the highest level of security and would make a ‘green bar’ appear before your URL.

Although expensive, this type of SSL increases the legitimacy of your domain and is more valuable than the types mentioned before.

However, to set up this type of SSL, you’d need to prove that you’re the authorized owner of the domain being submitted.

When getting an SSL, an EV SSL should be your priority, especially if your site collects sensitive data or processes online payments from customers.

Single Domain SSL Certificate

As the name suggests, a single domain SSL can only be used to protect one domain. You can’t use this to protect any subdomains or a totally different domain.

Unified Communications SSL Certificate

A UCC SSL or a multidomain SSL offers protection for multiple domains given that the domains are all owned by the same person. A single SSL of this kind can protect up to 100 different domains.

Wildcard SSL Certificate

With a wildcard, you can protect the subdomains of your domain as well as multiple other domains.

If you want to protect data on multiple websites, this type is the best option for you.

In case you’re confused, go to the website of an SSL provider and have a look at all the different kinds of SSLs they’re offering. Such as this:

Still can’t decide?

Contact the web hosting company and have their sales representative guide you.

Why Should You Secure Your Site with an SSL Certificate?

If you own a business website that requires your online visitors to provide personal information, such as their credit card details, email address, or password, having an SSL is a must. Otherwise, all of your customers’ sensitive data would be vulnerable to hacker attacks and misuse.

Apart from keeping the data of your online customers secure, an SSL helps authenticate your site and affirm your identity. Which is, in fact, another important aspect of web security and letting your customers know that you’re a safe place to buy from.

Another major reason why having an SSL can be good for your business is because SSL impacts your SEO and site’s rankings on Google’s SERPs.

Site security is one of Google’s numerous ranking factors, and if you’re getting your site optimized by an SEO agency, they’d tell you to buy an SSL certificate ASAP if you don’t already have one.

Remember, Google wants its users to have a safe online experience, and it would definitely prioritize your site if you’re concerned about the security of your customers’ sensitive data.

In fact, Google made SSL mandatory in 2018, and if you don’t have one, your site would be flagged by Google with a “Not Secure” sign displayed before your URL in the address bar.

So, avoid the deadly “Not Secure” warning and get an SSL certificate right away.

We know what the next question on your mind is!

Where to Buy an SSL Certificate From?

To buy an SSL, first decide on the type of certificate you need, then move on to finding an agency that can fulfil your requirement.

If you live in Pakistan, its best to buy an SSL for your website from a company within the nation.

After you’ve determined the type of SSL to buy, what you can do is search in Google by typing in the SSL name, such as Comodo Positive SSL, Comodo Essential SSL, Positive SSL Multi Domain, Positive SSL WildCard, or Comodo EV SSL. Afterwards, find an agency with great star ratings and good reviews and get in touch with them. 

How to Get a Free SSL Certificate for Your Site?

No, it’s not just a dream!

You can actually get a free SSL. But for that you’d need to think smarter from the very beginning.

Considering the fact that you’re a website owner, it’s evident that you’d also need a hosting company to host your site on one of their servers. Right?

For this, you’d need to buy a web hosting plan.

Now, while you’re at it, choose the hosting plan smartly and think beyond just the basic storage and bandwidth requirements of your site.

For instance, some hosting providers offer a free domain with their hosting plans.

Similarly, you can also get a free SSL certificate if you go for a high-quality business hosting plan.

That’s all!

Now that you know how important it is, get an SSL now and build your customers’ trust with a well-protected website.

Waqas Waheed
The author Waqas Waheed

With over 15 years of hands-on experience in web hosting and Linux, stands out as a practical expert in the field. At Websouls, he applies his deep technical skills to solve complex challenges, directly impacting the success of brands. Waqas's approach combines innovative problem-solving with a rich understanding of digital infrastructure, making him a key player in the industry. Follow him on LinkedIn.