Security is at the core of Secure Sockets Layer Certificates or SSL Certificate and with the rampancy of cyber threats and security breaches; the issue of internet safety is paramount. That is one of the reasons search engines are so adamant about website owners and operators using SSL Certificates.
We’ll break down and explore that and some of the other reasons search engines are forcing you to buy SSL Certificates. But first, we’ll briefly explain what SSL Certificates are.
What Is an SSL Certificate?
Secure Sockets Layer Certificates police your website. They work all day, every day to protect your website and its users from introducers. SSL Certificates scramble or encrypt all the sensitive information sent across the internet and ensure that data is viewed only by the person or persons the sender intended to.
An example of SSL Certificate at work would look something like this.
You type a domain name into your browser. The first thing the browser will do is to try connecting to an SSL secured website. To guarantee that the website that pops up is actually secure, the browser will ask the web server to identify itself.
If the site is genuine, the server will send a copy of its SSL Certificate to the browser.
The browser doesn’t just take that as proof though and so it then does a secondary check to ensure it can actually trust the SSL Certificate.
If, from the secondary screening, the browser is satisfied that the certificate can be trusted, it sends a message to the server.
The server will then send back a digitally signed acknowledgement to start an SSL encrypted session.
Why buy SSL certificates?
Now that we have an understanding of how SSL Certificates work, let’s look at some of the possible reasons search engines want you to buy them.
1. Validate your site
Things are not always what they seem and with cyber criminals getting craftier by the minute, search engines want to know that you are who say you are. SSL Certificates authenticate your website, which allows search engines to comfortably vouch for you when they include you in their rankings.
2. Enhance security
The presence of an SSL Certificate does not mean the absence of security threats. Cyber criminals are still going to try and hack into and steal your information or crash your site.
However, installing an SSL Certificate on your website reduces the likelihood that a hacker will successfully breach your system.
3. Protect intercepted data
Information submitted on a website goes through a channel of computers which makes it susceptible to hackers, particularly if there is no SSL Certificate installed.
If per chance there is SSL Stripping or data is intercepted, SSL Certificates encrypt it and therefore reduce the risk of it being read by anyone other than the intended receiver.
SSL Certificates encrypt or encode data by adding arbitrary characters to the information being sent. A key, to decode the encryption is created, and given only to the intended receiver.
This means that even if a hacker intercepts the information, he or she would have wasted that time, because the data is unreadable and useless to everyone else
4. Can’t set up online payments without it
If you do any type of financial transaction on your website, search engines don’t need to force you to install SSL Certificates. The Payment Card and Finance industries already require you to. The finance industry stipulates that businesses have a basic level of security.
The Payment Card industry is a little more specific. It clearly says that every website accepting users’ credit card and other sensitive information must use an SSL Certificate. In sum, if you plan to collect money on your site, SSL Certificate installation is not optional.
5. Creates credibility & trust
Installing SSL Certificates on your website is like providing your users with insurance. It tells them that you are interested in keeping them and their information safe, which gives them a sense of security. This also creates confidence in your business and people tend to do business with whom they trust.
It’s also important to ensure your web hosting service provider is protected too, as this can give further credibility to your site. You can identify SSL certificates by looking at the browser search field. You will notice a “secure” or “not secure” text to the left of the website‘s url. Clicking on the security message, will reveal details about the SSL certificate validity or the lack of such.
6. Essential for Google ranking
Another great reason to buy SSL certificates is for the positive impact they have on website rankings in search engines. You are not the only one trying to establish your website as a safe, secure and trust worthy space on the web. Large companies like Google are too. One of Google’s aims is to cement itself as THE trusted search engine.
For that to happen, it has to work with other trusted platforms and show only those in the results. This is why Google, through its HTTPS everywhere initiative, gives an automatic boost in status to sites with encrypted connections.
It’s not a major boost, but it does give you a leg up over your competitors who don’t have certificates.
7. It’s Mandatory
With all the various benefits/reasons for having SSL Certificates, it comes down to the fact that it’s compulsory. SSL Certificate’s main objective is to make the internet a safer place for website owners and users. That shouldn’t be something search engines have to force websites to assist with. To accomplish its goal of securing sites, SSL Certificate uses encryption, which is such a big deal, it’s regulated by law. But the regulations differ based on industry.
One example of the laws that exist is the Payment Card industry’s command that websites accepting users’ credit card and other sensitive information must use an SSL Certificate. Healthcare institutions and providers are governed by another set of rules; so too are schools. Even Google has its own set of rules.
In the summer of 2018 Google added a feature to its Chrome browser that exposed websites without SSL Certificates. If your website doesn’t have SSL Certificate, Google tells the whole world by marking it as ‘not secure.’
Failure to comply with and install SSL Certificate on your website makes you an easy target for cyber criminals, put users at risk and could cause you to lose your business. Search engines don’t want that because it’s also bad for their business. Remember how we said that you are not the only one who wants a safe and trustworthy internet platform? Search engines want that too and they can’t do it without the help of website owners and operators.
So, when voluntary installation of SSL Certificates is lacking, search engines nudge you to take action. The overall aim though is to provide a safe and secure space for users to send and receive information.