Is your website secure?
 Credit: Javardh

Credit: Javardh

It’s a simple question and you may think your website is secure and perhaps it is, but this is a question many small businesses, nonprofits, and those do-it-yourself folks never consider when it comes to developing their website. I’ll keep this simple because discussing SSL Certificates isn’t really a sexy topic, but a necessary one if you’re in business or requesting any information from those who visit your website.

You may not care about SSL Certificates, but I’m sure you’re concerned about SEO or you should be if you have a website. I won’t go into SEO much at this time, but if you don’t know what it is, it’s an acronym for search engine optimization. In brief, it’s what you use to optimize your website to appear higher in search engine results. More on SEO later.

Recently, Google has been moving away from a reward system to a punitive one. Websites using SSL will continue to get an SEO boost since it became a confirmed ranking signal in 2014. What you need to know if you’re not using SSL is that Google is blacklisting non-HTTPS websites that allowed password fields and credit card forms and many other content fields on a form to be filled without this protective security. You don’t have to be Equifax, Yahoo or Target to be hacked.

In October 2017, Google released it’s the latest update on Chrome, version 62. One critical item in this release is that websites with any kind of text input will require an SSL certificate if they want to avoid a “Not Secure” warning in the address bar. I’m telling you, this is not what you want your customers, members or constituents seeing, especially as we approach Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Now you may be wondering, what is an SSL Certificate and how do I get it?

In efforts of Keeping It Super Simple, it’s the extra letter you see at the beginning of a web address such as https://www.urbandigital.coinstead of just http://www.urbandigital.co. The ‘s’ in ‘https’ stands for secure, but the entire meaning of SSL is Secure Sockets Layer.

Whether your website is simply requesting an email address when asking people to sign-up to receive an email newsletter, they’re sending you feedback on your contact form or they’re entering their credit card, shipping address and other personal information on your e-commerce site, you need an SSL Certificate.

Depending on the platform your website is built on may determine how much it will cost you each year to ensure your website is SSL compliant. This is one of the areas where those “Free” websites end up costing you. So buyer beware, but you should always be aware.

There’s no need to fear, there’s a “simple” solution for those whose website isn’t secured. Due to past experiences with multiple hosting providers, I choose to use GoDaddy exclusively, but there are multiple options to choose from to purchase your web security. What you should understand is that there are different SSL Certificates to cover various needs.

Just to offer a little side note here. If you’re looking for a free SSL Certificate let me explain it this way. You wouldn’t buy your meat or seafood from a guy selling it from a cooler in the back of his truck, I hope? Well, understand that inexpensive isn’t always your best option. Keep in mind that your SSL Certificate needs to be renewed annually too, but this is truly an inexpensive investment to be secure than it is to be hacked and your customer’s information is stolen.

As I mentioned in the beginning, SSL Certificate isn’t a sexy topic. It isn’t something you really see, but it is something you need. So ask yourself the question; Is your website secure?

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