People are saying every website should go to SSL now.
Is this true for you?
The short answer is yes, all websites should go to ssl and https. And the good news is that it does not have to be as difficult and expensive as it used to be.
The longer answer has two parts: Why this is important now and Why it is easier and cheaper than it used to be. (And if you want a bit more explanation on all these terms, see the end of this article.)
1 – SSL & Small Business Websites – Why it is important now
Several points here . . .
- As of October 2017, Chrome is showing “Not Secure” warnings on more http pages with input forms. They plan to label all HTTP pages as non-secure eventually.
- As of December 2016, WordPress announced this is a priority and soon some features might be available only with https.
- Since June 2015, it has been a mandate for government websites.
- Since 2014, it has been a factor for Google ranking.
- Lastly, better security is just a good idea for everyone!
2 – SSL & Small Business Websites – Why it is easier and cheaper than it used to be
To make your website use https, you need a certificate. You may have seen that there are different types of certificates (ev, ov, dv, oh my!), but we don’t need to get into the details of those right now. Depending on what you do on your website, you might need more or less security. If you deal with private/sensitive information on your website such as financial data or health information, you want the maximum security (ev). (And keep in mind that this process does still take time and money.)
However, a lot of small business websites are just informational and perhaps all the information you collect is an email address and maybe you have a search box. In this case, Let’s Encrypt might be the answer for you. It is an open, free way to get your certificate. Thank goodness!
Also, more and more website hosts are making it easier to turn on SSL using Let’s Encrypt. This should be a factor when you decide which host you want to use, as we mentioned in our last article, How to Pick the Best Host for your Small Business Website.
Important warning . . . be wary of people making the switch sound super easy. It is almost never as easy as just clicking a button. You usually also have to put some code in your htaccess file. And you want to be sure to backup first because bizarre things can go wrong. Lastly, you want to follow up and make some changes in Google Search Console and be sure that things look good in Google Analytics.
Want help moving your website to SSL? Let’s talk!
P.S. In case you want to know more about the alphabet soup . . . what is SSL? and TLS? and HTTPS?
Basically, the concept is that encryption makes things more secure between the browser and the server. TLS is an updated version of SSL, but people use the term SSL for both. HTTPS is what we want to see in the address bar of the browser, and we want to see green and the padlock as well. If you see HTTP, things are not encrypted.
And what do those letters stand for? Secure Sockets Layer, Transport Layer Security and Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure. Aren’t those hilarious names?
And for the types of certificates:
- DV is domain validation (basic)
- OV is organization validation (enhanced)
- EV is extended validation (the best)