Now, the HTTP sites have been penalized (well, sort of) by Google as the internet Giant has decided to display a Not Secure warning in the Address Bar for such sites. It has made it all the more important for the websites to acquire an SSL certificate and switch from HTTP to HTTPS status. Here is an ultimate guide to secure your website using SSL certificates.
With around 80% of the Top 100 Global websites being HTTPS sites, it is clearly visible that the websites and online businesses that want to realize long-term success in the field are seriously making a transition from HTTP to HTTPS status. However, many start-ups, SMEs, and emerging bloggers are still using HTTP sites.
Apart from costs and maintenance issues, the lack of knowledge is another major reason that many websites have not yet switched to HTTPS. This guide is carefully prepared to clear doubts on these issues.
Along with securing your website the SSL/HTTPS can also leverage your SEO benefits. There are several major concerns of the beginners though regarding the installation process, certificate types, and costs involve, required technical knowledge, and other key aspects of SSL certificate.
This guide is intended to serve the maximum information to the clients so as to offer them the required knowledge and practical guidance about SSL certificates.
- Why Should I get an SSL/TLS certificate?
- What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?
- What are the different types of SSL certificates?
- How can a visitor know if I use an HTTPS site?
- What are the advantages of switching to HTTPS?
- What are the different options for usage?
- What are the benefits of Wildcard SSL certificates?
- How can I retain the SEO ranking after switching from HTTP to HTTPS?
- Does SSL offer complete safety to my website?
- What are some things to keep in mind before buying the SSL certificate?
- How can I get a free SSL certificate with zero hassles?
- Is there any difference between free and paid SSL?
Why Should I get an SSL/TLS certificate?
Your site visitors share many vital details and data with your sites like credit card numbers, login credentials, health-related stats/information, and payment details. Smart hackers can steal this vital data during the data transmission process and can misuse it. SSL/TLS (Secure Socket Layer/ Transport Layer Security) is the reliable data encryption technology that encrypts the data and makes it illegible for the hackers thus restricting them from misusing or tampering with it.
The SSL certificate is a prerequisite for establishing the SSL connection. Having an SSL certificate protects clients’ data thus encouraging more visitors to register, make online purchases, and sharing their vital information like a business and personal profile.
*It is notable that TLS is the evolved form of SSL but SSL still remains the popular term used and understood by both technical and non-technical fraternities.
*Normal Legible Text is called Plain Text while the decrypted text is known as Cipher Text.
What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?
Any data sent over HTTP protocol is not encrypted and if any smart hacker gets hold of it, he can easily read and misuse the data. HTTPS stands for the secured protocol and uses SSL/TLS technology (explained above) to encrypt the communication and protect customers’ data.
The below figure makes it clear:-
- HTTPS encrypts the message sent by Bob and it will be decrypted only after reaching Alice. Hackers will not understand it preventing them from misusing it
- In the case of HTTP, the message sent by Bob is not encrypted and hackers can easily read and misuse it
What are the different types of SSL certificates?
Depending upon different levels of evaluation, there are 3 different certificate types as mentioned below. These certificates are provided by Certificate Authorities (CA)
Domain Validation (DV):–
This is the most basic, single step validation process that proves that you are the real owner of the domain.
- CA communicates with the email associated with your website as per WhoIs records to confirm the domain ownership.
- Reply affirmatively upon receiving the mail and CA will issue you a DV Certificate
- Once you acquire DV your site URL will be accompanied by a lock icon but no specific information will be displayed regarding your business.
Organization Validation (OV):-
Issuing an OV certificate involves multiple validation steps and requires a thorough vetting process conducted by CA to ensure that you are running a registered business entity of legitimate nature.
- Thorough checking of WHOis database to ensure complete business details
- Public display of business will be confirmed by checking Government databases
- Business locality (address) details will be checked as per the Government database
- Your provided details will be matched with the government database
- A verification call will be given to the business phone number as per Whois
Extended Validation (EV):–
EV certificates involve a deeper and more rigorous verification process by CA and are considered as the most premium certificate that can offer you the cutting-edge identity and indicates the highest level of security.
- Submit signed copies of EV subscriber agreement and authorization form
- A letter from a certified public accountant for verifying business
- Registration agency will verify the legal existence
- In some cases, the registration status of a trading name will be verified
- Current active deposit accounts will be confirmed to verify a company’s competence to conduct business operation
- Registered address and phone number will e used to verify the physical existence.
- Whois database will be checked to confirm the relevant details (name, title authority, and signature) of the person who requested certification will be confirmed
How can a visitor know if I use an HTTPS site?
When the user opens your site the address bar will indicate the HTTPS status of your website.
- Domain Validation: Visitors can see a lock icon on the extreme left of the address bar followed by the word “Secure” and the URL starting with HTTPS://
- Organization Validation: Visitors can see a lock icon on the extreme left of the address bar followed by the word “Secure” and the URL starting with HTTPS:// By clicking the padlock the viewer can view the relevant information associated with the certificate
- Extended Validation: Visitors can see a lock icon on the extreme left of the address bar followed by your registered business name and the URL starting with HTTPS://
What are the advantages of switching to HTTPS?
There are various advantages of switching from HTTP to HTTPS. Here are a few key advantages:-
- Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) speeds up your site on mobile and can offer your URL a prominent appearance. This excellent service is offered only for HTTPS sites with an SSL certificate.
- Many visitors hesitate to proceed with your site if they find out that it is not protected Not having an SSL certificate can be a costly mistake for e-commerce and subscription-based sites.
- Security being the major concern of major search engines, HTTPS can be an important part of your SEO strategy that can help you enhance your rankings.
- HTTP sites show referrer sources as direct traffic while HTTPS preserves referrer data. It makes Google analytics furnish more accurate results.
- SSL certificates encourage visitors o them to interact with your site without reservations thus increasing CTR rates.
- A significant amount of purchases is made through credit cards. The site without an SSL certificate (HTTP sites) cannot accept credit card payments.
- The SSL providers can as provide trust seals that can leverage the branding proportion of the site giving it a distinct identity.
- Security signals like the lock icon, green address bar, etc, increase visitors’ trust and plays a vital role in building audience loyalty.
- Net users get more cautious when sharing payment details. Sites with SSL certificate assures them of maximum data protection thus encouraging them to make online transactions with your site.
What are the different options for usage?
- The single certificate is applicable for a single domain
- A multi-domain certificate works for multiple domains
- A wildcard certificate is ideal for a secure domain having a number of dynamic subdomains.
What are the benefits of Wildcard SSL certificates?
The wildcard certificate extends the benefit as it covers all the subdomains affiliated with the primary domain name under a single certificate. Businesses having multiple servers will find it to be a great asset. In fact, it helps to use SSL certificates for maximum platforms
Just like you invest in your business to gain better benefits in the same manner SSL is an important investment in order to enhance the selling opportunity in the digital landscape
A number of actions require you to take technical support like downloading certificates, CSR generation, and SSL installation. Free Licenses don’t provide you the comprehensive support and you need to rely on paid services for getting premium assistance.
How can I retain the SEO ranking after switching from HTTP to HTTPS?
Initially, it is normal to experience a few hiccups when you switch to HTTPS. However, if handled properly the HTTPS can offer you great SEO benefits in the long run. A few tips can help
- Re-Crawling your site and submitting the new XL sitemap with the acquired HTTPS URL is necessary to ensure that your search engine ranking doesn’t get affected. For that, you need to add your new HTTPS site Google Search console and get it verified.
- Specific SEO parts like On Graph tags and rel=canonical are read externally by the search engine crawlers and social media sites. Hence you need to use your absolute URL for these elements for the best benefit.
- As the URL address has been changed for HTTP t HTTPS the social sharing counters for previous content (when your site was HTTP) will become invalid. The majority of such tools treat both the URLs as two different entities with separate metrics.
Besides, you also need to check the Meta Data and SEO elements. Here are a few of them:
- rel=next & rel=prev
- Open Graph tags
- Structured Data
- Internal Linking
Does SSL offer complete safety to my website?
SSL secures the data that is being transmitted between user and website with the help of encryption. In that capacity SSL is a vital part of your website security ecosystem, however, it is not a means of protecting your entire website.
The security ecosystem of your website consists of a number of different security controls and HTTPS is one of the prime controls to achieve the objective. Hence, you cannot treat it as the sole means of website security but just a part of it.
What are some things to keep in mind before buying the SSL certificate?
Not just any certificate will do for Google. According to Google, the website should have a certificate with a 2046 bit key. Many sites still have 1924 bit certificates and they need to upgrade if they really want to enjoy the benefits of HTTPS. Also, make sure that your SSL certificate should be recognized by Google otherwise you won’t get the real benefit out of it. In fact, if the certificate is not recognized by Google then it can still show a Not Secure warning in the address bar.
How can I get a free SSL certificate with zero hassles?
It is possible to get the SSL certificate free of cost and without going through any technical hassles. However, not all the free certificates are trustworthy? So we are presenting some of the best options for free certificates that you can most possibly rely on
1) Let’s Encrypt:
Paid SSL certificate involves costs and hassles of acquiring it while free certificates are not considered to be reliable. If you need to know how to get a free SSL certificate without compromising on the quality, then the two words answer is Let’s Encryption. Powered by ISRG the non-profit group, Let’s Encryption is an open and reliable SSL certificate authority.
Let’s Encrypt simplifies the entire process of getting HTTPS and managing it without going through any complicated, long-winded process. You don’t have to juggle the trouble of setting/changing configurations or crawling through the complicated structure of your website. Everything will be tackled through an automated process. Apart from eliminating the technical hassles the automation also relieves you from unnecessary delays or waiting for multiple stages of validation.
- Free of Cost: Let’s Encrypt services are available absolutely free of cost to any entity possessing a domain name.
- Save time and efforts: The server software will directly communicate with Let’s Encryption for acquisition, safe configuration, and automated renewal of SSL certificate without requiring you to involve in the process. It saves your precious time and efforts while aspiring cent percent process accuracy.
- Genuine Objectives: Lets Encrypt is the reliable source committed to promoting best TLS practices by fortifying your server security
- Guaranteed Transparency: For assuring the highest levels of transparency the records related to every certificate that it issues/revoked are publicly recorded?
- Open Standard: The protocol for automatics issuance/renewal is published as an open standard
- Non-Commercial Motives: The cooperative nature of Let’s encrypt is not controlled by a single Organizations and is thus more trustworthy and ethically committed.
CAcert is another major authority that provides you the SSL certificate without any cost to secure the vital data. It is capable of foiling the malicious intentions of smart hackers- the data thieves by getting the data encrypted. Its main aim is to offer easy and uncomplicated methods for securing SSL certificates that will not only offer security to the visitors but will also help the small business and individuals protect a vital aspect of site security- data transmission prices.
- The Concert free certificate can be used for multiple security-related purposes like facilitating digital signature and encryption for email, authorization of visitors who connect with your site and most importantly offering failsafe security during the data transmission prices between browser and server.
- The signed certificates can be used by any SSL supporting application.
- The sites utilizing X.509 certificates can also utilize the signed certificates for document signatures, code signing, or encryption.
Good to know…
- If you are using the services of CDN or Website Application Firewall providers then you can also get a complimentary SSL certificate.
- Several reputed hosting companies provide you with free SSL with a 1-click installation facility
- These services act as a stand-in entity between the website and your visitor. These services help you boost your site speed and performance through the content caching and traffic filtration process. As a part of the process, the browser is also able to identify the connected server IPs and release the permission to use DV certificates. Your domain records point to the servers of the provider.
- If you already own an SSL certificate then these providers can also work with that certificate to offer you the HTTPS benefits.
Is there any difference between free and paid SSL?
Many people think that there would be a difference in the encryption level between free and paid SSL certificates. However, it is not correct. Both types of certificates offer you the same level of encryption. However, there are 2 major differences between Free and paid certificates.
- The free certificates do not come with comprehensive technical support while the paid certificate offers you the end to end technical support and you can reach their support team 24X7 using multiple communicating mediums.
- Secondly, the free certificate can only provide you with DV (Domain Validation) but for OV (Organization Validation) and EV (Extended Validation), you need to pay the price.
Paid Certificate Vs Free Certificate:-
While you can get the SSL certificate absolutely free, they come with some limitations that you should need to know. This is where the paid certificates chip in and offer a better solution. If you are wondering about the differences between free and paid certificates, then this comparison can help:-
Warranty against data breach instances:-
During the instances of the data breach, the paid certificates offer you liability protection as per the warranty level. With the free certificate, you don’t get this benefit. When you opt for the paid plans the provider will offer you comprehensive support on setting your SSL certificate and offer you the guided tour to the entire process. The paid certificate provides you a warranty against such situations that compensate for the loss suffered due to any failure on CA’s part.
Strengthens Visitors Trust:-
Free certificates only provide you the domain validation that is considered as a basic authentication level. It indicates that your domain ownership has been verified but it doesn’t indicate that your business information and legitimate. Registration details have been verified. Not all visitors are comfortable with just basic authentication. Especially the buyers who need to share their payment details with you would prefer a higher-grade validation certificate
The evaluation process of the paid certificate is more thorough and elaborate when compared to the free certificate that is a strong test factor
OV and EV certificates enjoy a cutting edge as they involve a rigorous evaluation process and get distinct visibility on browsers proving higher levels of authenticity. No free provider offers EV and OV and you need to purchase these certificates for a price tag.
Organization Validation (OV) and Extended Validation (EV):-
OV and EV are available only for the paid certificates. As the organization validation SSL, the organization behind his website is validated by the CA. Going further the extended validation SSL offers you a distinct identity as they involve a more rigorous and comprehensive evaluation process and are indicated by the green address bar. For OV and EV you need to purchase the plan as free providers offer only basic level domain validation.
Now it is easier and cheaper than ever to get premium SSL certificate:-
As one of the responsible names in the web hosting industry with diverse clients across the globe, we at Altechmind Technologies are fully committed to providing the best grade experience to the clients as well as the users visiting their sites. In order to encourage the maximum businesses to adopt higher levels of safety, we have decided to lower down the cost of SSL certificates to make them more affordable for Startups and SMEs.
While we do respect the free SSL certificates, we are aware that many businesses don’t possess the best technical skills or required dedicated IT manpower to go through the entire process required to acquire an SSL certificate. Besides, accuracy is important and if not configured/set up properly the even the well-intended clients might fail to get the benefits or offer the best protection to their visitors. In that condition, the paid certificates become a necessity as the client can get the end-to-end support during the entire installation process and best practices to follow to retain the ranking and continue enjoying the same SEO benefits.
Considering the fact that it requires you to invest some efforts to fine-tune your SEO, the support plays a pivotal role. However, our main aim is to promote safety for the users and also help businesses get a better identity in the digital landscape. We are also open to educating the interested clients by evaluating their profiles/sites/budget and suggest them whether they should go with a free certificate or need to invest in paid certificates. For more details, you can reach us or contact us