Lets start with...
What Is SSL?
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral.
What is HTTPS?
Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the website that you are connected to. The 'S' at the end of HTTPS stands for 'Secure'. It means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted.
Unless you have already got a secure website your URL will just be HTTP.
WHY DO I NEED SSL?
By the end of January 2017, every website accessed through Google Chrome without an SSL Certificate is going to be labeled like the image below until they get one. You might be thinking that your visitors use Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer however, once Google takes this step, everyone else will follow. A regime change is coming in 2017 and no one wants to risk getting left behind. And having a good SSL certificate that has all the right information for Google is much more powerful than a cheaper certificate that only validates your domain name. (Explained below)
Chrome not secure, no SSL
How do you know what you have?
In your browser, type in your website url like this. www.yourdomainname.co.nz., then press enter. Take a look in the address bar and look for the icon before your URL name. If it is not secure, you will see a little "i" . If it is secure, you will see a green lock and the word "Secure" before your URL (This is for chrome, but other browsers are starting to follow suit with versions of open or closed locks)
Example not secure:
So how do you make it secure?
You need to get a SSL certificate for your website. Now your website host may decide to implement SSL server wide (for all websites they host) but I must stress that this is most likely a only a domain validated certificate. Ideally, you want a Organization Validated certificate to suit your specific business.
Many website hosts sell their own certificates, but after speaking to over 15 different hosts in NZ, it was clear that not all of them understand them fully, or will advise the best one for Google, or your business.
That said, using your host to buy and install your certificate may be the cheapest and easiest option for you if you are not confident to do it yourself . Just make sure you ask the right questions!
If you plan to buy and install your own certificate, then here is a quick summary checklist to help you understand what is involved.
Summary Checklist for SSL:
Step 1. Get ready
Step 2. Purchase an SSL Certificate (A good one!) (OV)
Step 3. Configure hosting with SSL Certificate
Step 4. Change all website links to HTTP
Step 5. Setup 301 redirects from HTTP to HTTPS .
Important: Not all SSL Certificates are created equal!
There are different types of SSL certificates available. You can get free or fairly cheap ones, and yes they will show your website as being secure (visually), but they don't offer the same power with Google. Let me explain the two types you are most likely going to come across or need.
SSL 101- What is the difference between Domain Validated (DV), AND Organization Validated SSL?
All SSL-protected sites display the https:// prefix in the URL address bar.
Domain Validated SSL Certificate (DV): Domain Validated certificates are certificates that are checked against domain registry. There is no identifying organizational information for these certificates and we do not recommend these to be used for commercial purposes. (No real Google juice here!) .
Organization Validated SSL Certificate (OV): Organizational certificates are Trusted. Organizations are strictly authenticated by real agents against business registry databases hosted by governments. Different SEO specialists will argue the importance of SSL in relation to Google ranking, but aside from Google impact the bottom line is that SSL is industry best practice and getting it all sorted sooner rather than later is probably a very good idea.
Do you need help with SSL?
All our KMDM monthly plan customers are supported to implement SSL as part of our service (OV). In other words, we take care of it all for them leaving them to get on with the important task of running their business. (See plans here)