SSL certificate

What’s an SSL certificate? How and why your website needs one

What’s an SSL certificate? How and why your website needs one. You may have ever purchased a domain name, and the seller offered to give you an SSL certificate for free?

If the answer is “yes,” the freebie may have left you wondering what an SSL certificate is and why you need one. As you’ll soon learn, installing an SSL certificate for your website is incredibly important, especially if your site collects data from users.

This article answers all of your queries about SSL certificates. It includes the types available, what they are for, how you can install them on your site, as well as why.

Let’s jump in.

What’s an SSL certificate?

The “SSL” in “SSL certificate” stands for “secure sockets layer.” It’s an encryption protocol that signifies that the connection between a browser and server has a higher level of security. Translate please Here’s the plain English version:

Most internet users’ activity falls into two categories when they surf the web: aSending or asking for information. They will see a back and forth between the browsers (e.g., Google Chrome, Firefox) when they use either one of them. They also visit the servers that host the websites.

This exchange is safer thanks to SSL certificates. These files contain small data files that establish a security protocol for your browser with the servers it sends data to and gets data from.

When you visit a website and want to know if it has an SSL certificate, look to your browser’s  address bar. If you see a padlock icon before the site’s URL, then it has an SSL certificate.

Also, the site’s URL will begin with “https” instead of “http,” with the “s” standing for secure (it’s the secure version of hypertext transfer protocol). These are two signs that a website is keeping user data safe (as seen below).

What is the information contained in an SSL certificate?

These are the contents of SSL certificates:

  • This is the domain name which the certificate will protect. Usually, this is your company name or something very similar.
  • The domain owner of or the device to whom the certificate was issued.
  • Associated subdomains to the domain
  • The Certificate Authority (or the certificate issuer).
  • The certificate issuer’s digital signature.
  • The certificate’s date of issue.
  • The certificate’s expiry date.
  • The SSL certificate’s public key (which is a long text string).

What exactly are public keys? To answer that question, we’ll need to understand how SSL works.

What is SSL?

Encryption algorithms are the core of SSL and SSL certificates. The encryption algorithms guarantee that the data transmitted between a browser (or server) is not readable, by scrambling it in transit.

When sent via a secure connection, sensitive information such as names, addresses and credit card details becomes a mess. Hackers cannot steal this information by using secure connections.

Here’s how a data exchange goes on a secure connection.

  1. Your visitor’s browser attempts to connect to your secure website
  2. The browser of the visitor requests that your web server serve its website identity.
  3. The web server responds with a copy of your website’s SSL certificate
  4. Your visitor’s browser examines the SSL certificate and decides whether to trust it or not
  5. If your visitor’s browser trusts the certificate, it’ll signal its trust to the web server
  6. A signed acknowledgment will be sent by the web server to initiate an encrypted session.
  7. Both the browser and server have access to encrypted data

what is an ssl certificate - how ssl works
what is an ssl certificate – how ssl works

This may not sound like much (and it is), however, all the above exchanges happen in milliseconds.

But, SSL keys are the key component that makes the exchange possible. SSL certificates contain private and public keys, which web browsers and servers can use to decrypt or encrypt data. The transferred data is encrypted and verified using the sender’s public key.

what is an ssl certificate - private vs public key
what is an ssl certificate – private vs public key

What is the importance of SSL certificates?

SSL certificates are required by many reasons. These are the most important reasons why your website needs an SSL certificate.

1. Security

SSL certificates can be used by online businesses or websites asking for personal information.

Online storage of sensitive data, including social security and medical information, has become a standard feature of the internet. This data is a gold mine for cybercriminals. Identity theft Cybercriminals are on the lookout for websites that don’t meet security standards. It will get worse, as shown in the infographic below.

what is an ssl certificate - cyber crime rate
what is an ssl certificate – cyber crime rate

SSL certificates guarantee that everything online, including login credentials, is secure from hacking and phishing.

SSL certificates are also a sign of trust for the average Internet user. When they see the padlock, it tells them they’re browsing a secure site that values sensitive customer data. We will show you what the user sees instead of the padlock while browsing unsecure sites.

2. You will rank higher when you search

2014. Google made the following statement on its blog The search engine would consider HTTPS as its ranking signal. This means that the search engine will begin ranking websites with SSL certificates higher than those without.

seo google ranking factors
seo google ranking factors

SSL is an important ranking factor for Google.

Google’s reason for this algorithm update was understandable and noble: “To keep everyone safe on the web.” The search engine didn’t want to send users to unsecured and potentially harmful websites. It would be detrimental to its long-term business if it did not do so. Users would search for safer websites from competitors.

They say the rest is history. As of October 20,22 https was a standard security protocol adopted by 81.5% The websites that are available on the internet.

If your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, it risks falling behind websites that do. Take into account 75% Most people do not scroll past page 1 of the SERPs.

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3. Improve user experience

Finally, if your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, it’ll give visitors a bad user experience, which, as you may or may not know, is becoming more and more important in SEO every year.


Google is our best friend? It made good on its promise “to keep everyone safe on the web” in There are many other ways to do it More than one. Other than a lower search ranking, your site risks being outed as carefree about its visitors’ safety if it doesn’t have an SSL certificate.

As the image below shows, Google’s Chrome browser will give your site’s visitors visual cues that tell them it’s not secure.

ssl certificate not secure website
ssl certificate not secure website

This is what Chrome does: Chrome is by far the most popular browser (the two other major ones being Safari or Edge). Chrome is a popular browser with a large userbase. 64.5% market share, meaning most of your site’s visitors will likely use it.

Would you want every visitor to see that conspicuous “Not Secure” message in their browser address bar?

But it doesn’t end there. This message is likely to scare your visitors, sending them running from your site. A higher bounce rate means a lower rank, which in turn will result in less traffic. Less traffic means you’ll have fewer visitors, which means fewer leads, and so on and so forth.

There are many types of SSL certificates

So, you know what SSL certificates are and why they’re important for your website and SEO. Now let’s discuss the types of SSL certificates available for your website.

1. Extended Validation Certificates (EV SSL).

The most extensive and costly type of certificate, an extended validation certificate, is available. While any business is free to get this certificate, it’s usually larger businesses that have them.

what is an ssl certificate - extended validation certificate example
what is an ssl certificate – extended validation certificate example

As the image above shows, this certificate displays the following information about your website in a visitor’s browser bar:

  • The green padlock symbol indicates that your website is secured
  • Your business’s name
  • The country
  • http://www.

Because this certificate provides so many details, it allows you to differentiate your site from other malicious websites. And if you run websites that collect user data or process plenty of online payments, you’ll probably need these premium certificates.

Also, you’ll need to subject yourself to a standardized verification process to get this certificate. That involves proving you’re the legal holder of the domain you submit.

2. Organization-validated certificates (OV SSL)

Organization-validated certificates are a rung down the SSL certificate price ladder from extended validation certificates. Like the latter certificate, you’ll need to subject yourself to a verification exercise to obtain one. And, just like EV SSL certificates, they display information about your business in your visitors’ address bars.

SSL certificates for OV protect sensitive information and minimize cybersecurity risk. While not as powerful as EV SSL certificates, they’re effective enough that commercial websites use them.

types of ssl certificates
types of ssl certificates

3. Certificates domain-validated (DV SSL).

Domain-validated SSL certificates offer a lower level of security than OV SSL or EV SSL certificates. The verification process isn’t as stringent, so these certificates offer basic encryption.

They’re inexpensive to obtain, making them perfect for websites that don’t collect data from users (e.g., blogs and information websites).

Domain-validated certificates don’t display as much information in your visitors’ browser bar as EV SSL and OV SSL certificates. They stop short of displaying information about your business, only showing the https before your website’s URL and the padlock icon.

There are many SSL certificates available

Please note that the above three aren’t the only types of SSL certificates available. You can also get the following certificate types:

  • SSL Certificate for Single Domain: SSL certificates for one domain only provide security. It doesn’t extend protection to subdomains or additional domains. So your single-domain certificate for won’t secure your subdomain or the unique additional domain
  • SSL Certificate for Wildcard These certificates offer a higher level of security than single-domain SSL certificates. You can secure both your main domain as well as multiple sub-domains with a wildcard SSL certificate. They’re excellent for securing subdomains for mail, payments, login, and so on. Naturally, they’re more expensive than single-domain SSL certificates.
  • SSL certificate for multi-domains This SSL certificate can be used to secure multiple domains and subdomains, as its name implies. Additionally, this certificate can be used to secure unique domains, such as those that have different extensions, such They’re also called unified communications SSL certificates.

In the section below, we’ll briefly discuss the determining factor for choosing a certificate type for your website and how to install one.

How do I install an SSL certificate?

You should now be clear about the reasons why SSL certificates are necessary for your site. How do you get one? This is how it works:

  1. You can choose your certificate It is simple as the nature of your site will inform you. A domain-validated certificate will suffice if you don’t plan to collect data from your users or accept payments online. Otherwise, you’ll need an OV SSL or EV SSL certificate (if your budget allows).
  2. Choose a certificate authority: You can’t install an SSL certificate without obtaining one first, and you’ll need to approach a Certificate Authority like DigiCert for that. Your certificate can be obtained from the following: DigiCert Reseller.
  3. Install your server Make sure your WHOIS records match what the Certificate Authority has on file. You can also create a Certificate Signing request (CSR), or have your hosting provider do it.
  4. Submit your certificate signing request: Send your Certificate Authority’s CSR for verification. The CA will validate your domain and company information.
  5. Register your SSL Certificate Once the CA has given your CSR permission, your SSL certificate can be installed (more details below).

Your SSL certificate will require configuration on your web host’s server or your personal one (i.e., if you’re self-hosting your website).

Keep in mind, however that it can take up to a week to obtain an SSL certificate depending on which type you choose. While a domain-validated certificate is available in minutes, acquiring an extended-validation certificate may take up to a week.

SSL certificates are a great way to protect your site.

If you intend to process online payments or collect sensitive data from your users, you’ll need an SSL certificate for your website. They protect your site by protecting data transmitted from and to them.

Search engines such as Google also use SSL certificates to rank websites. And the absence of an SSL certificate can impact your visitors’ user experience through off-putting visual cues.

You have many options for SSL certificates. When choosing, use your website’s security needs as the determining factor.

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