SSL: Part 3 – What are the pros and cons of having an SSL certificate?

Find out the pros and cons of having an SSL certificate, as well as the costs and key take homes to consider in part three of our SSL guide, click here to read the previous entry

The Pros:

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  • INCREASED SEO RANKING – Websites using SSL continue to get an SEO boost since it became a confirmed ranking signal in 2014. Google has stated that if all other factors are equal, HTTPS can act as a tiebreaker in the search engine results.
  • SECURITY AND PRIVACY – having an SSL certification on your site means:
    • It verifies that the website is the correct server intended to communicate with
    • It prevents tampering by third parties
    • It makes your site more secure for visitors online
    • It encrypts all communication, including URLs, which protects things like browsing history and credit card numbers.
  • REFERRER DATA – Having an SSL and therefore an HTTPS URL means your referrer data remains intact – when you move from a secured HTTPS to an unsecured HTTP, referral data is lost. Resultantly, it appears as ‘Direct/(none)’ in your analytics report contributing to what we call the ‘dark’ traffic on the internet.

 

The Cons:

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  • SSL Slows Down Site Load Speed – Which is important to consider if you’re a local business with lots of mobile users, although there are plenty of other ways to tackle slow load speed.
  • It can be complicated to implement an SSL certificate on a website because it is essentially a brand new domain name, which means you have to redirect all of the old pages to the new HTTPS pages.
  • You must update all your paid social, Google and email marketing campaign landing pages – Anywhere that has a previous mention of your old URLs without the SSL certificate are going to need to be updated.
  • Your page and domain rankings are likely to drop for a period of 6 to 12 months, which is a significant cost for your business if you rely on organic search leads.

 

How much should it cost?

The costs to implement SSL vary, depending on your content management system (CMS).

Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated, and open Certificate Authority recommended by Google.

Note: There is no difference between paid SSL certificates and free ones when it comes to the level of encryption. However, it is very important to consider the different types of certificate available and choose the most suitable one for your business (in the long term)

Important take-homes

The increased focus on security is a good thing for website owners; Google is being a responsible parent by enforcing rules and regulations and flagging those who do not comply.

However, it’s important to remember that SSL isn’t the be-all and end-all of our website security – while HTTPS keeps our visitor’s information secure in transit, SSL doesn’t do anything to protect the website from being hacked. To prevent this, ongoing monitoring, protection, and performance improvements are needed, as well as good crisis management protocol.

For those who are time poor, a quick fix is to selectively switch to HTTPS versions on the payment/form pages of your website that calls for a secure connection rather than switching to HTTPS for every page.

It’s safe to say that staying in Google’s good graces is good practice and that prioritising security for your site and your users is the most important reason to make the HTTP – HTTPS switch. Not to mention, this change is not going to go away – more online browsers will undoubtedly follow suit after Google, so get ahead of your website security game now!

Read the previous parts of our guide:

Part 1 – What is an SSL and why is it important?

Part 2 – How do I get an SSL certificate?

 

Visit any of the links below for more information on SSL certification:

https://security.googleblog.com/2017/09/broadening-hsts-to-secure-more-of-web.html
https://neilpatel.com/blog/does-a-ssl-certificate-affect-your-seo-a-data-driven-answer/
https://ahrefs.com/blog/http-vs-https-for-seo/

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