Google, the world’s favorite search engine redefines its search algorithm from time to time. The I/O Conferences hosted by Google is a cynosure for all tech and web enthusiasts where such algorithm changes and updates are announced. In 2014, at the annual conference, Google dropped a hint that it will include HTTPS as a ranking signal for websites.
This opened a pandora's box of facts and myths related to SSL certificates. SSL certificates have occupied many discussions since they are a cornerstone technology for cyber security. SSL certificates provide the much-needed data integrity, confidentiality, and authentication.
The truth is SSL certificates come with a mixed bag of pros and cons, with many myths surrounding them.
SSL & HTTPS
It is common for naive Internet users to get confused between these two terms as they are often used interchangeably. SSL is the certificate that insulates the connections and data transfer between a website server and the browser.
HTTPS is the encryption that is indicated in the web browser with a green address bar and a padlock symbol. In other words, they are two sides of the same technology which ascertain website security.
In this brief write-up, we discuss the possible pros and cons of SSL certificates.
The Pros - Assuring Reasons Why Your Website must have SSL
The obvious benefit of SSL encryption is that your website data will be safe from third-party hacking or interception. The connections to and fro from the web browser to the server will remain intact.
There are also a number of other benefits that make it compelling to invest in SSL certificates.
A study by Bizrate found that a majority of US customer distrust to conduct online transactions due to credit card and privacy concerns.
With HTTPS such hesitation from customers to shop and pay online can be removed. Studies have proved that displaying trust seals in online shops helps improve conversion rates significantly.
Customers find it easier to divulge their payment instructions and private details like name, location, address, etc. when the website is encrypted and immune to security threats.
Ensures Data Integrity
Ebay, Home Depot, Target and a host of other retailers have been victims of hacking in the past. They lost valuable customer information and even payment records because their websites lacked HTTPS protection. SSL certificates can facilitate data integrity for online retailers. It ensures that the data stored in online servers are always intact and protected from external threats.
Boosts SEO ranking
Like we said at the beginning of the article, Google is all set to introduce HTTPS as a search engine ranking signal. The search engine believes that this is necessary to cultivate a web culture where the data security of users is protected by all means. In the coming months, Google will flag websites without HTTPS as ‘not safe’.
In other words, if your website is HTTPS enabled, then you will be given preference over websites which are not secure.
Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificates establish the legal ownership of a website. They give visitors the assurance that the website they are visiting is indeed owned by the said organization.
The Cons - Reasons why you may not want SSL certificate
They cost money
Let’s face the hard truth. Nothing good ever comes free of cost. SSL encryption which can guard your website from data security threats obviously costs a bit of money. However, considering the benefits like SEO ranking, security, and customer trust it delivers, this cost should not be a cause for concern.
Although the SSL configuration is fairly simple for a techie it can sometimes be complex for others. Especially in the case of multi-domain SSL certificates, there is a high chance of error which will potentially scare away visitors. Applying the HTTPS tag across all web pages is not easy and requires expertise.
Mobile configuration is not easy
SSL certificates were primarily intended for website security, mobile devices may not have been considered. This has meant that in recent years as the widespread usage of mobile devices has developed, so too have many complications. Website owners have to use third-party applications or build in-house applications to keep websites functioning the same way as mobile devices.
Myths about HTTPS migration you have to ignore
They consume large resources
If your SSL certificate configuration process is perfect, it will not consume too many resources. If you miss any crucial steps like failing to give redirects, resource consumption will definitely spike. So high resource use is one myth you can ignore if you set it up correctly.
Reduces page loading speed
The last leg of SSL configuration is page loading speed optimization. It ensures that any changes made during the configuration process does not affect the page loading speed. Hence, slow page loading speed is not going to happen until and unless you skip speed optimization.
Warning messages to visitors are not bound to happen when you configure SSL and migrate to HTTPS. It might probably happen only if the redirects are not properly set up or if browser compatibility is not checked before making the website live.
Should you embrace SSL/TLS encryption?
From what can be inferred above, SSL is definitely a welcome move. It will muscle up your website security and also put your website on the radar of Google for higher search engine ranking.
So don’t think twice. SSL Encryption is a must-have for your website. All the more if it is an eCommerce store with financial transactions happening real-time.