This year has been a huge year for security on the internet. Between the tightening up of privacy regulations and Google's push for "HTTPS everywhere", previously optional security features on websites are becoming the norm.
One of those important features is the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate - that gives your website that little "padlock" in the address bar and moves it from http:// to https://.
So what is an SSL certificate and why should you have it?
What is an SSL certificate?
In a nutshell, an SSL certificate ensures that your users data (think contact forms etc) is handled over a secure network. Basically an encrypted link is formed between the server and the person using your website. It means that forms, credit card details and other important information is kept safe from 'eavesdropping' as that data travels between the user on your site and your server.
Why should I have one on my site?
Beyond the obvious benefits of keeping your own site secure, an SSL certificate provides your users a higher degree of trust in your site and your product. Currently, a padlock in their browser let's every user know that your site is secure. On top of that, Google has always favoured those sites that take security seriously - so if you are serious about performing well in search results, having an SSL certificate is increasingly crucial. As of July 2018, that punishment from Google for non-secure sites is getting harsher and harsher.
Where'd the green lock go?
Because Google believes that a secure website should be the norm, not the exception, they've moved away from giving a 'green' padlock to secure sites. Rather, a secure site has a grey padlock while an insecure site will increasingly have the red explanation point and "Not Secure" alert.
How much does it cost?
The type of SSL certificate you have and who you are purchasing can change the price of an SSL certificate dramatically. In the past it has been a significant expense, but recently a number of providers have started to offer free SSL certificates. 543 agree's with Google's approach in making 'secure sites the norm', so every website we create and host comes with a free SSL certificate.