An SSL or Secure Sockets Layer certificate encrypts the traffic between the server where your site is hosted and the browsers of your visitors. A website address that starts “http://” means that all the information received and sent by your browser to the web server is in open text. In other words, anyone could read your information.
If your website has an SSL certificate, your website address becomes “https://” and your data is encrypted. The “s” means secure. This is particularly important if you handle private data on your site such as your client’s personal and credit card information. Here are the benefits of setting up an SSL on your site.
If you don’t set up an SSL, someone could steal your password or user ID and use it to access your content management system. An SSL certificate protects your data and gives you peace of mind.
An SSL certificate is a ranking factor. Google favors websites that are secure, mobile-responsive and fast. Setting up SSL on your site will increase its ranking.
Most people are looking for the small padlock in the web browser. If they can’t find it, they will leave and look for another site. You don’t want to lose potential customers.
Types of SSL Certificates
A Single-name or Single Domain SSL certificate protects only one domain. It is ideal for simple content-based websites such as e-commerce and B2B sites where all transactions take place on one domain.
Multi-domain SSL certificates, also known as Subject Alternative Names (SAN), cover similar domains. A single multi-domain SSL certificate can cover a group of websites. Your registrar will give a limit on the number of websites covered.
A Wildcard SSL certificate covers every subdomain on a single host name or root domain. It protects the main website and all subdomains under it through a single setup and payment.
An Organization SSL certificate authenticates the identity and data of a company such as its primary address. You also need to validate all other details related to the company.
An Extended Validation SSL certificate is the highest class of SSL available. It activates both the green address bar and the padlock in all major browsers. Extended SSL certificates allow the company behind the website to present its own authenticated identity to visitors. The EV identity verification process requires companies to confirm their physical, operational and legal existence and to demonstrate their exclusive rights to utilize a domain.
How to Set Up an SSL Certificate
You can usually buy an SSL certificate from your hosting provider or domain registrar, but it’s extremely expensive. There are free options from CloudFlare and Let’s Encrypt. For instance, Let’s Encrypt works with different hosting providers, including WPEngine, Dreamhost, A2 Hosting and WordPress.com. If these providers will not set up the SSL certificate automatically, you should be able to do it on your own though cPanel. You can then use a user-friendly WordPress plugin to do all the heavy lifting for you.
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