Trust is one of the most important things to establish when forging a new relationship with a potential customer. Are you confident that your website conveys that you are a trustworthy organisation?
Recently you may have heard that Google could be promoting secure websites above those that are not. If you’re wondering what this means or you're not even sure if you know what indicates a secure website then read on. Getting an SSL certificate to create a secure connection to your website could just be a good move.
What is an SSL certificate?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. A website with an SSL certificate will display [Secure https:// ] in front of the URL, indicating a secure website to visitors. There are varying levels of SSL validation and the industry’s highest standard will turn the address bar green in high-security browsers. You are probably familiar with seeing them in use on larger websites like your online banking, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter … and just recently on this small business website.
What does an SSL certificate do?
Data sent between your computer and a website with an SSL certificate is encrypted to protect the privacy and online security of the user. In other words, should any information you submit online via the secure website be intercepted by a malicious user they will be unable to read or make use of it.
To put it simply an SSL certificate keeps online interactions private
An SSL certificate is essential for any website that is taking sensitive information such as credit card details. But you may be thinking that your small business website isn’t processing any financial transactions or sensitive information so why would you need to worry? But ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you asking visitors to submit data via a contact form?
- Do you have user registration?
- Do your visitors submit their personal details when commenting on your blog?
Now think about the importance of these three potential ‘transactions’ on your website. You probably want to do everything possible to encourage your visitors to these 'Call to Actions'. You want your website visitors to trust you and feel secure in the knowledge that they are dealing with a reputable organisation. An SSL certificate will reassure your visitors that your website is genuine and safe. You want to give them as many reasons as possible to choose you over your competition … a website displaying https:// in the URL is one of those reasons.
Anything that increases your website visitor's or potential customer’s security and boosts your trustworthiness and credibility as a small business is going to increase the chances of those CTAs being … well ... actioned.
A visitor who trusts your website it is using is more likely to:
- Complete your enquiry or contact form
- Register at your website or mailing list
- Feel comfortable leaving their details when commenting on your blog, so more likely to do so.
Of course, if SSL is new to you, you could be forgiven for wondering if your website visitors will even notice that you have a secure website. Who even looks at or takes any notice of the URL? This is a valid point of course so if you’re still not convinced read on to see what Google is saying about SSL.
Now the Google bit
Recently Google announced changes indicating that slight priority could be given to websites that use SSL. Given that Google doesn’t generally give away too much information about how it’s search algorithm works, this would suggest that they would like to encourage more websites to adopt SSL to protect users as they browse. Implementing an SSL certificate could be a good tactic for search engine optimisation given that Google has already indicated that those websites which embrace the technology could be prioritised.
The following quote from an article on the Google Webmasters blog in November 2016 would suggest that more and more websites will be adopting HTTPS.
“A web with ubiquitous HTTPS is not the distant future. It’s happening now, with secure browsing becoming standard for users of Chrome.”
It's not just Chrome, both Firefox and Microsoft Edge are now indicating the security of the connection to the current website.
So you may have noticed your browser flagging up websites without SSL as not having a secure connection. Click the little ‘i’ symbol to the left of the URL when you see it if you are using Chrome or Firefox. (Image below shows the message visitors to a website without SSL will see.)
You may be processing your payments securely away from your website itself using PayPal or Stripe, and also have made that very clear on your website but a message like this could still put some visitors and potential customers off.
Again, anything that gives you the edge over your competition is worth embracing. Speak with your web developer and they should be able to advise you and implement it for you if you decide to go ahead ... it's not too tricky or cost prohibitive although it will need renewing annually.
If your small business website does not have an SSL certificate there is no immediate need to panic, but it might be a good idea to consider it soon and get ahead of the game.
- It will enhance your authenticity in your small business customer’s eyes and may even improve conversions from your website.
- It could also improve your page rankings which can only be a good thing.
- UK Business Forums | Do I need an SSL certificate for my website?
- Google Webmaster Central Blog | Here's to more HTTPS on the web!
- Search Engine Land | Google to give secure sites a ranking boost