Why your website should use secure connections (SSL)

Many websites these days are providing secure connections when people visit the site… the most obvious symbol of this is a little green lock icon, which you’re probably used to looking for in the address bar of your browser. For example in Google Chrome next to the web address for my site one sees this…



The lock icon indicates that connections to the website are secured via an SSL certificate (which is a digital certificate that verifies the identify of the website). Sites using SSL send all communication to and from the user’s browser via encrypted messages, which ensures that information like passwords, credit card details or any other sensitive data (even name and email) cannot be intercepted (an almost remotely small but real possibility given the way data is routed around the internet).

While banking websites have been using this technology for decades, in the last few years you’ve probably noticed that many more websites are using this sort of security now. In fact it’s becoming the defacto standard for all websites that collect any user information to use SSL.

Back in 2014 Google indicated that this would be something that would be factored into Search Engine Rankings (what we call a ranking signal), albeit a small one. What this means in practise is that although using SSL won’t necessarily increase your search engine rankings, by itself, it may be one way to increase trust with visitors, raise the appeal of your website and can be considered an indicator of a quality website.

Until relatively recently adding SSL used to be a somewhat expensive process, but the costs of implementing it are now coming down and can even be free with some hosting providers. For this reason, I would recommend that any website which collects information from customers should use SSL.