SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a standard security protocol for establishing encrypted links between a web server an a web browser. The use of SSL ensures that all data transmitted between the web browser and web server remains encrypted.
When your site is secured a green padlock will appear at the left of your browser’s address bar and the web address will begin with https rather than http.
Data that is sent using https provides three layers of protection:
- Authentication: Confirms visitors are on the right website
- Data integrity: Customer data cannot be corrupted or modified
- Encryption: Visitor activity cannot be intercepted while browsing your website
Does your website need SSL?
If you don’t collect any sensitive information from your website visitors (e.g. credit card details), you could argue that there is no need to use SSL on your website.
However, there are other benefits to having SSL:
- Your SSL certificate confirms that you are who you say are, and that builds trust with your visitors.
- You will receive a small boost to your Google rankings
- Browsers now alert visitors when a website is not secure and this may drive visitors away
- If you have a contact form, your visitors will know that their data is secure and be more inclined to make contact
As the cost of an SSL certificate is relatively small (around £10 per year) and (in my experience) is fairly straight forward to implement, it seems sensible to have SSL on your website to take advantage of the benefits mentioned above. As there aren’t really any negatives (apart from pages taking slightly longer to load) you don’t really have anything to lose.