A WEBSITE IS A BIG EXPENSE,
AND NOW WITH THE PUSH FOR SECURITY,
IT JUST GOT A LITTLE BIGGER – FOR ALL OF US.
I have an obligation as your website designer and developer to let you know some important information that is affecting all websites – which includes you. It’s a matter of website security and visitor trust, and it’s called SSL. Whether we appreciate it or not, “it is what it is,” and you need to know about it, so you can decide how you want to proceed with your website.
Recently, Google announced that they not only prefer secure sites, but that they will make it known if your site is not secure. (There are many ways to make a website secure, and Dreamleaf Design tries to implement many of those methods for client websites. However, Google is referring to a specific kind of security through SSL.) This means that websites without an “SSL Certificate” will be dropping in Google search engine rankings, and that negatively affects visits to your site.
WHAT IN THE WORLD IS AN SSL CERTIFICATE?
It isn’t a piece of paper. It’s technology. SSL is a simple but essential way to keep sensitive information safe while giving your visitors the confidence they need to interact on your website. Basically, SSL is the technology that establishes an encrypted link between your website’s server and the visitor’s Internet browser. This link makes sure that data passed between the visitor and the website stays private, whether it’s a contact form or a financial transaction. (The SSL Certificate is the visual that lets visitors know you have SSL technology working on your website.)
DOES MY WEBSITE ALREADY HAVE AN SSL CERTIFICATE?
An SSL Certificate was not automatically included in the development of any Dreamleaf Design websites (unless your site is an e-commerce site) or any inherited websites. Because adding an SSL Certificate costs additional money and time (and was not previously required unless it was an e-commerce site), it was usually recommended, but not required, and was never added to your site without client knowledge and approval. New and future Dreamleaf Design Website Contracts will include an SSL Certificate.
AM I REQUIRED TO GET AN SSL CERTIFICATE?
In the past, only Dreamleaf Design clients with e-commerce websites were required to purchase an SSL Certificate, because they were exchanging financial information that needed to remain private and secure. Having an SSL Certificate has been a good idea since 2017, because it showed (with an icon in the address bar) to visitors that the website was secure and they could feel good about privacy of their information and protection from hackers. Now, however, everyone is being affected by Google’s choice to separate sites with SSL from those without by adjusting search engine rankings and further pushing their announcements of which sites are “worthy of trust” and which sites “aren’t.” So, no you don’t HAVE to have an SSL Certificate added to your site, but visits to your site may be seriously affected if you don’t.
HOW DO I GET AN SSL CERTIFICATE?
Dreamleaf Design can handle making it happen. We act as “the middle man” between your website and the hosting company that provides the SSL Certificate, and we make sure that everything is fine on the technical end. So basically, you pay Dreamleaf Design, and we will pay and work with the hosting company. Depending on some details of your website, some verification and business information may be required from you for the purpose of authentication.
HOW MUCH IS THIS GOING TO COST?
The short answer is that it depends on the company your website is hosted with and which level is necessary for your website. For most small businesses, a lower level SSL Certificate will suffice.
Dreamleaf Design will invoice you the exact cost of the SSL Certificate itself and will add the time to oversee the technical side. Also note that an SSL Certificate is typically renewed annually.
WHEN DOES THIS NEED TO BE DONE?
An SSL Certificate can be added at any time, but the sooner, the better. You have probably noticed since 2017, that the address bar when you go to a website often shows icons of green locks, red locks, the words “secure” and “not secure.” This has been Google’s way of pushing everyone toward sites with SSL Certificates and discouraging them from those without. Now, Google is going further than awareness and beginning to cause these security standards to affect rankings.
Adding an SSL Certificate to your website is your decision to make. If you are a Dreamleaf Design client, contact Kimberly to have it added to your site or to ask any questions. Then you will be sent an invoice and upon payment, the process of acquiring the SSL Certificate will begin with the hosting provider your website is already using.
Having an SSL Certificate has become less of a “Should” and more of a “Must.”