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Recently, you may be hearing a lot more about SSL, encryption, and their importance on the web. On first inspection, SSL certificates can seem daunting to set up for the inexperienced user, but they serve a very vital purpose in today’s web enabled world. In order to understand why SSL certificates are important, however, you must first understand their purpose.

Why Do I Need to Worry About Encryption?

So what is encryption anyway? Think of it like this. You and a friend want to send notes back and forth to each other, but you’re both having your friend Bob deliver your notes for you. Well, you don’t want Bob reading those notes while he’s delivering them, so to be sure Bob can’t see what you’re talking about, you and a friend come up with a secret code to “jumble” your note. Let’s say you used a simple code, where A = Z, B = Y, etc. A basic word like “hello” would actually appear in your note as “svool”. To Bob, this just looks like gibberish, but when your friend receives the note, he’s able to easily decode the note, since he’s aware of the code you used.

This is a very basic form of encryption. When you visit a website on your computer, your computer has to talk to a web server in order to retrieve the contents of the site. When your computer requests this information, it has to go out to the internet, traveling across communication lines owned by third parties. If you’re on a public wifi network, it’s actually possible for other people to listen in to your connection. By encrypting your web traffic, you cause everything being sent back and forth between your computer and the server to be jumbled, so that any third parties listening in won’t be able to tell what you’re actually reading / inserting / working on. This is very important for important sites that deal with financial data, passwords, etc.

You can tell if your connection to a website is encrypted by looking for a lock up in your URL bar. This lock means that the data moving back and forth between your computer and the server is safe, and you don’t need to worry about people snooping.

How Can I Make Sure My Website is Encrypted?

If you own a website, the burden of encrypting website traffic for your visitors is on your shoulders. The web server that your website resides on is actually responsible for managing the “code” that user’s web browsers will use to encrypt their messages. In order for your server’s code to be respected by web browsers everywhere, however, you must have an SSL certificate issued to you by a trusted “certificate authority”. A certificate authority is an organization trusted by many large tech companies responsible for creating web browsers and other internet connected software. Most certificate authorities sell SSL certificates at a yearly rate. You can simply purchase a certificate and set it up on your server, and instantly all of the traffic from visitors to your website will be encrypted and safe.

Why Should I Bother Purchasing an SSL Certificate?

Sure, SSL certificates are very important for websites that handle financial data or other private information, but what about your site? You may only own a basic informational site that doesn’t handle any personal information, but encryption is still important for your site. There are a number of reasons to be worried about having an encrypted site, but one of the biggest reasons that affects everyone¬†is search engine ranking. Every site owner wants to make their site appear higher in Google listings, so that they can get more visits, and ultimately more potential customers. As of 2015, Google actually released an update to their search algorithm that rewards sites which are encrypted. Regardless of whether you handle social security numbers, or you just have a basic website for listing your business’ hours and contact information, you’ll receive a small ranking boost from Google just for having an SSL certificate. This is one of the easiest search engine boosts that you’ll find, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be taking advantage of it.

Thought Space Designs Now Offers SSL Certificates from $10 / Month

Prior to today, we only offered SSL certificates with our intermediate hosting plan, which costs $50 / month. We’ve never offered certificates for our starter ($20 / month) plan. As of January 2016, we’re now offering SSL certificate registration and setup for our starter plan for an additional $10 / month. You can also purchase a certificate annually at a discounted rate of $80. If you’re interested in getting your site encrypted, or you’d like to learn more about our offerings, contact us today.