SSL certificates padlockSSL certificates have long been the ‘gold standard’ for website protection. The site of a padlock icon in the browser bar is the universal sign of trust that a website is protected against interception by hackers, and that any data (particularly credit card details) sent to the site is communicated via Secure Socket Layer (SSL), preventing criminals from accessing it.

It’s not surprising that most people associate SSL certificates with ecommerce websites. The assumption is that only sites that process payments need any kind of secure encryption.

Google changes the game. Again.

However, SSL certificates are one of the latest “essentials” for any business hoping to see their site appear on the first page of Google – whether they sell goods directly or not. The idea is that by applying SSL certificates to your site, you can better protect the privacy and security of your visitors. The use of an SSL certificate also makes it far harder for scammers to set up counterfeit sites that mimic yours.

In return for using SSL certificates on their websites, Google has indicated that businesses might see a slight ‘bump’ in their search engine rankings. There are as many as 200 factors used by Google to determine where a particular site appears in search results, but the presence of an SSL certificate may help elevate your site above those of your unprotected competitors.

What do you actually need?

Purchasing SSL certificates for your site is slightly more complicated than you might think, with several factors to consider to avoid making a mistake. At the very least you should be looking at:

  • A minimum of a 128-bit key certificate (opt for a 256-bit certificate if you have the choice because they are more secure).
  • A multi-domain or wildcard certificate if you operate several sites from the same website address.

Obviously it makes good sense to seek professional advice before making a purchase. You can then be sure of getting the certificate you need and further guidance on how to install the certificate on your webserver – another process that may be more complicated than you expect. You may even find that your certificate reseller offers a full certificate installation service to make things even easier.

Not just SSL certificates

Effective search engine optimisation (SEO) is much more complicated than simply installing an SSL certificate. To help your business website rise in search results, you will need to assess and improve a number of factors, from the design of pages and menus systems, to the text and images on each page.

Again, you will probably find that professional SEO assistance is essential if you are to dominate your competitors online. The battle for a place on the first page of Google search results is ruthless, a constantly shifting landscape that quickly becomes a full-time job.

For further help and advice on helping increase exposure for your company website, or advice on buying an SSL certificate, please get in touch.

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