As a default system, every communication between web servers and client systems takes place over a clear text connection. This leads to exposure of the data in the communication to an attacker and makes the communication vulnerable to cyber-attacks. It causes unintended information disclosure to the hackers and put your website to a serious security threat. Prevention of this is possible through SSL or the newer Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols are used to secure the data transferred between the client and server.
SSL Certificate (Secure Sockets Layer) is a technique to encrypt web communications between client and server systems. It is also known as secure web access that takes help of the https protocol over 443 port. In addition to securing the communication between the client and the web server, SSL also confirms the identity of the web server to the client systems. This process is extensively utilized to make sure that the client is interacting with the organization or individual that the website claims to represent.
Whenever you browse through a website secured with SSL Certificate, the below mentioned steps ensue and establish a secure connection through 3 major steps that include Encryption, Data Integrity and Authentication.
- The web browser on the client system establishes a connection to the web server secured with SSL and requests the server for its identification.
- The server transmits SSL Certificate’s copy along with the public key of the server to the browser of the client.
- The client’s browser confirms the root of SSL Certificate against the various trusted Certificate Authorities on its list. Only if the browser trusts the SSL Certificate, it builds a symmetric session key by using the public key of the server.
- The browser confirms the validity of the provided certificate common name.
- It also verifies the expiry date of the certificate
- The web server decrypts the symmetric session key by making use of the private key, that works as a validation that the encrypted session can start.
- With the help of the session key, both the server and browser encrypt all the data that is transferred.
Why is SSL Certificate Important
With the recent announcement by Google that SSL Certificate will be considered as a critical factor for search engine rankings, it has become imperative for website owners to consider installing SSL Certificate. Apart from security and protection of the user’s confidential information, SSL Certificates have now become a ranking parameter for marketers. However, despite the huge impact of SSL Certificates, many marketers neglect it and avoid installing it.
SSL Certificate plays a major role in securing the transactions taking place over shopping websites. Also, it creates a sense of trust with the user as it shows a green padlock in the address bar of the website with the label ‘Secure’.
Additionally, if you migrate to HTTPS website, you have a competitive edge in the digital marketplace as you can generate more conversions through your website.
Role of SSL Certificate in Search Engine Ranking
Google indexes HTTPS versions of web pages when compared to the duplicate HTTP version. Business owners who do not have websites that are secured with SSL Certificate will have to face the repercussions of Google’s policy as it marks the website as not secure. This will repel your customers and they might choose your competitor over you. Moreover, as your search engine ranking gets hampered if your website is without this security certificate, you would not be able to get the desired traffic on your site. Ultimately, it will affect your conversion rate.
Whenever a prospect checks the search results, a secure HTTPS website appeals more than a non-secure website with merely http. Google Chrome changes the HTTP security indicator to a red triangle that is used to show broken HTTPS at the time the customer enters the information in the form on HTTP page, and for every HTTP page in incognito mode.
The website performance gets greatly enhanced if a website is running on SSL Certificate. You can get cheap SSL Certificate right away so that your business growth does not get deterred because of security issues.
Even when you consider your website as a content-based site, with no involvement of sensitive data whatsoever, securing it with SSL Certificate is worth the investment as the current boost in search engine rankings could soon become a penalty for sites that do not, at some point in the near future.
Setting up SSL Certificate
SSL Certificate is set up in two steps. At the outset, you create a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) created from your web server. This is then sent to the Certificate Authority from whom you have purchased your certificate. Your web host can assist you with the entire procedure. The subsequent step is to install the certificate that you will receive via email on the server. After installation, every page requested using the https:// prefix will be sent over a secure connection.
The use of SSL Certificate on the website creates issues like duplicate content and SEO efforts. Whenever a page gets accessed through both a secure and non-secure connection, these two separate pages get seen as duplicate pages that result in a negative impact on search rankings.
To avoid these duplicate content issues on the website:
- Secure your entire website, not just sensitive sections. It does not make any sense to do so as it leads to confusion pertaining to redirects.
- Change every link on your website from http:// to https:// if you have specified the protocol in your links.
- Change the URLs for all your images and resources to reflect the new secure address.
- Redirect requests to the non-secure http:// versions of the pages and resources to the new secure location through the 301 Moved Permanently redirect on your server.
- Update all the canonical URLs.
As your users are getting more and more aware about security on websites, SSL Certificate will have a deep influence on the search engine ranking in the years to come.
If you have enough business finances, now is the right time to buy SSL Certificate and stay assured of the security issues.