Although the SEO world is always evolving and changing, we can be certain of one thing.
In future, there is no place for unsafe websites.
Search engines have cracked down hard on websites that may not be entirely safe for website visitors.
Moreover, considering the recent outcry against websites stealing user information and the growing focus on privacy and data protection, the trend is only going to go up.
It is also important to mention that websites that are not 100% safe for users, are finding it difficult to consistently rank at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). Website security has already become a prominent search engine ranking factor — and its impact is only going to increase in the future.
Lastly, another important thing to remember is that web browsers, such as Google Chrome, are now showing notifications to users whenever they visit a website that may not be 100% safe.
Although the notifications are relatively muted for now, this is expected to change later this year, after July 2018. After July, Google is expected to update the Google Chrome browser which would put these ‘warning’ notifications front and center.
In other words, search engines are implicitly penalizing unsafe websites in the search engine results pages. Furthermore, the warning pop-ups will also push visitors away, negatively affecting traffic, brand credibility, conversion rate, and engagement rate.
So, how do you survive all this?
How do you make sure that your website is safe and in the good graces of users as well as search engines?
Buying an SSL certificate is the first and biggest step towards this.
In this blog post, we will explain what are SSL certificates, how do they work, and what are the different types of SSL certificates.
Once you know the basic definition of SSL certificates and all the different types, you will be in a much better position to make the decision of making your website a safe place for your visitors.
Let’s start from the top.
Explaining SSL certificates
Think of an SSL certificate as an extra layer of security and privacy between your data and other people with whom you don’t want to share that data.
One of the major functions of SSL certificates (or encryption) is to keep your personal information and data secure, e.g., credit information, bank account, email address, etc.
How does it work?
SSL certificates have two different randomly-generated keys:
- Public key — which encrypts a connection
- Private key — which decrypts the connection
A hacker would have to need both keys (public and private) to acquire access to your information. It’s significantly more difficult, which is why encryption and SSL certificates make your website safe and secure.
5 Different types of SSL certificates
Now that you have a basic understanding of what an SSL certificate is and how does it work, let’s list down and briefly explain the five different types of SSL certificates.
Knowing these different types of SSL certificates will help you identify the right one for your website.
1. Single domain SSL certificate
As its name suggests, “single domain SSL certificate” safeguards a single domain. As you must have already guessed, if you multiple domains to secure, single domain SSL certificate probably won’t be your best option.
However, there is another important thing to remember.
The single domain SSL certificate works on just one domain, which means that it will also not work for any subdomains that the primary domain may have.
For example, if you have a domain — www.yourdomain.com — a single domain SSL certificate will protect it. It will be enough for this domain.
However, if you have a subdomain to go with it, e.g., subdomain.yourdomain.com, the single domain certificate will not cover this variation.
For most straightforward websites, a single domain SSL certificate is sufficient. For example, if you have a small business website or a blog (without any subdomains or variations), this is the best option for you.
2. Multi-domain SSL certificates
As you can probably guess already, multi-domain SSL certificates are for safeguarding multiple domains.
These multi-domain SSL certificates are also commonly known as Subject Alternative Names or SAN.
If you have a domain with multiple variations and/or subdomains, you need to buy multi-domain SSL certificates, which will be enough to cover an entire suite of websites.
Also, if you are planning to buy a new domain in the future, your multi-domain SSL certificate will cover that as well.
3. Wildcard SSL certificates
Consider Wildcard SSL certificates as somewhere in between single-domain and multi-domain SSL certificates.
As you know, a single-domain SSL certificate covers a single website (no subdomains). On the other hand, a multi-domain SSL certificate covers more than one website (including subdomains as well as completely new websites).
The Wildcard SSL certificate covers all subdomains on a single root domain. However, it does not cover completely different domain names.
For example, a Wildcard SSL certificate will cover the following:
4. Organization SSL certificates
During your research phase, you may also encounter an organization SSL certificate.
Frankly speaking, it’s not very much different than a single-domain SSL certificate. It basically serves the same purpose. In addition, it also requires you to confirm and authenticate other organization-related details.
However, in the end, it doesn’t offer any significant difference.
If you really want to make an impact, you’d probably want the ‘Extended’ SSL certificate for your website.
Apart from validating domain ownership, the extended SSL certificate also verifies organization details (as mentioned in the previous point), verify the domain, as well as check the legal corporation.
Needless to say that this SSL certificate may require more time to set up.
What do you get in return?
You will get a more “enhanced” green bar in Google Chrome. Here is an example.
It’s all about credibility and creating the best possible impression on your website visitors. In that regard, the Extended SSL certificate does the job perfectly.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter which SSL certificate you get. If you have a single domain to protect, you can go for any of the following options:
- Single domain SSL certificate
- Organization SSL certificate
- Extended SSL certificate
In terms of security, all certificates are equal.
The important thing is that you at least have one. Google is continuously shoving website owners to safeguard their site. In the next few months, its importance is only going to increase.
Make sure you have an SSL certificate for your site before July 2018.