Do I need an SSL certificate for my website?

  1. iStock

    dblackhurst Contributor, Evolvit Free Member

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    The short answer to this question is no, most websites don’t require an SSL certificate. However, there are definitely benefits to having one.

    SSL certificates – sometimes referred to as digital certificates – create a secure connection between a browser and a server, or between the person visiting a website and the website itself. SSL encrypts sensitive data such as passwords and credit card information that are exchanged between the browser and the server.


    SSL certificates make your website more trustworthy. For websites that take payments, this trust is absolutely essential, but even non-ecommerce websites can benefit from having a little extra trust.

    Web browsers display a symbol to show when a website has an SSL certificate. For example, Firefox displays a green bar and Google Chrome shows a green tick. Although many customers may not know that the symbol means you have an SSL certificate, they are likely to recognise it from other trustworthy websites.

    SSL certificates also come with seals or certificates of trust that you can place in key areas of your website, such as at the checkout. Again, many customers may not know what these particular certificates mean, but they will understand that a certificate on the checkout page means it’s safe to enter credit card information.

    Increase conversions

    Conversion optimisation can be a slow and costly way to improve your online sales particularly as, for many businesses, it means hiring a conversion optimisation specialist or agency to lead the project. But did you know there are small changes that you can make to your website that increase conversion rates? Having an SSL certificate is one of them.

    For many businesses, simply adding an SSL certificate could represent a big uplift in sales.


    An SSL certificate is essential for any company that takes sensitive information such as its customers’ credit card details. Whether non-ecommerce websites decide to add an SSL certificate to increase trust is one thing, for ecommerce websites it’s not just a matter of trust but security.

    An ecommerce website can’t afford to let its customers’ data be intercepted. Not only would they lose any future business from that customer, but it could quickly turn into a PR nightmare that could mean losing both current and future customers.

    This may not apply to all websites that sell goods online. Some ecommerce websites use an external payment processor such as PayPal to manage payments and so no sensitive credit card information is sent between the user and their website. If this is how your business works you may not need an SSL certificate. However, as mentioned before, there are other benefits to having an SSL certificate - an increase in trust and a potential increase in conversions, for example.

    Prevent spoofing

    These days, more and more cyber-criminals try to spoof company emails. Banks are the most common type of company that’s targeted. Cybercriminals create fake websites that are identical to the bank’s real website and send out emails (with email addresses that are very similar to the bank’s) asking customers to login for security purposes.

    What’s the main difference between the genuine bank website and the fake one? You guessed it! An SSL certificate. The fake bank website won’t have the green bar or tick that shows it’s legitimate.

    If your customers use your website and know to expect a green bar or tick icon then if you do get hacked they’ll know that the other website isn’t legitimate.

    Better ranking in Google

    Google gives a very slight benefit to websites that have an SSL certificate. The benefit is minor and you won’t see any noticeable difference in ranking simply by adding an SSL certificate. Having one isn’t worth more than any of Google’s other core ranking factors (eg. backlinks) either. However, according to Google, if two websites are equal in every other aspect of its ranking criteria but one has an SSL certificate, that one will be ranked higher.

    Generally, Google doesn’t give away much about its formula for ranking websites in search but this is one of the few that it has confirmed is a ranking factor. For most businesses, any improvement in ranking is a benefit and, even though the effects of an SSL certificate are minor, combined with the other benefits an SSL certificate brings it makes sense to get one.

    Most websites, particularly those that don’t take payments, don’t necessarily need an SSL certificate. However, there are plenty of benefits to having an SSL certificate including increased trust, increased conversions and better ranking in Google. Although it isn’t a requirement for many websites, for most websites it’s definitely a worthwhile consideration.

  2. Ecommerce Web Design

    Ecommerce Web Design UKBF Contributor Free Member

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    If you are taking payments or information from website visitors via a form it should be https. On the google ranking we took the advise of google on our own brochureware site and found that changing from http to https caused more ranking issues than it solved.
    Looking back if I were to go again at the https on our brochure site I'd not do it. For an ecommerce site you have no choice. Https is also slower to render as passes through encryption before it renders.
    Posted: Jul 13, 2016 By: Ecommerce Web Design Member since: Feb 11, 2014
  3. dblackhurst

    dblackhurst Contributor, Evolvit Free Member

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    Thanks for your comment. I definitely agree that if you're taking payments online https is a must have. For a brochure site it's a preference thing. I do see more and more firms using it now, there was an article recently that 30% of sites on the first page of Google for various keywords were using SSL the ranking benefit is still relatively unproven.

    Regarding speed. I hear what you say. I think that may have been the case historically but with modern equipment any lag has been overcome. Check out this article for some of the latest research
    Posted: Jul 14, 2016 By: dblackhurst Member since: Apr 26, 2016
  4. TotalWebSolutions

    TotalWebSolutions UKBF Ace Full Member - Verified Business

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    Posted: Jul 15, 2016 By: TotalWebSolutions Member since: Sep 29, 2009
  5. TaobaoGuides

    TaobaoGuides UKBF Contributor Free Member

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    If it is an online shopping or business related website, you can add a ssl certicicate, else there's no need to add one, it's just waste of money.
    Posted: Jul 18, 2016 By: TaobaoGuides Member since: Jul 12, 2016
  6. Stoneliuzhiwen

    Stoneliuzhiwen UKBF Contributor Free Member

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    Hi, how to set up the SSL to the website?
    Posted: Jul 20, 2016 By: Stoneliuzhiwen Member since: Jun 20, 2016
  7. dblackhurst

    dblackhurst Contributor, Evolvit Free Member

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    Hi there, probably best speaking direct to your hosting company/provider or IT department on that one.
    It's pretty straightforward to purchase but I would recommend you get advice before you impliment on your website. There are plenty of examples where the transfer has gone wrong.
    Posted: Jul 25, 2016 By: dblackhurst Member since: Apr 26, 2016
  8. 19ninety

    19ninety UKBF Regular Free Member

    185 17
    One of the first things I did on my e-commerce site, I accept card payments online, and wouldn't expect anyone to purchase from me if I wasn't using SSL.
    Posted: Aug 3, 2016 By: 19ninety Member since: Nov 22, 2015
  9. Edd Dutton

    Edd Dutton UKBF Contributor Free Member

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    I haven't got an e-commerce site but ensure I have an SSL certificate for the comfort of my clients.
    Posted: Dec 16, 2016 By: Edd Dutton Member since: Dec 13, 2016
  10. kgg.becks

    kgg.becks UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    SSL is really vital for a website where transactions are made. For any other it's just a feature for those who can afford in my opinion.
    Posted: Dec 25, 2016 By: kgg.becks Member since: Dec 18, 2016
  11. Julie Knight

    Julie Knight UKBF Newcomer Full Member

    14 2
    I'd say it's absolutely essential these days to have SSL. Google likes it (so it's good for rankings) and it provides customers with a level of trust in your company/brand. SSL is very easy and cheap to set up, so there's really no reason not to have it.
    Posted: Jul 16, 2018 By: Julie Knight Member since: May 23, 2018
    Steven001 likes this.
  12. Steven001

    Steven001 UKBF Regular Full Member

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    I'd say yes because most websites I have come across have forms on them, at least a contact form. Any area where a user can enter private information needs to encrypted. Also search engines inc. Google prioritize SSL sites.

    Way to go now is to have the whole site SSL.
    Posted: Sep 23, 2018 By: Steven001 Member since: Aug 1, 2018