What Is an SSL Certificate and Why Do You Need It?

A common question web developers get is: “What is SSL Certificate”. It’s a reasonable question since the average person doesn’t really divulge into the tech world.

An SSL or Secure Sockets Layer, is what is used to establish an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. SSL is an industry standard for security that ensures all data passed between the web server and browser stays private.

A website that begins with “HTTPS” has an SSL certificate. Whereas a website that begins with “HTTP” does not.


Why do you need it for your website?

Now that you have a basic understanding of what an SSL Certificate is you’re probably wondering why you need one. For one thing, don’t you feel just a little bit more comfortable visiting a website that has that shiny green link on the left side of the url?

ssl certification example



But on a more practical note, it’s always better to take that extra step to make your visitors feel more confident in you. It may not seem all that important, but it is something that affects your visitors’ decisions.

This is especially important if you accept online transactions, or collect confidential information. Internet users have associated the green address link to safety and security which makes it important for you to convey that same impression.


I’m Not Important Enough To Be Hacked

You might be under the impression that you only need an SSL certificate when you are important enough to be hacked. That’s not true at all. Even if you get 1 website visitor a day, your website could still be attacked.

Now, it most likely won’t be intentional. However the internet is filled with web crawlers and bots that are dedicated to finding vulnerable websites. It doesn’t matter whether your website receives a high volume of traffic, or if you’re a public figure. These crawlers are all automated and has a likely chance of knocking on your door.

Would you rather deal with that problem in the future or just put together a few more dollars to purchase an SSL certificate for your website?


How much does an SSL certificate cost

The pricing for a SSL certificate would depend on where your domain is hosted.

GoDaddy – $74.99/ yr.

1and1 – $29.99/ yr.

Digicert- $157/ yr.

CloudFlare – $60/ yr.

I typically work with 1and1 because they have a great package when you purchase a web hosting bundle and their customer service is fantastic.


In a nutshell

I highly suggest that you purchase an SSL certification for your website regardless of what you do or what you provide. I’d like to think that most web developers would agree with me on this. It’s like an insurance policy, it’s there when you need it to be.