What is an SSL Certificate?

When setting up a new website – or when viewing a legacy website – it is not uncommon to see a message in your browser address bar marking the site as “Insecure”, “net secure” or similar. This will often be accompanied by an open padlock or another icon.

This does not mean the website you are viewing has been hacked or compromised in some way, it simply means that the connection between your browser and the webserver is not an encrypted connection.

An SSL certificate is a digital certificate that enauthenticates a website’s identity and enables an encrypted connection. SSL is a security protocol that creates an encrypted link between a web server and a web browser. An SSL certificate is added to a website to secure online transactions and keep customer information private and secure. Websites using an SSL certificate will begin with https:// rather than http://.

Google and other search engines will penalise your search ranking if you do not have an SSL certificate on your website (Google blog post 7th August 2014: “HTTPS as a ranking signal“).

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Article published 17th August 2022
Last modified 20th November 2023