What is SSL? It stands for Secure Socket Layer and it is the method used by websites to create an encrypted connection from the website visitor to the server ( The server is just a computer owned by your hosting company that stores all of your website files)
How do I tell if the website I am visiting is using SSL? You will be able to check for SSL by looking at the address bar in your browser. If the website starts with https: instead of http: and there is a little padlock beside the URL, then you can be confident that you are on a secure website. Here is what it will look like on the most popular internet browsers:
Not that long ago only websites that sold products and services and took credit card information such as Amazon and eBay had an SSL certificate. Now every website should have one for three main reasons:
- Now everyone is much more conscious of internet security, and they need to see that your website is secure. Some may believe that they can get a virus from your website if it is not secure, however that is not the purpose of SSL. The main purpose is to protect your data.
- All of the major internet browsers now show a warning for a non-secure website. Also Google now displays a message that says “not secure” beside your website address (URL) – see images above
- You can get a small ranking boost if you have SSL and some or all of your competitors do not.
Setting up SSL is pretty easy if your website is on WordPress and your hosting company offers a free SSLcertificate.
Follow these two steps to get it setup:
- Login to your hosting company and go on their instant chat. Try to talk to someone in their technical support department. Ask them if they offer a free SSL certificate. If they do, get them to make sure everything is setup on their end.
- Login to your WordPress website and install a plugin called “Really Simple SSL”. When you activate that plugin, it will tell you that it sees a valid SSL certificate on your server and you are ready to make the switch to https. Click on the link or button and it will convert all of your URLs to https. That is it, your site should now be secure. Now you should see a little padlock or the “secure” message beside your URL in the address bar, depending on which browser you are using.
Sometimes there can be problems with image URLs that are still using http and if that is a problem you may need to buy the pro version of “Really Simple SSL” to fix that problem.
If you are unfortunate enough to have your website hosted on Godaddy, or any smaller less known hosting company, you may not have access to a free SSL certificate and you will need to buy one from a website like https://www.ssl.com/
If that is the case, then you will have a much more difficult time setting up your certificate, since every hosting company that doesn’t offer free certificates probably has a different way of setting them up. You might have to deal with making changes in your .htaccess file and a lot of other things that you may not want to mess with. If this is the case, you need to decide if you want to spend a lot of time figuring it out on your own or hiring someone to do it for you.
Another option is to simply move your website to another hosting company that does offer free SSL, assuming that you know how to do that.
Regardless, this is something that needs to be done in 2019