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01 Sep 2017

Does your B2B website need an SSL certificate?

Does your B2B website need an SSL certificate?

There are two reasons you need an SSL certificate right now:

  1. Google discriminates against websites that don’t have one.

  2. Google is going into a confidence crisis.

Let us explain...

Since 2014, Google began ranking websites without SSL lower in search engine results, as part of a campaign they called “HTTPS everywhere”.  Back then, they warned that this would become a stronger ranking signal over time. That time has come.   

From October 2017, all websites without HTTPS that require a visitor to enter data or those visited on Chrome’s incognito mode, will display a “Not Secure” warning notification beside the URL.

If you’re one of the websites without an SSL certificate, you could face a whole host of problems, as explored below.

What is SSL?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s the technology used to establish a secure HTTPS link between a web browser and server and ensures that the data passed between the two cannot be intercepted.

Essentially, SSL makes sure that whoever visits your website is connected in an authenticated, secure and safe way and that any information they enter is sent only to the person intended.

A secure website is indicated by green padlock, the word “secure” and HTTPS in the address bar.

What will happen to your website without SSL

Don’t worry, your website isn’t going to combust come October time when Google’s new algorithm kicks in. Not in an obvious way, anyway.  But what you may notice is that your website will fall in search rankings, especially if your competitors are adhering to best practices and are SSL certified themselves.

It could also mean that anyone visiting your website will be put off because the “Not Secure” warning sign will be displaying on browsers a lot more frequently.

You’re also playing a dangerous game by compromising the security of your website, risking “man in the middle attacks” and the possibility of other systems monitoring and logging sensitive data.

This could be devastating for retailers with ecommerce websites, especially as big shopping events such as Black Friday draw nearer, but also for B2B websites who rely on visitors and customer trust.

If you don’t sell anything, do you still need a certificate?

If there’s nothing but pure content on your website, you may not have to worry as much about a security breach. However, as mentioned above, you could see a drop in conversions as less people are able to find your website. And, the ones that do simply won’t trust it enough to stay.

If you’re a B2B business working with inbound methodology, not having an SSL is very, very very bad. The methodology fails before it can begin as visitors will not be attracted to your website. You’re also indirectly declaring to your visitors that you’re not professional or organised enough to provide them with security.

How to get SSL certified

Now that we’ve established it’s a good idea for your B2B website to have an SSL certificate, how do you go about actually obtaining one?

1. Buy and choose a certificate

Firstly, you’ll have to choose the type of certificate you need, as there’s a few different ones depending on your business and the level of security you require:

  • Self-signed - this is free of charge but it’s not issued by a Certificate Authority, meaning that visitors will still see a warning.  

  • Domain Validation (DV) - an entry level certificate where the domain is verified to belong to a particular owner, however fails to verify who the owner actually is.

  • Organisation Validation (OV) - a step up in credibility over domain validated ssl, this will validate an owner’s business credentials, going as far as to verify the company’s physical address.

  • Extended Validation (EV) - the highest level of validation that validates location and includes phone calls to confirm owner identity. It’s the only SSL certificate that demonstrates a business is legitimate and provides a green address bar.

2. Update your website to HTTPS

Once your certificate is active and has been installed, usually by your web hosting provider, you’ll have to update your site to use HTTPS - this is what will make it officially secure.

Be careful at this stage, as changes to your website can affect SEO and consequently, your search engine rankings. However, as long as you redirect your HTTP pages to HTTPS, any effects should be minimal.

Just in case you hadn’t got the message, you should absolutely and unequivocally have an SSL certificate for your website. It will provide you with security, enhance your brand reputation and even holds the power to improve your search rankings and increase conversions. Not having it shouldn't be an option. 

Remember though, encryption is just one aspect of  a winning B2B website. If you want to attract and covert more prospects, you'll need to make sure your website is designed in a particular way. Our B2B lead generation checklist is bursting with tips and tricks, like where to best place your content and how to rise to the top of search rankings. Download it below:

2017 B2B Website Checklist

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