Getting an SSL certificate
A (secure socket layer) SSL certificate enables your customers to use your website over a secure connection for their login and credit/debit card transactions. They can cost as little as $19.00/£14.00 per year to as much as $1147/£870.00 per year. If you are using a secure connection, you will see a padlock icon in your website’s browser, and the web address will start with “https” not “http”.
You will need a SSL certificate to enable a secure checkout. If possible, buy one from your web host provider and they will install it for you. Check the enable SSL certificate indicator in your content management systems (CMS) to activate the certificate on your website. Your certificate provider will send you a reminder when your certificate is due to expire.
It is becoming common practice to install an SSL certificate regardless of whether your website accepts online payments, not only for web security, but also for brand credibility.
Never allow your certificate to expire as Google will display an “unsecure website” message to visitors, advising them not to access your site.
Buying a certificate from a third-party provider
If you buy your certificate that is not generated on your hosting provider’s server, you will have to ask your hosting provider to generate a “Certificate Signing Request” on their server. They will email it to you, and then you can email it to the company from which you purchased the certificate. They will then generate the correct certificate for you and you can send it on to your hosting provider to install. Once they confirm the installation, you can check the “enable SSL certificate indicator” in your CMS.
Note: some SSL certificates are distrusted by Google chrome. They include GetTrust, RapidSSL, and Symantec.
Do I need a SSL certificate if I am only accepting PayPal payments?
There was a time when you did not. However, PayPal have changed their stance on this, and CMS solutions are enforcing it. PayPal requires an Instant Payment Notification (IPN) that tells you about your customers transactions. In order to set this up in your CMS admin panel, you will need an https URL, i.e. one with a SSL certificate. Your customers need to know that they are buying products over a secure website. If you are an eCommerce merchant, you should obtain a certificate, regardless of what payment method(s) you offer.
Will a SSL certificate affect my Google Rank?
Yes. Google indexes SSL certificates. A certificate installed on your website will give your site a slight ranking boost.