Adding an SSL Certificate to your existing website is a terrific way to increase security and brand reputability. By demonstrating that you value data security you will, over time, gain search engine ranking and hopefully additional website traffic as well. However, you may be wondering how adding an SSL Certificate will affect your website in the short term.
What is an SSL Certificate?
An SSL (Secure Socket Layer) Certificate is a digital certificate used to encrypt data as it passes from your server to the rest of the world. These small files of data use a key to make sure that data sent from one place to another isn’t intercepted during delivery. SSL technology scrambles data into an imperceptible language that can only be deciphered by whoever holds the key. All of this is being negotiated behind the scenes of almost every website you visit without you being any wiser.
You can easily tell if a website is protected by an SSL Certificate by looking out a small green padlock and the word Secure in the address bar of your web browser. Websites protected by an SSL Certificate also begin with https:// rather than http://. Recently, search engines have demonstrated a preference for websites protected by an SSL Certificate, and will often present a warning to visitors who are about to enter an unsecured website.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Since 2017, websites that include the additional layer of security that SSL Certificates provide have ranked more highly than websites that do not. Search engines know the importance of protecting personal information, especially in this age of ecommerce when so many financial details are sent through the web.
SSL Certificates provide additional trust between search engines and websites, as well as between websites and website visitors. Installing an SSL Certificate will gradually create a small boost in search engine ranking, as well as show that your organization values data security. However, the short-term changes to your website may concern you more than the long-term results.
Will an SSL Certificate slow down my website?
Many website administrators warn of an SSL Certificate slow down. Just like in a line at the airport, additional security takes more time. When considering how impatient website visitors are, this may concern you. When one additional second can be the difference between a successful conversion and page abandonment, it’s important to be careful of the changes you make to your website.
However, you can rest assured that the benefits of an SSL Certificate far outweigh the additional time your website traffic might spend loading. SSL technology has improved by leaps and bounds in the last few years, so the changes to your site after installing an SSL Certificate is almost imperceptible.
Going the extra mile
If you are still worried that your website may be too slow to attract the traffic volumes you need, there are ways of mitigating the loss of speed due to additional security measures. Content Delivery Network (CDN) tools like Cloudflare can store your data closer to those who view it as well as increase uptime for your site. CDNs decrease website speeds by reducing the distance your data has to travel before appearing on a screen with strategically placed data centers around the globe. They also look for shortcuts to always take the shortest path available to the final destination.
The moral of the story is that any website that values SEO handles personal information or relies on brand recognition must have an SSL Certificate installed to protect their website visitors. While there is a small risk of a change in website speed and/or traffic, the risk of data breach far outweighs the need for an additional millisecond or two in site loading time. Any website slowdown can easily be mitigated by adding a CDN like Cloudflare to your site.