An SSL certificate (Secured Sockets Layer) is a device you add to your website to encrypt and protect any information your clients input into your site. Over the past few years, the stories of data breaches and the theft of millions of pieces of important personal information have been making headlines all over the world. Google has decided that it has seen enough and it is going to immediately ramp up the importance of SSL certificates and make these devices mandatory for all websites.
In 2018, Google is launching its initiative to go from recommending that websites get SSL certificates and use HTTPS (secure website coding language) to making both actions mandatory. If your website does not have an SSL certificate, then Google is going to flag your site as unsafe. While your site might be free of viruses or any immediate dangers to users, your lack of encryption protocols used by SSL certificates will force Google to consider your site unsafe.
One of the reasons website owners avoided SSL certificates in the past is because they were extremely expensive. In recent years, there have been some companies that have offer robust and free SSL certificates and that number is growing. An initiative called Let's Encrypt is a collection of IT and security experts who are going to offer durable SSL certificates for free. These certificates are going to cover your main domain and any subdomains you have, but it is still recommended that you invest in a more powerful SSL certificate for enterprise size websites.
Not only is Google going to mark your website as unsafe if you do not have SSL protection, but it is going to give all websites that do have SSL certificates slight boosts in their Google ranking. If you do not have SSL and your competition does, then the gap between you two in Google results is about to get significantly larger. Needless to say, most users are not going to go to a website that Google considers to be unsafe.
Having an SSL certificate on your website not only enhances your Google results, but it also increases your website's credibility with your target audience. Users will see that you have a secured website and they will know that their personal information is safe with your site. This is going to be a huge advantage over websites that do not have SSL certificates, especially with the way Google is going to make security a priority in the media.
An SSL certificate means peace of mind for you and your clients. You will be able to grow your business knowing that all customer data is encrypted and secured from hackers. Your customers will feel more secure about giving you their payment information, and that is going to encourage more orders.
If you have never heard of an SSL certificate or the HTTPS coding language, then it is time to get familiar with both. In 2018, Google is making security a priority and if your website does not meet the new Google standards, then there is a good chance that your slipping Google search results will also conspire to keep consumers away from your website for good.