Should You Brave It and Get an SSL Certificate?

By: | January 27, 2018 | Tags: , , ,

SSL Certificate

Are you concerned about your website security?

Maybe not, but are your readers concerned?

Is Google?

Many website creators are installing SSL certificates so they can have an S at the end of their HTTP in their URL.

The “S” actually stands for “secure.”

Should you install an SSL certificate and make the move to an HTTPS website?

This post will explain the advantages and disadvantages for you.

In the event you decide to make the move, this post will also explain how to overcome the disadvantages.

Consider this question posed to me at Quora.com and my response:

Question:

Have many bloggers moved their blogs to HTTPS/SSL?

My response:

Everyone has or will. That is my prediction but not based on statistics.

I will tell you why I am making that prediction:
Google tells people to proceed with caution before going to sites without a green lock indicating the site is secure.

In this day and age of viruses and hacking, people only want to proceed to secure sites.

If Google says they are proceeding to a site they have to worry about, why would they go?

Bloggers want traffic. Having a site that their potential visitors are told is not secure is an obstacle to their goal— getting more traffic.

I know a popular blogger. He said he only knew 2 bloggers without an SSL certificate. I used to be one of them.

I don’t accept money on my site, so I didn’t think I needed a “secure” site. For the reasons I stated, I was wrong.

I have an SSL certificate and an https:// in front of my blog name.
Janice

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the HTTPS protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser.

SSL Certificate

If you look in the upper left-hand corner of the screenshot, you’ll see a green padlock indicating my site is secure. If you click the green padlock, a drop-down appears confirming that I have a valid SSL certificate. Notice, the drop-down tells everyone who comes to my site that my site is secure.

Why I Installed an SSL Certificate

I was on a plateau, My organic traffic wasn’t growing.

I read an article which offered a tip for people whose search traffic was stuck: Installing an SSL certificate would break the plateau.

I read blog posts by other bloggers who reported a slight boost in search traffic when they installed the certificate and moved to HTTPS.

Also, I discovered that WordPress.com moved all its users to an HTTPS site.

I decided to take the plunge and have my tech helper, Phillip Dews, install my SSL certificate and move me to a secure site.

Bloggers warned it could take some time for my organic traffic to increase.

However, my search traffic rose 25% almost immediately.

Advantages of Having an SSL Certificate

  1. People don’t trust sites without HTTPS.
  2. Sites that have the “SSL” Certificate are encrypted. This means they are secure. On sites that do accept money, this gives the consumer peace of mind since no one else can see the transaction details.
  3. Google considers sites with the SSL certificate a ranking factor. Knowing people will trust your site more if you have the certificate, Google will show your site more often to users than sites without the “S.” Is this speculation? No. Google confirmed it uses HTTPS as a ranking factor.

Consider these comments from SEO expert Nirmala Santhakumar: “SSL (HTTPS) is an important factor considered by Google to offer better rankings.”

Look what sites without the SSL certificate display to people who attempt to go there:

 

SSL Certificate

 

Phillip switched my site to HTTPS just in the nick of time. Immediately after, Grammy Dee posted this in her Facebook group Blogging Grandmothers:

http vs https

Does Google show HTTPS websites to their users?

The answer is a definitive “yes” because they load faster and Google wants to improve user experience on your website.

My technical helper, Phillip, explained why HTTPS sites load faster using the analogy of people drinking in a bar:

Here is an analogy I like to use to explain the differences. Imagine waiting at a bar for a drink and there are 99 other people waiting at the bar. There is only 1 bartender, you are going to wait a while right? That’s HTTP and what most of today’s websites are still running on. Now imagine waiting at a bar with 99 other people for a drink but this time there are 100 bartenders that is HTTPS which, as of May 2017, only 13.7% of all websites are currently running. After I have finished with the website, yours will join that 13% and, of course, improve speed which, in turn, will improve your SEO vastly.

Did it work? Does my website load faster now?

Look at my site speed report before I installed the SSL certificate and moved to an HTTPS site:

SSL Certificate

Ouch! In the 50’s! That’s an F!

Look at my site speed now:

SSL Certificate

 

Look at the report Ahrefs sent me after I moved to HTTPS:

 

These are all improvements since my move to HTTPS.

Since Phillip switched me, there is a sharp increase in my organic traffic. This makes sense since the above screenshots show I’m receiving more visibility in the search engine results pages than I used to.

Magnet4Blogging reports if you switch, you’ll receive a small boost in your search traffic.

Whether your experience is like mine or Magnet 4 Blogging’s, the consensus seems to be you will experience a boost in your search engine traffic to some degree.

Look: I have 4 new keywords that have moved onto Page 1 of Google. There are 150 searches monthly for the keyword phrase Google Docs blog that will bring up my Google Docs article.

A shoutout goes to… Weebly, a publishing site. Weebly.com knows the importance of SSL. It actually contacts its users and reminds them they don’t have an SSL certificate. Then, Weebly tells its users how to easily install their SSL Certificate.

Disadvantages of Getting an SSL Certificate

  1. Technical Difficulties

Should you get an SSL Certificate?

As you can see, my like button won’t load. I prefer people have the option to “like” my articles.

SSL Certificate

I pay for CommentLuv premium. This way when people click the plus sign, their headlines with the URL’s are supposed to show.

Ever since I installed the SSL certificate, CommentLuv doesn’t work. Look what it says now when people click the plus sign:

Sorry, the page you were looking for does not exist or is not available. We performed a web search for “Commentluv” and here’s what we found.

It could be a coincidence, but the timing coincides. Unfortunately, I heard the CommentLuv plugin is no longer being supported by the developer.

Blogger Adrian Jock also reported problems with CommentLuv occurring after the switch to HTTPS. He published instructions on how to fix them.

Magnet 4 Blogging also reported experiencing technical difficulties of a different sort after installing an SSL certificate. The admin recommends using the SSL Insecure Content Fixer Plugin.

2. The certificate costs money.  I interviewed a blogger who said money was a concern. However, now that he knew he was serious about blogging, he decided he’d eventually get the certificate. If you’re looking for an affordable place to get an SSL Certificate, Cheap SSL Shop offers low prices.

3. The certificate expires. This means you’ll need to repurchase it. How often? The SSL certificate expires every year or two. Consider these comments from a reader trying to read blog posts on a site with an expired SSL certificate:

Depending on the reader’s security settings, sites without a valid SSL certificate may even fail to load. I can’t tell you how many times sites with expired certificates are refused by my security software. I can manually click through, but often it’s just not worth it and I’ll look for another site instead. 

4. The SSL certificate needs to be installed by a professional. Often, this will be your web host. Phillip, my tech helper, installed the SSL certificate for me.

5.  Phillip was concerned I’d lose my social shares. I’ve read concerns from other bloggers about this. We solved the problem by installing the Social Warfare plugin. The plugin is effective since Social Warfare has a Preserve Social Proof feature.

Testimonial about the Value of an SSL Certificate

Blogger Ryan Biddulph wrote about the value of encrypted websites both as a blogger and as a reader of blogs:

As a blogger:

Going with HTTPS has worked for me (more traffic, more professional-looking, trusted blog, and brand)… 

As a blog reader:

I do know that readers tend to trust HTTPS sites more than other sites, and I am concerned personally whenever I visit a site unless I trust the person implicitly – because I see potential security issues.

How to Get an SSL Certificate

  • My tech helper, Phillip, can install an SSL Certificate for you like he did for me. Here is his contact information: phillip.dews@theweb.engineer. Mention I referred you.
  • Many hosting companies install SSL Certificates for you.

Wrapping Up

Although I believe I am experiencing technical problems as a result of my move to HTTPS, I believe the advantages, more organic traffic for me and a faster loading site for my readers, make the move worth it.

If you are still debating about moving to HTTPS and installing an SSL certificate, I recommend you go to an encrypted site. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

I look forward to your comments:

What are your experiences? Are you planning on moving to HTTPS or have you already? If you have made the move, do you find it boosted your site speed and search traffic? Did you also experience technical concerns? If you haven’t made the move yet, why haven’t you installed an SSL certificate?

Readers, please share. This way bloggers who’ve installed the SSL certificate can realize how common technical problems are and how to fix them. If bloggers haven’t installed the SSL certificate yet, they can discover the importance of moving to an HTTPS site.

Article made possible by site supporters.

Update: Google has set a July 2018 deadline. According to a website security blog, “Google has announced a deadline of July 2018 as the date for when Chrome will begin clearly warning users if a site is insecure. This prominent warning is likely to affect how secure users feel and may cause visitors to leave a site, resulting in a negative impact on a sites bounce rate, impressions, clicks, and sales.”

  1. Jeanette S. Hall | at 7:54 am

    Janice,
    I am stubborn. Plan on staying http for as long as possible. Hate paying extra for bells and whistles.

    If someone really wants to find my site, they will. That is how I currently feel. Am probably going to be proven wrong eventually! But I will stand strong as long as possible.

    • Janice Wald | at 8:59 pm

      Hi Jeanette,
      Well, after reading your comment, I went to your site. I did NOT get any scary messages warning me of impending doom when I went to your blog, so that’s good. Before I moved and I tried to go to my site, I got all sorts of scary warnings.
      Janice

  2. Peter Nyiri - FunnelXpert | at 8:20 am

    Yes, https is absolutely necessary.
    My host uses auto-update Let’s Encrypt SSL.
    I also use SSLforFree.com to generate a SSL certificate, but this one you need to renew every 3 months.
    When I started my last blog, I just installed SSL even before setting up WordPress and I nerver had a problem with it.
    I had another blog that I had to switch over to https. I used the Really Simple SSL plugin and that makes the procedure easier.
    There are also CDNs that provide SSL to your site automatically – I use Web Support Revolution.
    As you can see, there are plenty of options.
    In terms of the CommentLuv plugin, the site itself seems to be down, that might be the problem, not the SSL, it doesn’t work on kingged.com either, and that site doesn’t have https.

    • Janice Wald | at 9:01 pm

      Hi Peter,
      Thanks for writing, contributing to the discussion, and letting people know the options where the SSL certificate is concerned. I also appreciate the assurances about the CommentLuv plugin. Great to see you.
      Janice

  3. KT | at 8:39 am

    Thank you for this informative post! I haven’t figured out how to make my site secure but I think I should definitely figure out how after reading this!

  4. Ryan Biddulph | at 1:52 pm

    Awesome Janice. So happy you worked with Phill; he’s a dear friend and of course, the guy behind my Blogging From Paradise theme. He also set up https on BFP for these very reasons. Gotta go that route because eventually, Google Chrome users will begin warning you against visiting any site that is not https. Not good.

    Just today I clicked through to one of my reader’s sites and I was warned. Chromebook user so a Chrome browser of course. Tough one because even if you are a well known blogger most people will simply avoid your blog with all the security issues out there these days.

    Thanks for the shout out 🙂

    Ryan

    • Janice Wald | at 9:05 pm

      Hi Ryan,
      You inspired me to ask Phillip for help installing the SSL certificate, so in a way, you inspired my journey which led to this post.
      I have also seen ominous warnings when I go to sites without HTPPS. I’m surprised everyone hasn’t switched. I think they will eventually. Those warning signs can be pretty scary!
      Thanks for writing.
      Janice

  5. dgkaye | at 4:49 pm

    I got one over a year ago when my webhost recommended so. Also mentioned from them was Google is going to insist we have them and if we don’t comply they won’t be showing our posts. Just what I heard. 🙂

    • Janice Wald | at 9:06 pm

      Hi Debby,
      Thanks for commenting and sharing. I head the same. First, I heard there was a 50% chance Google would show our post, then I heard they wouldn’t show our posts at all. I know my organic traffic is up since I moved. Thanks for writing and sharing what you know.
      Janice

    • Janice Wald | at 9:08 pm

      Hi Ellen,
      Sadly, I don’t think we have much choice. If Google won’t show our posts to people, and if people who go to our sites see all sorts of ominous warnings show up on the screen, I don’t know what choice we have.
      Thanks for writing. Nice to see you. Happy belated new year!
      Janice

  6. Asad | at 1:39 am

    ok. Please tell me one thing that if we install SSL certificate. Will it make secure our main domain page or it will automatically secure all sub domains i.e. articles link too ? I am asking this because I have visited many domains which are secure but their posts’ links were not secure and I am a student in this field.

    • Phillip Dews | at 4:44 am

      Hi Asad,

      It will secure all pages and posts on the main domain. if you are using subdomain like subdomain.maindomain.com then you will need to install a seperate ssl for that.

      If you install the ssl on maindomain.com then it will secure all pages and posts related to that. I.E: maindomain.com/somepage or maindomain.com/somepost

      I hope that makes sense to you? Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

      Phillip

  7. Phillip Dews | at 4:40 am

    Right then, this is my second attempt at leaving a comment for some reason my first one changed to a link. Ah well here is a second one anyway.

    Janice,

    Thank you so much for this and talking about my switching to https services. That alone is just the tip of the iceberg as normally I create bespoke, unique and custom built WordPress themes like I did for Ryan above. Just to let your readers know.

    If I may I would like to correct you in this post. The bar analogy of mine that you used in this post does not relate to the ssl itself it actually relates to something called the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol version 2.0.

    Let me explain in a little more detail and I will try and use as little technical details as I can. Back in 1989 a British Physicist called Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web (Yes a British fellow. It’s the Americans who invented the Internet on which the Web is built) back then the web was running HTTP 1 a few years later it changed to HTTP 1.1 and one that most websites are still to this day running on.

    A few years ago google and members of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) started on something called SPDY that eventually became HTTP/2 and only a few percent of all the worlds websites are running on it. Yours included.

    My bar analogy above explains what HTTP/2 actually is. In order to get your site to run on this you need a minimum of 2 things. PHP Version 7 (that most good web hosts give you the ability to choose now) and above and a valid SSL certificate. However if a website is running on Cloudflare then they will take care of everything for you. If anyone would like to test their site and to see if it’s running on HTTP/2 then they can do so by visiting THIS LINK

    I hope that this explains a little more about this and why everyone should make the change. Whenever I take on a new client and build a new or replace an existing website one of the first things I talk about is getting a valid SSL in place be it the free LetsEncrypt one or a better Comodo positive ssl for a few dollars.

    Everyone should make the change and can do so via their hosting control panel, but be warned as you can make the change itself but it can be very technical especially with WordPress and you will need quite a bit of technical knowledge especially with something called .htaccess it’s really easy to messup and break your website by doing this. Luckily I am always at hand if people want to get in touch with me to discuss their options.

    Thanks again Janice.
    Phillip

    • Janice Wald | at 5:36 pm

      Hi Phillip,
      Thank you for the clarification on the bar analogy and sharing more information about HTTPS. I’m sure readers interested in making the move but confused on the technical aspects involved would welcome your services.
      Janice

  8. Moss Clement | at 6:54 am

    Hi Philip & Janice,

    This is unarguably a wake-up call for bloggers. Even though I haven’t migrated to the https or SSL, I Intent to do that asap. The good thing is that it is an added security which Google has advised all to install.

    Looking at the advantages and disadvantages, it is clear the advantages out weight the disadvantages.

    Ryan pointed out that some people may shy out as a security measure from visiting your site, you which is absolutely right. I will be contacting my hosting provider because they offer a free SSL certificate.

    Thanks so much for sharing Philip, and thank you too Janice for hosting Philip here!

    NB: Bytheway, I’m sure this will not prevent you from visiting my site, because I’m hoping to see you there. Thanks in advance!
    Moss Clement recently posted…6 Powerful Steps That’ll Make Non-Writers Create Terrific Blog PostsMy Profile

    • Janice Wald | at 9:13 pm

      Hi Moss,
      You made an interesting comment with which I agree. Even though I had more disadvantages than advantages, the importance of the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
      I just came from your site and tweeted your post. Thanks for writing.
      Janice

  9. Matt Hutson | at 5:29 pm

    Hey Janice,

    It’s Matt here, I have been hearing a lot about SSL lately that soon Google will be putting a huge red warning ⚠️ symbol in the upper left hand corner of the screen for those sites that don’t have an SSL. I personally don’t want that of course.

    I just started my site, BookMattic, at the beginning of January so it’s still very new, but I want it to be as credible as possible. Do you have any suggestions on where to get a reliable SSL?

    Thanks,
    Matt

    • Janice Wald | at 5:42 pm

      Hi Matt,
      I know about people who got the SSL certificate from their web hosts. However, it does not seem to be a seamless transition.
      It’s possible the web host sold them the certificate but didn’t install it.
      I recall reading about someone else who had it installed but must renew it every 3 months.
      Phillip Dews, who installed my SSL came highly recommended and came through for me. For this reason, I’d recommend Phillip.
      https://www.facebook.com/TheWebEngr/
      Thanks for writing and for subscribing to my blog. Welcome!
      Janice

    • Phillip Dews | at 3:57 am

      Hi Matt,

      Hope that your well. I am free to chat on Skype or via email whenever you want to speak. i don’t have a lot on this week as I am just working on my own website but I am easily reached.

      All the best
      Phillip Dews

  10. Richard Monssen | at 1:48 pm

    Hi Janice,

    Nicely explained article on the new guidelines Google set forth recently in regards to secure sites. I found an easy hack to installing my SSL for free using CPanel in my hosting and then install Easy SSL WordPress plugin – worked like a treat 🙂

    • Janice Wald | at 4:03 pm

      Hi Richard,
      Nice to hear from you. Thank you for commenting on my article. You sound very tech savvy. Impressive! I don’t know if other bloggers are as tech-savvy. I know I’m not confident when it comes to tech. I was fortunate to have Phillip to help me. Thanks for commenting.
      Janice

  11. Kathryn Maclean | at 5:28 am

    Hi Janice!
    Ok ok I know I need to have the SSL certificate. Speed and ranking. After reading this article I finally got one!
    “Since Phillip switched me, there is a sharp increase in my organic traffic. This makes sense since the above screenshots show I’m receiving more visibility in the search engine results pages than I used to.”

    My hosting offers a free SSL certificate so I installed it myself and it works just fine.
    Thanks for the prompting.Something I meant to do ages ago.

  12. Mark | at 4:26 am

    Hi Janice,

    Awesome piece. I didn’t know SSL can mess up things such as like buttons. Weird.
    Anyway, now that is clear that Google will insist on websites having an SSL/HTTPS we don’t have much choice 🙂

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