Do You Really Need An SSL Certificate?

The Importance Of SSL Certificates

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. It’s a form of website protection that encrypts ingoing and outgoing data with a minimum encryption level of 128-bit. Any hacker that intercepts the encrypted data would find it unreadable and utterly useless unless they possess the exact pass key to the SSL certificate. SSL certificates are one of the premier lines of defenses against hacking and identity theft. Sometimes, your web hosting plans might not include SSL certification, so be careful when choosing your plan.

However, not all websites are the same. Some websites definitely require SSL certificates whilst other websites will find it less of a requirement and more about ensuring trust for visitors. There is also evidence to suggest that Google is using SSL certificates as a ranking factor for websites in the search engines. 

What Is An SSL Certificate? 

A reliable visual cue to identify an SSL certificate is that if you look to the left of any web address and if a white padlock symbol is situated beside or the word Secure, then that’s a sign that the website has an SSL certificate. Another way is to look at the web address itself. A normal website without SSL certificates would have a standard Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). A website with an SSL certificate would have an upgraded version of an HTTP – a Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS).

So, does my website require an SSL Certificate or not? That question depends on the nature of your website. 

What Is Your Website All About? 

A blog, if it doesn’t request any personal information from its audience, then it doesn’t absolutely need to acquire an SSL certificate. Websites that merely upload and share content don’t need an SSL certificate. On the other hand, most business websites do, but it also depends on the type of business website. As stated, if a certain business website’s purpose is to just share information about the business’s products, services, and other information such as biographies of its key personnel and also physical store address, then an SSL certificate is not required. 

However, if it requests client information, even just minor details such as names and email addresses in exchange for a subscription to the business’s newsletter and exclusive email content, then it really should have an SSL certificate. In general, websites that deal with sensitive customer information such as names, addresses, credit card numbers, and bank accounts must have SSL certificates. E-commerce websites, in particular, are required to have SSL certificates simply because of the nature of online transactions. Seems pretty straightforward right? I hate to break it to you but the next section will complicate things a little bit more – for a good reason. 

Where In Your Website Is Your Client Inputting Their Information? 

Yes, business websites and e-commerce websites that request sensitive and confidential customer information will need SSL certificates, but that also depends on where the customers are inputting their information. If your website features its own custom forms where the client can put their names and email addresses, then yes, the website should have an SSL certificate. If it’s an e-commerce website and it’s shopping and order pages require customers to input confidential information in the site’s forms directly, then it definitely should have an SSL certificate. 

If you’re confused as to why this obvious matter needs to be brought up, well that’s because there are some business and e-commerce websites that do request sensitive and confidential information but don’t necessarily need an SSL certificate.  If business and e-commerce websites lead the customer to Paypal or other third-party payment services to complete the order and payment information, then it does not need an SSL certificate. Because the customer information is not directly being stored on the website. The information is rather handled by the payment service website where it’s mandated to have its own encryption and website security protocols – one of which is having an SSL certificate. 

It can be confusing but the main rule of thumb is that if your website is handling the information then it is required. If you are using a 3rd party application that is handling the information then it is probably not required but still recommended for the aforementioned benefits of trust and a possible increase in SEO ranking. 


An SSL certificate, apart from enhanced security, can strengthen the business’s image and also customer confidence. Customers are more likely to come back to a website knowing that their information is secure. As long as your website is dealing with customers or clients then it is usually a good idea to have an SSL installed. 

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