November, 2018
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

TECH TALK: What Is SSL & Why Your Website Needs It


Many people think SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption is needed only when selling products or services online. However, establishing a secure connection for information exchange has important benefits for all websites, including your home inspection company. More than 50 percent of all websites are now encrypted, making the web a safer place. Protecting sensitive data, faster speed and improved performance are all benefits of SSL. Not having a secure website can pose serious and expensive risks. To understand why SSL is so important, we must first understand what it does. 

Any time someone visits your website, data are passed between the server and browser using HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). This method of data exchange is unprotected and vulnerable to interference. To protect the exchange, website owners must use encryption technology, or an SSL certificate. 

As noted previously, SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is used to protect information, and secure the connection between server and browser. Once SSL has been added, the protocol becomes HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). Users can identify secure sites by looking at the web address. The added layer of security is necessary for any website and here’s why:

  • Protect information from hackers: SSL provides multiple layers of security and without it, your data could be stolen and used by hackers. SSL prevents this by encrypting data during transfer so customer information cannot be modified or corrupted. It establishes a secure connection so that visitor activity cannot be intercepted and it authenticates your website, proving your identity. Without SSL, hackers can access and use all types of sensitive information stored on devices such as saved passwords and bank account information.

  • Improve performance and search engine rankings: Google has openly stated that it favors companies that provide high-quality, unique website content. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of many factors used to determine page rank. Take a look at the first page of any search and you will notice that (almost) every site listed on that first page has an HTTPS address. In fact, Chrome is now requiring HTTPS to be the standard in website security. Any page without HTTPS displays a warning to the visitor to inform them of potential security risks involved when proceeding to the site. With an SSL certificate, visitors and search engines are inclined to trust you more. Quality sites with a high level of user engagement will inevitably rank higher on Google.

  • Build trust with web browsers (and visitors): Your website’s reputation can affect how much trust customers and web browsers will have in your company. An SSL certificate can instill confidence, and tell customers that you take them and their privacy seriously. Although there is no penalty for having a website that lacks SSL, some browsers will display a warning to web users that the site is not secure. This slows down site performance and any website without security is risking its online reputation. Hackers look for companies without security to copy brand attributes, create a fake site and fill it with malicious links with the intent of destroying your company online. Once web browsers associate your site with malicious activity, it is time-consuming and expensive to overcome.

Securing your website doesn’t have to break the bank. You can easily add an SSL certificate through your website’s hosting company. Most companies will maintain your site’s security for a fee that can range from approximately $20 to $50 per month. Ultimately, the benefits of HTTPS are obvious and necessary for any website, regardless of the industry. 

Thanks to the continued efforts by companies such as Google, cybersecurity is improving and getting stronger. Website security is constantly evolving. Someone will eventually develop new technology with better protection. For now, despite its limitations, SSL is the best way to protect your brand and secure your website.

Ready to take your online marketing to the next level? For more information or to schedule a free Google Ads review, contact Andy Patel at 404-441-3539, email or twitter @andyk3marketing.