Guide to SSL certificates

What is an SSL certificate?

You have probably noticed that most websites start with http. Websites that have an SSL certificate will start with https instead. The S stands for Secure. You may have also noticed that when you use a website there is a padlock icon. This means the website is using an SSL certificate. The whole purpose of the certification is to protect data and sensitive information. For websites that process credit cards and payments, an SSL is what keeps the customer safe. If you don’t use one then all information transmitted is visible to nefarious third parties.

You’re probably wondering what they are and how they work. SSL Certificates use a cryptographic key to bind together your domain, your organizations identity, and your location. In essence, the SLL creates a secure connection between your server and your customers browser.

The SSL provider is in charge of verifying the identity of the company before certifying them.

Do I need an SSL certificate?

If you are selling a product online then you need to make it a priority for your customers to feel safe. Even though the online economy is huge and customers are growing more and more accustomed to buying online, most people know someone who has been scammed through a site. There is a still a bit of hesitancy to providing your credit to a site that is not well known. Using an SSL and showing that your website is secure and safe is a key to having your customers actually check out instead of getting worried and leaving items in their online shopping basket.

There are theories that Google actually uses the presence of a secure connection in its page ranking algorithm, says SSL.com.

If I have multiple websites can I use a single certificate?

In general, no. An SSL is valid for one single domain. If you try to use a single certificate for multiple domains then your customers and website visitors are going to get a large warning message. This provides the absolute opposite effect that you want.

In fact, if you even have a mail subdomain then you will need either a separate certificate or a wildcard certificate. Basically, a wildcard certificate secures both your domain and all first-level subdomains. What is a first-level subdomain? An easy example is your mail subdomain which looks something like mail.yourcompanyname.com. This option will be more expensive than your standard cert.

Is buying a cheap SSL certificate a good idea?

One of the first things you need to know for your business is the SSL certificate cost. You need to know if you can get a SSL certificate for a reasonable price without sacrifice. Most small businesses can aim for the lower end of price. The general price differences come from the verification checks that the SSL provider enforces. By going with a cheaper option you skip the manual verification process. This results in a quicker, cheaper process. Choosing the right SSL is a simpler process than choosing the correct web hosting.

The real issue is with the Certifying Authority. If you are buying an SSL from a trusted CA then the price is less of a factor. The validity of the certificate is all that matters. Your customers and website visitors can easily see the certificate chain and decide if they trust the CA or not. By using a less trustworthy CA you can appear cheap and like you do not have your customers best interests in mind.

 

What is web hosting?

In simple terms, what is web hosting?

Your customers search your company name on Google. They see your website pop up on the search page, and they click it. They are transported to your website. This is a process you have done thousands of times in your life. Where exactly does web hosting play in the picture?

To put a website up you need to first purchase a domain name. When people go to your website by typing in www,yourdomainname.com, they are taken to your site. But if you have no web hosting, they will be taken to a blank page.

Web hosting can vary widely in price depending on your company needs. There are even options for free web hosting available.

How do domain names know where to point visitors? This is done using DNS. DNS or Domain Name System refers to nameservers. It is a code that you “point” towards your web hosting company so that the web hosting company can associate your website with the web hosting service that you have purchase from them. If you are purchasing your domain from your web hosting provider then the DNS code will already be pointing to the web hosting site and you will not have to make any changes. However, if you purchase your domain name from a third party you will have to follow the simple process of pointing your domain name to your web host. This sounds more complicated than it really is. Generally it is a process that can be completed in just a few minutes.

Web hosting is what allows visitors to actually see your website.
It is where you website exists. You need to buy a site for your brick and mortar business to exist in. Web hosting is this space where you can store your files, images, and web content.

If you are asking about web hosting, you probably also want to know if good web hosting is important.

How does web hosting work?

A web hosting company has a physical server and a data center. The server provides space for your website to exist on. When you are uploading files, they need to be stored somewhere. They are stored in the physical server of your web hosting provider.

What is a server?

This is another term that is less complicated than it sounds. In essence, a server is just a computer that is used for a network. The word server refers to both the computer that is used for computational power and the computer program that allows the computer’s resources to be used for hosting your website.

Web hosting servers are where all of your files reside. This includes the HTML that forms your websites and all of your media content such as pictures and videos.

The data center offers you connectivity to the internet.

In the end, web hosting is very simple. A web hosting company is one which uses a whole bunch of computers that work as servers to store all of your website’s data.