If you don't have an SSL certificate on your website, you need to change that.
Once a nice-to-have, SSL certificates are now as necessary as having a URL.
You can not, should not, and will not have a successful website without one.
Althought Google led the way, other browsers are following suit: your site will be penalized severely without the proper security settings in place. Let's go through some of the most commonly asked questions about SSL certificates:
Do I Need an SSL Certificate for my website?
Yes. Absolutely. Oui. Sì. Shì. Ja. Ae. Yebo. Hai.
An SSL certificate is way to tell both your website visitors and search engines that your site is safe, and secure. Without one, Google (and other search engines) will mark your site as unsafe, and will even go as far as devaluing your site, making it harder for it to be found organically, or even at all.
Plus, as the site owner, it protects you too!
What Does a SSL Certificate do?
These tiny little bits of code pack a powerful punch when it comes to web security.
Their main purpose is to protect your website, your users, and you, by enabling an encrypted connection.
Encryption really just makes information unreadable by anyone else but you and your customer.
Think of encryption kind of like writing a letter:
- which you run through a machine that turns it into a secret code;
- which you place in a thick envelope;
- and hand it off to a covert, senior Brinks Guard;
- who drives it in an armoured truck to your recipient;
- who has to sign for it;
- proving their identity with a validated signature;
- they then run it through a secret message decoder that only they have;
- that only works for this one message;
- and if they don't read it in time, the letter self-destructs.
That is SSL encryption, and a certificate does this all for you automically. Imagine if you had to do that on your own?!
Having an SSL certificate is important so your website visitors feel safe sharing information (from your lead capture forms), downloading from your site (even loading images on your site counts), and working with your business.
How do I know if I already have an SSL certificate on my website
Easy to check!
Open your browser, and type in your website's URL.
See a lock beside your URL? Congratulations! You have SSL installed.
No lock? Time to get your own certificate.
How do I get an SSL certificate?
The easiest way to get a certificate is through you domain registrar (popular ones are GoDaddy, Bluehost, HostGator, and Domain.com).
While Real Estate Webmasters does not sell them, we will install them on REW CRM backend websites, free of charge!
Ok, I Purchased an SSL Certificate, Now What?
Let us know!
Once you have purchased your certificate, contact our Support Team. They will work directly with you to help get your certificate generated.
After your SSL certificate is generated, our Support Team will take care of installing it on your site for you!
Original Post, October 2017.
Google recently announced that it now gives a slight SEO boost to sites that utilize HTTPS encryption by default, with strongly implied plans to make this ranking signal even more important in the future.
A ranking signal is essentially a factor within an algorithm, and search engines use hundreds of different ranking signals to determine exactly where each site deserves to rank. Search engines generally keep the specifics of these ranking signals under lock and key, until they want webmasters to mend current practices and improve user experience. Considering Google's very public announcement, it logically follows that SEO-savvy REALTORS® are going to want to get a little more secure!
What You Should Do Next...
You can get a pretty good summary of what HTTPS is and does on Google's own Secure Your Site page, so I won't reiterate the same info that you can read there. Instead, let's move on to what you need to do to implement HTTPS on your own site:
1. Buy An SSL/TLS Certificate. We currently recommend DigiCert's SSL Plus or GoDaddy's $75 option.
2. Submit A Custom Work Order, via your product consultant. He or she will begin by getting an estimate for the implementation work, which you will then need to approve.
Once we receive your work order, we'll get to work behind the scenes. We will walk you through the steps of verifying your certificate, then we'll add the certification to your server, update the htaccess for needed page-level redirects, use protocol relative URLs for all other domains and otherwise ensure everything is hooked up and functioning properly.
After the programming and server updates have been made, we highly recommend investing some SEO time to do a few final checks and balances. If you opt in to the SEO time and have Google Webmaster Tools set up, we'll submit a Change of Address and new sitemaps, update the website information and do additional tests on the 301 redirects set up by programming.
-SSL certification must be renewed and updated annually, or every 2-3 years, depending on the option you choose to purchase.
-If you choose not to renew your SSL certification, it is recommended that you revert your site to HTTP. Otherwise, users will receive an ominous warning message whenever they visit the site.
-Sites with agent subdomains will require a Wildcard SSL Certificate in order to apply SSL to the subdomains. GoDaddy currently sells a Wildcard SSL Certificate for $291.
Additional Benefits Of HTTPS Security
When it comes to the benefits of getting SSL certification, SEO is really only the tip of the iceberg. The entire point behind HTTPS is to allow users to share information securely, without worry. The secure encryption on a certified site means that users can submit more sensitive information—like mortgage forms and job applications—right on your site, without worrying about their data falling into the wrong hands.
Better still, your users will know you're taking care of them. Having a trusted SSL certificate builds confidence and lets people know you're going the extra mile to keep their information safe. This increased level of trust will build better relationships and make people more willing to fill out registration and other contact forms throughout the site.
Updated August 22, 2014 at 16:18 PDT to add information on Wildcard certificates for agent subdomains.
Updated October 31, 2017 at 14:21 PDT to reflect current SSL estimate process.