What Is SSL? A Beginner’s Guide to SSL Certificates

SSL certificates may or may not be known to you, but you’ve undoubtedly seen them in action. They’re needed to convert an HTTP URL to an HTTPS URL. They’ve become an essential security standard for some websites, particularly those that transport and/or keep personal information, such as eCommerce sites. They’ve become such an important part of the system that keeps the Internet safe that Google disclosed at the 2014 Google I/O conference that they’d begun utilizing it as a ranking factor.

However, it should be noted that this ranking criterion only affects “less than 1% of global queries” and bears “less weight than other signals like high-quality content.”

According to Matt, WordPress’ future with SSL starts with only partnering with web hosts that provide SSL certificates as a default for their WordPress hosting services. The team will also determine which features “would benefit the most from SSL and only enable them when SSL is available.” As an example, Matt uses API authentication.

As you can see, influencers are promoting this security protocol, but what is it, and how does it work with WordPress? Let’s have a conversation about it.

What is an SSL Certificate?

First and foremost, you must comprehend what SSL is before you can comprehend what an SSL certificate is. The acronym SSL stands for “secure sockets layer,” but you don’t need to know that. Consider an SSL connection on an eCommerce site’s checkout page, like driving from the store to your house during a bad storm. The personal data (shipping and payment information) you’re giving to the website is represented by your body. Rain, hail, and flying debris represent hackers, while the store represents your browser and your home represents the site’s server.

The SSL connection, on the other hand, is represented by your car. It shields you from rain, hail, and flying debris, much like an SSL connection shields your sensitive information from hackers.

To establish this connection, you’ll need an SSL certificate. A hacker could potentially steal or “intercept” your data before it reaches the server if you don’t use this security. This is why every website that handles any form of personal data from users, such as eCommerce sites that collect payments from customers, must employ SSL and HTTPS.

As a user, you can identify if a page is SSL-encrypted by looking at the URL in the address, which should begin with “https.” In the next section, we’ll go over the different sorts of certificates in greater detail. However, there is one type of certificate that provides you the green text and padlock. You can discover where the certificate comes from by clicking on this padlock. You can also take a look at the Certificate Information button to view its expiration date.

In Chrome, a site that is not SSL-encrypted will show a plain paper icon next to it. In Firefox, this field will be empty. If you use one of these browsers and click the paper or I icon, you’ll get a notice saying your connection to the site isn’t secure. Firefox will display a yellow warning indicator or a red diagonal line in front of the lock symbol if a page that the browser believes should be encrypted is not secured. This may lead uninformed Internet users to believe that your website has been hacked or contains spam/malicious data designed to steal their personal information.

How to acquire an SSL Certificate?

An SSL Certificate can be obtained through (1) your host and (2) a certificate authority. Below are the web hosts that include SSL certificates in their services and hosting plans:

  • Cloudways
  • WPX Hosting
  • Kinsta
  • WP Engine
  • InMotion Hosting
  • SiteGround
  • BlueHost
  • DreamHost
  • Flywheel

If you’re looking for affordable web hosts with SSL certificates, then you can go with the following:

  • NameCheap
  • GeoTrust
  • DigiCert

Moving on, let’s move forward to the different SSL Certificate types that you need to know.

Types of SSL Certificates

When you try to install or visit SSL certificate websites from your host, a lot of names can possibly pop up. There can be EV Certificates, Wildcard Certificates, DV Certificates, and other else. To prevent misconceptions, here are the types of SSL Certificates to help you out.

Domain Validation DV

First, on the list, we have these cheap SSL certificates, which are considered to be ideal for websites and blogs that do not process any personal information from their visitors and users. It only has basic encryption and requires validated domain ownerships that can take hours at most.

Organization Validation OV

OV SSL certificates are elevated compared to DV certificates. It has an elevated premium quality favored by most of the eCommerce websites and others that process users’ personal data with only a minimum level of protection. Also, OV certificates are validated certificate authorities which has DigiCert as the best example. Another best thing here is that it takes a shorter time to be validated compared to the DV Certificate.

Extended Validation EV

Next, we have the EV certificate, which is also another type of SSL certificate wherein a padlock icon and green text are provided as stated before. Compared to the previous two, this type is better and premium. It is dubbed to be the most popular and highly-recommended SSL certificate. Also, this type takes the fastest time of being validated and less strict agreements when processing.


SAN SSL certificates are the type wherein you are allowed to encrypt different domains through one certificate. However, SAN is availed at a high price compared to the DV, OV, and EV certificates.


Next, Wildcard SSL certificates are the type in which you can encrypt unlimited subdomain numbers under a single domain. This is highly recommended for users who usually have multiple platforms and want to handle it on a single domain for an organization.

Importance of SSL Certificates

Not many people may be familiar with SSL certificates. But for their audience, it serves an important role in the realm of web hosting, domains, and other online transactions.

SSL is a method of securing data exchanged between your website and a user’s device, as we mentioned at the start of this essay.

This does not make your website safer, but it is still crucial in terms of security.

SSL is designed to prevent information from being intercepted, for example, if a user is accessing the internet via public wi-fi or a hijacked router. It’s a crucial step in safeguarding our users and enhancing trust.

Then there are website performance technologies (http/2 and Brotli compression, for example). Isn’t it true that we all desire our websites to load faster?

Chrome will now mark all websites that do not use SSL as “not secure.”

With how simple and inexpensive it is to obtain an SSL certificate these days (thanks to Let’s Encrypt!), there’s no need to delay transitioning to https.

However, if you can obtain a better SSL certificate than Let’s Encrypt, it’s certainly worth the effort.

Setting up an SSL certificate

Things start to get a little confusing and maybe even a little hazy at this point. Obtaining and installing an SSL certificate on your server differs depending on the host. For example, SiteGround’s cPanel allows you to install an SSL certificate on your website. To install Let’s Encrypt, go to your cPanel dashboard, scroll down to the security section, and select Let’s Encrypt.

Benefits of SSL Certificate for Website Security

Web Security as Seen Through the Eyes of Browsers

For major web browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox, an SSL certificate is required. Anyone who uses the internet wishes to feel safe.

After Google released a new version of Chrome in October 2017, the browser would display a “Not Secure” warning if a page did not have an SSL certificate. This was true for websites that handled sensitive client information like credit card numbers.

Another method to tell if a website is safe is if the URL begins with “HTTPS” rather than “HTTP.”

Webforms are safeguarded

Websites that request comprehensive client information in a contact form, such as a client’s name, email address, and phone number, must take robust security precautions.

So, why do you need SSL for your website? The presence of an SSL certificate and HTTPS in your URL will inspire clients to sign up without fear of data loss.

On membership websites, it protects user information

In the online age, data theft is a reality. Even if only a tiny amount of data is stolen by a hacker, your entire company could be jeopardized.

Your brand will be protected if the data of your users is encrypted. Encryption will improve your company’s legitimacy and assist you in acquiring your clients’ trust. With SSL certificates, your clients’ necessary data are ensured safe.

Earn Customers’ Trust

Most of today’s eCommerce websites are planning to jump over credit card usage as it will require merchant accounts for transactions. To own and open a merchant account, an SSL certificate is needed as it will help to guard your clients’ personal and credit card information when visiting your website. Also, an SSL certificate helps your customers to be confident when checking their logins and browser history. Hence, if your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, your customers might likely abandon and never revisit your website.


Indeed, SSL certificates are essential as they play huge roles in domains, websites, and hosting. The variety of information provided above will help you upgrade and embrace the advancements and benefits that an SSL certificate can give you.

If you need further help with this topic, you can contact Web Digital. Web Digital is a  well-established web design agency in Auckland, and we can help you with your website design needs.

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