If you own a commercial real estate website, you’ve likely heard about the importance of HTTPS in recent years.

What was once an optional upgrade – necessary for eCommerce sites that processed credit card payments – is now a must for almost every website.

Why is HTTPS so important and why do you need an SSL certificate to ensure your website is secure?

Going back as far as 2014, Google announced that HTTPS would be a ranking factor for websites in their search algorithm, and at the end of 2017, they started showing “not secure” notices in the Chrome browser.

Today, it’s believed that non-HTTPS sites are likely to suffer in search rankings if their issues are not addressed. So, making sure you website is compatible is increasingly important.

Let’s take a closer look at why it’s important to secure your website with a SSL certificate and how to get it.

What is an SSL Certificate?

An SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate is a security protocol upgrade that ensures the server where your website is hosted communicates securely with the web browsers that access it.

The data that passes between browser and server is encrypted through the use of these certificates, which can cost anywhere from $10/month to $200 depending on the types of data your website processes.

For most commercial real estate websites, designed to showcase property information and collect visitor data through contact forms, a Positive SSL certificate or Domain Validation SSL should be enough.

Why Do I Need an SSL Certificate?

For years, we’ve known that SSL certificates were a valuable upgrade for any website that collects user data, but the value has become even more pronounced in recent years with the rise in data breaches and theft on almost every type of website.

But it’s Google’s recent crackdown in their browser and search engine that have pushed most businesses to finally bite the bullet and install an SSL certificate.

In addition to meeting Google’s basic requirements, here are some of the other major benefits of installing an SSL certificate on your site:

  • Increase Trust with Your Visitors – An SSL certificate and the corresponding “lock” icon in the address bar and trust icon on your page are hugely important to building trust with your visitors. In fact, more than half of all website visitors admit dropping a transaction because they don’t see these logos or icons.
  • Improve Ranking in Google – Starting in 2014, Google indicated that HTTPS encryption was a positive ranking factor for search engine results. Having and SSL certificate installed that enables HTTPS can help you rank better in Google’s listings against those sites that do not have it turned on yet
  • Browser Notifications – Not only are websites without HTTPS activated labeled as such in most web browsers, but it can actually block people from accessing your site if the information being collected is deemed personally identifiable and there is no SSL installed. This can greatly impact your traffic.
  • Future Proof Your Website – Google continues to emphasize just how important HTTPS is in their ranking factors, and technology is constantly growing more intricate. Being prepared for what comes next by installing an SSL now and activating HTTPS can ensure your site meets not only today’s best practices but the security expectations of the future.

To put it simply, if your website collects any data from your users – whether through a contact form, chat box, or tracking code, SSL is highly recommended.

How to Get an SSL Certificate?

Getting an SSL certificate is fairly simple, though, due to the technical nature of the installation, you may want to retain the services of a web developer or your hosting company to help.

Installation involves:

  • Purchasing an SSL certificate – You can purchase a certificate from most hosting providers and several third parties that specialize in SSL. Be careful not to be tricked into an overpriced option, however, that your website doesn’t need. SSL certificates come in four major types: single domain, wildcard (for subdomains as well), multi-domain, and extended validation for sites with high levels of data interaction.
  • Installing the SSL certificate – Once purchased, the certificate needs to be set up. This involves generation of an SSL certificate and signing request in your Web Host Manager or cPanel, creation of a Private Key and Signing Request, and integration with the host of the certificate.
  • Upgrading to HTTPS – Just having an SSL certificate installed isn’t enough. Your website now needs to be upgraded. Not only must the server be updated to show HTTPS content, but all links in your website need to redirect to HTTPS versions of your pages. A developer can help to implement this more efficiently.

Where to Get Your SSL Certificate

If you’re ready to make a move and upgrade your website’s security, there are several options through which to do so, including:

  • GoDaddy.com – If you already host your website or domain names with GoDaddy, you can purchase a single domain SSL directly through them relatively easily.
  • NameCheap.com and SSLs.com – NameCheap offers PositiveSSL for a single domain for less than $10/year.
  • Let’s Encrypt – A free, automated, and open Certificate Authority.
  • Your Host – Your own hosting company may offer an SSL option (some even provide it for free if you have a high enough hosting plan). They can also help with the installation process.

The bottom line is that an SSL certificate is quickly becoming a necessity for any business that does business online through their own website.

Take the time to research your options and get yours started today.