An SSL Certificate

A little data file known as an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate adds an additional layer of security between a browser and a website. Both the identification of the website and any data transmitted through it are encrypted using an SSL certificate. Both of these features are crucial security safeguards to stop hackers who might try to take control of the website or steal the data your visitors provide in a form or during the checkout process.

It's necessary to go over some fundamental knowledge before knowing how SSL certificates function. The mechanism, or "protocol," used on the internet to safeguard data as it travels across the internet is known as SSL, or Secure Socket Layers. The protocol is technically known as TLS, or Transport Layer Security; SSL was the "old" moniker for it. The "S" in "HTTPS" stands for SSL/TLS, which secures the connection to your website.

How does an SSL certificate work?

Without an SSL certificate, the information you enter on a website may be intercepted, read, or altered.

Every time you visit a website, the server it is hosted on and the browser you are using collaborate to show the web page you are on. An encryption method used in the communication between the two is called SSL. The SSL certificate on the website may be read by a web browser to verify the legitimacy of the website, and SSL encryption makes sure that any information transferred between the server and browser is scrambled so that a third party cannot access it.

Users can navigate to the site securely once the certificate has been put on your website and HTTPS has been enabled. In order to do this, their browser first makes contact with your website and downloads the certificate. The certificate is then "verified" by the browser, much like a border agent would do with your passport.

In order to ensure that the information contained in the certificate has been confirmed by a reliable source, the browser verifies that the domain name contained in the certificate matches the website URL being accessed. It also verifies that the certificate was issued by a reputable authority.

What details are included in an SSL Certificate?

SSL certificates contain data that aids in website verification and communicates the information a browser needs. SSL certificates usually include the following information, depending on the type you obtain: 

  • The domain name of the website
  • The individual or business to whom the SSL certificate was issued
  • The digital signature of the certificate's granting authority
  • The issuing date and the expiration date of the certificate
  • The public key of the certificate is what is required to encrypt and decrypt data. The private key, which makes up the other half, is kept secret.

Why you need an SSL for your website

While e-commerce websites that handle payment processing have long required an SSL certificate, it is rapidly becoming the standard for all types of websites. An SSL certificate is highly recommended for several key reasons.

1. SSL certificates boost client confidence

From a moral standpoint, it is right to protect visitors, but it is also beneficial to your business to acquire their trust. Even if they don't know it by that name, the majority of informed internet users can now spot the apparent characteristics of a secure website. People cannot trust your business or buy online unless you establish your credibility first.

2. Securing data with SSL certificates

An SSL certificate's primary function is to increase the security of your website. It is especially important for websites that collect sensitive information, such as:

  • Online stores that request that users enter their credit card information as well as personal information like their name and address
  • Medical websites that request and disclose patients' sensitive information
  • Any website that requests a login is risky, as users will be creating passwords that must remain confidential.

3. SEO is improved by SSL certificates 

When your website has an SSL certificate, HTTP will start to be replaced with HTTPS in the URL. Google has stated unequivocally that HTTPS affects rankings. Even though it may not have the same SEO impact as great content creation or link building, it is nevertheless important. Having an SSL certificate is crucial if you want to be found on Google.

4. SSL certificates shield your visitors from unpleasant error messages.

Many browsers will not connect viewers to a website that lacks an active SSL certificate. Instead, a scary error message alerting users that the site is unsafe will be shown. The majority of these error pages will give users the choice to visit the website nonetheless, but given how worried people are (rightfully) about data privacy and identity theft, why would they do so after seeing such a frightening warning? Without an SSL certificate, you risk turning away many potential customers even before they reach your website.

Various SSL Certificate Types

Certificate authorities, sometimes known as CAs, are the businesses that issue certificates. These businesses are few in number because running a CA is a challenging task not only in terms of creating the certificates but also in terms of validating the data contained in them. 

Even though it's now recommended for all websites to have an SSL certificate, the level of security a website needs may vary depending on the type of information your visitors will be submitting through it. There are three types of SSL certificates:

  • Domain validated (DV)

Only the domain name(s), which are confirmed by the CA through technical means, are included in DV certificates. Only the site's ownership is verified. They have the lowest level of protection but are inexpensive and simple to obtain.

You can benefit from the most basic features of an SSL certificate if your website is simple and doesn't ask users for critical information.

  • Organizationally validated (OV)

The Certificate Authority (CA) that issues an OV certificate will verify the legitimacy of your organization and domain validation before issuing the certificate. Similar to a DV certificate, the certificate additionally includes a corporate name and address along with one or more domain names that have been verified. Compared to a DV certificate, it is more expensive and takes longer to obtain, but it also provides greater protection. These specifics are checked against independent databases, such as the national or state business register.

  • Extended validation (EV)

An EV takes longer to obtain than the other two types of certificates and is more expensive because the CA examines the company in greater detail. The certificate also includes comprehensive corporate information that has been independently verified along with the domain name(s).Confirm the certificate request with the company and ensure the required agreements have been signed. In addition, the company must be fully incorporated and in good standing.

Finding free SSL certificates

There is no time to waste if your website doesn't already have an SSL certificate. A free SSL certificate is included with your HostGator web hosting subscription. Our video guide on the subject provides detailed directions on how to activate your free SSL certificate. Your website will be more secure and reliable immediately after this simple step.


The simplest approach to determining whether any website is currently using an SSL certificate is to access it online and check the address bar of the browser. Two key things should be visible:

  • The URL's first three characters are https.
  • A tiny lock icon is shown to the left of the URL.