If you are an internet user, you probably come across several websites, which are marked as not secure and you have second thoughts about entering them. Your website could also prevent visitors if it does not have the ‘secure’ tag attached to it. This basically means that your website does not have an SSL certificate. Google ensures that all such websites are marked as not secure and the customers do believe what Google has to say. Google declaring your website as non-secure will cost you the trust of consumers.
Getting an SSL certificate can cost you $50 - $200 per year depending on the add-ons that you get with it. Before you go about getting the SSL certificate, there are a few things that you should know understand such as what it is and why you require it. One important point to know is how to get free SSL certificates. Yes, it is possible and the process of doing so is discussed further below.

What Is an SSL Certificate?

Secure Sockets Layer or SSL is an internet protocol that secures data transfer between the browser being used by you and the website that you are visiting. When you visit a website, there is an exchange of information that takes place. These days, with online shopping being a common activity, it could be sensitive information such as login details, payment information or even credit card details.

If this information is shared over the HTTP protocol, it can be accessed by hackers. Having an SSL certificate issued by recognized authorities prevents such occurrences. A website that has obtained such a certificate can be identified with an address starting with HTTPS and it is also accompanied by a padlock sign
Why Is an SSL Certificate Required?

SSL certificate is recommended for all websites as it improves the trust that the users place in your website by protecting the user’s information. Other than that, it is a necessary requirement if the website is likely to be used for any online transaction and collect sensitive information pertaining to the same. Hence, you must get one if you intend to use your website for carrying out any activity involving e-commerce or one with a membership where the users need to login to access the features, you must have an SSL certificate, else you will not be able to operate your website with these features and will be unable to receive any payments.

What Are the Other Benefits of an SSL Certificate?

An SSL certificate helps to improve trust among your users. It also improves your ranking in Google search results and is hence recommended by Google. Lack of SSL certificate leads to your website being declared as not secure on Google Chrome. All things considered, this certificate accounts for trust, credibility and your brand image.

What Does an SSL Certificate Do?

The information shared until now still does not explain how it really works. It basically protects the data by encrypting the transfer between the website and the browser being used. When you visit a HTTPs website, the browser, as a first step, checks for a valid SSL certificate. In case of a positive result, it uses the public key of the website to encrypt the information, which is then transferred to the intended website. There it gets decrypted using the same public key and another secret key.

What Does It Cost?

As mentioned earlier, the yearly cost of an SSL certificate can fall in the range of $50-$200. The cost varies depending on the authority issuing it as well as the add-ons offered by them. This can prove to be expensive, especially if you are trying to cut costs for your blog or a DIY website. Hence, you can explore the option of getting the same for free.

How Can You Get It for Free?

You can get an SSL certificate for a lower cost and even for free. There are a number of ways to achieve that. The steps below describe how you can get the certificate and have it set up easily.
Free Certificate Authority

A non-profit project by the name of ‘Let’s encrypt’ has established authority for issuing free certificates. This helps a lot of small websites that are reluctant to purchase an SSL certificate due to the cost entailed and become prone to the victimization of data theft. This authority makes the internet a safer place to be by providing such websites with free SSL certificates. They have managed to garner the support of companies such as Facebook, Google, Shopify, WordPress and more.

Challenges Faced

Installing the free SSL certificate proves to be a challenge as it requires the knowledge of coding and server systems. This has been made it easier for users as many of the hosting companies have started offering free certificates as a part of their hosting packages. Using any such host will make it easy for you to install the certificate. Some of these are Bluehost, A2Hosting, Dreamhost, GreenGeeks, iPage, and Liquid Web.

Installing the Certificate

A current user of the hosting services can turn it on from the security section on the dashboard. If you are unable to locate it, the hosting provider can enable it for you.
If you are on a hosting platform that does not offer a free SSL certificate, you can always consider switching of another host.

Setting up WordPress

After enabling the certificate, you will also need to set up WordPress to use HTTPS instead of HTTP in your URLs. You can do this by installing a plugin (Really Simple) that checks whether or not your SSL is enabled. If yes, it will turn the redirection from HTTP to HTTPS and also alter the website settings accordingly.

Use of HTTPS Protocol

For complete safety of your website, you must ensure that all URLs use the correct protocol as even one URL not using it could lead your website to not being considered fully secure. This plugin secures the website by automatically fixing them at the time of loading the page.

Due to the simplicity of use, the Really Simple Plugin is recommended for beginners but you should be aware that it could affect the page load time due to its function.

Author's Bio: 

Kulwant Nagi is a professional blogger, content writer, international speaker, and world traveler. He is running a content writing agency where they write SEO optimized content for the clients.