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Is the idea of improving your search engine rankings and providing your visitors with a more secure website something that interests you? What would you do if I told you that you don't necessarily need to spend anything for this? SSL security certificates on a website are something that can boost your search engine rankings. And now, thanks to services like Let Encrypt, you will actually be able to get a free SSL certificate for your website.
You will have all the advantages of SSL without spending anything.
In this tutorial, I will explore with you the meaning of SSL certificates, how they can be useful for your site, and how you can have your own free SSL certificate.
What is an SSL certificate?
Have you ever noticed that some website addresses start with "http: //" and sometimes they start with "https: //" with a padlock preceding it? If you noticed it, then you saw the result of a final SSL certificate. But what you haven't seen is what's going on behind the scenes.
SSL means " Secure Sockets Layer ". Essentially, SSL establishes an encrypted link between your web server and the visitor's web browser. This ensures that all data transmitted between the two remains private and secure.
With an unsecure HTTP connection, third parties can spy on all the traffic passing between your visitor's browser and your web server. Obviously, this is a huge problem if you plan to pass secure information like credit card numbers.
But nowadays, many entities, including Google, are pushing website owners to use secure HTTPS connections for all the traffic, even for things you might find trivial.
Why do you need an SSL certificate?
In the past, the only times a webmaster had to worry about SSL was eCommerce. But that all changed at the end of 2014, when Google dropped a bomb:
SSL should be deployed as a ranking factor.
That's right, sites that use SSL certificates get a boost in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). It might not be a huge boost, but I think you'll agree with me that any boost in search results rankings is a good one.
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But now, Google is going even further. As of January 2017, Google will mark HTTP pages that collect passwords or unsecured credit cards. This means that your WordPress login page will be marked as unsecured if you are not using an HTTPS protocol.
How to get a free SSL certificate with Let Encrypt
If you have a regular WordPress website that handles sensitive information (like credit cards), you can get a free SSL certificate from a service called Let Encrypt.
This certificate will give you all the benefits of SSL without costing you a single penny. And here is the best part:
Most hosting providers partner with Let Encrypt to simplify the installation of an SSL certificate.
Here are two ways to get your SSL certificate for free with Let Encrypt:
Install your free SSL certificate from your cPanel account (for supported hosts)
As I mentioned, many hosts are partnering with Let Encrypt to add free SSL certificates directly to their customers' cPanel dashboards:
Then all you need to do is select your desired domain and then click "Install":
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Here is a complete list of web hosts that offer compatibility with Let Encrypt. The process for all web hosts that offers SiteGround compatibility should be similar everywhere.
Use “SSL For Free” to configure Let Encrypt.
If your host does not support Let Encrypt, you may still be able to get your SSL certificate for free using a website called "SSL For Free".
The site will help you configure Let Encrypt certificates. But, you must have access to the FTP details of your site and potentially the assistance of your host.
If possible, you should try to find a host that offers the Let Encrypt service because the process will be easier.
Other SSL certificate options
While Let Encrypt is the most popular free option, it doesn't have to be anymore. Here are some other options:
- CloudFlare - CloudFlare offers a shared SSL certificate on their free plan. If you already use Cloudflare, it's a great way to protect your site with HTTPS.
- FreeSSL - Although not publicly available yet, FreeSSL is an SSL project for free certificates from Symantec. Nonprofits or startups can get FreeSSL now. Alternatively, you can sign up to be notified when it becomes available.
How to configure the SSL certificate with WordPress
Once you get your SSL certificate installed, users will be able to view a secure version of your site by going to "https://yoursite.com". But just because your HTTPS connection is active doesn't mean it's all over.
To properly configure WordPress to work with your SSL certificate, you need to make some changes. You can do it manually ... or you can use an awesome plugin that does it for you.
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Realy Simple SSL manages the whole process. Just install it and activate the plugin and it will make all the necessary changes.
However, be warned: you will naturally be logged out when you activate the plugin. Indeed, the plugin changes your default URL from "http: //" to "https :. // »All you need to do is log in again with your login credentials. No need to worry!
That's all for this tutorial, I hope it will help you to better secure your WordPress blog.