If you’re selling products or services – or handling sensitive information – on your website, it’s vital that web users feel able to use your site with confidence. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and this technology was originally developed and launched in the 1990s. SSL produces a secure, encrypted connected between your server and the browser of your visitor so data can be exchanged without falling into the wrong hands. Read on if you are interested in adding a free SSL certificate to your site.
What is an SSL certificate and why do I need one?
An SSL Certificate enables SSL on your site. When you visit a site with an SSL certificate, you will normally see an icon of a padlock, and you may see a green address bar. When you have installed your certificate, the URL can be changed from http:// to https://, showing users that they are protected by SSL. The certificates are distributed by Certificate Authorities or CAs.
Without this kind of encryption, the information being transmitted can be seen and stolen by others. In the past, site owners always had to pay for SSL Certificates. However, things have changed. Let’s Encrypt is a free open certificate authority designed to provide free SSL certificates to the public. The service is part of the Internet Research Group and gets funding from a range of big-name companies like Google, Facebook and Mozilla.
How can I get a free SSL from Let’s Encrypt?
Many people add free SSLs from Let’s Encrypt by signing up with hosts that offer built-in integration. Two hosting providers offering the integration include SiteGround and Dreamhost. To enable Let’s Encrypt in SiteGround, you need to head to the security section in your cPanel dashboard and click on the LE icon. You’ll then see the install page for LE and will need to choose the domain name where the SSL will be used and give an e-mail address. Once it is installed, you will be given a unique SSL certificate. You then need to update your WordPress URLs and fix insecure content issue. Find out more about that later.
If you’re using DreamHost, head to your dashboard and click on secure hosting in the Domains section. Click ‘Add Secure Hosting’, select your domain and check the box that asks you if you want to add a free SSL certificate. Click on ‘Add Now’ and you will see a success message. Again, you still need to update your WordPress URLs and fix insecure content issue.
What if I am not with DreamHost or SiteGround?
The procedure for adding a free SSL certificate is not quite so straightforward if you’re not with a web host that offers simple integration. The process can vary depending on who your web host is, so it’s wise to refer to them to ask them what you need to do to add the certificate.
Switching your WordPress URL to https
Are you now ready to move your WP URL from HTTP to HTTPS? You need to change the URLs in your WP site so your site is secure. If you have a brand new site, you can simply go to the WP admin area and look at settings. Update the WP and Site URL to use https and save your changes.
Are you working on an indexed site?
If you’re working on an existing site, it will probably already be indexed by search engines. This means you have redirect all traffic to the new URL. You can do this by installing and activating the Really Simple SSL plugin, which detects your SSL certificate. Set your site up to use the plugin. The plugin will fix insecure content issue.
Updating Google Analytics
Do you have Google Analytics? If so, don’t leave this page just yet as you need to update its settings so your new URL with https is added. You can do this in the Admin section in the GA dashboard. You then need to click on property settings under your site, click on http and select https. Remember to save your changes. Hopefully, this guide will have made the process of acquiring a free SSL certificate more straightforward.