SSL certification is an industry standard. It’s become so commonplace to see a small dark padlock icon on the left side of the search bar or the HTTPS prefix, we can almost miss it when they’re not there. But those two designators are providing both web browsers and visitors with a critical piece of information: that your connections are encrypted. And if your page doesn’t have that certificate, it can adversely affect how search engines and visitors perceive your site. Read on to find out how a lapsed SSL certificate can hurt your site and damage your marketing campaigns.
What Does the SSL Certification Mean?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. An SSL certificate means that the connection between the browser and the server, the socket, is encrypted and presumed secure. In other words, an encrypted connection means that third-party listeners can’t decipher your communications. Without an encrypted connection, a hacker could passively “listen to” all of your communications, including sign-in information and any personal info a user enters onto the site. A current SSL certification doesn’t necessarily mean that your other security protocols are also safe. Still, its absence means that the security on your site is, at best, susceptible to hackers, and at worst, already bleeding information.
How Long Do SSL Certifications Last?
SSL certificates have expirations to ensure that encryption software is up to date. After all, the certificate assures visitors that their data transfers are encrypted. Some certificate authorities require renewal as frequently as every 90 days. Google has recommended one-year SSL renewals as the industry standard. While more frequent certification may be inconvenient, from a security standpoint, it’s necessary. In the world of cybersecurity, there is no such thing as evergreen code. Developers are constantly rolling out updates and patches to match new security threats. SSL recertification ensures that the site owner is not relying on outdated encryption technology to keep their visitors safe.
Renewing Your SSL Certificate
Depending on which type of site you have and which web host you use, the process for renewing your SSL will vary. If you pay an online marketing firm to manage your site, they should include SSL certification renewal with their service. Some WordPress sites use software to automatically renew SSL certifications as long as the site maintenance fees are current.
Consequences of Allowing Your SSL Certification to Lapse
Allowing your SSL certification to lapse can have adverse consequences for your website and business. Here are a few of the reasons you need to keep your SSL current.
Visitors Will Receive a Warning
When a user lands on an uncertified website, it checks for the SSL certification. If it doesn’t detect one, it will issue the visitor a warning with a statement like “This Site is Not Secure,” “Your Connection is Not Private,” or “Warning: Potential Security Risk Ahead.” Few people are going to want to visit a site like this, let alone provide private personal and financial data to the site owner.
You Lose Your Extra “S”
SSL certified websites have an “s” at the end of their prefix, and you can see it in the search engine results:
This designator, which stands for “hypertext transfer protocol secure,” tells potential visitors that your site is safe before they even click on the link. If your certification lapses, you will also lose the lock symbol that appears in the search bar. This can cause visitors to bounce off of your site for fear of having their information compromised.
The easiest way to check to see if your site’s certification is up to date is to visit the page via Google. Input your company’s name into the search engine and look for the website. The prefix should read “HTTPS” as opposed to “HTTP.” When you are on the site, a lock symbol should appear on the left side of your search bar.