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May 7, 2015

How Easy is It to Add SSL to Your Website?

Image courtesy of (Stuart Miles) / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With Google search ranking using SSL as a key marker to boost website search results, SSL certificates have received a boost. Many website owners have bought a SSL certificate and are actively promoting their websites as secure. The remaining lot of webmasters are apprehensive about installing SSL because they are unsure about the cost and how to make the change. This article explains how you can easily add a SSL certificate to your website.

Planning in Advance

It is important to know what type of SSL Certificate you need. SSL Certificates come with different types of validation i.e. there are different aspects of the certificate holder which are verified by the certificate issuing authority.

The simplest SSL certificate is given by verifying the WHOIS email address information of the domain name holder. This means that the certifying authority will send a verification email to the domain name WHOIS email address and on confirmation through a link in the email, the domain name will be verified.

These type of certificates are cheap and are issued in minutes. The browser will contain an HTTPS symbol with a preceding https:// at the beginning of the website name.

However, if you want extended validation of the certificate ownership, i.e. you want more information verified, then you need to purchase an EV certificate, which will verify more details, like the Postal Address, the Phone Number and the existence of Legal Documents of the business. When a website with an EV certificate comes up in the browser, the browser’s address bar turns green and displays the Company Name and additional information about the certificate and website security.

For an ecommerce website, the green address bar prominently displays the company name and provides high visual assurance to customers that the site is secure, immediately giving them the confidence to complete their transaction.

You need to decide on the budget you have for spending on SSL before you start the buying process. You also need to know for which of your domains or subdomains you are going to buy it. In ordinary Domain Verified SSL Certificates, you can buy a wildcard certificate for multiple subdomains of your website. This will cover www. along with your naked domain name too.

Buying a SSL Certificate (With a Dedicated IP Address)

Before you buy the SSL certificate, you need to make sure that you have a dedicated IP Address available. The SSL certificate needs to be bound to a dedicated IP Address which runs your website. Ask your host for a dedicated IP for your website.

The next step is identifying a vendor for purchasing your SSL Certificate. An important thing to remember is that installation may not always be easy, hence you need to ask your web host if you can install it yourself on their servers. If the web host offers free installation of the SSL certificate, you may want to buy the certificate from the host directly. If it is cheaper to buy the certificate elsewhere, there are a host of vendors and resellers you can buy from. While buying directly maybe a good idea, only resellers will be able to give you a low price.

After you confirm the order for your SSL certificate, you need to provide a Certificate Signing Request or CSR, which is generated from your web server. This CSR provides the web servers information to the SSL issuer to generate your certificate. Your CSR will contain the Private Key of your account, which will be used to authenticate your website, when a person visits your site.

Installing It on Your Server

Installing on your server requires a bit of patience and proper planning. Read the material provided by both the web host and the SSL issuer. Your web host will follow the same steps as those shown in the web hosting control panel they are providing. This means that you can look up the documentation and help section in the control panel for support and guidance.

When you sign up for the certificate and have completed verification, the issuer will send you an email containing the Web Server Certificate that you need to put into your control panel. All you need to do is copy paste the key that is sent in the email and the web server will automatically pick up the details of the domain and certificate, based on the CSR that you had generated earlier.

Testing the SSL Certificate

If all goes well, your SSL certificate will show up in visitors’ browsers and when you visit https://yourdomain.com or the subdomain on which you installed the certificate, you will see the lock symbol in the browser.

To ensure that visitors are allowed to enter your website only through the secure route, you may need to setup some redirects and forwarding. This will prevent access to your website through http and all requests will auto redirect to the secure encrypted website.

There are also numerous online tools that you can use to confirm that your website is SSL enabled.


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