As of July 1st 2018, the need for an SSL certificate on your website has greatly increased. Websites without an SSL cert will be displayed as insecure. If you are accepting online payments and want a secure connection then read on to find out more. So how do you get a (preferably) free SSL certificate for your WordPress website?
What is an SSL certificate?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is an internet protocol for ensuring secure data transfer between your website and your visitor’s browser. The information you send on the Internet is passed from computer to computer to get to the destination server. Any computer in between you and the server can see your credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information if it is not encrypted with an SSL certificate.
How does it look on my website?
If you have https://yourdomainname.com then you are already sorted. Otherwise, you have http://yourdomainname.com and you need to apply an SSL cert
If your website has an SSL cert already installed then you will notice the Secure padlock to the left of your domain name.
Do I need an SSL certificate for my website?
SSL / HTTPS is recommended for all websites on the internet. It is especially required for websites that collect personal data such as sensitive login information, payment info and more.
Almost all online payment services require your website to use SSL/HTTPS if you wish to collect payments.
Google also prefers and rewards those websites that have an SSL installed, so it is in everyone’s best interests to comply. A website without an SSL cert will also have a notice to the left of your domain name saying “Not secure”. Nobody wants that for their website!
How much is an SSL certificate?
Costs vary as there are different types of SSL certs available. Pricing can be anywhere from $50 or $60 to $200 a year. Some SSL providers also offer add-ons with their certificate that you may (or most likely won’t) need.
Just a few short years ago, an SSL cert was not majorly important and only really used by the top websites. Most hosting companies charged extra for the service. Nowadays, most reputable hosts supply SSL certificates free of charge and build it into your hosting charges.
How can I get an SSL certificate for free?
Web hosts such as Siteground, WPEngine and many more supply for free.
If your hosting company does not offer free SSL (they really should) then you should consider moving hosts.
Getting a free SSL certificate for your WordPress website should be part of any hosting package nowadays.
You can find out more on our recommended hosts page.
If your hosts do provide free SSL then get in touch with customer support and they will enable it for you. With a lot of hosts such as Siteground it is a simple one-click process.
A provider called Lets Encrypt set up a non-profit project to supply free SSL certs. Due to popularity and its importance, they are now well supported by many major companies. However, you do need a bit of technical knowledge to implement a Lets Encrypt SSL certificate. (How-to post coming soon!)
For that reason its easier to go with a hosting company that supply them for free.
What to do after enabling a free SSL Certificate
This depends on your hosts. If they enable the SSL cert then they will most likely do this next step for you. You will need to ensure that your WordPress website is using HTTPS instead of HTTP in all of your URLs.
The easiest way to do this is with a plugin. Really Simple SSL is the plugin we use all the time.
Simply install, activate and the plugin will change your website settings.
While this plugin tries to fix all mixed content issues (all URLs must change from HTTP to HTTPS) there may still be files loading from HTTP. These are most commonly found in image URLs.
To help this you may need to run a plugin like Better Search Replace to ensure all URLs are correctly switched over.
A topic like SSL certificates is so broad and detailed that you could write a book on it, for that reason we have kept it short and to the point.
Hopefully, this post on how to get a free SSL certificate for your WordPress website answers some of your questions. If we have left anything out or you wish to know more, please comment below!