When you’re setting up your website, you need to make sure you have every area covered. You’ve got the right hosting, you’ve registered your domain and now all you need to do is install whatever CMS on your site and you’re done, right? Well actually, no. One thing that you definitely need for your website is a good SSL certificate.
However, there are a lot of different options out there for people looking for an SSL certificate, and it can be difficult to know which one to opt for. So, let’s look at some of the best options out there for people looking for an SSL for their website.
Best SSL Certificate
Let’s Encrypt – Best Free SSL Option
You’ll probably see across the internet a ton of paid options being promoted as the best choice for an SSL certificate. However, this honestly isn’t the case. The first thing you should consider is a free Let’s Encrypt certificate.
For many people who are building their first website, there’s really no need to opt for a paid SSL certificate. If you’re going to be writing on your personal blog or you want to start a small affiliate site, then you’ll be just fine with a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate.
Of course, the main upside of opting for a Let’s Encrypt certificate is that they’re completely free. The whole organization is actually a non-profit, with their main focus being on offering people the ability to keep their site secure. They’re also typically very easy to set up, and in some cases, your hosting will actually offer to install them for you.
There are a few scenarios where I wouldn’t recommend getting a free Let’s Encrypt certificate. The main one being if you need support, as larger companies will benefit from having a certificate with some kind of customer support. Also, e-commerce sites will be better off using a more comprehensive SSL too, as it changes how the certificate appears on your site, improving trust with your customers.
So in conclusion, for many people there’s really no need for you to pay for an SSL certificate – a free Let’s Encrypt one will do the job just fine. But for more serious folk, a BV or EV certificate will be a better choice.
Comodo – Best Cheap Business SSL
Aside from Let’s Encrypt who are probably the most well known SSL certificate provider for newbies, the next one that most people know about is Comodo. This is because they offer a comprehensive SSL certificate at a reasonable price.
They have many different options for you to choose from. If you have an e-commerce store, then you are better off opting for an OV certificate from Comodo than a free DV certificate. What does this mean? Well, a DV certificate stands for domain validation – this means that the only thing that is actually authorized is the domain name.
However, an OV certificate – which stands for Organization Validation – means that the Certificate Authorities will actually authorize your business as well. Let’s Encrypt only offer DV certificates.
This can make a big difference when someone clicks onto your site, as they’ll be able to see that you’ve got this improved security. Many other companies also offer Organization Validation, which is sometimes referred to as Business Validation. However, Comodo offer a good variety of different options to choose from, and they’re some of the most affordable Business SSL’s on the market. So if you want something for your e-com website, or you have a medium to large sized business, then getting a OV is a good idea.
DigiCert – Best WildCard SSL
For those looking for something even more competent than a Comodo certificate, then you could look to brand DigiCert. Their certificates start at an expensive £170 a year, so they’re not a good choice for the smaller bloggers out there.
However, for those looking for a wildcard SSL, DigiCert might be a good choice. If you don’t know what a Wildcard SSL is, it’s essentially a certificate that will support your site at all levels, like your websites subdomains. If your website is website.com, and you then have a subdomain like blog.website.com, then this sort of SSL will cover both. A regular DV SSL will not cover both of these.
Generally, most people looking for a Wildcard SSL know that they need one. If this is you, then it’s probably worth checking out the ones that DigiCert have to offer. However, for the vast majority of people they wouldn’t be necessary.
Common Questions about SSL Certificates
What is an SSL?
SSL just stands for Secure Socket Layer – essentially it’s an extra level of security for your website. Essentially, they are just data files that are added to attach a cryptographic key to an organization.
Are SSL certificates necessary?
As of 2023, SSL certificates are definitely necessary for your website. In past years, many people didn’t want to switch over from http to https, as it can take a little time and have an affect on your Google rankings. However. nowadays an SSL is a necessity for a few reasons. The main two being that firstly, if you don’t have an SSL installed on your site, Google is going to penalize you for this. Their algorithm prefers sites with an SSL installed. Secondly, in some browsers your site won’t even show without an SSL! So yes, nowadays an SSL is a necessity.
Is SSL and HTTPS the same thing?
Whilst they aren’t exactly the same thing, https stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. This essentially combines the original http protocol with the SSL, so the S part of https is essentially the SSL certificate.
Is SSL safe on public wifi?
It really makes no difference whether you’re using public wifi or not. SSL certificates were designed to be used over any form of wifi or any channel of usage.
Which type of SSL certificate should I buy?
For most websites, a Domain Validation SSSL certificate will be fine. If you have an e-commerce store or a real business, then you might want an Organization Validation or an Extended Validation SSL instead. If you have a lot of subdomains, a Wildcard SSL is going to be best.
All in all, I hate seeing people scare-mongered into buying an expensive SSL certificate, or buying one as part of their hosting setup. For beginners, you don’t need anything more than a basic SSL certificate for your website!
However. for those people who are running an e-commerce store, or have a branded website, then it is probably worth your while investing in a paid SSL certificate.