Things To Know Before Buying An SSL Certificate

What is SSL?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer.

It protects sensitive data between a server & a client.

In simple words, the transmitted information between you and a website is encrypted & remains safe.

Having an SSL is a must for those who have an e-commerce site. It not only makes your site trustworthy, using an SSL on your website is a positive search engine ranking signal.

Many bloggers argue that they don’t need an SSL certificate as they are only offering information & not selling anything.

This logic looks valid, but one should know that blogging is not just a hobby & people make decisions based on information they read in blogs. Using SSL encryption will prevent man in the middle attacks, which is a serious security issue when working online.

Man in the middle attack example
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Bloggers can take advantage of free SSLs (shared SSL’s) offered by companies such as LetsEncrypt & CloudFlare. Both of them are free & supported by all major hosting companies. Both of them also offer domain validated SSL certificates. (You will learn more about different types of SSL in the next article of this series.)

Now, let’s have a look at things you need to consider when shopping for an SSL certificate.

Dedicated SSL vs. Shared SSL

  • Dedicated SSLs are fully owned by one user (and they cost money).
  • Shared SSLs are usually free, but have security concerns & are not recommended for e-commerce sites.

Another major difference between dedicated & shared SSLs are the support services. Shared SSLs don’t have support & dedicated SSLs do have support.

(However, a quick search on Google, or your hosting technical support system, can help you with any issues you have.)

Level of Encryption

There are various levels of encryption available. To accept credit/debit cards, you should have an SSL certificate with a minimum of 128-BIT.

The Brand Name:

When you look for options to buy an SSL certificate, you will find that a variety of companies are selling SSL certificates. This can get confusing.

You can buy an SSL from anywhere, but consider using a brand when you are selling expensive items such as cars, jewelry, jet planes, or anything where trust factor plays a major role in a buying decision.

For high end e-commerce sites, you can purchase an SSL from companies like Verisign, Geotrust, or Comodo.

Do you need a dedicated I.P.?

  • It’s important to have a dedicated I.P. when using an SSL certificate.
This way, your SSL certificate will be linked to your I.P. address. However,  a dedicated I.P. is no longer a prerequisite for installing an SSL certificate.
On shared hosting, many companies are using Server Name Indication (SNI) to offer SSL certificates on shared I.P. addresses. SNI indicates what host-name the client is attempting to connect to & it allows the server to present multiple certificates on the same I.P. & port number.

In short, you can use an SSL certificate on shared hosting.

But when using a shared I.P., there are some trade-offs:

  • It’s common to see a certificate mismatch error.
  • SNI is not compatible with many old browser versions.
    • Ex: Safari on Windows XP, any version of Internet Explorer (6,7,8,9), Blackberry browsers.
  • You can read about SNI in detail over here.
I suggest you to start using a dedicated I.P. address. Usually it costs around $3/month, or you can get one free with high-end shared hosting packages.

Can you pay for SSL bi-monthly?

You can’t.

The minimum tenure to purchase an SSL certificate is 1 year.

Optionally, you can choose to purchase it for 2-3 years at a time.

I hope this clarifies your SSL related questions before making a purchase. In the next guide, you will learn about different types of SSL certificates & which one should you buy.

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Authored By
A Blogger, Author and a speaker! Harsh Agrawal is recognized as a leader in digital marketing and FinTech space. Fountainhead of ShoutMeLoud, and a Speaker at ASW, Hero Mindmine, Inorbit, IBM, India blockchain summit. Also, an award-winning blogger.

38 thoughts on “Things To Know Before Buying An SSL Certificate”

  1. Christoph Engelhardt

    Hey Harsh,

    great summary of the different available SSL certificates. I love that you have included LetsEncrypt as in my opinion this will be a game changer in the industry

  2. Harsh,

    First off, I would like to thank you for bringing attention to a different audience than those generally utilize SSL/TLS certificates. Encryption software is not just for enterprise/banking/e-commerce/government anymore. To this date, only about 3% of the entire WWW is secured, just imagine that 97% of traffic/data left unprotected!

    A certificate does 2 things, they all encrypt data, but more importantly, they invoke trust. When a visitor logs onto a site, he/she should see visible trust indicators and know that the site is not out to Phish any personal data.

    But when it comes down to selecting the product, I would always ask for their brand preference. Do they prefer the premium brand of Symantec (previously VeriSign), or do they prefer a more economical brand such as GeoTrust. Its like picking out a car. They all take you from Pt A to B, but do you prefer to get there in a Ferrari or Honda?

    If you have any questions regarding certificates or even for the one you are currently trying to have authenticated. Give me a shout. Looking forward to your next article on SSL/TLS certs.

    -Vince

  3. Hi Harsh,

    Thanks for the detailed post. I’ve learned a lot about SSL. Before reading this post, All I knew about SSL was that SSL is important for e-commerce sites.

    However, I do not see SSL certificate on your site. Are you planning to start using it soon?

  4. Umph I don’t get it. I am one of those bloggers who think that an SSL is not important to a blog because people just come and go.

    1. Certificates invoke trust, thus how much trust your brand/site means to you in the eyes of the customer is critical. If you consider customers’ UN/PW as sensitive information that should not be leaked out to unintended 3rd parties, then certificates are required.

      At your home, do you keep the blinds/curtains open all day/night long so users can come and go as they please or should that be kept private?

      hope that helps to clarify.

    2. Well maybe it does not consider its rare that user interchange sensitive information in a blog, but it increases the rankings in Google for your blog and would help have some peace of mind if you have multiple accounts login on your site from collaborators

  5. Harpreet Kumar

    the tips u includes are really so important to folow before buying ssl certificate for our blogs sir. Thanks. . i was just thinking to buy my ssl security for my blog . your post have so much helped me

  6. Hi dear harsh thanks for sharing this post. SSL is an important part for SEO. keep sharing more information.

  7. Very Informative, Harsh. But why is that this website is not ssl secured. An old saying, Leadership by an example. Hope to see it soon

    1. @Grace
      I know it’s also awkward for me to publish the post without adding SSL certificate. I’m actually attempting for EV (Green bar) SSL & it’s getting delayed due to verification issue. Hopefully will get this resolved soon & you would see green bar SSL here. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. what type of issues are you going through? EV certs require to authenticate the legal existence of the company so it does take longer. What CA is it from?

  8. AVINASH SAXENA

    Well the article looks really informative and can actually create awareness of ssl/https among bloggers, copywriter, writers. But interestingly, you have raised a point which says ‘one should know that blogging is not just a hobby & people make decisions based on information they read in blogs. Using SSL encryption will prevent man in the middle attacks, which is a serious security issue when working online.’

    Though the logic of using https for blogging and information websites seems relevant and some indian bloggers like Bloggerspassion, wpsource are already using this theory for their blog. But i would like to know when do you going start the ‘https’ version of shoutmeloud as sml has already become a big and trusted brand in india.

  9. Thank you for the article, I have a question for you, as long as the SSL is that much important and you recommend every bloggers and other websites to have it, why Shoutmeload doesn’t have SSL it self?

    Thank you.

    1. @Rafi
      It’s because we have to make changes at many levels including our mobile apps. We will be doing this soon. These articles are part of my research so that I would pick the best stuff for ShoutMeLoud.

  10. Hi Harsh,
    I don’t think so that SSL Certificate is necessary for the bloggers right now. What you say on this ?

  11. I bought ssl certificate for my website but I am not satisfied with this because most of browsers are blocking many parts of my site after installing it. It modified my site look.

  12. Hi Harsh,
    Perfect time of this post, just going to purchase SSL for my site & thought to go for some research & your post came here.
    My site is in shared server, so was confused. But now will go for a SSL with dedicated IP. Thank you so much for the post.

  13. Nowadays dedicated IP Address does not cost much. For example, In Hostgator India, it is available for Rs.100 per month for the baby plan users and the purchasing is also easy.
    But the major drawback is that It will only allow 1 dedicated IP Address per hosting plan and that IP address is used by all your websites hosted on that cPanel.
    (For business plan it is Free and the same is not available for Hatch;long plan)

  14. Sanjay Singh Rawat

    Hey Sir,
    We should have a dedicated IP address for custom SSL. I’m purchashe wordpress shared hosting that reason i use CloudFlare COMODO SSL. Awesome post for Website/Blog security.

    Thanks.

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