A beginner’s guide to SSL certificates
Today we’ll talk about SSL certificates and their importance in our industry.
First of all let’s understand what an SSL certificate is
Do you remember when, a few years ago, all the URL addresses began with http in front of the domain name? And how now all of them begin with https? This extra “s” comes from the SSL certificate, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). In simple words, if your site has a SSL certificate it means it’s secured and the connection is encrypted.
For the most curious ones - SSL certificates are small data files that cryptographically establish an encrypted link between the web server where you store your site/landing page and your visitor’s browser. This link ensures that all data that is being transmitted between the web server and the browser remains private.
And, how does an SSL certificate work?
It somehow works like this: once the visitor lands on your presale page or website, their browser is being connected to your web server. It then looks at the SSL certificate and binds the visitor’s browser & server. The connection is then secured and no one besides your visitor and the server can see the website’s data.
There isn't any delay in the connection and it happens instantly, so you don’t need to worry about your site’s speed. Some experts even say that https is even faster than http protocol.
You still don’t have an SSL certificate?
Then it’s time for you to read this article. Actually, not having one is not the best idea.
Firstly, any sensitive information on your website is subject to be stolen by a hacker. From credit cards, emails, phone numbers, etc. And believe me, you don’t want this to happen, especially when you have a fully working e-commerce site or similar that is making you earn a lot of money.
In second place, having an SSL certificate will make your website more trustworthy to your visitor and future buyer, which means more money in your pocket!
Lastly, if you’re a SEO marketer, having https in front of your domain is one of the main requirements that are most important to Google when ranking search engines.
Is it expensive?
I want an SSL certificate but what if it’s expensive? Do I prefer to save my money for traffic?
Luckily for you, there is more than one way to get your SSL certificate for just a little money or even free!
When buying your domain, you can buy the SSL certificate before closing the order. I am usually purchasing them from Namecheap because their prices are excellent, from my point of view.
$4,98/year looks kind of cheap when comparing it to the benefits it will bring you! ;)
Here’s a detailed guide on how to install and activate your SSL certificate on your new domain. It’s comprehensive, so I think you’ll be able to use it without any complications!
But… $5 looks expensive to me, it’s like 2 beers. I prefer to spend money on things I can enjoy rather than things that I can’t even touch.
I got your point - so it’s time for you to keep reading. Next you’ll discover how to get a FREE SSL certificate.
Your first option is to get your free SSL certificate from certbot.
And what is this?
It’s a free, open-source software tool that allows you to automatically use Let’s Encrypt certificates on manually-administered websites, in order to enable https. They provide you with detailed information on how to install an SSL certificate on every platform.
Just take a look around their instruction page and choose your server software and operating system.
Once you’ve made your choice, you’ll see what you will need - which will be, access to your server’s command line, server and a domain - nothing extraordinary.
Once you’re sure that you meet all the requirements, you can proceed with the installation - just follow the instructions and copy-paste the commands.
Please keep in mind that Certbot renews the certificates every 60 days and it is automatic. So when you proceed to the installation, make sure to test it first with this command: “sudo certbot renew --dry-run” (the command can vary, depending on your OS).
I know that the command line will scare some of you, but don’t worry! There’s nothing to fear about! If you still have difficulties with this method, you can always choose another free method, like the following one.
Cloudflare is also used by a lot of affiliate marketers - and it’s one of the leading CDN (Content Delivery Network) out there. It’s commonly used for caching the landing pages, however, you can also use it to add an SSL certificate to your site or landing page.
And, fortunately for us, they have a free plan that is enough for our needs!
After adding your domain in Cloudflare it’s possible to check if everything is alright with the SSL certificate.
Step 1 - click on your domain name and select settings.
Step 2 - click on SSL/TLS.
You will then see this screen:
Make sure to select “Flexible” mode. Of course you can test the other options, but this is just what works better for me.
Then let’s continue with the set-up:
Click on “Edge Certificates” and scroll down until you see “Always use HTTPS”. In case it’s disabled, make sure to enable it.
Continue scrolling down until you see “Minimum TLS version”.
From the dropdown menu, select the default option - TLS 1.0, and then jump to the next option - “TLS 1.3”. Again, make sure to enable in case it’s not!
Congratulations!!! 🎉 You have now successfully obtained your free SSL certificate on your domain.
I’m sure you’re now wondering which of the above options is the most convenient to you.
Here’s my advice:
- In case you’re a media buyer, go ahead with Cloudflare.
- In case you’re a site owner, I’d give a chance to Namecheap paid option or Cloudflare.
- If your needs are a little bit more specific, or you’re just in love with learning new things, try Certbot and Let’s Encrypt.
Whatever option you choose, don’t forget that an SSL certificate is mandatory in 2021 if you want to make money from affiliate marketing and media buying.
Having the certificate will not make your campaign profitable but it will lead you to good campaign performance.
I hope you learned something from this week’s article!