No matter what industry you’re in, it’s hard to get the word out about your business without a website. However, today’s web is also at risk of attacks and privacy breaches, so consumers are becoming increasingly wary of which websites they visit. Keeping your website safe is and should be a primary concern, and there is a surprisingly easy way to do it—with an SSL certificate. Even so, not every web hosting company offers SSL certificates, and some that do may even charge you for the privilege. Luckily, you can learn more about what SSL hosting is and how it can help you. Once you’re caught up, read our expert reviews and see what others are saying in our user reviews to find the right SSL hosting solution for you.
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What is SSL Hosting, and How Does it Work?
SSL (short for “Secure Sockets Layer”) is an encryption protocol that manages information that passes through your website. Whenever you have SSL encryption on your site, any information that comes in or goes out will be encrypted for as long as it rests on your servers. Today, having an SSL certificate shows users that you have their concerns in mind, and that you actively protect their privacy.
SSL certificates vary in price and level of security but having them for your website is no longer optional. In fact, today Google highly recommends it, and most browsers will instantly flag a website that doesn’t have one. As a result, many web hosting platforms have started including SSL certificates in their hosting packages, both free and paid add-on. SSL hosting works in two ways, by encrypting data as it passes in and out of your website, and by keeping it fully encrypted as it rests in your servers. This means that no matter where hackers are attempting to intercept your data, they’ll find encrypted bits that can’t be decoded. Companies that offer SSL options in hosting will include it as part of a larger package.
When Should I Use SSL Hosting?
These days, the better question is whether there is any time when you shouldn’t use SSL certificates for your hosting. When it comes to privacy, safety, and even how well your website performs on search engines, having a hosting service that also offers SSL certificates is necessary.
The main reason to use SSL certificates is to give your visitors peace of mind. Most modern browsers track which websites offer security features such as SSL and HTTPS encryption and will alert users when they’re not. Additionally, search engines like Google and Bing tend to give higher scores to those that use SSL. Most importantly, if you’re building a website from scratch, choosing a hosting platform that already includes SSL certificates will save you both time and money.
What Are The Main Benefits of SSL Hosting?
Although there are many benefits to installing SSL certificates on your website, the two key advantages are:
It Gives you Much Better Security
Perhaps the most important reason to go for SSL hosting is to increase your website’s security. SSL encrypts all the data that enters your website’s servers. Especially if you work in an industry where you must collect data such as payment details, sensitive personal information, and even contact details, encrypting data is necessary. Even if a hacker manages to break through your security, with SSL encryption they’ll find themselves with a large file of worthless data bytes, since it cannot be decrypted without the right key.
It Helps Improve your Website’s SEO for Better Rankings
Search engine optimization is quickly becoming a trend for websites because it produces results. With more consumers than ever focusing their attention on the top few links on any search, it’s vital to be ranked at or near the top. While there are multiple factors that affect your ranking and you can use SEO to start climbing, having an SSL certificate that’s active is the quickest way to start trending higher in terms of search results. Google tends to prioritize websites that offer users a safer experience.
What To Ask Yourself when Considering an SSL Hosting Solution
There are a few things you should keep in mind before you dive in and purchase the first host you see that looks great. When you start considering which SSL hosting solution works best for you, evaluate the three following aspects:
It’s important to remember that when you sign up for an SSL host, you’re not just paying for the certificate, but for the whole service. Before you hit “Checkout”, explore every hosting option’s services, including the type of servers they offer, what features they include in their services (such as one-click installations, optimized speeds, uptime guarantees, and more), and see that they match your requirements. If you have SSL certificates but not a working website, you may be overpaying.
As with any security-related concern online, one of the most important considerations you can make is the source of the services you’re paying for. While many companies are happy to offer you the moon to get you to sign up with them, not every company will provide a transparent accounting of their business. Look for services that are highly regarded (via expert and user reviews), and those who can clearly prove where their services are based. If they are using white labeled tools, they should also indicate who the original service vendor is.
Even the best-designed and most careful websites have problems periodically, whether it’s an internal problem or an external one. In the rare instances when it does happen, or even if you have a question, having access to a support staff that is available around the clock via easily accessible communication channels (such as phone or live chat) might be the difference between a positive outcome and a major headache. Moreover, encountering security issues always represents an urgent matter, and you should have access to solutions when you need them most.
How to Choose the Best SSL Hosting
To select the right SSL hosting solution for your company, you can follow these easy steps:
- Determine what type of SSL certificate you need - domain validation (standard security), organization validation (intermediate security) or extended validation (high security). You may not need the highest tier if you’re not handling any sensitive data, but still require the trust factor.
- Make sure your SSL has extensive compatibility with browsers (some older versions may not accept it, and some newer ones may require different certificates).
- Ensure that the company you work with has a team of experts who are versed in SSL, which can be tricky at the best of times and headache-inducing in a crisis.
- Look for a host that doesn’t use outdated or unsecure protocols that could impact your certificate.
How to Install SSL Hosting for my Website
Installing your SSL certificate goes beyond simply paying for it. To get it started and working, make sure to complete the following:
- Purchase the right tier of SSL protection you need, and look at your provider’s instructions to authorize the certificate
- Follow the steps set forth by your hosting provider
- Submit your request to the SSL certificate authority
- Apply your certificate seal to your website
The Top 6 SSL Hosting Plans
In addition to being a top provider for dedicated hosting, HostGator is one of the most powerful and reliable hosting services on the market. More importantly, the company offers free SSL certificates on all of its accounts, regardless of which tool you select. Even better, there’s no difference in the level of protection you receive for all your domains and subdomains.
The company is known for having an outstanding customer support team, but it is also one of the most flexible when it comes to the SSL protection you can choose. All websites hosted on A2 Hosting servers have free SSL certificates (fully automated), courtesy of Let’s Encrypt. However, you can add further protection depending on your website’s needs.
Although it’s on the slightly pricier side of the market, SiteGround is known for its powerful WordPress tools as well as its free SSL certificates on all plans. The company also uses Let’s Encrypt’s free service, but it adds the ability to get Premium Wildcard and Premium SSL certificates to further bolster your security. Perhaps most importantly, all domains come with a certificate automatically, and it’s also renewed without requiring your input.
What good is your website without an SSL certificate? Hostwinds offers a variety of SSL certificates as an additional cost on top of what you’re paying for your server subscription. Its SSL certificates are provided through Rapid, which is another respected name. Rapid’s SSL certificates work on up to 99% of known web browsers too.
Its basic SSLs provide websites with up to 256-bit SSL encryption, which in-house experts will set up on your website at no extra cost. Its Wildcard SSLs are available to protect all of your sub-domains, while RapidSSL certificates will keep any transactions your customers are making on your website safe.
We’d always recommend protecting your website with SSL encryption and Hostwinds allows you to do this at a cost of $75 a year or $140 for two years. It’ll cost more to protect your subdomains using a Wildcard SSL but these prices aren’t listed on its website. Prices are bespoke depending on what subscription you’re currently tied to.
Hostpapa is one of the cheapest suppliers of SSL certificates and makes securing your website simple. Its GlobalSign SSL certificates start at an annual cost of $19.99 to protect a single domain name for a year. This offers your website an SSL security seal with up to 256-bit data encryption. That also includes unlimited issuances (in case you ever use your original key) and 24/7 support, 365 days a year. If you want to upgrade that protection to include subdomains too, you can purchase its Wildcard package for $69.99.
Globalsign certificates are compatible with over 99% of web browsers. You’ll struggle to find a cheaper way of protecting your website with an SSL certificate for less than $19.99, making Hostpapa a great choice for those who already have a website or server and are looking for external SSL protection at a great price. It’s clear that Hostpapa takes the security of its users and their website visitors very seriously as it goes into great depth about the importance of SSL certificates.
All Bluehost customers are able to benefit from a free shared SSL certificate provided through Let’s Encrypt. This is automatically applied to all assigned and parked domains and subdomains. Outside of this, its SSL certificates are available at an additional cost of $49.99 and require a dedicated IP address before they can be set-up on your domain.
Bluehost doesn’t provide any information on if this additional cost for SSL certificates also includes protection for subdomains that aren’t assigned or parked. There’s a lack of clarity surrounding what kind of protection you actually get with Bluehost’s SSL certificates. While $49.99 isn’t the worst price we’ve seen to protect your website, it’s certainly not the cheapest either. Thankfully, Bluefruit does acknowledge the fact that setting up an SSL certificate might be difficult for some people. As such, it provides some very useful guidance on how to activate the free SSL certificates it provides and will set them up on any websites and domains that are purchased through Bluehost.
SSL Hosting For Free
Although top tier SSL certificates will almost always cost you money, there are several options that either offer free SSL when you sign up for paid hosting, and some that will offer free hosting along with free SSL certificates. It’s worth noting that while these free tools are great if you’re just starting out, you may have to shell out some dollars once you start growing and expanding.
My Final Thoughts on SSL Hosting
It’s hard to put a price tag on your website’s security or sustained success. Although SSL hosting may cost you some money up front, the peace of mind and copious benefits you’ll receive quickly overshadow any negatives. Before making a choice on your preferred SSL hosting, read through our expert reviews and then see what others are saying in our many user reviews.