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The acronym SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) refers to a security technology that allows encrypting communications between the user's browser and the server providing the web page. In practice, its use (or its successor, the TLS protocol) guarantees that all information exchanged between the user and the website is protected from possible interceptions by third parties.
If you have a website created in WordPress and you want to guarantee your users maximum security of their personal information, implementing and managing an SSL certificate can be a strategic and winning choice.
In this guide we explain everything you need to know to implement and how to obtain an SSL certificate on WordPress, with a series of useful tips and links to external resources to learn more about the topic.
What is an SSL certificate?
In summary, an SSL certificate is a digital documentation that is issued by a competent organization (such as a certification authority, or CA), which guarantees the authenticity of the website and security of communications between the site and the user. It works by encrypting the data that is exchanged between the user's browser and the server serving the web page.
Basically, when a user accesses a site with an activated SSL certificate, they are created a protected tunnel through which sensitive information is exchanged (such as: username, password, credit card numbers).
To activate one on a WordPress site you need to follow some specific steps. In particular, you need to choose a competent organization for providing the certificate, install a particular WordPress plugin and configure the settings of your website.
Below we describe the steps necessary to complete these operations correctly and effectively.
How to choose a competent organization for providing SSL certificate
Choosing a competent organization to provide your SSL certificate is a critical step in ensuring the authenticity of the document and the security of communications between your WordPress site and the users who use it.
In general, there are several providers, but the most popular are those listed below:
- Symantec (formerly Verisign): one of the most important certification authorities in the world, offering a wide range of website security solutions;
- Comfortable: one of the cheapest suppliers on the market, it still guarantees a high level of communications security;
- GlobalSign: Another top-level certificate authority, best known for its wildcard certificates (which ensure the security of all subdomains of a domain).
- GeoTrust: another important player on the market, it offers specific solutions for e-commerce and professional websites.
Obviously, the choice of supplier depends on your needs and the type of site you are building. Generally, however, they all guarantee high standards of security and data protection.
SSL certified plugin for WordPress: how to install it
Once you have chosen the provider for your SSL certificate, you need to install a particular WordPress plugin that manages the certificate settings and secure communications. Among the most widespread and used we can mention:
- Really Simple SSL: a very simple and intuitive plugin, which allows you to configure SSL in a few minutes and without having to touch the backend code of the site;
- WP Force SSL: a plugin that forces the site to always use SSL (for example, redirecting HTTP requests to HTTPS) and that allows you to configure some advanced settings to customize how SSL works;
- WP Security Audit Log: a specific plugin for monitoring the activities of protected websites, which allows you to constantly check the effectiveness and correctness of security settings.
Again, the choice depends on your specific needs and the features you are looking to implement on your site.
Once you have completed the above steps, you need to configure your site's settings to use the SSL certificate. The steps you need to follow largely depend on the specific settings of your site and the plugin you have chosen. In general, however, here are the basic steps for configuring SSL settings in WordPress:
- Verify that the SSL certificate has been installed correctly and is active on your site;
- Configure your chosen plugin to use SSL. For example, really Simple SSL allows you to activate the use of HTTPS in a simple and intuitive way, with just one click;
- Check that all internal and external links on the site are correct and that they point to pages protected with SSL (obviously, if the site already has a previous history of pages published without SSL, it is necessary to rewrite all the links within them);
- Check the settings of your website and your server to verify that they are compatible with the use of SSL and that there are no technical obstacles;
- Check that any other plugins used on your site do not create compatibility problems with the use of SSL.
WordPress SSL FAQ
1. How do I know if my WordPress site needs an SSL certificate?
Typically, if your WordPress site handles sensitive data (such as credit card numbers, passwords, or other personal user data), it's a good idea to use an SSL certificate to ensure your communications are as secure as possible. In any case, the choice to use SSL always depends on the specific needs of the site and the users who use it.
2. How much does an SSL certificate for WordPress cost?
The price of an SSL certificate for WordPress largely depends on the provider you choose and the type of certificate required. Typically, a basic solution costs a few tens of euros per year, while wildcard or high-security certificates can cost hundreds of euros.
3. Is it possible to use a free SSL certificate on WordPress?
Yes, there are some providers that offer free SSL certificates for use in WordPress. However, these certificates do not always offer the same level of security as paid certificates, and can be useful especially for small websites with few security needs.
4. What are the benefits of using an SSL certificate on WordPress?
Using an SSL certificate on WordPress offers numerous benefits, including:
- It guarantees the maximum level of protection of the information exchanged between the site and the user;
- Increase user trust in the site and your online business;
- It helps improve the positioning of your site in search engines (Google rewards sites with active SSL with improved rankings);
- It allows you to offer potentially more secure services, such as online transactions or verification of user identity.
5. What are the technical steps to install an SSL certificate on WordPress?
The technical steps for installing an SSL certificate on WordPress largely depend on the provider and plugin you choose. In general, however, you need to:
- Choose an SSL certificate provider and purchase the certificate that best suits your needs;
- Install a particular WordPress plugin for managing SSL (such as Really Simple SSL or WP Force SSL);
- Configure the settings of the plugin and your website to use SSL correctly and ensure maximum security of communications.
If you want to have a secure website and ensure the safety of your users, implementing an SSL certificate is essential. This is why we recommend that you contact the G Tech Group, our experts are ready to help you implement and manage the SSL certificate on your WordPress site. Don't hesitate, open a ticket or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive maximum support!