Over the past couple of weeks, this topic has come up in a few different forums, with partners, and even in casual conversations. This article is intended to serve as a general PSA for those who own or manage websites, but may still be out of the loop.

It’s possible that your website visitors are greeted with this scary message when visiting your website:

Google announced months ago that it would begin labeling websites as “Not Secure” if they require passwords or accept credit card information, but do not use a security certificate. At the beginning of this month (October 2017), Google began site labeling in an effort to help with online security. You can tell if a site has a security certificate (commonly referred to as SSL) because the url will begin with HTTPS instead of HTTP. If you’re curious about the benefits of HTTPS, read this blog and watch this videogenerated by google.

Regardless of your personal feelings towards HTTPS, the fact is that your brand might be tarnished if your site is displaying the privacy error message to your visitors. If you are unsure about the security of your website and have a webmaster that manages that for you, this would be a good time to message them and ask about HTTPS and SSL.

On the other hand, if you’re more of a DIY person or can’t afford to pay a webmaster, this is the point where you want to do a couple of searches for “SSL certificate” and figure out a plan with your hosting provider. Many hosting providers, like GoDaddy, make it easy for you to purchase and setup an SSL certificate on your site. You can also setup a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt or a similar free SSL provider. Some hosting providers, like a2Hosting, have paid SSL certificate plans, but also make it easy for you to add a free SSL certificate if you choose to go that route.

Regardless of the path you choose to follow for your website, remember to check for the “Secure” label whenever you are online browsing through others’ sites. The green lock and “Secure” label could very well prevent you from a major headache down the road.

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