SSL is an internet communication protocol that protects the data exchanged between the user and the website. Users expect a secure experience when using a website so that their private information will not be in jeopardy. SSL requires three layers of protection included in the Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS) which include: encryption, data integrity, and authentication. These layers do the following:
- Encrypt the data exchanged between the user and the website.
- Ensure that data cannot be changed without being detected.
- Prove that users interact with the expected website.
To enable SSL you must be issued a security certificate by a certificate authority (CA). The SSL Certificate allows secure connections from a web server to a browser. It is normally used to secure credit card transactions and data transfer. You can buy an SSL Certificate from a CA. The CA verifies that your website belongs to your organization. There are different types of certifications available with different levels of security. The CA you choose will give you specific instructions toward installing the SSL Certificate. A secure connection with browsers will be obtained once an organization installs the SSL Certificate. When it is installed the application protocol (HTTP) changes to HTTPS (S stands for secure). A browser will have a padlock or green bar displayed in the browser when you are on a site with SSL Certification. Make sure to always update certificates and pay attention to the expiration dates.
Once you have the SSL Certificate, you must redirect your old URL to the new secure website page. Old protocol versions must be updated to the newest TLS versions and follow the newest protocols. For websites trying to obtain an SSL, the search engine and URL must redirect users to the SSL page.
If you are applying for the Google Ad Grant for the first time it is required that your website is secured with SSL. For any new domains applying for the Google Ad Grant, the website policy states that the website can not contain broken links, malicious downloads, or other poor user experiences. Having an SSL Certificate is a good idea anyway, as it is believed to be a positive ranking factor for SEO as well.
Here are some links with additional information and instructions on configuring SSL:
Nonprofit Megaphone does offer a service where we can install an SSL Certificate for you in preparation for your Google Grant application. If this would be helpful, drop us a line.