When building a website, multiple elements have to fall into place; aesthetics, functionality, security, and many others. The website owner’s primary goal is to ensure every vital component is well taken care of and that the site is functional at the end of the whole process. To be successful in this intention, you’ll need an entire array of tools to help, and most common in the world of WordPress are, well, plugins.
Most notably, there are so many that it’s hard to make out which one you need and what could be seen as an extra or even surplus. Today, we’ll be tackling a site-building element that too often gets left on the sidelines, and that’s security.
While there are plenty of options and different aspects of website security, more often than not, SLL certificates and their correlation to a healthy site are, to a great extent, on the wayside. So, let’s start at the beginning.
What Is an SSL Certificate?
Simply put, an SSL is short for Secure Sockets Layer, and it’s commonly used to show that your Internet connection is safe and secure. Its main job is to secure any sensitive data passed between two systems, preventing hackers, thieves, or general cyber-criminals from accessing and altering any data received, including sensitive personal information such as credit card numbers or identities.
It ensures that any data sent between users and sites are unreadable. It’s a similar form of encryption commonly used by VPNs, but it works based on scrambling data rather than IPs. Encrypting the data in transit keeps it safe from any potential misuse or malicious attack.
How Does an SSL Certificate Benefit Me?
SSL certificates will, as was already understood by the introduction, first and foremost, secure sensitive data that travels to and from your website. SSL certificates encrypt the connection and safeguard your visitors’ information from being abused by hackers. Having this added layer of security is what you need to build a steady stream of returning visitors and, in turn, revenue.
Credibility and Trust
One of the most important advantages of SSL certificates is that they help build customers’ trust. A security padlock appears in the browser’s address bar whenever anyone visits a website. This shows the visitors that the connection is safe, and it demonstrates to your website’s users that you value their privacy. Some browsers may identify your website as “unsafe” if it lacks a certificate.
Google rewards safety and, in line with that, provides websites with encrypted connections a ranking boost as part of their “HTTPS Everywhere” push. Although the benefit may not be significant, having an SSL gives you a leg up on your competitors who do not yet have them. So, keep that in mind as you ponder the idea of SSL plugins.
Now that you understand the necessity and the benefits of an SSL certificate, we’re ready to start an exploration of a plugin that makes all of this possible – WP Force SSL.
This is a freemium WordPress plugin, meaning it comes in both free and premium versions. Excellent addition for those that like to try before they buy. WP Force SSL has the primary goal of assisting users in redirecting unsecured HTTP traffic to secure HTTPS (more on that later).
Furthermore, with WP Force SSL, you will be able to repair issues and prevent them from happening again without ever having to touch a single line of code. A simple installation followed by an activation will suffice, and the plugin will take care of the rest, including ensuring that an SSL is enabled.
And if you’re worried about the state or rather quality of your SSL certificate – fear not. This plugin will navigate, scan, fix and manage any SSL certificate without a hitch. As far as WP Force SSL is concerned, all certificates were created equal.
Most Notable Features
It’d be well advised to mention that this plugin can be used even prior to SSL installation as it offers a free service. This can be done by using Let’s Encrypt, an immensely popular service used by professional and casual site owners alike. You do not have to take advantage of this feature, but it provides a simple way to get a hold of any information you may need and full and quick installation.
SSL monitoring is probably the simplest feature of the plugin but still one of its standouts. This feature constantly monitors your SSL certificate and sends a notification before it expires. That way, you’ll never have to worry or constantly check whether or not the certificate is still active. Quite a nifty function, despite its simplicity.
In addition to its primary task, it can also monitor a vast assortment of errors. And well, as much as we all want to evade errors on our sites, they can still happen. The plugin can monitor upwards of fifty various errors and notify the user when they occur.
At the simple click of a button, WP Force SSL will scan the entire site in search of a mixed content error. A mixed content error is when an HTTP prefix appears in place of an HTTPS despite a secure HTTPS connection in place. If a website is secured via an SSL certificate, an HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) prefix appears in place of the old HTTP in the URL.
You can even get more information by clicking on the icon in the browser bar and can see the certificate’s information. In essence, this means that the website is 100% secure.
Websites that do not have an SSL certificate, on the hand, will have a little x symbol where a checkmark should be. Should this kind of error occur, a website will appear not to be trusted, and it could lose a lot of organic traffic and SEO benefits, which is why this feature is top-notch.
It’s also important to note that in addition to simply scanning the site, the plugin also provides the user with the option of fixing these errors automatically. This is not mandatory, and one could always choose to perform the fixes manually.
The option of a centralized dashboard is a delight for those that manage more than one site.
This is a feature that not every user will need, but those that do will appreciate it greatly.
Instead of logging into every site to scan, monitor, or install, WP Force SSL allows you to manage all site activity from a single dashboard.
Other Notable Features
Ease of Use
Many tools out there have dubbed themselves easy-to-use, but as we all know, this is not always the case (though those ux design tools are). On the other hand, WP Force SSL is easy to navigate no matter the skill level.
No outsourced support! Get the help you need straight from the people that built the plugin – it’s the dream of customer support.
Works With Everything
No matter the plugins, themes, or tools on the site in question, WP Force SSL will not mess with any of it. It works seamlessly with everything.
Site security takes top priority, and it is never complete without an SSL certificate. We highly recommend you use WP Force SSL for the job, as it comes with just about anything you could imagine. Put the safety of your site first, and improve both SEO and user experience while you’re at it.