Sites without SSL tend to be bumped down the search ranking ladders, so if you haven’t already – it’s way past time.
If you haven’t made the switch to HTTPS and would like to learn more, this article is for you. It will also help first-time SSL users gain an overview with a comparison of 10 popular Certificate Authorities.
There are plenty of Certificate Authorities (CA) that you can go for securing an SSL certificate on your website. The 10 providers that we’ve listed below are the places that we recommend due to their business track record and pricing.
SSL.com is a top rated certificate authority (see BBB rating A+ here) that was founded back in 2002. They offer a wide range of digital certificates such as SSL/TLS server certificates, document signing code signing, and S/MIME email certificates.
Being a leading authority in the industry, SSL.com offers a number of features for its users, such as 256-bit SHA2 https AES encryption, free site seal, 24/7 support, and free unlimited certificate reissues during the lifetime of the certificate.
NameCheap offers the full gamut of SSL certificates so you’ll find something there no matter what your requirements or budget. Standard Domain Validation certificates (PositiveSSL) start from $5.99 per year, but there are also premium certificates that go for up to $120.88 per year.
The SSL Store was founded in 2009. The company partnered with some of the biggest Certification Authorities (CAs) and offer a wide range of website security solutions. CAs in The SSL Store's partners list include: Symantec, RapidSSL, Thawte, Sectigo (Comodo), as well as GeoTrust.
Standard Domain Validation certificates (Positive SSL) start from $14.95 per year (RapidSSL), but there are also Organization Validated and Extrended Validation certificates that go for up to $2,600 per year.
While GoDaddy is more known for being a domain registrar with aggressive discounts for its first-time customers, they also offer SSL certification services. Their SSL certificates are often issued online within minutes and come with a 256-bit encryption.
SSL Features with GoDaddy
Padlock in the address bar
Protects unlimited servers
Display a security seal
Unlimited free reissues
24/7 security support
Strongest SHA2 & 2048-bit encryption
Up to $1 million liability protection
Certificate Types & Pricing:
Basic Domain Validation – starts from $63.99 /yr
Extended Validation (EV) SSL – starts from $159.99 /yr
Founded in 1996 and based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA, GlobalSign is one of the more popular SSL Certificate Authority in the market.
GlobalSign established themselves as a well-reputed identity service company by providing cloud-based PKI solutions to business who wants their website to have secure connections, conduct safe e-commerce transactions, and perfect content delivery to its users and customers.
About GlobalSign SSL/TLD Solutions:
The same certificate to use for www.domain.com and domain.com
Using SHA-256 and 2048 bit RSA keys encryption
Over 2.5M certificates issued worldwide
WebTrust accredited CA since 2001
Free SSL installation and management tools
Up to $1.5 million warranty
ECC support available
Certificate type & Pricing:
Domain Validated SSL (DV) – $249 /yr
Organization Validated SSL (OV) – $349 /yr
Extended Validated SSL (EV) – $599 /yr
Wildcard SSL Certificate – $849 /yr
The company motto for DigiCert is “Your success is built on trust”. This should give you a good idea of how seriously they take security. With a primary focus on SSL innovation, DigiCert aims to be the trusted security partner for all avenues of industry and commerce.
DigiCert was also the founding member of the CA/Browser Forum, and it's one of the few authorities involves in developing new SSL technology. The SSL certificates that they provide are OV Certificates, EV Certificates, and even DV Certificates for smaller businesses or websites.
Trusted company – member of CA/Browser Forum
Secure both www.domain.com and domain.com
Free unlimited reissues for the lifetime
SHA-2 algorithm and 256-bit encryption
Free tools available for certificate management
Fast certificate issuance – within hours
Award-winning customer support
Certificate type & Pricing:
Standard SSL -$218 /yr
EV SSL – $295 /yr
Multi-Domain SSL – $299 /yr
Wildcard SSL – $595 /yr
7. Thawte Security Solutions
Thawte has been known for providing affordable SSL certificates as well as 17 years of reliability. They offer a comprehensive list of SSL products which includes EV, OV, DV, SGC, Wildcard, and even SAN SSL certificates.
As a low-cost SSL certificate provider, Thawte SSL plans are priced reasonably with their cheapest price going for $149 per year which includes a number of features such as 256-bit encryption. There is an option available to add Wildcard to the plan with additional charges.
Thawte free trial SSL certificate for 21-day
Company's site seal logo available
Install the certificate on unlimited servers
Free re-issue certificate at no extra charge
Tools to help you manage and install the certificate
99% browser compatibility
Warranty up to $1.5 million
Certificate type & Pricing:
SSL Web Server OV – $218 /yr
SSL Web Server with EV – $344 /yr
SSL 123 Certificate – $149 /yr
Code Signing – $474 /yr
At GeoTrust, you can opt for a number of SSL certificates which include True BusinessID with EV, True BusinessID, True BusinessID Wildcard, and QuickSSL premium. Among them all, True BusinessID with EV is the recommended SSL certificate with the highest assurance and warranty at a competitive price.
Startups and small business would find GeoTrust pricings attractive, plus they offer a number of features such as 256-bit encryptions, extended validation, warranty ranging from $100,000 to $1.5 million, 99% browsers compatibility, and unlimited customer support.
GeoTrust 30 days free trial SSL certificate
Short certificate issuance time
Certificate management console
Up to 256-bit encryption, 2048-bit root
Green browser address bar available
Warranty up to $1.5 million
Free SSL expert support
Certificate type & Pricing:
GeoTrust SSL (DV) – $149 /yr
True BusinessID (OV) – $238 /yr
True BusinessID (EV) – $344 /yr
True BusinessID Wildcard (OV) – $688 /yr
9. Entrust SSL Solutions
Entrust considers themselves as a forward-thinking company that provides security in a wide breadth of diverse industries. They provide security solutions for those in need of transactional security, secure mobile authentication, and of course, SSL certificates.
Entrust offers EV and OV SSL certificates with prices starting at $199 per year.
SHA-2 signing algorithms
RSA 2048 bit / 3072 bit / 4096 bit key
Security features included protecting against website vulnerabilities
Unlimited server licensing and reissues
Site seal security with the real-time check
Certificate management platform
Optional platinum support 24x7x365
Certificate type & Pricing:
Standard (OV) – $199 /yr
Advantage OV – $239 /yr
UC Multi-Domain – $319 /yr
EV multi-domain – $429 /yr
Wildcard (OV) – $699 /yr
Document Signing – $315 /yr
10. Network Solutions
Established in 1979 and headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, USA, Network Solutions have constantly evolved their SSL services throughout the years and continues to provide the lowest priced SSL certificates for users.
Especially when it comes to multi-year term SSL certificates, Network Solutions offers some of the more affordable pricing in the market. For example, their nsProtect Secure Express will only set you back $59.99 for a 2-year term. In comparison, GoDaddy offers similar services that cost $63.99 per year.
Guarantee up to $1 million
Site seal and closed padlock available
99% browser recognition
Green address browser bar available
24/7 real person live support
Standard issuance time
Certificate type a& Pricing:
Xpress (DV) – $59.99 /yr
Basic (OV) – $124.50 /yr
Advanced (OV) – $199.50 /yr
Wildcard – $579.00 /yr
Extended (EV) – $399.50 /yr
What is SSL and SSL Certificate?
Secured Socket Layer (SSL) is the technology that makes sure data between two machines (in our case – a browser and a server) is transmitted securely in an encrypted connection (HTTPS).
An SSL Certificate is a digital certificate that confirms the identity of a website.
To implement SSL on your website, you will need to get an SSL Certificate from a SSL Certificate Provider, aka. Certification Authority.
How SSL connection works
The following diagram shows how data is transferred through an SSL connection.
A user access a HTTPS website
User's browser requests a secure SSL connection from the server
The server responds with a valid SSL certificate
The secure connection is now established
Data is encrypted and transferred
How can I tell if a website has SSL connection?
The use of an SSL Certificate on a website is usually indicated by a padlock icon on web browsers and the website address will show HTTPS. In some cases, a green address bar is shown.
If a SSL certificate is not recognized by the browser (or it does not pass certain checks), the browser will display a warning to the visitor.
Things to Know Before Purchasing a SSL Certificate
Implementing HTTPS for Better Site Security
There are a number of ways you can get protected an SSL certificate and implement HTTPS to your websites. These include using a free one by Let's Encrypt, making use of Cloudflare's automatic SSL coverage, or even buying one depending on your requirements.
To make sure that your SSL purchase process goes smoothly, we recommend that you get the following things ready.
A unique website IP address
A certificate signing request (CSR)
Updated and correct WHOIS record
Validation documents for your business/organization
Types of SSL certificate
There are three types of SSL certificate – Domain Validated (DV), Organizational Validated (OV), and Extended Validated (EV).
Domain Validated (DV)
Verification – DV only verifies that the applicant is the registrant of the domain.
Implementation time & costs – It takes few minutes to few hours. The fee is minimal.
Price range – Starting at $6 per year.
Ideal for – Suitable for small websites or blogs.
Organizational Validated (OV)
Verification – OV verifies the ownership of the domain including full company name and address details.
Implementation time & costs – It might take a few days. The fee is higher than DV.
Price range – Starting at $20 per year.
Ideal for – Suitable for organizations and medium-sized businesses.
Extended Validated (EV)
Verification – EV requires an extensive validation of the business that turns the address bar to green.
Implementation time & costs – It might take up to weeks. EV is the most expensive SSL certificate.
Price range – Starting at $70 per year.
Ideal for – Suitable for websites that conduct financial transactions.
Here are examples of different types of validation.
Certification Levels: Single, Wildcard, Multi-Domain
When you are purchasing an SSL certificate, you need to choose the number of domains you want to secure.
There are three levels of certifications: Single, Wildcard, and Multi-Domain.
Single Domain SSL Certificate
Protection – Protects one domain name. A certificate bought for www.domain.com will only allow you to secure all the pages on www.domain.com/
Ideal for – Suitable for a single website, small to medium business managing a limited number of websites.
Wildcard SSL Certificate
Protection – Protects a single domain and all sub-domains of that domain. This certificate will secure www.domain.com, it also protects blog.domain.com, help.domain.com, etc.
Ideal for – Suitable for fast-growing business as this certificate will automatically secure any sub-domain added.
Multi-Domain SSL Certificate
Protection – Allow to protect up to 100 domains. A multi-domain certificate can secure multiple different domains such as domain-a.com, domain-1.com.sg, etc
Ideal for – Suitable for large business that has different entities. It's easy to manage and keep track using a single certificate.
Are Cheap SSL Deals Okay?
“Branded” SSL vs Cheap SSL
A cheap SSL offers the same security as the expensive ones. So in most cases, there is no need to opt for a “branded”SSL certificate – which be expensive.
The only time that you should really consider purchasing an expensive SSL certificate is if you’re a big eCommerce company that’s looking to perform transactions on a device that uses its own proprietary software.
Larger businesses should also opt for a “branded” SSL certificate as part of your due diligence process. The reason for this is that the companies issuing these certificates often have reputable track records which might be necessary for selection justification.
Frequent Asked Questions
Why do we need an SSL certificate
The primary reason for using an SSL certificate is to make sure the data sent across the Internet become encrypted. So, everyone else can't read the information except for the server you are sending the information to. This can prevent hackers and cyber-thieves from stealing your data.
How much does an SSL certificate cost?
The SSL certificate prices vary depending on the type of certificate and the number of domains you want to protect. A dedicated SSL certificate for a single domain starts at $5.88 per year. A wildcard SSL certificate that protects unlimited sub-domains starts at $70.88 per year. You can compare the costs and features of different SSL certificates here.
Do I need an SSL certificate for my website?
Yes, it's recommended to have an SSL certificate for your website. Search engines now label websites without SSL as “Non-secure” websites and that might impact your ranking. Also, having an SSL certificate can earn your visitors' trust because the visitors know their data is secure.
Is SSL certificate required for online store?
It's recommended to install an SSL certificate for your online store even though it's not compulsory. SSL certificate encrypts customer data, sensitive information, payment details, etc and keeps it protected during transfer. Besides securing the website, by installing an SSL certificate, it helps to gain customers' trust and encourage them for safe and secure online shopping.
What's the difference between a free SSL certificate and a paid SSL certificate?
There's no difference in security between a free SSL certificate and a paid SSL certificate. The major differences between both are in terms of the type of certificate, level of validation, support and warranty. For instance, free SSL certificates only come with Domain Validation (DV) and no warranty. On the other hand, a paid SSL certificate covers everything you required.
This is where different pricing also comes into play with SSL certificates. Warranties on paid SSL certificates can differ vastly – from as low as a few thousand dollars up to two million dollars (As far as we know, only DigiCert goes this high).
What SSL certificate do I need?
If you are running a small website or a blog, a DV certificate is good enough. If your website conducts financial transactions, it's best to go for an EV certificate that turns the address bar to green.
Is free SSL safe?
Yes, there's no risk of using a free SSL certificate. However, a free SSL certificate does have some shortcomings such as limited period, only offers domain validated, no support from the company, and no warranty. If you are running an online store, a free SSL certificate might not be a suitable choice.
About Jerry Low
Founder of WebHostingSecretRevealed.net (WHSR) - a hosting review trusted and used by 100,000's users. More than 15 years experience in web hosting, affiliate marketing, and SEO. Contributor to ProBlogger.net, Business.com, SocialMediaToday.com, and more.