We all know it; Google is taking over the world! To-date, Google manufacture software in phones, tablets, laptops, browsers, payment systems, smart home devices, and mapping – to list just a few strings to their bow, not to mention the search engine that started the company in 1998. Because of their colossal reach, if you truly want to be found online, you need to do things the Google way.   

Let’s turn back the clocks a couple of years… it is 2018 and Google have just taken the decision to start flagging websites without an SSL/TLS Certificate as being insecure. Like it or not, this has massive consequences. Not only are sites that are being served without a valid certificate now quickly falling in page ranking with Google, but also any of your customers who are using Google Chrome (or any of the Chrome engine browsers; Edge, Firefox, and Safari to name a few) are being blocked from accessing your website. Visitors are being forced to acknowledge the security risk in visiting your website, and as a direct result visits to your website will have nose-dived. 

It sounds as though we are against this decision. The truth is, we are not. The issuing of SSL/TLS Certificates is now standard practice for hosting companies, and that’s a good thing – it makes the web a better place for everyone. For too long companies have used antiquated or insecure email systems and hosting partners. 

But what is an SSL/TLS Certificate? Essentially, it’s a virtual lock and key mechanism that means any data transferred through your online services is encrypted with an automatically generated key. As an end-user, you will never know this exists, but it’s always there in the background, packaging up and protecting data that is transmitted. 

The server where your online services are hosted, be that email, website, app, or database, hold the ‘key’. This means that when the server receives a packet of information, the content is not humanly readable. It has been converted into a string of random nonsense that only the servers key can decode. 

Imagine all the times you have sent across a password by email (you should never do this by the way!) or made a payment online without a valid certificate. That password or your payment details are being transmitted around the globe in plain text. Imagine logging into an unprotected website with that password you use for everything (we know you do it!). Well, that password is now compromised… If someone intercepts that packet of data, they can read everything you have sent. With a certificate installed however, the interceptor still needs that key, the key that only your server holds to decipher the code – Think back to the days of the Enigma machine, an early iteration of what these protocols are doing today.

This is not to say that simply installing an SSL/TLS Certificate is your one-stop security solution. Far from it. But it’s a good start. 

It is however for these reasons that Google took the decision to start making the web safer for all its users. However, being the world’s most popular search engine meant that other companies quickly followed suit, and now search engines are penalising websites that do not secure their site over SSL, knocking you down the rankings and making it nearly impossible to be found for any useful or local search terms.

Because of this, a lot of browsers began to prominently display a green padlock icon when the site you are visiting has installed an SSL/TLS Certificate, or a whole page red banner if it does not. First impressions are key, and we know how we’d rather be seen… 

In summary 

  1. Yes, SSL/TLS Certificates are essentially mandatory – and that is ok. 
  2. Server encryption is here to stay, albeit in many different guises. 
  3. A certificate will help keep yours and your customers private information safe by encrypting all traffic sent through emails, web forms, logins – but should not be considered your sole security procedure. 
  4. Websites without an SSL/TLS certificate will be considerably harder to find online. 
  5. No, you do not need to be paying your hosting company hundreds of £ to have one. In fact, any reputable hosting company should offer an entry tier of SSL out of the box, and free of charge! 

If you are looking for a web partner who will support your business with online tools and enhanced security features, as well as SSL/TLS certificates as standard, then contact Doddle. We’ll get you online in no time.

What does a web hosting provider do?

It enables anyone to host their website online. When you buy a web hosting plan, you’re borrowing server space for your website, saving you the hassle of paying for specialised server equipment and dedicating your time learning how to use it.

Most web hosting is shared, so you share server space with other websites. Shared hosting is cheaper, but the downside is that it is not as fast or as secure as different types of hosting, such as dedicated or managed web hosting.

There are quality and price spectrums on which all web hosting companies land. Like most other goods and services, the more you pay, the better your web hosting performance and customer service.

This article explains why businesses should focus on the quality of service, not just the price, when picking out their web hosting provider.

You can face significant website downtime, which negatively impacts search engine optimisation (SEO).

Budget web hosting providers often cram as many websites onto a single server as they can. This results in too many websites vying for already restricted resources; so your website will often suffer slow loading times and potential downtime, hugely impacting your search engine rankings.

Like office space, if there’s a reasonable number of people, everyone has room to move around and easily share resources. But, if there are too many people, then everyone suffers, and productivity dives.

End-to-end Encryption

We are amazed to see that some hosting companies still charge extra for SSL certificates. It’s like flying with a budget airline, on the face of it, you get a great deal – but you get to the airport, and your luggage is overweight, and so you’re forced to buy expensive ‘extras’. An SSL certificate is the component that encrypts data sent through your website and is what gives that small padlock icon in the address bar on our website. In 2017, Google released updates that prioritised sites with an SSL certificate in their search rankings. Today, if you go to a website in any modern web browser that doesn’t have an SSL certificate, you will be blocked from opening the page. We cannot stress enough how important SSL Certificates are today, for SEO and for the protection of you and your customers.

Address Blacklisting and Email deliverability

On shared hosting platforms you never know how many people are on that same hosting set-up, it could be hundreds, or even thousands of companies just like yours. Now imagine a company on that same hosting package, who shares your same site IP address decides to send out unsolicited emails to a list of 20,000 people. This will cause IP blacklisting, and could spell disaster for your business. Suddenly, and through no fault of your own, you could find important emails landing in your customers junk, or worse, not being delivered at all. The problem is, you may never know about this until it is too late.

One size fits all servers aren’t good enough for your business.

Low-cost web hosting companies don’t tailor their servers to your website’s needs, so you have to work with their server’s default configuration. The configuration is unlikely to be the optimum choice for your site.

If you run an eCommerce site, you would greatly benefit from a custom server configuration that ensures faster access speeds for users and minimal downtime while giving your business greater flexibility and preventing potential sales from falling through the net.

If you’re looking to start a blog or small site, you might get away with using a budget web hosting provider. But, if your website is critical in the running of your business, then using a hosting provider that doesn’t configure their servers to your site is an unnecessary risk.

Picking a budget web hosting provider that gives you any old server configuration could potentially restrict your company’s long-term growth, especially if your business is solely web-based.

A lot of businesses today want to utilise the best the web has to offer, and that will often come in the form of a CMS (Content Management System). What people will often fail to tell you is that with the functionality that a CMS brings, allowing you to edit a website in real-time – come very real security concerns. That shouldn’t put you off using a CMS, but you must consider where you host that site. If your server has been specifically configured to host your CMS then you will be much better off than going with a provider who offers hosting for any platform.

Website Backups

Any reputable web hosting company will include a backup solution with your hosting plan. This means that in the unfortunate event that a website goes offline, is compromised, or simply needs rolling back to an earlier version, then you are protected. It is our experience that companies do not value a comprehensive backup solution until it is too late.

Good customer service makes all the difference if your site goes down.

One area that cheap hosting providers love to skimp on is customer service, as staff costs are a significant overhead.

Nearly every website suffers some level of downtime at some point for an endless list of reasons. When it happens, personalised and attentive customer service is worth every penny.

If disaster strikes and customers can’t access your website, you don’t want to be on hold for two hours with the other people sharing your server who, like you, can’t access their websites.

Speaking to considerate customer service staff that pick up the phone the moment you call and work tirelessly to resolve your issue makes all the difference in a crisis.

Many budget web hosting providers have a laissez-faire attitude toward sustainability.

Some web hosting companies have taken steps to reduce their carbon footprint, but most are lagging.

There are many ways businesses can reduce their negative impact on the planet, the most obvious of which is switching to renewable energy sources like wind or solar.

Renewable energy isn’t always possible for data centres and web hosting companies, so some purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs) or green support initiatives like tree planting or clearing plastic from the oceans.

This is important to us, and that is why we only use web hosting partners who are ISO 14001 accredited.

While choosing an environmentally conscious web hosting provider might not save you money, it is one way your business could start operating more sustainably, which is an increasing consumer concern.

At Doddle, we’re focused on finding our customers the best web hosting solution for their business.

We don’t offer one size fits all packages, and we have a proven record of outstanding customer service.

If you’re thinking of moving away from your current hosting provider or considering launching a new site, we can help.

To get in touch, click here.