Blog

How to get a free SSL certificate and earn the love of browsers

How to get a free SSL certificate and earn the love of browsers
Vika Fedoseenko
Content manager

This is a story about data encryption and one magic button. Read and build safe relationships between a user and a website.

What is an SSL certificate and why you need it

An SSL certificate is a digital document. It is installed on the server where the website is created. Why? Formally, to change HTTP into HTTPS in a website URL. The difference is only in one letter!

A website address without SSL looks like this: http://example.com.
If you install an SSL certificate it will look like this: https://example.com.

A certificate helps not to put off users from a website. Google Chrome flags website address without SSL certificates as insecure and sometimes restricts access to them. Other browsers also indicate an insecure connection.

The website without SSL
The website without SSL. The browser warns: «Your connection to this website is not secure»

But this is from the first sight. Actually, a certificate encrypts information transmitted between a website and a browser. If it is not protected abusers can intercept the traffic, modify its content, or change the website.

There are many variants to intercept data. That’s why Google and other large Internet companies offer webmasters to use the secure HTTPS protocol. We absolutely agree with them and this article will describe how to configure it.

How to get an SSL certificate

To get an SSL certificate you need to contact a Certification Authority. This organization verifies that a website and a company are valid, and issues a certificate.

The certificate issuance procedure may vary depending on a Certification Authority. Today, we’ll talk about Let’s Encrypt. This Certification Authority issues free certificates that can be used in most cases. Later, we’ll talk about other certificates.

To obtain an SSL from Let’s Encrypt, you need a special tool Certbot. However, this is a complicated solution so we recommend using Vepp.

Vepp is a control panel for website management. It helps install WordPress, assign a domain, configure mail, upload pictures, and other files.

With Vepp, you will install a free SSL easily and forget about it: the control panel configures the secure connection and renews the certificate automatically.

How to get a free SSL in Vepp

Before we start, let’s make it clear: SSL is issued only for the domain that leads to the website.

This means that if you have just created a website and haven’t bought a domain, or you have bought it but haven’t assigned it to the server yet, the SSL won’t be issued. In this case, the following articles will help you: how to select and buy a domain and how to assign a domain to a server.

Let’s assume, we have the domain that leads to the server. There are two ways: we can create a new website or configure the existing one.

SSL for a new website

If you create a website with the domain name that leads to the server you don’t need to do anything because Vepp will request and issue the certificate itself, and will configure the HTTPS connection.

It’s all the same if you buy a domain in Vepp, but the certificate will be issued in 2-48 hours after DNS-records are updated.

SSL for an existing website

If you want to issue an SSL for the website that you have already created and assigned to the domain, you can do so with three mouse clicks.

Step 1. Open the website and click Install SSL. Select Add Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate.

Install Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate in Vepp

Step 2. Specify the Domain that the certificate will secure and enter the SSL certificate name (it won’t be displayed anywhere). Check the box Activate the certificate. Click on Issue.

Activate the Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate in Vepp

Step 3. Wait when the SSL will be issued, this operation may take from several minutes to 48 hours (depending on the verification method). You can monitor the status on the website card.

The website with Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate

After HTTP is changed into HTTPS make sure that SSL is running correctly. Google recommends a free online service for checking named Qualys Lab.

How to enable HTTPS for the website

In any other control panel, you have to create redirects, but with Vepp you don’t need to do this because the website will start running through the HTTPS automatically.

If search engine traffic is important for you

When the website starts running through a new protocol, search engines consider it as new. That’s why after the protocol has been changed the number of website pages in the search results may be changed so the website traffic will drop. If the website traffic is important for you, think about making the change smooth.

The task is to inform a search bot that the website is now accessible through a new protocol. It’s better to follow recommendations of search engines. They set the rules of the game and change them from time to time. You can find the up-to-date instructions below Google recommendations.

If you do everything according to instructions you will not only get on the right side of browsers but also keep the search ranking.

Vika Fedoseenko
Content manager