An SSL certificate is crucial for website security, especially if you are selling on your site or you have a contact form.

what is an ssl certificate

You can tell if a website has an SSL certificate by looking at the URL address in your browser. If it has a little lock to the left of the address, the website is secure. The URL will have https:// as a prefix. If there is no lock or there is a caution triangle and the words “not secure” then obviously it does not have an SSL certificate. Google may even give a warning not to proceed to the site.

In this article, we will explore what an SSL certificate is, how it works, and why it is crucial for your WordPress website.

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, which is a protocol used to establish a secure and encrypted connection between a web server and a user's web browser. An SSL certificate is a digital file that verifies the authenticity and legitimacy of a website, enabling secure communication and data transfer.

How Does SSL Work?

When a user visits a website without SSL, the data exchanged between their browser and the website is transmitted in plain text. This poses a significant security risk, as sensitive information like login credentials, personal details, or payment information can be intercepted by malicious individuals.

However, when an SSL certificate is installed on a website, it activates the HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) protocol. HTTPS encrypts the data transmitted between the user's browser and the web server, ensuring that it cannot be intercepted or tampered with by unauthorized parties. This encryption process converts the data into an unreadable format, which can only be deciphered by the intended recipient.

Why Do You Need an SSL Certificate for Your WordPress Site?

  1. Data Security: An SSL certificate ensures that the data exchanged between your WordPress site and your visitors remains secure and confidential. It safeguards sensitive information, such as login credentials, personal data, and payment details, from being intercepted or accessed by hackers.
  2. Trust and Credibility: With the prevalence of cyber threats, visitors are increasingly cautious about sharing their information online. Having an SSL certificate demonstrates that you prioritize their security and helps build trust and credibility with your audience. When users see the padlock icon and “https://” in the address bar, they feel confident that their data is protected.
  3. SEO Benefits: Search engines, like Google, prioritize websites with SSL certificates in their search rankings. Having an SSL certificate can give your WordPress site a slight boost in search engine visibility, potentially improving your organic search rankings.
  4. Compliance with Regulations: Depending on your location or the nature of your website, you may be required to comply with specific data protection regulations. An SSL certificate helps you meet these requirements, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), by encrypting user data and protecting their privacy.

How to Get an SSL Certificate for Your WordPress Site

  1. Purchase an SSL Certificate: SSL certificates can be obtained from trusted certificate authorities (CAs) or through web hosting providers. Choose the type of certificate that suits your needs (e.g., single domain, wildcard, or extended validation) and purchase it.
  2. Choose a host that provides a free SSL certificate such as Big Scoots.
  3. Install a free SSL Certificate using the Really Simple SSL plugin for WordPress.
  4. Obtain a Free SSL Certificate Using Cloudflare

Here's how to use the Really Simple SSL plugin for WordPress:

Navigate to the Plugin Installation Page

In the WordPress dashboard, locate the sidebar menu on the left-hand side. Hover over the “Plugins” option and click on “Add New.” This action will take you to the plugin installation page.

Search for Really Simple SSL

On the plugin installation page, you will find a search bar on the top right corner. Type “Really Simple SSL” in the search bar and hit the “Enter” key.

Install the Really Simple SSL Plugin

Among the search results, you should see the “Really Simple SSL” plugin listed. Click on the “Install Now” button next to the plugin's name. WordPress will then download and install the plugin for you.

Activating the Really Simple SSL Plugin

After the plugin is installed, you will see an “Activate” button. Click on it to activate the Really Simple SSL plugin on your WordPress website. Once activated, you will be redirected to the plugins page, where you can manage your installed plugins.

Plugin Configuration

Upon activation, the Really Simple SSL plugin will automatically detect your SSL certificate and configure your website to use HTTPS. It will also handle the necessary changes to ensure secure communication between your website and visitors. In most cases, no further configuration is required.

Verifying SSL Activation

To ensure that the SSL is properly activated and working, visit your website using the “https://” prefix in the URL. If the SSL is functioning correctly, you will see a padlock icon in the address bar, indicating a secure connection.

Here's how to obtain a Free WordPress SSL Certificate Using Cloudflare

Sign Up for Cloudflare

Start by visiting the Cloudflare website ( and sign up for a free account. You will need to provide your email address, create a password, and follow the registration process.

Add Your Website to Cloudflare

Once you have created an account, Cloudflare will prompt you to add your website. Enter your website's domain name and click on the “Add Site” button. Cloudflare will then scan your domain's DNS records.

Update DNS Settings

After the scan is complete, Cloudflare will display a list of your DNS records. Verify that all necessary DNS records are correct and click on the “Continue” button. Cloudflare will provide you with new nameservers to update your domain's DNS settings.

Update Nameservers

To update your nameservers, log in to your domain registrar's website (where you purchased your domain) and locate the DNS settings or nameserver management section. Replace the existing nameservers with the ones provided by Cloudflare. Save the changes.

Wait for DNS Propagation

DNS propagation can take some time, typically a few hours, but in some cases, it may take up to 24-48 hours. During this period, the DNS changes you made will propagate across the internet.

Enable SSL/TLS Encryption

Once the DNS changes have propagated, return to your Cloudflare account. Navigate to the “SSL/TLS” section in the Cloudflare dashboard. Here, you can configure your SSL settings.

Choose SSL Option

Cloudflare offers three SSL options: Off, Flexible, and Full. Select the “Full” option for enhanced security. This option enables encryption between Cloudflare and your web server.

Wait for SSL Activation

Cloudflare will initiate the process of obtaining the SSL certificate for your website. It may take a few minutes for the certificate to be issued and activated.

Verify SSL Activation

To ensure that the SSL certificate is active, visit your website using the “https://” prefix in the URL. If the SSL is functioning correctly, you will see a padlock icon in the address bar, indicating a secure connection.

Please note: Cloudflare also helps to speed up your website and adds extra security layers even in their free plan.

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An SSL certificate is essential for securing your WordPress site, protecting user data, and building trust with your audience. It also has SEO benefits and helps to comply with data protection regulations.

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