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A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate is essential for protecting your website and your customers. However, the world of SSL is often full of confusing jargon.

That’s why we’ve put together this complete guide to the best SSL certificate providers. By exploring the validation times, costs, and type of products each company provides, you should have no problems finding the option that’s right for you.

In this post, we’ll discuss why SSL certification is important for all websites and is absolutely crucial for eCommerce sites. We’ll then explore four of the industry-leading SSL providers and debate their strengths and weaknesses. Let’s get started! 

An Introduce to SSL Certificates (And Why They’re Essential for WordPress Websites)

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is an encryption protocol that can secure the information exchanged between a visitor’s browser and a website. 

When someone visits your site, their browser will request a connection. Your website will respond by sending an SSL certificate with a public key. Assuming that the certificate is valid, the browser will encrypt the visitor’s data and send it to your site. Finally, your server will decrypt this information using the public key, plus a secret private key.

With this process, visitors can confirm the identity of the websites they’re communicating with. SSL can also prevent malicious third parties from eavesdropping on visitor data while it’s in transit.

If you don’t install an SSL certificate, most modern web browsers will mark your website as Not Secure. This is a sure-fire way to scare away potential customers.

By contrast, if your site has an SSL certificate, most browsers will display a padlock icon alongside the address bar. The visitor can click on this icon and view certification, identification, and other information about your website: 

An example of an SSL certificate.

Online privacy continues to be a concern for most internet users. This means that an SSL certificate can be a valuable addition to any website, as it encourages visitors to view your site as trustworthy. Using SSL may even boost your search engine rankings because Google has confirmed it uses HTTPS as a ranking signal.  

We highly recommend that every website installs an SSL certificate. However, using one is particularly important if you accept any payments or personally identifiable information. For example, eCommerce sites and membership sites frequently handle sensitive data.

4 Best SSL Certificate Providers for WordPress Websites

If your site doesn’t have an SSL certificate, you may alienate potential readers and customers. You’ll also struggle to monetize your content. Most online payment services require you to install an SSL certificate before receiving money. 

With that in mind, let’s make sure your site is secure and profitable. Here are four places where you can acquire that all-important SSL certificate. 

1. Let’s Encrypt

Let's Encrypt is an example of an SSL certificate provider.

Some website owners avoid installing SSL certificates due to the costs involved. While avoidance may help minimize your expenses in the short term, this approach can leave your site vulnerable to data theft.

The good news is that you can acquire an SSL certificate for free, thanks to the Let’s Encrypt organization. It is a great choice for startups and small businesses, who typically have tighter budgets. Free certificates may also be suitable for non-profit websites.

However, installing a free Let’s Encrypt certificate is a multi-step process. It may require knowledge of server systems and programming. This can make it difficult to actually use your SSL certificate after acquiring it. 

Fortunately, many WordPress hosting companies offer free Let’s Encrypt certificates as part of their hosting packages. For example, WP Engine customers can activate their certificates on any domains with just a few clicks. You can use them on both staging and development sites: 

The WP Engine web hosting provider.

One downside of Let’s Encrypt is that its certificates expire after 90 days. As a busy website owner, it’s easy to fall behind on renewing your SSL software, putting your site and visitors at increased risk of data theft. 

Thankfully, some hosting providers will manage the renewal process for you. For example, WP Engine will attempt to auto-renew your certificate 15 days before it’s due to expire. 

2. Comodo SSL

Comodo is an example of an SSL certificate provider.

Comodo SSL is a company that specializes in SSL certificates. As a dedicated provider, it’s not surprising that it offers a wide variety of products.

If you own multiple websites, you may be happy to learn that Comodo SSL has a selection of wildcard certificates. You can use them to secure a single domain plus an unlimited number of sub-domains. 

Just be aware that wildcards are only available in Organization Validation (OV) and Domain Validation (DV). Suppose you require Extended Validation (EV). In that case, the Multi-Domain SSL and SAN certificates are available at all levels. They can secure up to 250 different websites. 

This product variety makes Comodo SSL a good option for anyone who has specific SSL requirements. It’s also ideal for securing multiple sub-domains.

However, there is such a thing as too much choice. The sheer number of SSL certificates can be daunting for anyone who doesn’t have in-depth industry knowledge. 

As previously mentioned, the process of installing an SSL certificate can be complicated. If you need a helping hand after purchasing your certificate, then Comodo SSL offers 24/7 support via multiple channels. It includes email and live chat.

Comodo SSL pricing can vary dramatically depending on the type of product you’re purchasing. However, single-domain SSL certificates start at $7.02 per year. The company also offers a price match guarantee and a 30-day money-back guarantee on all its items. 

3. DigiCert

The DigiCert website.

DigiCert positions itself as the SSL certificate provider for large enterprises that require the highest level of security. In fact, according to its website, 97 of the 100 largest banks in the world and 89 percent of Fortune 500 companies are secured using DigiCert solutions.

When installing an SSL certificate, you may encounter delayed validation times. They can result in lost sales and can leave your website vulnerable to hackers.

DigiCert claims to issue OV certificates in minutes and EV SSL certificates in hours. If you need either of these options in a hurry, then the lightning-fast issuance times can make the company an attractive option. 

When it comes to its offerings, DigiCert keeps things straightforward. It divides its certificates into three categories: Basic SSL, Secure Site SSL, and Secure Site Pro SSL.

While its Standard SSL certificate is priced at $238.00, the Secure Site EV Multi-Domain SSL comes in at a whopping $2785.00 per year. As one of the more expensive providers, DigiCert isn’t well suited to small businesses, startups, or entrepreneurs.

However, the company boasts features including a $1.75M Netsure Protection Warranty and a $2M aggregate Relying Party Warranty. As such, it’s clear that DigiCert has its sights set firmly on enterprises. If your business has a significant turnover and high security requirements, then this company may offer the level of protection you need. 

4. Entrust 

The Entrust website.

As a founding member of the Certificate Authority Security Council (CASC) and the CA/Browser Forum, Entrust is an established SSL provider. This organization has a long history of issuing secure certificates.

Unlike some providers, Entrust doesn’t offer DV certificates. If you’re searching for this type of product, then you’ll have to look elsewhere.

However, there are security concerns regarding DV certificates, so not using one shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for many websites. Instead, Entrust only issues EV and OV SSLs, which are better suited to business use.

Entrust also offers a suite of web-based tools, including robust reporting software. The reports can help you avoid security gaps, downtime, and certificate expirations.

If you’re running your site as part of a team, then you’ll be happy to learn that the company also provides multi-person, multi-level expiration notifications. 

By offering end-to-end lifecycle management for your digital certificates, Entrust positions itself as an all-in-one solution. If you’re looking for a self-contained SSL system with access to additional tools, this company may be a good fit for your organization.

Prices range from $199 for a standard OV to $699 for a wildcard OV. Entrust also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Conclusion 

A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate can help reassure your users and keep their private information safe. If you don’t already have one installed on your site, then you may be missing out on potential customers, conversions, and sales.

To help you find your perfect SSL certificate, let’s quickly recap the four providers we covered earlier:

  • Let’s Encrypt: A non-profit certificate authority that’s supported by many of the major hosting providers, including WP Engine.
  • Comodo SSL: This provider has an extensive range of products, including multi-domain SSL certificates
  • DigiCert: If you need enterprise-grade features, rapid issuance, or million dollar guarantees, then DigiCert may be your perfect provider. 
  • Entrust: An established certificate provider that specializes in Extended Validation (EV) and Organization Validated (OV) SSLs.

Do you have any questions about the SSL certificate providers mentioned in this post? Let us know in the comments section below!