What is a Free SSL Certificate - The Beginner's Complete Guide

What is a Free SSL Certificate – The Beginner’s Complete Guide

If you are a website owner or you want to build a website, you should pay attention to this post.

I'm going to tell you exactly what is a SSL Certificate​ and how it can benefit your site. Guess what, it can help you rank higher in Google as well!

I'll also offer you my #1 Recommended place to get a FREE SSL Certificate for your website. So by the end of this post, you will not only understand what is SSL, but also know how to get one quality certificate for FREE.​

Sounds great?​


SSL Certificate in Layman's Term

​In order to understand what is a SSL Certificate, watch this 3-minute video first. It basically sums up everything you need to know about SSL Certificate in the easiest way to understand.

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and it is a cryptographic protocol which secures all communications between hosting servers and web browsers. It allows a website to transfer data over an encrypted connection.

What you only need to know is that...

If your website has a SSL Certificate, it can accept personal information, and more specifically payment information like credit card numbers, social security numbers, telephone numbers, login details, etc. This means you can do whatever thing you want with your website, including transactions, in the most secured way possible.

Another benefit for you as I've mentioned earlier is that websites with SSL Certificate tends to rank higher in search engines as search engines like Google has announced a secured website as a ranking signal in their algorithm.​

For your info, SSL is now called Transport Layer Security (TLS) but they are both frequently referred to as "SSL".

How Does SSL Make Your Website Secured?

In the video above, it has explained every detail about how SSL works. But for the benefit of those who didn't watch, I'll list out the steps below.

Step 1: ​

When people enter your website, their computer will connect to your website's server.

Step 2:

Your visitor's computer will look at the SSL certificate and verify your website's identity with the Certificate Authority.

Step 3:

​After verifying the authority, your visitor's computer and your website's server will form an initial trust called "handshake". At this point, they will determine what kind of encryption to use. 

Step 4:

​Data will start to flow back and forth between them.

Step 5:

​All the data will be encrypted upon the agreed method of encryption while leaving one end.

Step 6:​

​The same data will be decrypted when arriving at the other end.

By encrypting the data while transmitting, it’s impossible for anyone to decrypt it and steal your information even if the data are intercepted along the way.

How To Determine Whether a Website is Secured?​

To determine whether a website is secured and has SSL certificate, it's really simple. You just need to look at the address/URL bar of your browser. The following image shows how a secured website looks like in 5 different browsers - Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and Safari (In this order)

ssl in different browswers

How a secured website with SSL looks like in different browsers. (Click image to enlarge)

A secured website will usually be denoted by a green address bar with a padlock icon.

Another way to find out is by looking at the URL itself. A URL of a secured website with SSL certificate will​ start with "https://" while a website without SSL with start with "http://"

So far so good?​

However, there's one thing you should take note!

When your website gets a SSL certificate and your website homepage has this padlock icon, this is NOT the end. Your website may not be secured yet.

You should go and physically go to all your pages to check whether the padlock icon is present. Not all your pages and posts will show the icon. As long as one of the page or post doesn't have the icon, your website is not secured.

Another situation is that your website doesn't have any padlock icon at all after installing SSL. Don't panic! 

Check out this post for further instructions on how to fix this.

​Do I Need SSL for My Website?

​To be honest with you, if your website does not involve transactions and does not require personal information, you DO NOT NEED SSL.

​Also, for all the legit and quality certificates I know, they all cost money (it's cost ranges from one hundred to a few hundred dollars per year. Here's an example of the pricing of SSL certificates offered by digicert), except one. And that's the one I'm going to introduce to you later in this post. Hang on!

I really doubt the free ones online about their legitimacy and quality (I never tried all of them so I cannot give you the definite answer). Some free ones are just for trial.

Of course if your website is a e-commerce site or it accepts people's personal information, it's a MUST to have SSL certificate. Other than that, you do not really need a SSL certificate if you need to pay for that.


​Remember there is another benefit of SSL?

The potential for your site to rank higher in search engines.​

​This is a big one. We all want to rank higher in Google. So, this gives you a reason to consider having one. On top of that, with the free SSL SSL certificate I'm going to introduce to you, it makes a perfect match.

How To Install a SSL Certificate on Your Site?

​There are 2 ways for you to get your SSL installed on your website. And this depends on whether your hosting server provides SSL.

Firstly, if your hosting server provides SSL, it's very easy to installed one on your site.

Let me give you an example: GoDaddy.

GoDaddy is a hosting service provider and it also offers SSL certificates to protect your site. If you host your website at GoDaddy, you simply need to purchase their certificate and they will do almost everything for you.

godaddy ssl pricing

GoDaddy SSL Certificates Pricing (Click image to enlarge)

This is a screenshot of the page on GoDaddy where you can purchase your SSL certificate.

The other method is when your hosting server doesn't provide SSL or you decide not to get the one from your hosting server.​ This method will be a lot more complex.

First you need to find a good certificate from a web service company who is a Certificate Authority - the entity that issues digital certificates. After that, they need to research and review your company/website, check references, assures identity. You also need to have access to your hosting details and provide to them.

Basically, it's just very troublesome as there are a lot of work to be done back and forth between you and the company you purchased the certificate from. This is because they don't host your website and don't have your hosting details. Also, there are a lot of verification process required.

So, getting SSL from your own hosting server is a lot simpler and easier.

The Best Place to Get a FREE SSL Certificate - Wealthy Affiliate

After explaining everything you need to know about SSL certificate as a beginner, it's time for me to introduce to you the FREE SSL certificate I kept on talking about. I'm sure you are very curious by now.

​Wealthy Affiliate offers FREE SSL Certificate to ALL the websites hosted there because the founders Kyle & Carson said:

free ssl for everyone

As I'm a Wealthy Affiliate member and all my sites are hosted at WA, my sites are all encrypted with FREE SSL Certificate offered by WA.


Top 7 Features for WA Hosted SSL

  1. ​One-Click Activation of SSL (Simply toggle On & Off)
  2. No installation fees
  3. No yearly fees
  4. Automatically redirect all traffic from your "http" website to "https" website after activation
  5. Automatically update all internal links
  6. 24hr Site Support (Simply submit a support ticket if you encounter any issues)
  7. Live Training/Webinars available to guide you for more advanced techniques

Can you see why I love Wealthy Affiliate so much now? It is simply awesome!

Now, The Step-by-Step Guide

​Are you ready to give Wealthy Affiliate a try? Follow the steps below:

​Step 1:

Sign up for a Premium Account at Wealthy Affiliate HERE.

​It's USD$19 for the first month and USD$49 per month from the second month onward. The reason I need you to sign up for premium is because FREE SSL is only available to Premuim WA members.

If you are not ready yet, you can sign up for a FREE account at Wealthy Affiliate HERE​ first or read my honest Wealthy Affiliate Review before you make a decision.

I know I've been saying "Free" SSL from the start. And you may be wondering why you need to pay here.

Yes, I do earn affiliate commission if you decide to purchase anything through my link, but I need you to sign up for Premium Member here is not because of the little commission I might get; instead, I want to help you get the best possible SSL certificate and hosting for your website so that you can scale your business to the next level.

Watch the comparison video at the end of this post and you will understand how troublesome it is if you want to get SSL from elsewhere.

Step 2:

After entering the WA dashboard, hover your cursor over to the SiteRubix at the left sidebar and click on "SiteDomains"

Step 3:

If you don't have a website yet and wish to create one, you can search at the search bar and purchase a domain of your own. (A domain costs either US$13.99 or US$15.99 per year)

If you already have a website which is hosted at other hosting companies, you can use the transfer domain to WA option.


Click image to enlarge

Step 4:

Hover over to SiteRubix at the left sidebar again and click on "SiteManager"

Step 5:

Click on "SitePlus+" in your website details.

Wealthy Affiliate sitemanager

Click image to enlarge

Step 6:

Toggle on the SSL for your website.


Screenshot of the place to toggle on and off your SSL (Click image to enlarge)

Comparing WA SSL Install V.S. Other Places

Here's a video comparing the setup process of SSL between Wealthy Affiliate and other places (the method where you need to purchase certificate yourself from Certificate Authority)

It's a 12-minute video but the first 9min 15sec is all about how complicated and troublesome it is if you want to install SSL elsewhere.

It only takes a couple of seconds within Wealthy Affiliate as shown in the last few minutes of the video.


WATCH VIDEO: SSL Setup Comparison


That's the end of this SSL Beginner's Guide. I hope I have made thing crystal clear for you regarding SSL. Should you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and I'll  be more than willing to help you out.

If you find this post helpful, please help me share it with others. Thanks!​

Jerry Huang

Jerry is a young aspiring Internet Entrepreneur who started his online business at the age of 18. He is currently a Full-time Affiliate Marketer at Wealthy Affiliate, a community to help anyone start their own online business without prior experience. He actually achieved Financial Independence at the young age of 21. Read more about his story here!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 10 comments
King Ho - February 12, 2017

Hi Jerry, I’ve been thinking about this SSL thing lately! And you’ve just answered ALL my doubts in a detailed and organized manner. Thank you so much for providing help! Great information!

    Jerry Huang - February 12, 2017

    No problem King! My pleasure 🙂

Norma - January 30, 2017

I have been hearing about SSL but I really have no idea what it is except that it secures a website.

When Wealthy Affiliate gave out free SSL to Premium Members with “own domains” I understood it a little but from reading your post, I am now very clear on what SSL is all about.

I always like to learn something new and your post just provided me with some new information that can be very useful to me.

    Jerry Huang - February 1, 2017

    Hi Norma,
    Glad that my post clears things up for you. Really appreciate your time reading it. Love your passion. Learning something new everyday should be our habit:)

Norman Richards - January 30, 2017

Hello and thanks for sharing this real great information. It is so sad to think that there are bad people around us just waiting to do injustice to honest hard working people. But what you are offering sounds very awesome to keep customers feel safe to do business online with your website. Something like this is what I would love to put in place on my website. Thanks for sharing and great job.

    Jerry Huang - January 30, 2017

    Hi Norman,
    Sadly to say that the world, especially the online world, is just full of danger, injustice and unfairness. That’s how it works. The only thing we can do is to do whatever we can to protect ourselves and our readers.

    Thanks for checking this out and leaving a comment. Hope you get your SSL set up in place soon! Do check out my follow up post on 10 things to do after installing SSL.

Garen - January 29, 2017

SSL certificates are the way the internet has been going for years. Not just because of the SEO boost you get in Google. But, so many people are creating websites and a lot of them are quite spammy. Therefore, using an SSL helps show people that you are serious about your website online.

I did recently switch one of my sites over to SSL with Wealthy Affiliate and have already seen some traffic gains. Pretty impressive! I love how Wealthy Affiliate gives us a free SSL with our hosting account. It was a VERY smart move on their part!

    Jerry Huang - January 29, 2017

    Hi Garen,
    You brought up a good point. Since so many people are creating websites right now, securing your website makes your website stands out, making it even easier for people to identify spams and scams. The SEO boost is just an additional benefit.

    Glad to see you having good result with WA hosting 🙂

Neil - January 29, 2017

Hi Jerry, good article.

Any website that requires any user data to be entered, for example, logging into the backend of your WordPress or Joomla site, should really us SSL for at least the login even if not sitewide.

Great info and explanations.

Best wishes


    Jerry Huang - January 29, 2017

    Hi Neil,
    Thanks for checking this out 🙂


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