There are lots of SSL Certificate products out there, so it can be hard for website owners to know which will be the best one for their needs. This blog will cut through the hype and complexity so you’re clear what the different types are.
The first thing you need to know is this: don’t let any marketer confuse you by talking about “best encryption strength”. All SSL Certificates from recognised Certificate Authorities (and you shouldn’t buy from anyone else) have the same level of reliable HTTPS encryption. That’s not a choosing factor.
You’ll want to look at two main things when deciding on an SSL Certificate – Domain cover and Validation type.
If you have a single website domain (e.g. brand.com), then that’s all you need your SSL protection for. A single domain Certificate will give you HTTPS protection if a user types in ‘www.brand.com’ or just ‘brand.com’, they’re one and the same. You could also use a single domain Certificate to cover one sub-domain (e.g. blog.brand.com), but NOT a domain (brand.com) AND a sub-domain.
If you have a single domain plus multiple sub-domains (e.g. brand.com + blog.brand.com + press.brand.com + support.brand.com etc.) then you’ll want to choose a Wildcard SSL Certificate. This gives you cover for unlimited sub-domains on a single website domain. It’s more cost effective for growing businesses.
If you’re a global corporate with different brands, an entrepreneur with a number of businesses, or just have lots of website projects, the most cost effective choice will be a Multi-Domain SSL Certificate. This covers multiple domains, plus unlimited sub-domains. All under one simplified, affordable umbrella.
When you buy an SSL Certificate, you’ll also need to get it authenticated by the Certificate Authority (CA). We’re partnered with the leading global CA, called Comodo (now rebranded as Sectigo). So, when you buy and activate an SSL from us, you’ll be contacted automatically by Sectigo to proceed with their validation process.
The CA basically wants to check the legitimacy of the website. This amounts to either a light or a more indepth validation check, depending on the type of SSL:
Domain Validation (DV)
The CA simply verifies you own or have admin access to the website domain. There are a number of ways to do this, but usually it’s quickest by email. It normally only takes a few minutes, then you’re all set to install the SSL. This is the most basic Certificate, great for super fast HTTPS so your website won’t be flagged as ‘Not secure’ by Google.
Organization Validation (OV)
This SSL is popular with ecommerce companies handling sensitive customer information like credit card details. People can check the validation level in their browser settings (click the padlock icon), and an OV tells them that the website and the company are legitimate. The CA checks that your company has a publically listed presence, like dnb.com or bloomberg.com. It also makes sure that your company details are correct with a phone call. This typically takes around 2 days.
Extended Validation (EV)
Previously, this Certificate displayed the company name in a greenbar on browsers, highlighting that online customers can have complete trust in the website and company because it’s undergone the most stringent checks. The greenbar no longer gets displayed in many browsers, but sceptical people can still check validation level in their browser settings, so EV is still popular with online giants. It involves both the DV and OV checks, along with the CA validating that your company is officially registered with local government. It takes around 7 to 10 days.
To figure out what type of SSL Certificate is best for your needs, the main things you need to ask yourself are:
- How many domains and/or subdomains do I want to cover – if it’s more than one, it’ll be more convenient and cost effective to get a Wildcard or Mult-Domain SSL.
- How fast do I need a Certificate – if it’s super fast, you’ll need a Domain Validated SSL. The other options have more of a trust factor and higher warranties, but they take 2 to 10 days for the Certificate Authority to check the legitimacy of your company.
- Am I an officially listed company – if not, you won’t have the digital paperwork needed for an OV or EV Certificate.
- Do customers need to trust my website and company – if you’re an ecommerce site handling sensitive customer info like their address and credit card number, an EV or OV SSL is a good idea. It shows people (anyone can check what type of SSL you have by clicking the browser padlock icon) that you’re an established, legitimate company ( Inc, LLC etc).