Encrypting your website with an SSL certificate brings along an assortment of benefits but does it have an adverse effect on your website speed? In this article, we shall analyze this by understanding how an SSL Certificate works and then move on to evaluating its other benefits. Since there is a lot happening in the HTTPS landscape, we know it can get a wee bit confusing. Thus, we shall put forth facts that enable you to make a prudent decision about whether or not the SSL causes latency.
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Does installing an SSL Certificate slow down my website?
Yes, the SSL certificate can slow down your website. Still, that issue was resolved two decades ago when the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol was replaced by the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. Despite the massive changes in encryption technology, the name SSL has stuck on and is now an accepted pseudonym in the IT sector.
The current technology used by most of the reputed Certifying Authorities (CA) is the TLS 1.2 and 1.3 versions which are highly secure and much faster than its predecessor technology. So, you don’t have to worry about the glitches (including latency) associated with the SSL protocol if you are using a TLS certificate.
Not only will you find the cheapest SSL Certificates but ones that come with free priority support and the latest encryption technology. Moreover, it only makes sense to use the most advanced technologies because browsers and operating systems cease to recognize the older protocols from time to time. For instance, the SSL protocol is now obsolete and is no longer recognized by present-day browsers and operating systems. To better understand whether installing an SSL certificate hurts your website’s performance, let’s dive deeper into how an SSL/TLS certificate works.
How Does an SSL/TLS Work?
When you install an SSL/TLS certificate, it switches your website from the HTTP to the HTTPS protocol globally accepted security standard. An advanced cryptographic suite prevents the data from being intercepted while it flows between the client and the server.
In layman’s terms, websites with an SSL certificate perform an additional encryption process before the data moves onto the open network for transmission. The SSL certificate facilitates the encryption and decryption of the data packets by using symmetric and asymmetric keys to remain secure, confidential, and unaltered.
The technologies used in performing the encryption and decryption are agreed upon between the client and the server through an SSL handshake procedure. This is where the two endpoints agree upon a cipher suite. The handshake begins with an HTTPS request from the client and the server responding to it with its public key. Next, the client verifies the server’s public key and then its private key — only then, the encryption occurs.
It would not be wrong to state that the slowdown caused by the TLS or the SSL can only be blamed upon this “handshake” process. The time taken in the SSL protocol is longer because it uses port 443 for HTTPS, also known as an explicit connection. The TLS overcomes this issue by establishing an implicit connection straight from the protocol.
Does installing an SSL certificate affect your SEO?
Installing an SSL certificate can make your website rank higher and improve its SEO because it is a recommended security practice by Google itself. In 2014, Google admitted that the HTTPS is a ranking signal, resulting in the ‘HTTPS Everywhere’ movement.
Nevertheless, your website’s page load speed is also a ranking factor, and if you are concerned about that being affected because of your SSL/TLS certificate, you don’t have to. The latency caused by the implicit connection established by the TLS protocol is negligible, and that alone cannot slow it down to the extent of your SEO being affected.
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However, it would help if you looked into other factors like the image format, harmful design elements, etc., which could be slowing it down. If you own the website or have administrative rights, you can use the Google Search Console to run your website’s speed test and identify the trouble areas. The results will confirm that nothing associated with the SSL/TLS or the HTTPS is hurting your website’s speed.
If you still feel there’s something you need to do after installing an SSL certificate, try using a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Regardless of what is slowing down your website, this will speed up the communication between the server and the client by placing proxy cache servers.
As we have already discussed, the SSL protocol slowed down websites because it established explicit connections. That is no longer a concern because we are now using the TLS protocol designed for speed and setting an implicit connection. So, stop thinking about the latency and deliberate upon the security it brings along. Also, installing an SSL puts your website in Google’s good books, which helps it rank better. Many SSL certificate providers in the market can cater to your bespoke needs, such as GoDaddy, ClickSSL, Symantec, etc. So, without any further delay, buy SSL from ClickSSL, and secure your website. You can also quickly renew SSL certificates at low prices without any hassle.
Therefore, if you operate a website under an obligation to install an SSL certificate, you need not worry too much; notably, those operating in regions where data privacy laws are fast evolving such as the European Union, Australia, and the United States. Also, e-commerce and other websites that accept online payments via cards need to install an SSL Certificate. If you fall under any of those categories and have been worried about your website’s speed and potential loss of traffic, you now have all the answers you need.