Security 101 03-10-2023

Which SSL Certificate Do I Need? A Comprehensive Guide 


TLS/SSL certificates create an encrypted connection and establish trust

Choosing what kind of TLS/SSL certificate that you need to buy is an important decision. In any online business, it is critical to create a trusted environment where potential customers feel confident in making purchases. TLS/SSL certificates create a foundation of trust by establishing a secure connection. 

When picking the right TLS/SSL certificate, most people select either by brand recognition or by price. But there's a lot more that goes into picking a certificate that could have a big impact on your TLS/SSL experience. 

All three types of TLS/SSL certificates do fundamentally the same thing: encrypt information. However, each type of TLS/SSL certificate offers a varying level of security and risk. 

Types of TLS/SSL Certificates

Not all certificates are the same—each is set up differently. So, the kind of TLS/SSL certificate that you should buy depends on your specific server environment. Whether you need to secure just one site or multiple websites, there are certificates that help you do that. 

There are three types of TLS/SSL certificates: Domain Validation (DV), Organization Validation (OV) and Extended Validation (EV). Certificate authorities (CAs), like DigiCert, validate each type of certificate to a different level of user trust. If you're looking to establish trust online or do any sales online, EV TLS/SSL Certificates are the most secure option to secure trust, increase sales and lower cart abandonment rate.

Domain Validation Certificate

Domain Validated certificates are checked against a domain registry to prove ownership of the site domain. However, DV certificates do not offer identifying organizational information. So, it is not recommended to use DV certificates for commercial purposes. They may be the cheapest type of certificate to get, but they provide no authentication value in terms of who is behind the website.

Organization Validation Certificate

To receive an OV certificate, organizations are authenticated by the CA against business registry databases hosted by governments. CAs may require certain documents and contact personnel to ensure that OV certificates contain legitimate business information. This is the standard type of certificate required on a commercial or public-facing website.

Extended Validation Certificate

EV certificates add additional validation steps and offer the highest level of authentication to safeguard your brand and protect your users. While not every site on the web uses EV certificates, they are used by the world’s leading organizations to ensure user trust. Over half of the top 400 e-commerce sites use EV, according to 2019 data from Comscore and Netcraft. They have found that switching from OV to EV certificates increases online transactions and improves customer confidence.

Additionally, there are two other types of TLS/SSL certificates to choose from:

1. Multi-Domain TLS/SSL Certificate: Secure different domain names on many different servers (perfect for Exchange Servers).

2. Wildcard TLS/SSL Certificate: Secure unlimited servers and subdomains on one domain.

Which TLS/SSL Certificate Should I Choose?

Not sure which kind of TLS/SSL you need? Use one of our tools: our detailed TLS/SSL comparison chart

In addition to comparing providers, features, and options when deciding which TLS/SSL certificate to purchase, customer reviews on the actual server tell a different story. Branding and price quickly fade into the background when you read the horror stories that some customers share about their TLS/SSL purchases. Whether it's waiting days and days for a certificate to be issued with no communication from the provider, or rude and non-existent technical support if you get a certificate error, it just might be best to choose which TLS/SSL certificate to buy based on customer reviews alone. 

Most high-assurance TLS/SSL providers will offer the same features, functionality, encryption, and browser compatibility. But when it comes to the TLS/SSL customer experience, it's a different story. 

Customer experience is at the core of the DigiCert Difference. Contact us any time you have questions or need help choosing a TLS/SSL certificate.  

Once you’ve chosen your certificate type, here’s how to get it installed

Get More Than a Certificate – Get Secure Site Pro 

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive way to manage your website security along with a TLS/SSL certificate, then look no further than DigiCert Secure Site Pro. With Secure Site Pro you get more than a certificate—you get the all-new dynamic DigiCert Smart Seal, priority validation, malware scanning, CT log monitoring, vulnerability and PCI scanning, business blocklisting and fraud checks.

Every Secure Site Pro certificate comes with a DigiCert® CertCentral account, which simplifies certificate management by allowing you to track, issue, renew, reissue and even automate certificates so you never have to worry about an expiring certificate again. What’s more, CertCentral gives you tools to discover and analyze all certificates across your networks, from one platform.

SEO Benefits of TLS/SSL Certificates 

TLS/SSL certificates can also improve SEO rankings. The fact that a more secure internet is a superior one is well-known. This is precisely why most prominent web browsers demand TLS/SSL certificates. In fact, Google has officially stated that TLS/SSL is a ranking factor in its search algorithm. Moreover, these browsers amplify the outcomes for websites that have fortified their security with digital certificates. This principle applies to leading search engines and various types of browsers. 

Additionally, having and TLS/SSL certificate installed helps to avoid security warnings. Browsers like Google Chrome display warnings for websites that are not secure (lacking TLS/SSL). These warnings can deter users from entering your site and negatively impact your bounce rate, time on site and overall user engagement. A TLS/SSL certificate ensures that your visitors don't encounter these security warnings, leading to a more positive user experience. 

What is a TLS/SSL certificate? 

Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificates—also known as SSL, or digital certificates—are the foundation of a safe and secure internet. TLS/SSL certificates secure internet connections by encrypting data sent between your browser, the website you’re visiting, and the website server. They ensure that data is transmitted privately and without modifications, loss or theft. 

TLS is the successor technology to Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) which was replaced in 2015 after it was compromised by several vulnerabilities. When you buy a TLS/SSL certificate from DigiCert, you get the latest and highest level of TLS/SSL encryption certificate on the market.   


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