The Best Way To Get a Free SSL Certificate and Secure Your Website

SSL is a ranking signal, so unless you have SSL your site will be harder to find, affecting your traffic and revenue.

Google

You have just purchased hosting and built your affiliate marketing website but then you realize that you’ll need an SSL certificate.

Why?

Because in July  2018 Google marked all HTTP websites as not secure within the Chrome browser, so I guess you can see the importance of having an SSL certificate installed when you start a blog.

And then you realize that your hosting provider doesn’t offer a free SSL certificate and you have to pay for it.

What if I tell you that besides free SSL you can improve your website’s speed and security also for free? Awesome, right?

What Is SSL Certificate Anyway?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate is a small data file that digitally connects a cryptographic key to details of your company.

When installed, the SSL certificate activates the https protocol and enables secure connections from a web server to a browser.

SSL certificate connects domain name, server name or hostname with your company’s identity and location and it is used to protect credit card transactions, data transfer, and logins.

Besides that, it will keep data secure between servers, increase your Google rankings, build customer trust, and improve conversion rates.

What To Do When You Don’t Have Money For SSL Certificate?

For this website, I’ve decided to try GoDaddy hosting. One of the main reasons is that it was discounted to 0.99$ per month and I wanted to go with this website like I’m just starting with my online adventure so I can implement things I recommend you to do.

This is all done on my Huawei mobile phone so don’t get discouraged if you don’t own a laptop or a computer.

Anyway, I knew GoDaddy isn’t giving away a free SSL certificate so I asked Google how to get one for free.

The first free option that Google offered was Let’s Encrypt. I’ve heard about Let’s Encrypt and I knew some of the hosting providers give their certificates for free with their hosting package.

Soon I found out that I need to look somewhere else because you can’t get it from their site. But I’ve learned that free SSL is valid for 90 days. Let’s Encrypt suggest that you set automatic renewal every 60 days.

I returned on the result page from my search and 2 spots below Let’s Encrypt was SSL for Free. It seemed relatively easy to get a free certificate from them.

So after creating my account, I entered my domain name in the box provided. Before they give me my certificate they need to verify that I’m the owner or the administrator of the site.

There are 3 verification methods available.

I haven’t chosen a manual verification method that involves downloading files and placing them in folders within webroot. Making changes to webroot is not something that beginners would be familiar with so I have chosen an automatic verification method.

1st Verification Attempt

I had to enter the FTP information they provide to the domain’s server account to automatically verify the domain. It will upload verification files to make sure I own it. I followed their guide (there’s lots of them for different hosting provider) and of course, I got this alert

Free SSL certificate verification failed

Another option was manual verification through DNS. They wanted me to add TXT records to my DNS server which is easy to do even for a beginner.

Just login to your domain registrar and click on DNS management or anything similar and ad TXT records they provided and click save. It’s so easy that you don’t need further explanations.

2nd Verification Attempt

I’ve done everything and waited for 10 minutes before trying to verify it. Guess what, I’ve got the same alert again. I’ve tried 5 times to verify it within 2 days and nothing happened.

I guess it’s blocked by GoDaddy because they are charging money for the certificate or I’m doing it wrong.

Good Things Comes For Those Who Waits

A couple of days later I went to Google again to do the same search as last time.

Below SSL for free, I saw Cloudflare. When I clicked on it, the first thing that catches my eye was a pricing section. I clicked on it to see how much they charge for their service and I was pleasantly surprised when I saw they offer a free plan that allows full access to the global CDN (Content Delivery Network), a broad range of security features, SSL certificate, and statistic reports about website’s traffic.

What Is Cloudflare?

Cloudflare is one of the biggest networks running on the internet which delivers security and performance and offers great functionality such as free SSL certificate and content distribution for every website on their network. Cloudflare provides a package of products for optimizing website speed and security.

How does Cloudflare work

What Is CDN Or Content Delivery Network?

Content delivery networks are geographically allocated servers that work together to provide fast delivery of content on the internet. They are designed to optimize your site’s loading times by working as a middleman between site servers and visitors.

The CDN also offers security benefits, reduce your hosting bandwidth with caching, and helps to prevent interruptions in service.

How To Get SSL Certificate In Less Than 5 Minutes

  • Sign up on the Cloudflare website by typing your email address and password to create your account and enter your domain and click Add Site.
  • Cloudflare will scan your domain’s DNS records for a minute, and after the scan is finished, click Next.
  • Choose a free plan and select the domain where you want to enable Cloudflare and you’ll receive the Cloudflare nameservers for your domain.
  • Now go to your domain registrar and update nameservers with the Cloudflare domain servers. When you click on save your Cloudflare account is all set and the nameserver update will take about 72 hours.
  • Log back into your Cloudflare account, if everything is ok you’ll see that connection with your website is active.
The active site in Cloudflare
  • Click on that box to go to your dashboard and find settings for SSL/TLS and click on it, and just choose Full Encryption Mode and you’re finished.
Setting a free SSL certificate

You’ve enabled a free SSL certificate for your site. Cloudflare’s Wizard set-up takes care of important settings step-by-step, so you don’t have to worry about getting stuck.

Guides, recommendations, and troubleshooting for all other settings are available in Cloudflare’s help section which is so detailed that you won’t be needing to contact their support for any possible problem you can have.

What are your thoughts about this? Have you found another, a better way to get a free SSL certificate, or you have some negative experiences with Cloudflare?

Anthony Miller

After 10 years of research, and experimentation, Anthony decided to start his own blog about affiliate marketing and making money online in general, named Badass Affiliate. His goal is to show you what it takes to successfully start an online business so you can provide a better life for you and your family.

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