SSL certificates are the “digital ID cards” that websites use to prove that they are who they say they are; they are what let’s your web browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.) know that the website you are visiting is your bank and not a website that looks just like your bank (and is thus a fraudulent site). For a refresher on SSL certificates and what they are, you can read this post: What is SSL and Why Might I Need It for My Dental or Medical Website). And if you are curious about SSL and SEO, please read this post about how SSL certificates may affect SEO and search engine rankings.
1) Certificates for a single domain.
2) Certificates for all domain variations (wildcard certificates).
For dental and medical websites, the single domain SSL certificate is generally the way to go. When you add an SSL-certificate, make sure that it matches your preferred website display – remember: www.shorthillsdesign.com and “shorthillsdesign.com” are different sites in the eyes of Google (which is the reason why we pick a preferred display in Google Search Console). If you don’t know what the preferred display format is then ask your web developer, as a certificate for “shorthillsdesign.com” won’t work on www.shorthillsdesign.com and vice-versa.
Wildcard certificates are designed so that any prefix (or subdomain) will be verified as secure – for example: mail.shorthillsdesign.com, something.shorthillsdesign.com, etc. However, these certificates are much more expensive than single-domain certificates, and they are not necessary at this time for dental and medical websites.
SSL Certificates can range from anywhere from free to thousands of dollars based on factors that I will discuss below. For dental or medical websites, a good SSL certificate can be had for $15/year. That being said, in the last few months Let’s Encrypt has made free SSL certificates widely available and I recommend that you take advantage of these certificates. These certificates are easy to setup, are just as secure as paid SSL certificates, and can be setup to automatically renew. If you would like to read a more technical information about why some certificates are free and other cost thousands of dollars, you can read this post about SSL costs.
Of the many SSL options available for a website, a free, single-domain SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt or Comodo will be more than adequate for the majority of dental and medical websites. Setting up SSLs can be tricky, so make sure you ask your web host or website provider to assist you if needed.