There are actually several different types of SSL certificates, which vary based on the level of validation they provide. The three main options are Domain Validation (DV), Organization Validation (OV) and Extended Validation (EV) certificates. Each offers a higher level of security than the last, and requires a more comprehensive vetting process.
Currently, Let’s Encrypt only offers DV certificates. While this may be enough for smaller and more personal sites, larger business and e-commerce sites often require a higher level of validation. Sites that are secured with OV and EV certificates are also more often displayed as secure in browsers, which as we mentioned is vital for improving visitor confidence in your site.
That’s not to say Let’s Encrypt is a poor option. In fact, it’s backed by some of the world’s largest companies – including Facebook, Mozilla, and Google. At the same time, you’ll need to look elsewhere if you want an OV or EV certificate.
It’s also important to note that SSL certificates come with a limited lifespan. Let’s Encrypt certificates have a maximum lifetime of 90 days, although the renewal process is 100% automated – meaning that your site isn’t temporarily left unprotected. Paid SSLs have a longer lifespan, usually ranging from one to three years, and renewals may be either automatic or manual.
Which Type of SSL Certificate Should You Choose for Your Site?
Ultimately, your decision will come down to the individual needs of your site, as well as your budget. If the site you are looking to secure with an SSL certificate is a part of your eCommerce business, it’s worth looking into paid options with higher levels of validation. The extra layer of security will reassure potential customers, benefit your search engine rankings, and protect sensitive user and customer data.
On the other hand, Let’s Encrypt is a nice option for blogs or simple websites without eCommerce or which do not store personal data and that simply need to get the lock in the browser to say they are secure, Once your site starts to grow or you implement eCommerce,, you can always upgrade to a better option.