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An SSL certificate establishes an encrypted link between a web server & browser. It ensures sensitive data transmitted between them remains private and authenticates the website’s identity. It activates the padlock and ‘https’ in the browser’s URL bar, building trust with website visitors. Wildcard SSL is a type of SSL Certificate, and in this blog, we are going to explain it in detail
A wildcard SSL certificate is a single certificate that secures an unlimited number of subdomains of one base domain. For example, a wildcard certificate for ‘example.com’ would secure www.example.com, store.example.com, mail.example.com, and any other subdomains of example.com. It offers businesses significant flexibility and cost savings compared to purchasing individual SSL certificates for each subdomain.
Wildcard certificates use an asterisk (*) as a wildcard character to represent all possible subdomains. So, a wildcard SSL for *.example.com would cover any subdomain prefixed with anything before the dot on that domain.
It provides the same security benefits as traditional SSL certificates by encrypting data transmission & website authentication for all secured subdomains. Users see the padlock, HTTPS, and SSL certificate details are the same, indicating the page is secure. Wildcard SSL certificates bundle that security across multiple subdomains under a single certificate.
Businesses commonly use wildcard SSL certificates to secure subdomains for their ecommerce stores, applications, tools, & services under their primary domain name. A wildcard certificate’s flexibility and cost efficiency make it a smart choice for companies with multiple subdomains requiring an HTTPS secure connection.
A wildcard SSL certificate provides security and builds trust for all the subdomains it covers in the same way that a standard SSL certificate does for a single domain. The encryption and authentication functionality works identically across the multiple subdomains secured under the wildcard certificate. It offers the strongest 256-bit strong encryption strength and its 2048-bit signature length; this encryption is practically impossible to crack or break.
When a visitor connects to any of the secured subdomains, their connection is encrypted through SSL/TLS encryption to protect the data transmitted during the session, which includes sensitive/confidential information like credit card numbers, login details, messages, & files that are sent between the user’s browser and the website server. The encryption prevents unauthorized parties from intercepting or viewing this sensitive data as it travels over the internet.
The wildcard SSL certificate also authenticates to the user’s browser that the secure subdomain they connect to is legitimate and owned by the certificate holder. The certificate authority digitally signs the certificate and validates the domain information.
With a wildcard certificate for *.example.com, a business can secure subdomains like store.example.com, support.example.com, blog.example.com, and infinite others. Creating a new subdomain like shop.example.com is a breeze for the business as it simply creates the subdomain, and the existing wildcard certificate automatically covers it. Streamlining the process and ensuring seamless security. Purchasing a new SSL certificate for the new subdomain is unnecessary.
This flexibility allows businesses to dynamically create and manage subdomains for different purposes and audiences without incurring additional SSL costs. Wildcard certificates are especially useful for ecommerce sites that may want to create temporary promotional subdomains or companies that offer various tools and services under different subdomains.
The ability to secure a new subdomain easily and instantly with an existing wildcard certificate streamlines operations and avoids delays that come from needing to procure and install a new SSL certificate. Businesses must manage a single wildcard SSL rather than multiple individual certificates for each subdomain.
A wildcard SSL certificate provides a seamless & consistent user experience across all the secured subdomains under the certificate by encrypting the connection and displaying the padlock sign-in browser for each subdomain. Users do not have to worry about differences in security or browser warnings when accessing different subdomains of the same domain name.
With individual SSL certificates for each subdomain, users may encounter mixed content or insecure warnings when moving between the subdomains, interrupting the user experience and creating confusion about whether the subdomains can be trusted.
However, with a wildcard SSL, all subdomains are secured under one SSL & authentication method. When users connect to any of the covered subdomains, their browser shows the same green lock indicating an encrypted https connection. No mixed content issues or insecure warnings exist since all subdomains are authenticated under the same certificate.
This consistency allows users to browse with the same confidence and security assurance level no matter which subdomain they access. They do not have to re-authenticate or be concerned about differences in security standards between subdomains. Everything “just works” seamlessly within the browser.
Search engines like Google strongly emphasize website security and HTTPS encryption in their ranking algorithms. They view HTTPS and SSL certificates as an indicator of a website’s trustworthiness, professionalism, and focus on user experience. Sites with HTTPS rank slightly higher in search results than HTTP sites, all else being equal.
The secure and authenticated user experience provided across all subdomains covered by a wildcard certificate signals to search engines that the entire website prioritizes security, privacy, and a high-quality user experience. This can provide a small, meaningful boost to the SEO and search rankings for the domain name and its various subdomains.
It also helps signal to search engines that the entire website, including all subdomains, is legitimate and authoritative and prioritizes the security of its users.
Wildcard SSL certificates are cost-effective for businesses because they allow unlimited subdomains to be encrypted under a single certificate. While wildcard certificates typically have a higher upfront cost than standard certificates, they save money over time due to covering all existing and future subdomains for the SSL Certificate validity – typically one, two, or three years.
Without a wildcard certificate, businesses would need to purchase a new SSL certificate anytime they create a new subdomain. This can quickly become an ongoing expense as a company grows and launches new services or offerings under different subdomains. The wildcard certificate eliminates this cost for any new subdomains within the secured parent domain for the lifetime of the certificate.
The long-term savings and avoidance of additional certificate purchases outweigh the initially higher price of a wildcard certificate. Management is also simpler since only a single certificate needs to be deployed, renewed, and monitored instead of multiple individual certificates. This reduces the administrative workload and resources required over time.
Some certificate authorities like Certera SSL also offer discounts for Certera wildcard certificate starting at $39.99/year, helping to lower the upfront cost compared to purchasing separate certificates. Meanwhile, wildcard certificate renewals typically cost the same as the first purchase, while renewing multiple individual certificates can have a higher cumulative cost.
Know the top Advantages of Wildcard SSL Certificate
In conclusion, investing in a wildcard SSL certificate is worthwhile for any business with multiple subdomains under a single domain name. The security, flexibility, user experience, and SEO benefits far outweigh the initial cost by helping to build customer trust, streamline operations and provide a more seamless experience across all your domain’s offerings. It does allow you to add as many subdomains as needed while providing the same encryption and authentication across all of them, which consistency activates confidence for users and signals to search engines that your entire website prioritizes a secure and high-quality experience.