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Everything has a cost, including free Domain Validated (DV) certificates. In exchange for $0.00, you’ll be trading your time and technical expertise along with valuable additional features that only a commercial DV certificate can provide.

Why are you getting a cert?

Here are the top three reasons why everyone from a blogger to an entrepreneur needs SSL on their website.

  • Security: Includes encryption between website visitors and your website
  • Trust: Website visitors are more likely to engage if they have confidence in your brand
  • Marketing juice: Includes improved rankings on Google and other search engines

These three reasons are important to keep top of mind when considering the choice between free and commercial DV certificates. As we dive into the advantages of each option, remember that your future brand credibility relies on all three of the above.

Advantages of free DV SSL certificates

Free. It’s hard to ignore $0.00, but free just means you didn’t spend out of pocket right now. It doesn’t mean you don’t pay in other ways such as time, lack of functionality, and other security features.

Fast. Since the only required validation is for your control of the domain name, issuance of the free DV certificate is normally quick so long as you have the ability to receive emails at specially designated addresses, modify your DNS, or place special files on your website for the validation process.

Nobody loses anything; there is no “skin in the game.”

Medium Article by John Horst, CISSP® — ISSAP®, NQV

Advantages of Commercial DV SSL certificates

Installation and support. Commercial DV certificates come with technical and hands-on installation support. Meaning you’re not left to your own to figure out terms like CSR, private keys, root certificates, and so many others. Having access to experts helps you quickly deploy SSL to your website or application. Andf problems arise, access to a support team that will guide you through the process.

Trust seal. Commercial DV certificates provide you a layer of public trust called Trust seals. Trust seals provide your website visitors more than a lock icon in the browser by promoting the fact that you’re using a reputable company for website security. A/B split testing has shown up to a 42% conversion increase when trust seals are used.

Warranty. Commercial DV certificates have warranties that will protect website owners against business loss. For just a few dollars per month website owners reduce liability and protect themselves against financial loss associated with errors or problems related to SSL encryption.

Longer lifespan. Commercial DV certificates can be purchased for 1-year or 2-year periods, meaning you’ll spend less time ordering and deploying certificates. Who wants to generate a CSR and reinstall a free DV certificate every 90-days?

Affordable protection. For just $0.10[1] a day, commercial DV SSL certificates provide the peace of mind, support, website visitor trust, warranties, and encryption to enable your site visitors to comfortable transact on the internet.

Commercially backed. Commercial DV certificates are maintained by for-profit companies with teams of security researchers, designated support, and protocols in place to provide trusted, reliable service. They have a vested interest in assuring both your certificate and the systems that manage it are legitimate entities.

Certificate management tools. Commercial DV certificates provide you the ability to re-issue, revoke, and manage your SSL certificates via a web interface. This means you won’t need to have command line or API knowledge to perform basic tasks (as you will to use free DV certificates).

PCI scanning. An added bonus when choosing a DV certificate from Sectigo is that these certs include a 45-day trial of Sectigo’s PCI scanning service. This tool is essential for ecommerce sites, helping them remain compliant with credit card industry requirements.


Let’s recap with a quick side-by-side comparison between a free DV certificate and a commercial DV certificate.

FREE DV

COMMERCIAL DV

Lifespan

90 Days

1 to 2 years

Warranty

None

Yes

Trust Seal

None

Yes

Install & Support

None

Yes

Cert Management Tools

Command Line

Web Interface

Backed by

Donations

Reliable revenue

Cost

Your time and reputation

$0.10 a day

A free DV certificate has a visible cost benefit in the short term, but it does come with a hidden price tag. Choosing to add SSL is the right move for any website, blog, or shopping cart, but choosing the right option for your DV certificate will impact your reputation, conversion rate, available time, and security of your website. No one can argue that after looking at the table above, secure and free actually do not go hand in hand.

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