A whole lot of trust in a little SSL seal ...

One in three users would discontinue an online transaction if there was no SSL trust seal displayed on a website.

I must admit that I started to truly appreciate the value of SSL certificates when it became a part of my career a couple of years ago. Before then, I didn’t even know what SSLs were, and why they were so important to organizations and (often unknowingly) consumers.

In my younger naive days, I was guilty of trying to find the best online deal for that ‘must have’ item of the year; trusting that, just because the brand name was in the domain; that the company website must be legitimate, and the one I was  searching for. This is probably what led into falling prey to a couple of bouts of identity theft.  If only I knew then, what I knew now!

This forced  me to think about whether I was the only person who had careless internet habits and whether there were other people ‘out there’  that would still quite happily hand over their credit card details to an unprotected website.

Symantec has recently carried out research, using 301 individuals, to determine the effectiveness of SSL certificates, they found the following interesting statistics:

    • 80% knew to look for the padlock icon signifying SSL encryption


    • 81% knew to look for the secure internet connection (HTTPS)


    • 75% of respondents admitted that they would abandon an online transaction if they felt that the website was not secure


    • 55% knew to look for the green address bar indicating that an Extended Validation SSL certificate is in place


    • 1 in 3 of the respondents said that the lack of a trust seal would deter them from completing their transaction

These findings therefore points to the fact that users these days claim to be a little more knowledgeable in regards to SSL certificates and online security.  Organizations should take this into account when they are debating whether they really need to spend that extra money on a SSL certificate - as failing to do so could have quite an impact on the business they carry out through their websites.

The most surprising piece of information from these findings is that one in three people would discontinue an online transaction if there was no trust seal displayed on the website. These trust seals tend to be bundled with certain brands of SSL certificates as a free added extra and, while they do not add to the security of a website, they certainly show that the identity of the operator behind the website has been verified by a competent, independent and trusted third party. However, many organizations do not tend to take advantage of this prominent, provable symbol of authenticity on their websites.

Now that we know that site seals not only add visible proof of authenticity, but also drive sales conversions as well, why don’t we take a look at which site seal is most recognized and trusted by website shoppers? A Google Consumer Survey carried out some research into this topic in January 2013 using the 8 most popular site seals.

Different types of online Secure Seals

From 1,286 respondent answers, the site seal that provided customers with the best sense of trust was the Norton Secured seal (powered by VeriSign) which accounted for 35.6% of votes. While McAfee, the market leader in dedicated user security came in second place with 22.9% of votes. In joint third place were TRUSTe and BBB Accredited with 13% each.

Which SSL badge gives you most amount of trust online ?

This does not necessarily mean that all websites should display the Norton SSL seal. It could point to the fact that it might be beneficial for a website to display a Norton SSL seal to indicate an encrypted connection, a McAfee seal to indicate a ‘hacker safe’ site and either a BBB Accredited or TRUSTe seal for establishing trust in consumer relations. These results do not intend to show that the other site seals are not trustworthy; it just indicates that the more well known brands are the ones preferred by consumers.

From the above surveys and my now extensive knowledge of SSL certificates, I think it is safe to say that this indicates that consumers are more aware today of the existence of SSLs and site seals and are more likely to complete a transaction if they see a recognizable trust seal. I know that I will not be searching for those ‘must have’ items anymore without first checking the security of the website and the identity of those operating the site, and I am sure many other consumers out there will agree.


Written by Lucy Campbell, Product Management, NetNames

30 January 2013
Image source: baymard.com