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SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and an SSL certificate encrypts communication between your customer's browser and your server. Basically, it makes e-commerce transactions, log in pages that require your customer's personal information, and other pages on your website more secure.
The easiest way to tell if a website has an SSL certificate is by looking at the address bar. If the website address starts with https, then it has SSL, http means it does not.
Recently, Google has been adjusting the way they alert users of an unsecure website. As a result, SSL certificates may become more commonplace for all websites.