If you ever had an SSL certificate installed, this probably happened to you at least once. You failed to renew your SSL certificate on time, and the browser loaded the dreaded warning message, instead of loading the website.
Let’s be honest, when your clients see the warning message instead of your reputable website, it’s like taking them to a life-threatening back-alley. It’s the same feeling, and in most cases the user does what they do best, clicking the back button.
Should I have an SSL certificate?
The debate of having SSL certificates is long over. Website security is one of top priorities in not just ecommerce website, but any website today. It’s been 7 years (August 2014) when Google announced that https is a ranking signal , which means that if everything else is the same, a website with an SSL certificate installed, will rank better than the one without SSL.
There’s lots you can monitor when it comes to your website.
- Domain expiration monitoring,
- website speed monitoring,
- SSL expiry monitoring,
- DNS change monitoring,
- Email blacklist monitoring,
- Website defacement monitoring,
- Backlinks monitoring,
- Website downtime monitoring,
- Domain registrar change monitoring.
- You name it, we are doing it.
If you think there’s something else that’s interesting for monitoring, please let us know. Right now, we are set on these website monitoring tools, and we want to improve them as much as possible. So, let’s get back to one particular monitor, the SSL monitor.
When you monitor SSL certificate expiration dates, you are notified several times to get ready for it. As we wrote before, “Your SSL certificate provider will notify you when your SSL is about to expire, which is great” but there are several potential problems that can creep up.
- Are you sure that the SSL expiration notification email is coming to the right email address? Maybe you have a new email address, or you missed the message in the sea of messages in your inbox?
- Free SSL monitoring sometimes doesn’t have a notification email, or it is being sent only to the system administrator that installed the SSL certificate
- Or, vice versa, the SSL certificate monitoring notification is received by the owner, and not the system administrator that is meant to renew the SSL certificate
Better to be overprepared, than to be sorry
In my experience if you don’t monitor certificate expiration, they happen at the worst possible moment! This either happens after working hours, leaving your website exposed for 12+ hours. Or before a big date like a launch of a product, or just as you hit send to an email to an important client!
Email response comes, “Dear service provider, I am unable to access your website and make the purchase”. You try to correct the situation ASAP, and call the client immediately. Then on the phone you try to explain to a non-tech person they can ignore the warning, and open the HTTP (/ˈeɪtʃ/ tee tee pee) version of the website. The client responds with confusion trying to repeat what you said, by saying “hate pi pi”? And the conversation goes from bad to worse with some bizarre words that you don’t want to hear coming from your client.
Is an SSL certificate monitoring tool hard to operate?
Surely using these tools to track SSL certificate expiration is hard to operate? Not at all. You just add your domain name, click “SSL expiration monitor” and you are done! Yes, it’s that easy!
Here’s the thing, when you install an SSL certificate, there’s a date inside it, that says when it expires.
For example, you just click on the lock in the browser, next to the address, and you can acces the date of expiry. This information is public data because it’s super important. Why? Well, because both the browser and the user know that the communication between the website and the user is safe and secure. There are other ways a website can harm you, but when it comes to SSL certificates, that’s it.
Where can I see the SSL expiration date?
Taking a website screenshot is easy, and above you can see the date of expiry for the SSL certificate on webmaster.ninja. It’s 26 April, 2021. This is great, but you don’t want to do this every month and manually check when the SSL is set to expire. Especially if you own several websites that have installed SSL certificates.
As I explained earlier, it’s much easier to just add the domain, and activate certificate monitoring. If you do it with webmaster.ninja, each time you log in, you will see the date of expiry (among other things), and you will receive an email from us when the SSL is about to expire. Below you can see what it looks like when you add a website with our Website Manager.
Is SSL certificate expiration monitoring expensive?
Previously I showed how easy it is to track SSL certificate expiration. Essentially, it’s a one click process! Besides, when you activate the SSL monitoring, you have automatically activated other monitoring we have as well! You can see here a list of our monitoring tools.
It sounds valuable, and simple to use. So it must be expensive! Is it expensive?
Free SSL monitoring
Well, not exactly! If you have only one website, you can track SSL certificate expiration for free. Well, again, not exactly. You can actually track up to three websites for free! Three rhymes with free, so we decided to go with three websites.
In all seriousness, using our tools makes more sense if you are a website investor, or website operator and managing several websites. One or two websites (or SSL certificates in this case) is easy to track manually. But, when you get up to 10 websites or more, then it becomes really hard. Because you have to monitor all sorts of metrics and website parts like Google Analytics, Google AdSense, Google Search Console (which we all integrated inside our Website Manager), not just the SSL certificate.
So, if you need to monitor 4 or more websites, it will cost you $199 per year ($19 per month). It is expensive and doesn’t make sense to use just our SSL certificate monitoring tool, but instead, you get access to a suite of tools and monitoring services. Also, you can add up to 50 websites. You can see the webmaster.ninja pricing details here.
Webmaster.ninja’s SSL certificate monitoring tool
We’ve built our SSL certificate monitoring tool with the help of our parent company WhoAPI, and one of our APIs called SSL API. This way, in case you want to integrate monitoring certificate expiration inside your own application, we have an API and can offer exactly that!
And how about monitoring free SSL?
Ok, it’s one thing to offer free monitoring for paid SSL certificates. But is it possible to monitor the expiry of free SSL certificates? And the answer is yes! You can monitor the expiry date of your Let’s Encrypt – Free SSL/TLS Certificates.
The process and price is absolutely the same. You just add the domain, one click, and you are done. Free or paid, for our system is the same of fetching the public data, the expiration date. Some system administrators have automated the renewal of these short-lasting SSL certificates, but not all. As you may know, these free SSL certificates last only 90 days, and for a good reason.
In short, it’s a security thing, and if the automated renewals become the majority of renewals, the 90 days expiration may be even shorter. With automated renewals you won’t exactly need a notification, but until then, it’s nice to have one.
In closing, let me answer…
the question I asked in the title of this article. Why monitor your SSL certificate for expiration? Well, in order to be 100 percent positive every renewal cycle that you will renew the SSL certificate on time! Just as domain name expiry blunders, SSL expiration fiascos also happen, but they don’t get the same amount of press.
Here are 3 reasons why monitoring your SSL certificate for expiration is important.
- You protect the security of your clients
- You protect your brand
- You get a better position in the search engines like Google
At some points, this article sounded like it was a sales pitch, but in all fairness, even if you don’t signup for webmaster.ninja, please do whatever you can to renew your SSL on time! That’s the most important thing.