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The answer to this question ultimately is answered by what your site is used for. If you will be requesting sensitive information from your visitors (credit card details, passwords, etc.) an SSL certificate is recommended in order to protect your visitors. Also, many users will not purchase from or log into a site that hasn't implemented SSL to protect their information.
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. It's a protocol that encrypts data using both a public and private key to protect data entered into a page. An SSL certificate resides on the server and is used to encrypt this data. The SSL certificate also verifies the site by proving who it belongs to and providing details about the certificate holder such as the domain it was issued for, the name of the certificate holder, the issuing authority (like Comodo for example), etc.
Keep in mind that just having the SSL is not enough, you will need to implement that SSL, regardless of whether you choose to use the server's free Shared SSL or order a Dedicated SSL of your own.
Most E-Commerce programs have an option to allow you to use a SSL certificate to secure the website. Though each E-Commerce solution will have its own settings, the basic steps will be to locate your shopping cart's configuration file, enabling SSL in that file and defining the https URL for your site. We have provided articles with step-by-step instructions for a few of the more popular programs to assist you:
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