November 23, 2017

Is an EV SSL worth it? Or even effective anymore?

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never cold call again

A few years ago when I “graduated” and moved away from third-party shopping carts, to my own PCI-compliant self-hosted solution, I naturally had to get an SSL certificate for my website so I decided to go all out and get an Extended Validation (EV) SSL – the kind that shows the green bar in the browser.

It was an expensive and tedious process, requiring a letter from my incorporation lawyer to verify the business, and a phone call from the issuing authority to the lawyer to make sure it was real, but when I saw the huge jump in conversions on my site, I attributed it to the EV SSL and not necessarily to the fact that I was now hosting my own checkout pages.

Fast-forward to this month: My EV SSL was up for the annual re-verification process, but I mistakenly marked the deadline on my calendar as the 18th, when in reality it was due on the 8th. So this past week my certificate expired, and in the interim I installed a standard SSL to hold me over.

And guess what happened? Conversion rate was not only unaffected, it actually increased a little bit! On top of that, my upsell conversion rate went WAY up – all the way up to 100% for two consecutive days – something that has never, ever happened in nearly 10 years in business.

Why did this happen? EV SSL was supposed to be the “holy grail” of secure certificates, with issuing authorities making broad claims as to how dramatically the green bar would boost conversion. Curious, I did a lot of Google searching on forums, and the opinions were all the same: There is no difference in conversion rates between standard and EV SSL.

Here are some reasons why the two don’t make a difference:

1. Consumer Perception. Most consumers have no idea what an EV certificate even is, nor do they seem to care. In fact, surveys indicate that a scary percentage of web users don’t even bother to look for the “https” or the padlock before typing in credit card information.

2. Google Chrome. Earlier this year, Google Chrome surpassed Microsoft Internet Explorer as the #1 web browser in the world. And in Chrome, the green bar shows up on both types of certificates. The only difference is that an EV cert will display the business name in the bar, while a non-EV simply shows https in the bar.

3. Diminution of the Green Bar. While IE might turn all-green when an EV page is reached, no other browser does it. It’s barely noticeable in Firefox or Safari, and as I mentioned, Chrome turns green on any secure page.

4. Diminution of EV SSL Value. A few years ago, they cost thousands of dollars, and the approval process was up there with applying for a mortgage. Now you can get them for $79 from GoDaddy, and the approval consists of faxing over your Articles of Incorporation and a copy of a phone bill in your business name. If you can’t even come up with that, there are now services that will provide you with an attorney verification letter for $99, which comes from a real verifiable attorney, and so the certificate authorities must accept it and issue the EV SSL.

Ok, so there are some good reasons for seeing no difference in conversion rates. But why on earth would conversion rate improve by downgrading to a standard certificate?

I found a few possible theories as to why:

1. Disconnect between URL and Company Name. On my website, for example, people are aware that they’re on, but the name in the green bar showed up as the corporation name of FJR Advisors, Inc. Many people suspect that unless your corporate name and your URL are one in the same, as in the case of and others like them, consumers may become nervous that they’re on a ¬†phishing page or some other sort of scam. This is totally plausible to me, and makes sense.

2. Slow Load Time of EV Pages. The “handshake” process when landing on an EV secured page is, by some accounts, 10 times heavier on overhead and resources. This results in a much slower page load – in fact, I can confirm that my order pages are loading dramatically faster now that they’re on standard SSL and not the pricier green bar version.

3. Over-Awareness of Security. It’s a known fact that email signup forms that have the “we will never spam you” fine print below them convert worse than those that don’t. Why? Because people don’t even think about those sort of things unless you remind them of it! Likewise, the big glaring green bar that shows up in Internet Explorer (and to a lesser extent in other browsers) only serves to remind consumers that they’re about to hand over sensitive information.

So there you have it – my theories, and those of others – as to why an EV SSL might be just another money-getting gimmick after all for the certificate authorities.

New York Times best-selling author Frank Rumbauskas is president of ROI Advisors, Inc., a Certified Google Partner Company providing advanced Google AdWords management and Search Engine Optimization services. Ready to rank your website on top of Google search results for your chosen keywords? Request a quote here and get started today!


never cold call again



  1. […] My gut tells me that it is not worth the cost. If you google "ev ssl case study" you will find some information, but most of it seems to be published by the SSL industry. I can't find any hard data. This is the closest thing to a neutral source I can find: Is an EV SSL worth it? Or even effective anymore? […]