It’s a rare thing for Google to reveal any of its search ranking factors, which is why we really sat up and took notice last year when they revealed they would reward sites that used SSL (secure sockets layer) certificates by boosting their search results.
An SSL certificate is a digital certificate that is used to encrypt sensitive information and authenticate a website’s identity. This level of encryption prevents information such as credit card details, addresses or passwords from being intercepted by anybody other than the intended recipient.
SSL certificates use HTTPS encryption; a protocol that protects the privacy and integrity of exchanged data between a user and the site they are visiting. In the same day that a key locks and unlocks a door, SSL certificates apply the same type of system to authenticate and protect confidential information.
Putting this type of security in place can be tricky, but the payoff is certainly worth it in terms of advanced security, enhanced referral data and a promised boost in rankings. There is also the issue of compliance to consider, but more on this in a moment.
In recent years, there has been a big debate over how important SSL certificates are, and whether they are a requirement on every website. Google has always had the end user experience in mind and by putting SSL certificates in place, webmasters can help to ensure this experience is as safe and secure as possible.
As we have already touched on, the main benefit of Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is to provide a secure connection between users and the page they are viewing or sharing personal data to. You will often see the https:// prefix when you visit secure shopping websites or when you are doing your online banking. HTTPS offers an additional layer of protection, essential when you are sharing credit card or personal address details.
In order to deploy HTTPS on your website, you’ll need an SSL certificate. This SSL certificate will be unique to your business and operates as a padlock between a browser (your users) and your web server (your website). You will also need to create a certificate signing request (CSR) on your server. This creates a private and public key pair that is used between endpoints (user and website) to validate and protect information in transit.
On 25th May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force. The new regulations will require personal and sensitive data to be encrypted both in transit and in storage. By installing SSL on your website, you will be on your way to GDPR compliance.
If you would like to find out more about installing SSL certificates on your website and discovering the search rankings and compliance benefits this level of security has to offer, get in touch with our team today. We can take care of the entire process for you.
We recently encountered a situation where a key page of a client’s website simply disappeared from the Google search index. One day it was there in first position on page one of Google next day it was gone!
The first step you might well think would be to panic and that’s pretty much a natural reaction to this kind of occurrence, after all in the modern ultra competitive online market place losing your websites ranking even by a few places can have a financial effect on the business.
We are dealing with systems with rules here not magic so following some straightforward steps to deal with the problem and put in place a solution should be the order of the day.
As a Webmaster your first thought might be to just go straight to Google Webmaster Tools and re-submit the site to the search index. Good idea, but if the page has an issue that you are unaware this might not work. The best plan would be to spend a little time investigating and try and deduce what has happened to the page.
Hopefully these series of checks should help you identify the problem and get the website or web page back in Google search where it belongs.
It might seem obvious but it’s always good to cross off the obvious steps before moving on to the more complex ones. The first thing to do is to check to see if the page or website in question is still live; that any page or pages haven’t been accidently deleted or hidden through a setting in the CMS.
Just surf to the web page or website in question to check this. I did and the page was still there, first check crossed off the list.
In this scenario we are talking about one web page of a website not an entire website, but the steps taken should be the same.
The first step I took was to identify if the other pages of the site where ranking or had also disappeared from the search index. You can do this by typing the following into the Google search field:
Site:[your domain url].
From this I ascertained that the rest of the website was there it was just the one page at this stage that was missing.
I also discovered from my tests and searches through Google that the web page hadn’t just dropped down a few places or a page or two in the search rankings it had completely disappeared from the Google search index.
As a good webmaster you would be using Google Webmaster Tools, a great tool supplied by Google to help you manage your website in their search index.
There are a number of things to check in Webmaster Tools.
Manual Actions - Check here to see if there have been any manual spam submissions of your web page.
Remove URLs - You can also check here to make sure the page hasn’t been added as a removal request whether on purpose or by accident.
Crawl errors - Check here to see if any crawl errors have been reported.
Robots.txt tester - This is an important one to check. This feature of Webmaster Tools allows you to check the robots.txt for your website, making sure that page has not been set to be disallowed which means the Googlebot won’t index it. You can also use the Googlebot test feature located at the bottom of this page.
Fetch as Google - You can also use this tool to test the pages and also if necessary re-submit the page to the Google search index. In Webmaster Tools go to 'Crawl > Fetch as Google' and then enter the url of the page to see what Google makes of that page, see image below.
From all these checks I discovered no issues with the page!
This can be a tricky one to check and it would depend on how familiar you are with the SEO of the website, both on-page and off-page. In my case I had built the website and had been the only SEO person working on the site so I was pretty sure nothing had been done to cause Google to penalise the site.
Another check I made was to see if the page had been copied or ‘plagiarised’. If it had then it might have been penalised by Google, unlikely but worth a check.
This might have happened for a number of reasons; the page content might have been used elsewhere on the client’s website therefore duplicating the content something Google doesn’t like as we know. Someone might have taken the content and used it on their own website, or the site might have been cloned and an entire copy of the site might be running somewhere on the web! I have actually experienced this last one but that is a story for another blog post.
There are some free online tools you can use to check this including: http://www.quetext.com/ or https://searchenginereports.net/plagiarism-checker/
It’s worth checking to see if the site or web page appears in other search engines, run a search through Bing www.bing.com to see if the page appears. If it does then it’s a Google search specific issue.
Another check would be to see if the web server that hosts the website restarted recently. It could have been the case that the server restarted at the same time the Google bot was visiting the website. This would mean that the bot records the site or page as missing and its then removed from the Google search index.
Another possible cause was that the page was being found as 404 (Page not found) rather that a 200 (page ok). A long shot but worth checking out, you can use this tool to check the setting of a page: http://tools.seobook.com/server-header-checker/
In my case this wasn’t a problem so I moved on.
After making all these checks I couldn’t find anything wrong with the web page so I decided to re-submit the web page to the Google search index and wait to see if it reappeared. 24 hours later the page was back in position 1 on page 1 of Google as if it had never left!
What caused the disappearance? I can’t say 100% but it may well have been a server outage that caused the page to go missing. A couple of days before I noticed the page missing, the server that hosted the site had restarted after a routine update. It could have just been a horrible coincidence that the server restarted as the Google bot was visiting the page.
As with most things Google we’ll never know 100% what happened but if you follow these logical steps you should be able to find clues as to why and then rectify the problem.
Like the dashboard on your car can tell you many things about vehicle performance and problems, Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools can give you the same insights into how your website is working. This free and very useful set of tools can show you how much traffic is reaching your website, where it is coming from and even how long visitors have been viewing your website. Monitoring your traffic regularly can help you to identify how your website is working and whether any improvements or adjustments need to be made.
Search engine optimisation, or SEO as it is also commonly called, is the process of optimising your web pages so that they can be found easily by Google. You can do this in a variety of different ways, but there are certain rules you will need to follow. Google is updating its search algorithms all of the time and if you break their best practice rules for optimisation, you may find that your website is penalised.
Each page has a set of attributes that can be optimised. These attributes are mostly set within the HTML code of each page, but many platforms such as Joomla and Wordpress have optimisation tools you can use that don't require you to know HTML. Heading tags, links, image alt tags and descriptions are just some of the ways you can optimise your page using keywords and key phrases. You can also optimise the content on each page by using keywords. It all counts towards your Google ranking.
You can research your website keywords using Google's Adwords Keyword Tool.
Keywords are a fantastic way to bring more traffic to your website, but they have to be used in the right way. Keyword density is the percentage of times that a particular keyword is used on your web page compared to the total amount of words on the page. When a user types a search into Google, they will often use a keyword, for example 'website design'. Google will then look for websites using matching keywords within their pages and bring those results back to the user.
Beware of using too many keywords. You could have your website or web pages penalised by Google as a result. Keyword stuffing is the practice of using too many of the same keywords on one page. We recommend that you use a keyword density of between 1 - 3% for optimum results.
Backlinks are links on other websites that point to your website. The days of stuffing pages with backlinks are over. Google got wise to this practice quite a while ago. Instead, you will need to use some cunning, but very effective ways to get traffic back to your website. It's all about quality over quantity these days, and below you will find some good pointers on how to create good quality backlinks.
Let's face it, nobody likes spam. It dominates our inboxes, wastes our time and unless you have a good spam filter on your mailbox, it can be a pain to manage. With this in mind, you should always be careful of using spamming techniques on your website or any other digital marketing tool you use. Before writing a new landing page, web page, blog post, email or social media post, think about whether you would see it as spam or something your audience will find useful. If it's the former, it's probably best to discard it and try a different approach.
The first step to running a business online is to build a website. The second is to promote it! There are many ways you can do this, and digital marketing methods are changing and improving all of the time. Take a look at our guide to find out how you can get your website to the top of Google's search results and in front of more people fast.
Your website address is very often the first thing a potential customer comes into contact with when viewing or looking up your business. By making it clear from your website address what you have to offer, you will experience more clicks, more visits and ultimately more sales. Try to choose a domain name that includes your service or product. For example, a window fitting company might choose www.southendwindows.co.uk, or www.essexglass.co.uk. We can also give you advice on the best domain name to choose and assist you with registering your domain name and hosting your website.
See our guide on the new Generic Top Level Domains
If you want to get your sales message or point across in a quick, meaningful and impactful way, promotional videos are a great idea. Videos help you to inject personality into your website and to engage with visitors instantly. Videos allow you to show product demos, instructional guides and much more and they could help you to boost sales and conversions. In fact, recent research from market research firm InternetRetailer says that consumers could be 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a video.
You may have heard the phrase 'content is king', and it really is! Not only can content help you to explain your brand, your products and services, but it can also make you an authority in your field. When you become an authority (the go to place for particular information), you gain visitor and customer trust and this can only be good for your business. A blog, updated regularly, can help you to build content on your site, improve search engine rankings and give you content to share over a number of different channels, including social media.
Whether you are a local or national company or organisation, search directories should be your friend. By adding your website and information about your business to these directories, you can reach out to a wider audience and ensure you are found and seen in more places. Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google Places are all good examples of the directories you should be targeting. We can help you to identify the best directories to suit your business and your target audience.
If you are already using social media to promote your products and services, that's great! Now let's take that one step further by adding a live feed to your website. This is a great way to add content, and display your latest submissions to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms on your website. Adding a feed is easy and you can have as many on your website as you like - perfect if you are engaging with your target audience across different social media platforms.
Just when you thought all the best website addresses were taken, there are now more than 1,300 new generic top level domains to choose from. These names are currently being released onto the market, and we could be delighted to help you choose the perfect gTLD to complement your existing website or to use to build a new website.
The term 'generic top level domain', or gTLD, as it is also known, is really just a fancy industry term for the suffix that follows a website address, for example .com or .co.uk. The problem today is that many domain names using these suffixes are already taken, and this means new businesses are restricted to choosing names that may not reflect their company name or type of business. The good news is that the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (they control and maintain domain name publication) is releasing hundreds of new generic top level domains into the public domain. No longer are you confined to choosing a .com, .co.uk or .org domain name. You can now choose exciting domains ending with .london, tech, and even .food! Just think about the possibilities for your business.
These domains are being released right now and registering a new domain name really couldn't be easier. We can help you to choose from the hundreds of domains on offer and with everything from domain hosting to website design and optimisation.
There are many reasons why a new or existing business or organisation might want to register a new gTLD. Here are just some of them, and we would be delighted to answer any further questions you may have:
It only costs a few pounds to register a new gLTD so why not get in before your competitors to register a memorable and sought after domain name that could really take your business further? If you have an existing website, you don't necessarily need to create a new website to accommodate your new gTLD. We can forward your new domain name to your existing website very easily.
If you are thinking about opting for one of the new gTLDs, you might be thinking that it will have a positive effect on your search engine rankings. Unfortunately, Google won't show preference to a gTLD unless it is optimised in the usual way, but choosing a gTLD could still be very beneficial to your business. These domain names are going to be snapped up very fast and grabbing one today could help you to create a more memorable presence online and capture lots more business. Any domain name, or more specifically website can be optimised to bring you more traffic and ultimately more business. Speak to us today to find out more about the new gLTDs and how you can choose a domain name that will really take your business places.
There are too many gTLDs for us to list here, but we think you will have a lot of fun selecting the right one for your business. Here are just some ideas to get you started: