Requirements for SSL Certificates Vary By Search Engine
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SSL Certificate Requirements Vary by Search Engine

Don’t be intimidated by email saying your site won’t work without an SSL.  While there is a grain of truth to this, there’s no reason to panic, and there’s certainly no reason to pay more than necessary for an SSL for your site.

Your Current Internet Host can Provide Security Cert – You don’t Need to Hire another Outside Service.

If you’re a small business owner, and the admin email attached to your site is your own, you’re probably getting an abundance of emails telling you your site needs a security certificate.  There’s alot of phishing going on, and it will be very easy for small business owners to pay too much for this, but hopefully this information will help you understand WHY you need an SSL on your site now, and WHY you don’t have to be intimidated by aggressive emails stating your site will no longer show in a SERP.

In recent years there has been a growing debate on just how important SSL certificates are, and whether or not they are needed for every website. Google itself have recently stated that they are beginning to prioritise secure websites (https) over non-secure websites (http) in their search algorithms. This is all part of Google’s wider campaign to encourage safe transmission of all information across the web. While they claim such preference is only minimal, a number of companies are now paying more attention to the importance of SSL security, with several other big name corporations such as WC3 and Facebook encouraging every website to use SSL encryption.

What is an SSL Certificate?

An SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate is a digital certificate that both authenticates the identity of a website, and encrypts sensitive information so that any passwords, addresses or credit card numbers can not be intercepted or read by anyone other than the intended recipient.

How they work

In the same way that we use keys to lock and unlock doors, SSL certificates use keys to validate and protect sensitive information. A certificate signing request or CSR must also be created on the server. This creates a pair of public and private keys. The public key is used to encrypt (lock) the sensitive information, whilst the private key is used to decrypt (unlock) the information provided and restore it to its original format so that it can be read.

Requirements for SSL Certificates Vary By Search Engine

Requirements for SSL Certificates Vary By Search Engine

Why are SSL Certificates Important?

When you use a website http messages are flying around over the network.  When you fill in a contact form or simply click a link a small packet of information in text format gets sent over the network by your computer.  If you put your email address into a contact form and hit submit the packet of information (very similar to a plain text file) will contain your email address within it.  This packet will then get sent to every machine on the network. If you happen to be using wireless then this information will be sent over the air.  This means that anyone can sniff the air or plug into the network and read these unencrypted packets of information. If this information is simply a request to go to another webpage it’s probably not a problem, but if it happens to contain your credit card information then we could have a serious problem.

Unfortunately the internet and more specifically the http protocol is not secure by default, https however is secure because each of these packets gets encrypted before it is sent, meaning only the intended recipient can decrypt and read the message.

There are a number of reasons why SSL security is important:

  • Online payments: – A secure connection is required for websites that take any form of online payments, be it through credit card payments or third-party payment processors such as Worldpay or PayPal. In recent months, however, the web has also seen an increasing number of non-ecommerce websites using ssl encryption on their websites, with big players such as the BBC, Facebook and Google also endorsing the change, even though they do not directly sell through their websites.
  • Data security: It’s not just credit card details that are vulnerable to attacks online. Other personal information such as email addresses and social media messaging are also at risk. SSL encryption allows for the safe passage of this information, blocking it from any potential third-party access or unwanted hacks. If your website encourages its visitors to sign up to any memberships, or fill out any contact forms, then SSL encryption should be considered in order to safe guard this information.
  • Site verification: – SSL certificates authenticate and verify the owner of a website, preventing that site from any potential phishing attacks, where third-party hackers often impersonate a website in order to obtain personal information.
  • Verification of information: – SSL certificates also provide verification of the information that is listed on websites. This is particularly apparent on news sites such as the BBC or Guardian, and further prevents a users content from being altered by any third-parties.

Conclusion

If you run a small brochure site, or do not require any personal information to access certain areas of your website then you are in no major rush to upgrade to an ssl certificate. While Google has announced that they are beginning to favour secure websites over non-secure websites in search rankings, the implications are still small, and Firefox is yet to stop displaying non-secure websites.

However, if your website does require any level of personal information then online security is particularly important especially when shopping online. Even if you are simply entering an email address over wireless connection, this information can be vulnerable to third party access if your site simply operates on http access. Securing this information with SSL encryption (https) immediately combats any risk of unwanted sharing of your information. “Privacy by Default” is the new internet mantra and this is a message that companies such as Google and Facebook have began to endorse.

Does a user want the movie, or information about bee population? Google is learning to determine user intent.
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User Intent and Organic Ranking

Is your website content  adequately addressing user intent?

Busy small business owners may understand bits and pieces of good digital marketing strategy, but as search engine algorithms become smarter, adequate keyword ratio on your website may no longer be enough to keep your site competitive organically.
You may have already heard about the concept of “user intent” in search engines – the goal of returning web page results that match what the user wants, not necessarily the exact words they are searching for. As with so many things, it’s a good idea to start with Google: While the search engine giant is typically inscrutable when it comes to the nuts and bolts of page results, there is an unmistakable turn away from what you might call pure keyword page ranking, and toward the intent of the user.
Google can do this because it has access to a gargantuan amount of data on searches and internet users. The company is trying to tweak its search engine with that data to make it more predictive and utilitarian. You may search for “new furnace vents” but Google knows that you are probably looking for “grills” and “registers” too, so it includes those in its top results (it’s worth noting that other search engines, like Bing, stay away from these interpretations, and so return very different results). You can spot the SEO keyword strategy problem here – companies that put “furnace vents” in their keywords are being crowded out by those who use “grills” and “registers” separately or in addition to “vents.”
It’s a paltry example, but you get the point. The consumer is clearly right here: They know what they are searching for, and if intent algorithms can help them find it, so much the better. But where does that leave your SEO efforts?
PROVIDE CONTENT FOR INTENT
“Well, if that’s where Google is going, shouldn’t I follow?” is a reasonable response here. But intent of user strategies can take a lot of work, plus a new perspective at how you use keywords (hint: they are becoming less important). If you really want to jump aboard the intent train, here are a few important points you should know.
 
Usability: Intent and native advertising are good bedfellows. People want real information, advice, explanations, contacts, and results. Native advertising is all about creating content that’s worthwhile to read. As a result, more focus on creating full, native content means better user intent ratings.
 
Analytics: To study intent of user, you have to know what searches consumers are making, what specifically is drawing them to your site – and probably what your competitors are using, too. Evaluating referral and keyword source analytics will help.
 
Longer Searches: Most searches are between 3 and 5 words, depending on how specific people get. This means Google favors keyword phrases that are longer and more specific, because that’s how consumers are searching to get past the clutter they don’t want.
Does a user want the movie, or information about bee population? Google is learning to determine user intent.

Does a user want the movie, or information about bee population? Google is learning to determine user intent.

 
Related Words: Instead of just picking up keywords, Google is beginning to look at words throughout the content. If certain words throughout the article/page chime with the search (furnace, thermal, duct, HVAC, efficiency, etc.), that site will be ranked higher. All your words are becoming important.
 
Time: Google is getting better at intent. That doesn’t mean it’s good at it, not yet. User intent is improving, but it will take time to see the full shift, and how much it will change. Prediction and inference are notoriously difficult tigers to tame.
MOVING FORWARD
The paradigm of user intent is both fascinating and a little frightening for marketing teams: It’s hard to know just how big the impact will be, and how it will affect foundational keyword practices. But like with all SEO, the key is careful, continuous adaptation. In addition to incorporating a few of the tips mentioned, keep your eye on user intent as a metric.
Social Media Data Analysis Small Business
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Using Social Media for Market Research

Market analysis and gathering data on your potential and existing customers can improve your ROI, help you find weaknesses in your customer service or channels of communication, and highlight potential new audiences.  Understanding your customers and potential customers, and being able to predict their behavior can be VERY profitable.  That’s why huge corporations pay tremendous amounts of money for “big data” market research and analysis.

If you’re a small business owner, you may think that market research is beyond your budget.  It’s not. If you’re on the right social media platforms, and using best-practices to schedule relevant posts, provide engaging content, and interact with your audience, you ARE doing market research!

Reactions to posts or content on Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest, FlipBoard, Tumblr, your e-mail service, or your website can tell you what topics or products your customers are most interested in.  Evaluating analytics on these platforms can provide the small business owner with insight into what time of day followers are online, look-alike audiences, gender, age, and even other interests.  When evaluated correctly, patterns may be found that can provide enormous opportunities for you to enter into a users’ day and insert your product or service as a solution to a problem, or a complimentary addition to their lifestyle.

For example, if you are a small cafe that serves pastry and coffee in the morning, you’re probably posting “foodies” on Facebook and Instagram galore.  Which ones performed the best? Chocolate, cinnamon, something with a cute design, or maybe an image of a PERSON enjoying the delicious pastry performed best.  When you look at the data, and find a pattern or insight, you’ve just done market research!

Using that same example of the cafe, let’s evaluate what time of day most followers are actively using that platform.  If most users are busy working people who login during their lunch break, make sure you’re running tomorrow’s breakfast special when they’re most likely to see your post – during the 11 to 2 window.

Now let’s have a look at this same cafe’s email data. What is in the subject line of the emails that are opened the most? If “Monthly Newsletter” is in the subject line of the (wait for it…) Monthly Newsletter, but you’re not happy with the open rate, try putting “Pastry of the Month” in the subject line instead!  Let that run for a couple months, and see if your open rate goes up.  After that try “Images of Fun Latte Art” in the subject line, and see how that performs.  Collecting this data, and searching for patterns over time is a form of market research.

So at this point I’m going to shamelessly promote the Savvy Sister Marketing Team because whether you’re using primarily social media, PPC Ads, or relying on email, you probably do not have the time or energy to look at the data and determine what information will help you make the key business decisions that will move you forward.  WE CAN HELP YOU!  Data analysis is one of our strongest offerings for our clients.  By providing business owners with the data they need to make key business decisions and improve their profit margin, the team at Savvy Sister Marketing allows small business owners to confidently make smart choices. Get in touch now.

If you want to learn analytics, we can help.  If you want solid business analysis based on your online performance, we can help.  Contact Robyn at Savvy Sister Marketing today!  I’ve got 10 minutes, let’s talk… 727-742-6473

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