The Internet – Constantly Changing How a Search Engine Finds You
Changing the way search engines find you. Google SEO [Search Engine Optimization] algorithms change on a regular basis. Currently there are over 200+ items that the search engines look for while ranking your site. Every year, Google makes approximately 500+ or more changes to its algorithms. Most of these are minor updates. There are times, however, when search engines perform major updates, and they are named (Penguin and Panda are two examples).
Location! Location! Location! We have all heard it, but if your company does business locally, then you should consider claiming your company on google maps (and other maps for that matter, that don’t charge you.) One of the changes made in September 2016 was to help local businesses obtain proper ranking in their area. However, if you aren’t using “geolocations” – or targeting your local area – for your business, you may be missing out. Google also filters out duplicate information, so if you have your business listed in several places but they all lead to one web address or share a phone number, then it will only take one of those into consideration.
There has also been a roll-out by the search engines for mobile use. You might remember when the term “mobilegeddon” was rolling around; basically declaring that if your website wasn’t ‘mobile friendly,’ the search engines threatened to take a ding from your rankings. (We develop all new websites and redesigns to be mobile-friendly.)
Now, we are looking at another algorithm update. In 2014, Google added a ranking for sites having SSL certificates. This is a way to show that your site actually belongs to you. During the last couple of years, this has been one of the lower priority items in the rankings listing; however, at the end of 2016, Google announced that they are raising the priority of secure sites, making it more important to have an SSL certificate to maintain your ranking.
While the argument can be made that if you are just an information site and you don’t collect any type of data, but rather give it out, you shouldn’t need this type of security. The counter argument being made is that without an SSL certificate, your site is more open to being hacked, and therefore, customers can be led away from your site to a bogus site saying it is you.
While Google has worked toward lowering the rankings of these sites with spam filters, etc., the only way to prove a site belongs to you is with an SSL [Secure Socket Layer] certificate. There are different types or levels of site security – and therefore pricing – when it comes to SSL certificates. As in our example, if you are an information site collecting little to no data, you don’t need a top level certificate. However, if you are an ecommerce site and collect payment information on your site, you will need a higher level SSL certification. (In my opinion, if you are using a third party payment system like PayPal or Authorize.net which is not handled on your own website, you don’t need the top-of-the-line certification unless you feel strongly about it.) Using a third party payment method also means you aren’t keeping your customers’ payment information on your site. All third party payment companies have very high certificates; however, you need to be aware of their terms of service to know what type of liabilities they cover.
The various levels of SSL certification also affect how much you are going to pay for a certificate, which are renewed yearly. Currently, Google is the only search engine which is implementing this change, with Bing and Yahoo making no plans to do so at this time. However, historically speaking, both these companies seem to follow suit at some point with some of their algorithm changes. As we all know, they are in competition for YOU to use their search engines.
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