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Why Your Website Needs to Switch to HTTPS
Http SSL Secure Website

This is the year for websites to become more secure. Since 2014, Google has given search engine ranking boosts to sites that use https://, also known as SSL or Secure Socket Layer, for their web addresses instead of http:// alone.  As of this year, Google’s web browser Chrome is taking huge strides towards making the internet a safer place by labeling all HTTP pages that take payment information or collect passwords as non-secure. This is part of Google’s long term plan to eventually label all HTTP sites as non-secure. Other web browsers are said to soon follow suit.

Switching to encrypted SSL certificates, meaning sites change to https:// rather than http://, is now more important than ever.

 

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS is the acronym for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. It is a protocol used for secure communications over the internet. Communication over HTTPS is encrypted between the end user and the server so the data cannot be tampered with and listened in on.

 

What is SSL?

SSL is the acronym for Secure Socket Layer and is another type of protocol that helps encrypt data transferred over a computer network. Through purchasing an SSL certificate, an encryption key is placed on the server to protect your communication via your website.

Why should you care about HTTPS and SSL?

This gets back to the main reasons why Google is calling for all websites to switch to HTTPS. The beginning of your URL (www.example.com) begins with either HTTP or HTTPS. By remaining on the unsecured HTTP, the data transferred between the web server and the browser on your computer or smartphone can be compromised. 
 

Even if your website is not an eCommerce site or doesn’t have login capabilities, it is still at risk. User behavior has become a very hot commodity for cyber criminals. The best course of action is to get a fully encrypted SSL certificate on your website so you can continue business as usual without feeling any ramifications from being viewed as an untrusted website. Implementing SSL on your website is definitely a direction all websites should be headed in as it helps keep everyone a little safer.

It no longer suffices to make certain pages https:// and not others. Your website has to be fully encrypted or it will lose search engine placement, and anyone who views it will soon see a warning sign that they may not understand. This might deter them from ever visiting your site again. 

Since most of BIS Designs' websites are easily editable by our clients, we include a login in the footer on each page. As a courtesy, we are moving all non-SSL certified sites to a secure encrypted SSL server.  

Here’s an example of how a secure SSL certified site appears:

Secure website https

And here is an example of what a website’s address in a web browser might look like without an SSL certificate starting this year:

http secure website 

Here is how the http:// web pages are said to soon be displayed:

HTTP secure website 

BIS Designs is a web design and marketing company based out of Robertsdale, Alabama with clients spanning from Gulfport, MS to Pensacola, FL. With our clients’ best interest as our top concern, we take every effort to ensure their online presence accurately communicates their mission, produces results, and engenders trust among their customers. If your business is in need of an online makeover, contact us for a free website audit and marketing evaluation.

 

Top 11 Mistakes To Avoid When Using SEO
search engine optimization SEO graphic

What good is a website if no one can find it? Today, most businesses recognize the need for a website and the importance of ranking well in search. But how can you be sure your website gets top listings in a competitive marketing world? The answer is strategic search engine optimization (SEO)

Well-deployed SEO helps cut through all the noise to get your website found by its intended audience. 


While optimizing for search engines is a crucial component to your business’ success, there are several mistakes that must be avoided. Otherwise, you could actually end up hurting your SEO efforts.

Here’s a quick overview of the top mistakes to avoid when leveraging SEO for your company’s best success online.

1. Keyword stuffing

a. This used to be a regular technique in search engine optimization where a webpage had “keywords” (popular words used in search queries) placed all over the site in metatags or in the content. However, Google soon  realized that the number of keywords on a site did not necessarily equate to a valuable resource for the web user. Currently, keyword stuffing is viewed as a black hat technique and an attempt to manipulate a site’s rankings in search results. This can potentially cause a site to be banned or penalized in search engine rankings.

b. An example of keyword stuffing is below:

 keyword stuffing - bad SEO
Image source: Inklyo.com 

2. Keyword research or lack thereof. 

Many companies these days are telling people to just write naturally and not worry about keywords, but there is a deep value in using the search algorithms to your advantage. Having quality content on a website is the leading factor for making a website useful and popular for visitors. Keywords need to be researched and selected first before any writing begins in order for the content to read naturally. 

3. Not Using Long Tailed Keywords.

Long tail keywords, or descriptive phrases, are keywords too. They are much more likely to rank well in search results than short tail keywords. Why? Because people are getting much more specific in their searches, and keyword optimization should follow suit. You may get fewer hits, but the hits you get will be from web users that are much further down the road towards taking action than those that were only searching for one general word. It’s also much more achievable to get a webpage to rank highly on the search engine listings for long tail keywords because the competition is not as high as it is for general one word terms. Just think about the intention difference between someone searching for “Mobile Bay” versus “Mobile Bay charter boat tours Fairhope AL”. The specific search query is more likely to reflect a shopper who knows what they’re looking for and is closer to a purchase decision.

4. Not adding fresh content to your site.

Okay, so now you have a stellar website with dynamic content and optimized keywords ready to rock the socks off of users. But before you expect to be listed on that first page of search results on Google, and ideally the top three listings, you need to understand the importance of updating the content on your site regularly. If you’re not regularly updating your website, search engines are not going to continually notice you. Each time you add something new to your site, it’s a beacon calling the web crawling search bots to come back around to index your site, which in turn gives you better chances of higher search rankings. 
How can you add new content to your site? Writing blog articles, providing downloads and adding new web pages are good examples. But these content updates need to be on a regular basis, and the content needs to be reliable and valuable information in order to have a better chance of your site ranking higher with each update. 

How often is often enough? Typically, a frequently updated site is considered one that is updated once a day, or at least two to three times a week. These updates can be as simple as making minor changes on your site, but the easiest and most effective ways to get noticed are to add blog articles with images that will get the attention of your viewers. As a bonus, if users comment on your blog, this counts as an update on your site too. 

5. Weak Content

Search engines have begun devaluing the ranking in search results of websites that have don’t have much content. It used to be a common goal to keep blog posts around 300 words, but now the world’s leading brands and marketing analysts agree that longer form content actually boosts SEO rankings because of its added value to the readers. Thus, somewhere on your website, a strategy should be to include content that goes up to 1,500 words, with of course, the necessary optimization of meta descriptions, image tags, and other text formatting. 

6. Duplicate Content

Duplicate content refers to content that appears on the Internet in more than one place. This can be text that copies verbatim content found on other parts of your own web page, but more importantly, found on other webpages. Obviously, plagiarism is highly frowned upon, and the search algorithms are engineered to penalize sites when duplicate content is found. It’s completely okay to quote or insert a block of text from another source as long as you attribute to it in a link, like we do on our blogs all the time. 
Another situation that creates red flags is when you publish guest posts on other sites. For the most part, it’s okay to use the majority of the content, but you need to make sure that some of the content is altered to make what Kissmetrics calls an “evil twin.”

7. Broken Internal Links

Internal links are places on your website where you can have content from one of your web pages link to other content on another page on the same website. It should only be used if there is a real connection between the two pages. When done correctly, internal linking is considered good SEO practice. It helps keep users on your page longer by linking to the internally referenced pages, but mainly it is a routine step in SEO because it helps the search engines crawl your sight and verify that your content is valuable to readers because of the linked connections. 
However, when internal links are broken and users and web bots get a “404 Error” page, it’s a red flag that the content lacks value. “404” pages are damaging to your website’s credibility, and search engine crawl interruptions can lower your site’s ranking and decrease its visibility. You can check for broken links on your webpage by using this web validator tool. No one, users or web crawlers, like to see this message:

webpage error 404 meessage

8. Black Hat Backlinking and Lack of Link Building.

Backlinks, or inbound links, are links on outside websites that link to your webpage.  It’s an important SEO strategy to acquire these links that point back to your site, but not so long ago, this practice was tarnished with people buying low quality links to get listed on sketchy website directories. Link farms, as they were dubbed, became so popular that Google made algorithm changes to specifically penalize websites that did this. Finding quality web directories and acquiring citations and reference links from websites in the same industry are the smart way to go about doing this. Search engines can tell if you’re trying to trick them into promoting your website. While it’s better to have no links than bad links, there are still many tools, time consuming as they may be, to help get your site the quality backlinks Google values. But remember, content first, links later.

9. Incomplete On-Page SEO 

On-page SEO refers to items like keywords, quality content, and fresh updates added regularly, as mentioned earlier, but it also includes the technical aspects of filling out the meta descriptions, title, and image tags with a chosen keyword, as well as including your keyword or keyword phrase ideally within the first paragraph. Ensuring you have consistent brand messaging throughout the webpage is also important.

10. Not Utilizing Social Media

For a business to maintain credibility these days, it needs to be online on social media. It’s a great avenue for building brand awareness, retaining loyal customers and fans, and sharing all those wonderful webpages and blogs you’ve optimized on your website. By sharing your website content on social media, search engines discover there are more places to find that content, thus boosting the number of listings that pop up when people search for products or services matching your content. 

Social media icons iPhone 

11. Not tracking or measuring your progress.

It’s important to know how your SEO is performing. Using Google Analytics or other software is essential to monitor the rate of change so steps can be made to amend any low-performing webpages. Conversion goals, keyword monitoring, and weekly reports are invaluable tools to determine if you’re making progress or not.

Customizable SEO Services That Deliver Results

Search engine optimization may seem daunting at first, but the benefits far outweigh the cost to your business versus not using SEO. If your business is not seeing the results you need from your website to stay successful, then it’s time to contact our BIS Designs team for your free quote on our SEO services. Our SEO & Online Specialist will collaborate with you to create the most effective search engine optimization strategy possible, customized to your individual needs. Bring your website into the modern competitive arena with strategic SEO services from your local digital marketing experts at BIS Designs.



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