I have been on my soapbox about this for over two years.
Sometimes we get lucky and see the writing on the wall or just listen well enough to the Google sidebars and comments. Here is another example. Watch what the big “G” does and either listen and follow their implicit instructions or …. It doesn’t matter what you think about getting and SSL for your site-complain about it but just do it and protect your already good rankings or don’t do it and be doomed.
Starting in January 2017, Google’s Chrome browser will begin marking any page with a password or credit card field as insecure if the page is not on HTTPS.
It’s difficult to know just how problematic a change like this could be for website operators, but it will likely prove quite significant – especially when it comes to converting users (as well as getting them to stay on site for any extended period of time).
Chrome has never explicitly labelled HTTP connections as non-secure, opting in the past for a more neutral indicator. Google fears, however, that its previous approach did not reflect the true lack of security.
A substantial portion of web traffic has already transitioned to HTTPS so far according to Google, and HTTPS usage is consistently increasing. In fact, as it stands today, more than half of Chrome desktop page loads are now served over HTTPS. In addition, since the time Google released its first HTTPS report in February, 12 more of the top 100 websites have changed their serving default from HTTP to HTTPS.
Google also reiterated their plan to eventually mark all non-HTTPS as not secure, even on HTTP pages viewed in Incognito mode, although they haven’t yet given a timeline on when this will happen. If your website is not yet using HTTPS, now would be the time to get that process started.
SEO in 2017
Content is valuable but only when you promote it properly. Stop posting multiple times per week if you aren’t going to promote it, unless of course you are so popular people link to you naturally. Content promotion trumps content creation in 2017.
Wasting Money on or Expecting Great Results from Cheap Services
We have touched on SEO pricing a few times of late because it is still such a big problem. There are basically three types of cheap services to watch out for.
The first type is companies who promise rankings (and deliver) only for you to find out the keywords you’re ranking for aren’t sending you any traffic.
The second type of SEO services hijacks your website and re-creates a clone of it on a site they own. This works so-so until you leave, then they dominate for your brand in search and you are left with nothing to show. Any guess which company does that?
Anyway… ask yourself this: “If a company can rank for so many terms so inexpensively, why are they sharing that with you for so little?”
The third offender is the company bragging about how large they are. All this really means is they likely have a ton of entry-level employees working on your project. You hire a company to work with an expert in your field and the time of an expert is not cheap.
There are some really easy keywords that you can rank for without any links. Most of you are not in that boat though and as such, an active link building campaign is needed. If you are working with a company that does not offer link building, it is time to replace them or hire a link building agency to supplement their strategy.
Treat SEO Like Marketing
SEO is marketing. Marketing is defined as, “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.” Nowhere in that definition does it say “magic trick” or “mysterious voodoo art” or “instant cash machine. SEO is an amazing marketing tactic, but at the end of the day it is still marketing. If your product doesn’t work or your sales team can’t close, SEO can’t fix that. If you content is terrible, people aren’t going to link to it. If your site is hideous, people won’t trust or buy from it. SEO companies can and should help you fix those issues, but you have to be willing to change and improve to be competitive in 2017.
Failing to Educate Yourself as a Consumer
As a consumer, understanding that SEO is a highly measurable, adjustable, and effective method of marketing is important but so is knowing its’ limitations. Fly-by-night providers live in the unknown and prey on the uninformed. Business owners and SEO agencies can make a ton of money as online marketing spending continues to grow year over year. In order for both sides to be successful though, it is critical to have realistic expectations and the willingness to change for the better when needed.
What to Expect From Google in 2017
Google’s Penguin, first seen in April 2012) was designed to catch sites spamming search results through buying links or acquiring them through participation in link networks as a means of increasing search rankings.
The new “real-time” Penguin announced this past October, is different in two important ways:
The Penguin algorithm is now part of the core ranking algorithm (which has over 200 signals). Moving from a filter to a core part of the algorithm means Google can run Penguin in real time. Changes made to a website are now visible faster. Changes should be reflected with each Google site recrawl and reindexing of your page.
The second significant change is Penguin is now more granular. This means that Penguin now devalues spamming links by adjusting ranking based on spam signals rather than affecting ranking of the whole site (meaning Google can devalue a specific page and not the entire website).
RankBrain is basically a method used by Google to understand more about the queries it receives. RankBrain, now used on a large percentage of search queries, aims at correcting the ambiguity in search terms used. Basically, Google is using artificial intelligence to guess what searchers mean. It doesn’t add any new ranking signals but may weigh existing signals differently.
Google integrates results from its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project into its search results and in August of this year began displaying links to AMP pages in the main organic search results. There are over 600 million indexed documents in the AMP project already and Google is now indicating that it is giving preference to these pages in search results. It is time for SEOs to concentrate on using the system within their optimization initiatives.
Ready for the New Year? User experience in the form of providing site visitors with the best and fastest experience possible will gain you the most in search ranking, lead generation and conversion.
Edward Kundahl, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Ed can be reached at (or visit his websites)