SEO Home // SEO

Starting next month, Google will mark websites as “insecure” if they don’t have a valid SSL certificate.

Until now, you only needed SSL (secure sockets layer) if your website had a form to fill out, or accepted online payments. No more! With the release of the newest version of Chrome, Google will move from a simple “i” (for information) to “Not Secure” in the address bar for sites that don’t have a valid certificate. And the release of Chrome version 68 is on track for thisJuly.

The screen shot below shows a basic before & after. And, although not confirmed yet, there’s talk of the “Not Secure” tag being in red. Imagine how this may impact your visitors’ perception of your website.

Moreover, it’s a given that non-secure sites will suffer when it comes to search engine ranking.

We expect there will be a last-minute rush to implement SSL on websites in the coming days. And we’ll be contacting existing Piedmont Technology clients individually to offer priority scheduling.

Finally, within a few days we plan on publishing a more detailed “who, what, where, how” article on this webpage, including cost estimates and details on our approach. You’re invited to bookmark it and return soon. You may also use the contact form to request a notification when published.

SSL by July 2018

Duplicate Content

Businesses that subscribe to industry-related blog or social media update services can get regular “news” on their website with the hope that fresh content will set them apart and improve their Google rankings. (Viewers and search engines hate stale pages!) But buyer beware – it’s not hard to spot duplicate content.  And it’s even easier to check it out with the latest browsers. Just highlight a couple sentences, copy & paste into the search box, and let Google do the rest. The resulting SERP (search engine results page) will tell you how many other sites share the same content.

So what’s the big deal about duplicate content?  Does it hurt my search engine rankings? How can I minimize it’s impact?  We’re going to answer all these questions in this post. But first, let’s walk through a quick example. A recent blog post on a realtor’s website caught our attention:

So we highlighted and copied the first couple of sentences and asked Google how many others had the exact same text (use quotation marks around your phrase to limit the search to that exact string): 

 

Voila!  We have 21,900 other websites that contain same verbiage!

So, how can this hurt?  Assuming you’re like these 21,900 websites and don’t include proper attribution with a link to the owner (and all the ones we checked don’t), then this won’t necessarily hurt your Google rankings, but it can subject your page to being excluded from the search results.  That’s because the search engine (e.g. Google) doesn’t know who authored the content. And without a clear authoritative source, the search engines will tend to simply ignore it.

Next, what does it tell your readers? Answers will vary by person, but overall, we think there’s more potential downside than there is benefit.  Especially if your supposedly original article gets noticed by a reader who saw the same thing on another website, or talked with a friend who read the same thing elsewhere. Perhaps on a competitor’s website. You run the risk of being tagged as disingenuous at best, and of plagiarism at worst.  Take it a step further and try one of the social media sharing buttons – on the social site, the resulting post usually begins, “By (website owners name)…”  This makes it look like the blog post was authored by you.

Why take a chance?  Sure, there are industry blog subscriptions for everything from real estate to car repairs, from acupuncture to landscaping. If you’re determined to use them to fill an otherwise sparse webpage, at least adhere to best practices (see Google’s own recommendations) and give credit where credit’s due. Better yet, put the time, thought, and effort into truly original content and you may be surprised at your visitors’ reactions!

 

 

 

How fast does your home page load?

Speed-to-load is one of the most crucial factors in determining how Google, and other search engines, rank your website. This is a critical aspect of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), particularly with regards to your home landing page.

All too often, we see business owners thinking, “all’s well,” when they check their own website; they neglect to realize that a lot of their website’s data (pictures, css stylesheets, scripts) is stored locally on their own PC’s from previous visits. This can give a false sense of security that speed-to-load is okay.

A local business’ website that’s measured without clearing the local storage (or cache), of previously downloaded items appears to be average with a 5 to 6 sec download speed (actually, it should be in the 2 to 3 second range).  BUT, when you view it from the perspective of a first-time visitor, this is what they experience:

pagespeedexample

 

Whoa! Nearly 14 seconds!  No wonder their SERP (search engine results page) rankings are so low. There are many utilities you can use to measure your own site.  We recommend doing a measurement both before and after clearing all your browser history to see what John Q. Public sees.  If it’s more than a few seconds – you’re overdue for a tune up.

So, the natural question now becomes, “What can we do about it?” The answer can vary widely depending on the root cause: network congestion, server responsiveness, domain lookup, and on and on. Frequently, compressing script files, moving stylesheets to load up front, and re-sampling / re-sizing pictures are just some of the techniques we use to help overcome slow websites. Given the large number of possible contributing factors, you probably need a professional to do a thorough analysis – if only to target the biggest offenders. We invite you to contact Piedmont Technology if you’d like an analysis and quote for speeding up your own business website.

Go Ahead! Try it without…

…without the three w’s, that is.  

Most websites can be addressed with, and without,  the “www” (world wide web) prefix.  Unless you altered the default domain name service setup when you established your domain name, it’s a good bet that your website accommodates both.

access your website with or without the www

So What?  Why should I care?

Here’s why:  Even though entering www.mysite.com  and plain old  mysite.com both take you to the same website, search engines see them as TWO DIFFERENT WEB SITES.  If you’re trying to rank higher in the search engine results (SERP) pages, it can make a big difference.  Properly using a “301 redirect” will consolidate the benefits of inbound links for your preferred domain name.  One URL with 20 inbound links will rank higher than either domain that has only 10 inbound links each.

Once you’ve decided which version prevails (usually the “www” version), it’s a matter of implementing either through your DNS manager panel, or by editing the htaccess file in the root directory of your hosting account.  Neither of these methods warrant more discussion here; they’re too technical for the intended audience of this blog.  The purpose of this post is simply to make readers aware, and to suggest hiring an expert when considering search engine optimization (SEO) tactics.  And, if you’re not a site owner, hopefully this article will save you a few (million) keystrokes over the course of your online life!

Footnote: A 301 redirect analysis and solution is included in Piedmont’s “Flatlander” website maintenance package. 

The time it takes for your landing page to load when someone visits your website can make all the difference in the world.  If your home page is loaded up with unnecessary extras, or otherwise mis-configured, you could be loosing business.   (And hurting your search engine rankings as well.)

Piedmont’s own home page had some extra bells & whistles which, it turns out, did more harm than good.  Following some clean-up activity, it’s now back to good levels:

piedmont_page_load_speed

Need a tune-up for your site?  It’s surprisingly inexpensive and could significantly boost your results.  Check out the rate sheet on our pricing page  for details about the “Flatlander” package.

A compendium of thoughts, reflections, and suggestions regarding life online.

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Caveat

While we do our best to offer easy-to-follow suggestions on maintaining your website, computer, smartphone, etc., we do not accept any responsibility for any damage or lost data you may encounter. All actions taken as a result of reading this blog are at the users’ own risk. Piedmont Technology strongly suggests that users make and test regular backups!