UPDATE (12th Dec 2016): Google recently announced that HTTP websites that collect sensitive data (e.g. passwords, payment details) will soon be flagged as 'not secure' when someone attempts to view them on the Google Chrome web browser. This means that, if your website requires users to enter login details and/or personal information, it is now even more important that you follow the advice given below and secure your site by upgrading to HTTPS. Failure to do so ASAP may lead to a sharp decrease in site traffic as Chrome begins to warn people away from your site.
There’s lots of chatter on the internet, and particularly within the SEO community, about implementing site-wide HTTPS for websites, and you may be wondering why. In the first instance, website owners are making the shift predominantly because Google have (relatively recently) suggested that, because HTTPS is inherently more secure for internet users, they have added this as a ranking factor within their SERP algorithms. There are other reasons, of course (chiefly the added security), but most website owners whose websites were not previously secured by an SSL are having to think about the switch simply to stay ahead of the competition.
We’ve been building secure websites for ecommerce for over a decade; this is normal practice when handling transaction and customer details, but not so much for basic brochure-style websites. However, we recently converted a brochure-only website for one customer to a more secure HTTPS website; take a look at composite decking suppliers TimberTech.
Timbertech are among the first of our customers to switch to a site-wide HTTPS website, and we’re very closely monitoring their rankings to see if this has any effect on the SERPs. We anticipate carrying out this task for a great many of our customers over the coming months, and we think that if you have not already done so, then you should seriously start thinking about doing this for your website. Here are two reasons why:
1. A more secure browsing experience for your users.
All data sent via HTTPS is encrypted, meaning that it cannot be read by anyone but the intended recipient. As mentioned, we always use the HTTPS protocol at the checkout stage of our ecommerce websites
, thus ensuring that each customer's payment details and personal information are handled securely. However, many non-ecommerce site owners are now opting to switch to HTTPS too, and it's not hard to see why: even if no payment information is sent via your site, it can still give users extra peace of mind to know that any other sensitive information they enter (email addresses, telephone numbers, login details, etc.) will be safely encrypted by your website.
2. Potentially higher Google rankings.
The primary aim of any search engine is to deliver the best possible results to the end user, and since online security is a major concern for many web users right now, companies like Google and Bing are always looking for new ways to identify secure, high-quality websites.
Google announced some time ago that HTTPS had been incorporated into their algorithm as a "lightweight" ranking signal, potentially giving HTTPS websites a slight advantage over standard HTTP sites in the search engine's results. We've seen a lot of debate over how much difference HTTPS can actually make to a site's rankings, but while it would be foolish to suggest that HTTPS is some kind of miracle solution, it seems fairly safe to say that converting to HTTPS can at least make a small difference to a site's organic search positions. This blog post from ahrefs.com suggests that HTTPS, when implemented properly, does correlate with higher search rankings.
However, that brings us to an important point: if you're going to make the leap from HTTP to HTTPS, it's important to ensure that it's done properly. Among other things, you will need to implement the proper redirects throughout your site, and make sure that there is a single canonical version of each URL.
If you'd like the Designer Websites team to help you upgrade your site from HTTP to HTTPS, please get in touch
- we will ensure that the changeover is handled properly, giving you the best possible chance of achieving higher rankings and meeting the expectations of your users.
A few days ago, we found out that Google would be removing all PPC ads from the right-hand side of the search results page; an announcement that has since sparked widespread debate amongst SEOs. The search results page now has 4 paid ads displayed at the top of the page, which means that it takes longer for users to reach the stream of organic results than it would have previously. While Google have attempted to compensate somewhat by adding a greater number of organic listings below these ads, with 9 blue links being displayed, there is still a great deal of concern from those who rely on organic rankings.
Previously, side adds would have been more obvious to viewers due to their positioning aside from organic results, which helped to highlight the fact that they were ads. Reserving them for within the list of organic searches means that they viewer has to look through these ads, making it more likely that they will get clicked. This has come as an unwelcome change to many SEO professionals, who are concerned that Google is prioritising its commercial gain over the experience of its users. Results that would once have appeared near the top of the page, have now been pushed closer to the middle, giving an almost entirely new meaning to the prospect of coming out 'on top' in organic rankings.
Naturally, there are both positive and negative aspects to these changes with regards to the user, which will depend largely on how aware the specific individual would have been of paid results previously. The more street-wise internet users may be irritated by the fact that they now have to scroll through even more paid results, while those who pay little attention to ad markers may even find the new layout refreshing in comparison to the somewhat cluttered appearance of the previous format. The users least affected by this will be those who conduct their searches largely by mobile devices, on which side ads were not present prior to these changes.
This change has also led to much debate amongst paid search marketers, who fear that the loss of side ads will drive up the price of PPC campaigns, as the competition for the top position becomes more intense.However, some have been quick to dismiss these fears, due to the fact that these ads were already accounting for a low percentage of the total click volume. Wordstream founder Larry Kim also notes that all ads will now be able to use additional add-ons such as sitelink, location and call-out extensions, allowing them to take up a larger area, and providing them with a chance to stand out amongst their competitors. Additionally, he also drew attention to the fact that desktop now account for less than half of all searches, suggesting that perhaps these changes would have had a gradual impact over time regardless, as people gradually migrate from desktop to mobiles.
Whether you view these changes as a positive progression towards better quality ads, or see them as an inconvenience which serves as proof of Google's prioritisation of financial gain over user experience, there is no doubt that you will have to adapt your approach to suit these new developments. As with any updates and alterations in the world of SEO, it is doubtful that the affects of these changes will be felt straight away, however, it is important that people start to examine new strategies straight away to avoid being left behind.
To find out how we can help to improve your visibility in search engine results, or assist you in targeting the right audience with your Google ads, get in touch today.
provide high-quality ecommerce websites for garment decorators who wish to market and sell their products online. Not only has this service helped countless clothing companies to find their feet on the world wide web, it has also allowed many other businesses to supplement their main revenue stream by selling a range of garments via eTrader affiliate websites.
Being a primarily web-based business, eTrader naturally wanted to ensure that their own website was giving visitors the best possible impression. That's why they asked the Designer Websites team to help them update their site with a brand new design and some improved functionality for potential clients.
eTrader's new website has just gone live, and we're all extremely pleased with the finished job. In this blog post, we'd like to briefly talk about some of the improvements that have been made...
A new look and a responsive design
eTrader's old website had begun to look a little dated, but far more importantly, the site was not optimised for mobile devices. This meant that anyone viewing the eTrader site on a smartphone or tablet would have found it difficult to navigate the website as easily as a desktop user.
The new eTrader website is an entirely different story. The site's new blue and white colour scheme looks fresh and modern. bringing the eTrader brand right up to date; furthermore, the responsive, mobile-friendly design allows the site to fully accommodate the needs of mobile/tablet users, adjusting to fit screens of any size.
Improved application form
The old eTrader website was designed as a simple brochure site: interested parties could get in touch via telephone, email, or a simple online contact form, but the site did not allow users to specify any details about the service required. When building the new and improved eTrader site, we created an in-depth signup form that allows you to determine practically every detail of your eTrader website online, including:
- Package required (The Trader, The Garment Decorator, or The Affiliate)
- Domain name
- Website layout and design
- Email accounts
- Associated social media pages
This feature makes it far easier to apply for a website, and we feel that this will really help to drive more enquiries for the eTrader team.