HTTPS and You: Does HTTPS Really Affect SERP Rankings?

Introducing HTTPS – Whether You Like it or Not

http vs https

As all SEOs should know, Google announced in August 2014 that they would be adding a ranking factor to their SERP algorithm based on whether or not a site was serving a secure or insecure page. As is typical with Google, they didn’t add anything more, leaving many of us wondering: Just how much does HTTPS really matter?

Well, now that the dust has settled a bit, one month later many SEO experts are ready to look back at August’s data and draw some initial conclusions.

So, Does HTTPS Affect SEO Performance?

Well, that totally depends on what context you’re asking that question in. Do you run a banking or finance website? Do you deal with users’ sensitive information? Then yes, you should definitely be using HTTPS, amongst other safeguards. But what about if you run a personal fitness blog, or a fashion website? Does HTTPS affect SEO performance? According to Marcus Tober of SearchMetrics, not enough for anyone to notice:

In a nutshell: No relationships have been discernible to date from the data analyzed by us between HTTPS and rankings nor are there any differences between HTTP and HTTPS. In my opinion therefore, Google has not yet rolled out this ranking factor – and/or this factor only affects such a small section of the index to date that it was not possible to identify it with our data.

The short version: There was barely enough of a difference for the change to be statistically significant in reporting, leading SEOs to believe this is nothing more than an additional, minute ranking factor, used primarily to tip the scales one way or another in the case of a very tight ranking battle between two sites. But don’t expect HTTPS to be winning you any top spots on its own.

So friends, don’t go running out to upgrade to a secure server and dish out for a certificate unless you have a legitimate security need for HTTPS/SSL. One thing is for sure: HTTPS is not going to push you to the top of page 1. Sorry, pipe dreamers!

 

Top SEO and Organic Search Articles!

Hello friends and readers! As we dive deeper into 2015, I wanted to take a few moments to compile together some of the best SEO and Organic Search related articles that we’ve posted here on Indexed Marketing in the last year. We’ve covered great topics, from Brand Authority to Verifying your Pinterest Account, and today I’d like to share some of my favorites with you!

SEO and Organic Search Mechanics

These articles cover the mechanical aspect of SEO, from metadata formatting to page speed optimizations, and are considered the ‘under the hood’ changes that affect your site performance in organic search. Many SEOs would agree that on-page mechanics are often the first actionable item with any website (after research and planning, of course!)

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HTTPS and Your Google SERP Rankings

Starting off with HTTPS and the importance secure sites can have on your organic search performance. HTTPS is an interesting topic that many people easily forget about when assessing all of the details of a site that can have a search impact. Brush up on this HTTPS info to keep your site on top!

 

Google Webmaster Tools

Configure Google Webmaster Tools in 5 Minutes

Configuring Google Webmaster Tools not only tells Google that you are the legitimate owner of your website, it also gives you helpful alerts and heads-up info when something is going wrong on your site. This free tool is used by most every webmaster today, and though Yahoo and Bing have comparable tools for their own search engines, the lion’s share of traffic obviously comes from Google (for US search queries, anyhow)

SEO Jobs/SEO In the Workplace

Becoming a wizard of SEO can give you a skillset that will help you stand out in your workplace. Because SEO is still largely understood by most, being able to prove technical proficiency in even the most basic of SEO disciplines may give you the competing edge over your competition. Check out these articles for more helpful info on SEO in the workplace:

Berlin Startup Tour

7 Skillsets to Make you A Rockstar Job Candidate

By devoting a small amount of time to learning a new technical skill, or brushing up on a skill you already have, you can give yourself a massive edge over your professional competition. Whether it’s by learning a software discipline like Microsoft Excel or Adobe Photoshop, or just simply working to improve your professional writing skills, self-improvement pays off not only in the office, but in your personal life as well.

 

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Keeping your Blog SEO Friendly

Here’s a quick tip-list on how to ensure your blog or website is always SEO friendly. Not a lot here, just some great SEO/organic search tips for your blog.

 

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Shockingly Good Content Creation

With these content creation tips, you can ensure that your site content is fresh, relevant, and attractive to your potential organic audience!

 

 

 

 

How-To Video: Set Up Google Webmaster Tools for your Site in 5 Minutes!

Keeping Your Website Indexed with Google Webmaster Tools

Have you ever wondered how exactly Kayak.com shows up in Google when you search for ‘cheap travel’? There are a lot of factors that contribute to how your website is displayed in search results, but there is one common factor that you absolutely MUST have to ensure any amount of success in organic search: Verification of your site through Google Webmaster Tools.

What is it, and Why should I care?

Webmaster Tools allows you to verify that you are the owner of a given website, and it also allows you to assist Google in finding the important content on your website using sitemaps. This is important for a multitude of reasons:

  • By proving ownership of your site, Google then knows that your website is a real website, owned by a real live person, who isn’t using the site to distribute malware, phish for customer information, or any other malicious activities. By doing this, you immediately catapult yourself above all of the grey-water, ‘shady’ websites of the internet (a staggering percentage of the internet is made up of these malicious or otherwise ‘low quality’ sites.
  • By creating and submitting a sitemap, Google knows exactly where the important content on your website lives, and exactly how to direct users towards the information they’re looking for. The name sitemap is quite literal; it gives the internet a map, or directory, of your site that can be used to find exactly what a user is looking for, the first time they try.

The above video will show you step-by-step how to configure Google Webmaster Tools for your site. The steps are fairly simple, especially if you already have Google Analytics set up. Sound off in the comments if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions!

Later this week, we’ll be following up with a video that walks you through the configuration steps for Bing Webmaster tools!

Quick Monday Tip List: Keeping Your Blog SEO Friendly!

Hey everyone, and happy Monday! I wanted to share some short reminder tips on how to keep your blog SEO friendly, both when maintaining existing content, and when creating and curating new content! Sound off in the comments and let me know if you have any other great tips that help keep your blog in tip-top shape!

 

1. Responsive Design:

You want your blog to respond and conform to any / all devices that the user may be using. This creates just one URL, causing any inbound links to only link to one domain rather than multiple domains. This helps boost your Google ranking, in turn boosting your SEO ranking.

 

2. Create content that’s relevant to your keywords. Below are a few tips to follow when writing:

  • Write your content for people, not so much for what you think a search bot would like. It should be natural and captivating.
  • Write something unique that your readers won’t be able to find anywhere else on the web.

3. Link Internally:

Linking internally to your blog or event to the HB website helps show the validity and relevancy of your blog content.

 

4. Consider the “scanners”

Most people, when browsing blogs or reading posts tend to skim through.  Make it easy for users to read:

  • use shorter sentences
  • use bullet points & lists
  • use relevant images.

 

5. Font size matters

The larger the text on the page, the more importance is placed on it by Google. When crating headers and sub-headers, make sure to use your primary and secondary keywords.

 

6. Images:

A good image can help strengthen your content and lower your bounce rate. Make sure you save the image files as keywords rather than “image384773”.

 

7. Share, share, share!

Once all of your blog content is optimized and ready, make sure to share it on all of your social media channels.

Best Practices: Google Shopping Campaigns and PLAs in 2014

Google Shopping listings have been updated yet again, in lockstep with Panda 4.0, and as a result there are some guideline changes when building new product feeds that take advantage of enhanced tagging ability, sorting and grouping by product performance, and more! Check out the highlights below:

Best Practices for an Optimized Shopping Campaign Feed

Ensure “product data is complete, fresh and accurate”

  • Upload data regularly to keep information current
    • Once a day, or depending on changes, schedule frequent uploads
  • Feeds should be kept updated to reflect any new price changes and availability
  • “Product eligibility can improve your impressions”
  • Match the data feed to the information found on your website
  • Submit Unique Product Identifiers

Keep “titles, descriptions and images user-friendly”

  • Use high-quality, clear images for products
    • Use white, gray or light gray backgrounds
    • Avoid watermarks and logos
  • “Relevancy can improve your click through rate”
    • Use Search Query Reports to hone relevancy of products’ keyword lists
  • No keyword stuffing

Keep “product type and custom labels in good shape”

  • “Bid based on your product group’s relative value”
  • Organize your inventory by product type for easy management of your shopping campaigns
    • Create a product catalogue or taxonomy
  • Five custom labels are available and they make management control of new and old products that much easier
    • Each product can be assigned up to 5 labels

Resource: AdWords Best Practices Series on Search Engine Land

Updated Specifications for Data Feed Attributes

  • Landing Page Policy
  • Image Quality Recommendations
  • Attribute Character Limits

Resource: Google Merchant Center Product Feed Specification

Social Media and SEO Smackdown: Comparing Social and Search (Infographic)

Though SEO and Social Media both pertain to hugely different aspects of any online presence, their philosophies and core goals often go hand in hand. When cultivating an SEO/Organic Search strategy, you should always have your Social Media goals and expectations in mind when shaping your decisions.

The infographic below from Orbit Media Solutions gives you 7 differences between social media marketing and SEO, while also demonstrating why they complement and depend on each other in so many ways.

 

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Blog Boot Camp: Revolutionize Your SEO and Social Media Metrics in 30 Minutes a Day!

As a longtime blogger, I know from experience how difficult it can be to maintain a regular schedule of fresh, new content. As other priorities in life come up, blog entries can fall by the wayside. But as any competent internet marketer will tell you, consistency is extremely important when building (and maintaining) a fanbase online. Ensuring that you are continually producing new and original blog content has the natural direct effect of increasing readership, generating new organic search traffic, which in turn increases organic SERP performance, and the cycle continues. Using these easy tips, you can help stave off lazy blogging, and ensure that you are posting fresh, new content every single day-no matter how small the content may seem.

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Blogging is a Muscle. Flex It.

Like most hobbies, be it soccer, video games, playing guitar, etc., practice is the key to constantly improving. By simply going through the motions of creating a blog entry, you are exercising and challenging your brain to create something out of nothing. Don’t sell yourself short-writing of any kind is an amazing feat if you really think about it. The ability to take an idea, a thought, or a feeling, and convey it in a way that other people can understand and appreciate is a gift. Even if your entry for the day isn’t Pulitzer Prize winning writing, it’s writing nonetheless. And more importantly, it’s yours. Build a body of work, if for nothing else, but for your own practice and self-satisfaction.

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You Don’t Have to Write a Novel.

Not every blog entry has to be a long-form, mind blowing expose on a hot topic. Sometimes, it’s okay to write a quick entry that may include nothing more than a few thoughts.

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Industry Related News and Blogs are your Friend. Use Them!

If you can’t find something to write about, turn to the news. Read up on current events that pertain to your blog or your field of expertise. At the very least, you can come up with some compelling thoughts on an article or story you’ve read, and you can in turn share that content with your audience while still contributing something useful to the overall conversation.

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Use Rich Media to ‘Beef Up’ Light Blog Content

If your writing is feeling a bit skimpy, use some rich media elements to add a bit of heft to your entry. Now, don’t use images and videos as a crutch to supplant less-than-awesome writing, but in a pinch, filling a little dead space with rich content is better than a blank, white page. Try to use complementary media, not just media that reinforces what has already been said. Find interviews from parties with counter-views to provide context and scope for a story or opinion you’ve written. Or perhaps find some file footage that provides some added illustration to get a point across. Rich media can be your friend, if you use it intelligently.

 

Now that we’ve covered a few basics of philosophy when it comes to consistent blogging, I’d like to show you an additional resource: my 30-minute framework for Social Media consistency. Maintaining your Social presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., is an integral part of your content machine. After all, if you don’t have anywhere to share your content, what’s the use in building it?! If you follow this 30-minute Social Media and Blogging Regimen in conjunction with one another, you should see consistent, natural growth of your audience, content views, shares, and social media engagement! (Remember: If your content sucks, your results will too! I can’t make your content high-quality with the snap of my fingers, but I can help you leverage that quality content to squeeze the most growth from your effort.)

Your 30-Minute Social Media Framework (7-5-7-5-6)schedule-your-way-to-a-better-blog

  • 7 Minutes – Review community activity from past 24 hours, and engage with audience members via likes, shares, and/or comments on content.
  • 5 Minutes – Discover new influencers to follow that are consistent with your interests and blogging topics, and connect via follow, friending, etc. Review any existing inbound friend/follow requests
  • 7 Minutes – Respond to audience communications (comments, @replies, likes, etc.) Demonstrate to your audience that you are active, and genuinely engaged on a daily basis.
  • 5 Minutes – Research new content/articles to share with your audience from influential sources (blogs, tastemakers in your industry, news outlets, Twitter trends)
  • 6 Minutes – Aggregate, Schedule, and Share your content. Compile between 2-5 posts to stagger throughout the day, between third party content and articles, and your own blog content as mentioned above. Utilize scheduling tools like HootSuite, SproutSocial, or Klout will allow you to queue content to be automatically posted at a set time.

What are heading tags, and why do they matter to my marketing and SEO?

In my experience the rules around use of H tags is always shifting. Here are the current “rules” (according to Google) as I understand them:

  • You determine the priority of your own content. There is no hard-and-fast rule around which piece of content is the most important to you.
  • Visual styling is important. Apparently you can lose ranking or be demoted for using high-ranking H-tags (h1, h2) but making them small in font or a low-contrast color.
  • They only do so much. They’re not the be-all-end-all of your ranking content. They’re one small factor. Make the choice that best represents your product, not to game SEO.
  • H4’s and beyond do little to help Google make sense of your content. Use more semantic containers (header, article, section) to help organize content.
  • Other things factor into SEO like multimedia, meta tags, etc. Optimizing those in tandem with well-written heading tags will go a long way.

In short: above all content matters. Make sure content is original and readable by Google. Make decisions that help your customers first, and Google second. Often you will find that what’s best for your customer’s UI/UX and conversion path lines up nicely with what Google wants. It is their goal to use compliance to make the web easier to search and use, after all!

 

Here’s what a basic heading structure could look like:

 

  • H1 Product Name
  • H2 Product Short Description / Product name above the description (I’ve seen this done on large eCommerce sites and do not know if this is proper)
  • H3 Product Long Description / Product Specifications / Reviews
  • H4 Product Price