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Tips on How Small Business Can Stay Ahead of the Latest Google Algorithm Change
Google Update Addresses Security and Credibility Results
By Phillip Thune, Textbroker
Google is constantly tweaking its search algorithm in order to serve up the most useful content on the Internet as well as to stay ahead of less than scrupulous (or “black hat”) SEO practices that are designed to rank sites higher in the search results than they deserve. Although these small changes receive much less attention than the major updates, two recent revisions that address website security and credibility could potentially sway small business ranking results.
A Deeper Focus on Security
In an effort to “make the Internet safer more broadly,” Google is now using HTTPS encryption as a ranking signal, notes the Google Webmaster Central Blog. Websites that already have SSL security are beginning to rank higher, and websites that do not add it eventually will notice a drop in how high they appear in Google’s listings.
An HTTPS website is a regular website that is protected by an SSL security system that encrypts data, making it difficult for hackers to steal information, such as email addresses and credit card numbers. A URL that starts with https:// indicates a higher level of trustworthiness, which in turn boosts credibility, two significant criteria that Google considers when ranking a website. An SSL security certificate is also a signal to shoppers that their privacy is protected.
This increased emphasis on security will affect e-commerce and other websites that collect personal and financial data from visitors. Google is giving webmasters time to convert from HTTP to HTTPS websites. However, the search engine reports that the lightweight influence, which is currently only 1 percent of a website’s overall score, is likely to become a more important factor in the algorithm. As a result, HTTP websites that do not ask for sensitive information may still want to consider making the conversion.
A Shakeup in Local Search Rankings
Google released an update in July 2014 to improve its mapping and ranking of local businesses. The change is meant to strengthen the search engine’s ability to offer up relevant websites when searchers use broad terms, such as pizza delivery, real estate or law firms.
The algorithm shift has affected how local search results appear on the first page as well as which businesses are included in the Google Maps listings. Some businesses report improved rankings while others have experienced a dramatic hit. Physical proximity of the business to the local city center appears to be an important factor. However, location-based social networking, geotagging, consistent contact information and link building also increase the reputation of a business.
Because Google penalizes unreliable information, perhaps the most critical factor is having a consistently accurate NAP (name, address, phone number) across the Internet. The NAP should appear in the footer of every page on a business’s website, on the Contact Us page and on every social media site.
Link building is achieved through a company’s inclusion in directory listings, such as Citysearch and Yelp, as well as through social media sites, such as Google+ Local, Foursquare and Facebook. In addition to including the address on the About pages, webmasters should tag every photo and video of the business and its products with the physical location.
While it is nearly impossible to predict the next shift in Google's algorithm, small businesses can continue to refine their marketing strategy in order to stay ahead of the curve. Here are three uncomplicated tips that can easily be implemented starting today:
- Get SSL security certificates for your main websites. This can be done through your domain or hosting provider very quickly and easily.
- Place your websites on Google Places and also on Google Plus. This shows you in maps and allows reviews.
- Link any ad campaigns to your Places account. This can be done through location extensions in AdWords.
About the author, Phillip Thune
Mr. Thune is the Chief Executive Officer of Textbroker, which he joined in 2010. Textbroker has grown dramatically as demand for content marketing has increased across the world. Prior to Textbroker, Mr. Thune was the CEO of HireMeNow.com and President of MIVA (previously FindWhat.com), where he helped grow the company from 35 employees and $500,000 in annual revenue to 500 employees and nearly $200 million in five years, raise over $34 million dollars, acquire five businesses for a total of $230 million, and achieve a market capitalization of over $700 million. Mr. Thune also helped lead two different radio broadcasting groups which were among the 25 largest in the U.S.
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