I was scrolling through Twitter the other day when a noticed that a good friend had tweeted a picture of a ‘footnote’ that he’d found in a brand new book. For those of you that don’t know, a footnote is that handy reference number that authors use to direct readers to the bottom of the page for an explanation. However, this footnote was very different to anything else that I’d seen before because it simply said … ‘Google it’.
The image on Twitter was perfectly accompanied by the line ‘a footnote for our times’ and that’s true, it really sums up how we all operate. We tend to Google absolutely everything these days including ‘what purpose do X Factor winners have’, ‘what does Daisy Duke looks like now’ and ‘when was the last time a club like Leicester won the league’ … all valuable stuff, well sort of.
Sarcasm aside, from a commercial point of view it’s actually hugely important, especially when you consider that an estimated 64% of people Google something before they purchase it and that’s regardless of whether it’s either an ‘on’ or ‘offline’ transaction. The simple fact is, if you can’t be found after a visit to Google then you might as well turn the lights off, flip the open sign to closed and pull the shutters down.
There are lots of very obvious reasons why Google has become such an important part of our lives but here are our favourites:
1) It’s become a very personalised and highly specific way of sourcing information. Ploughing through brochures searching for relevant information is largely a defunct practice now.
2) It saves time and is more efficient. Could you imagine reaching for the Encyclopedia Britannica every time you wanted to know something, only to find that it’s not actually in any of the 24 volumes that you own.
3) The sheer volume of information that’s there. Asked yourself if you’ve ever Google’d something and found that no results have been returned.
4) The development of personalised technology. This has been massive for Google as people don’t even need to fire up the desktop to find something out. We all carry the internet in our pocket which means we’re never that far from Google.
5) Peer to peer recommendation. This is the case more than ever before as ‘bloggers recommend’ and ‘reviewers suggest’ to the extend that this information has become more important than the official commentary that we were used to.
Even doctors aren’t immune to the power of Google. Every GP in the country is familiar with the phrase ‘Doctor Google will see you now’ and it’s a worrying trend which is leading to the increase of self-diagnosis. It proves that Google has an undoubted level of the power that has the ability to redefine businesses in either a positive or even a negative way so be careful, Google is a tricky beast.
Making search engines work for you and your business is important, in fact it’s vital and if you ever need any help on how your business is defined by Google then talk to us at Crescent Digital. We’re a Google badged Partner agency and if you’re not sure what that actually means then can we suggest that you … well I think you know what to do.
At Crescent Digital, we are regularly called in to perform website audits following a drop in visitors. Over the past 18 months, we have seen more sites moving towards using HTTPS encryption following Google’s announcement of using HTTPS as a ranking signal (1).
However, when adopting HTTPS incorrectly, you will likely see your search traffic suffer.
Clients are absolutely correct to adopt https for their websites as although the ranking increase may be relatively minor, the reassurance to clients that your website is safe and secure will help increase engagement.
Why Mixing Your HTTP & HTTPS is a Bad Thing To Do
Google & other search engines see www, non-www, http & https versions of websites as separate sites each with its own trust & authority.
According to Google (2), technically all of the following urls and domains are different:
Your website’s domain will have earned trust & authority which will directly affect where it appears within the organic search results. However, your new https prefixed domain will likely have none, meaning a big drop in search engine trust, authority, rankings and ultimately traffic following the change. In addition, the search engines will not know which version of your site to show in the results when users are searching because they will be seen as duplicates.
What To Do
Having established that Google sees www, non-www, http & https versions of websites as separate domains, diluting any search authority, it is critical to configure your site correctly and there are several critical factors configurations to consider:
- Set-up permanent redirects to redirect any visitors and search engine spiders towards your one preferred domain.
- Set-up permanent redirects to redirect any old pages (particularly those with a large volume of links & social shares) to the corresponding pages on the new domain / site. This will likely be achieved using the htaccess file if using Apache web server.
- Configure Google Search Console in order to set your preferred domain.
What Not To Do
Please do not use the URL Removal Tool to remove old web pages or domains as you can end up removing your whole domain for 6 months. With redirections configured correctly, the search engines will understand and within time start to show the appropriate results.
HTTPS as a ranking signal https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2014/08/https-as-ranking-signal.html
Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO – https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/seo-advice-url-canonicalization/
We’ve seen quite a few of these (Google penalties due to artificial link building practices) recently, and this one was from one of our clients, although we have changed the URLs to protect their identity . If you have GWT (Google Webmaster Tools) running and your website’s configured correctly, you may receive an email and message within GWT such as below:
If organic traffic to your site has dropped, it could very likely be as a result of a Google penalty.
The above message means that the Google staff believe that your site has been subject to ‘spammy’ link building practices and as a result, have applied a penalty.
The context of this post is too short to go into the full details of how we go about getting these removed, but we:
- execute a full link audit and analysis using special tools
- followed by outreach to request link removals
- disavowing unremoved spam links
- finally, a humble and extremely polite letter to Google’s staff requesting a review.
We then wait an expected 2-3 weeks before receiving an update. Whilst many people report their requests being rejected and having to reapply several times, we have been fortunate enough to have penalties removed at the first time of asking.
SEO Recovery From a Google Penalty
A manufacturer of military specification LCD monitors and touchscreen displays – we’ll call them “Tuff Displays Inc” – approached us in June 2014.
Tuff Displays Inc had a comprehensive website of over 100 pages showcasing their established business of 12 years. They had used the services of an SEO company for several years and enquiries were generated from the UK and overseas. However, the tactics used by the SEO company eventually became problematic with algorithmic changes in Google eventually causing them to be hit with a penalty from Google. The suspicions that things were not well were aroused when enquiries and website visitors dropped drastically earlier this year. Things had gotten so bad that even searching for the company by name only yielded results from page 10 of Google’s results.
The Problem: Investigating the link profile, it was obvious that Tuff Displays Inc had some highly suspicious links, including a disproportionately high number of links from a single site, links from low quality sources and many links using the same text. This issue appeared to have been worsened by the omission of traditional ‘white hat’ optimisation techniques, meaning that when the inbound links were discounted and ultimately penalized, rankings & visitors plummeted.