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How to prevent the latest Google penalties from affecting you

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In a crackdown on website security, Google will now penalise sites that run without an SSL certificate, labelling these “not secure”. With seventy percent of people using Google as their primary search engine or browser, failure to comply with these changes is likely to reduce your web traffic, harming your business. On the other hand, having a safer site could enhance your clients’ trust, improving your business. So, if your website is not yet properly SSL certified, it’s probably time to make the change. Here’s what you need to know:

What is an SSL Certificate?

It may seem complex, but SSL is actually just a chunk of code that you input into your server, which encrypts your connection, making your site more secure. The impact of this can be likened to posting a sealed envelope in the mail instead of an unsealed one.

How do I know if I have an SSL Certificate installed?

You can check whether or not the code has been enabled by typing your domain name into the address bar on Chrome. If a padlock appears next to your domain name, you’re SSL certified. Another option is to check whether your site loads with the prefix “https” or “http”. If you’ve got extra a ‘s’ which stands for ‘secure’, this also means you’re SSL certified.

How do I get an SSL Certificate?

Issued by a trusted Certificate Authority, the process is usually quite simple – you’ll probably need to create a CSR and prepare some documentation before submitting your order. Just keep in mind that there are many kinds of certificates. The one that’s right for you will depend on the size of your site and your e-commerce requirements. Here are three main types:

Extended validation

The most secure (but also costly) option, ideal for e-commerce sites that require hefty amounts of personal information to be imputed. These tend to take the longest to obtain.

Organisational validation

The middle option, ideal for companies that don’t quite need EV, but still want to assure their online customers that they are a legitimate company that’s safe to do business with.

Domain validation

The most quick and affordable option on the market. These offer standard encryption and not much else, meaning they’re probably not quite secure enough for sites that request any data from customers.

Despite these distinctions, there are thousands of SSL products available at a range of price points, ranging from totally free to thousands of dollars, which means it’s important to shop around to find the best option for you.

Will all this affect my SEO rank?

Yes. Not only does having an SSL certificate ensure greater trust between you and your customers, it’s also favoured by search rankings. But it’s also important to note that because going from ‘http’ to ‘https’ does change your site address, you’ll need to take adequate precautions to ensure that switching doesn’t harm your SEO keywords. Here are some ways to secure this:

  • Ensure all your links are all aligned with the changes.
  • Make sure the ‘https’ version of your website is also updated in your robots.txt, CDN, Webmaster tools and Google Analytics, etc.
  • Perform adequate tests to ensure this is all running smoothly. There are quite a few testing tools available on the market and the company that sells your certificate will probably recommend one to you.

Need help with your digital strategy? The Merryn Bourne Creative team are experts at building websites as part of your overall brand and marketing strategy. Beautifully designed, outstandingly safe and functional, a website designed by us will give your customers have the best browsing experience possible. Why not speak with the experts? Call us now, on 02 8399 2223.

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Are load times slowing your business down?

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It’s common for businesses to prioritise sleek design, nifty functions or extra content over fast load times when building a website. Having all these added bells and whistles can be an asset to your brand, helping you to stand out against competition and attract customers’ attention. But if they begin to encroach on your website’s speed and efficiency, there’s a point where they’ll stop making your customers happy and start slowing sales down. Not convinced? Amazon reports show that just a one-second improvement in page speeds yields seven per cent growth in conversion rates and a ten percent overall increase in sales – proof that speed is a big deal.

Here are the main areas of your business load speeds may be influencing:

Customer experience

Research shows that when a website runs efficiently, we perceive the brand to run with equal efficiency, leading to better trust and improved customer retention. Alternatively, slow load speeds can kill the browsing experience. After all, how frustrating is it when a site lags for what feels like a lifetime when you’re just trying to access basic information? A website could be beautifully designed and have awesome interactive features, but at the end of the day, if it is too slow, users will simply shut the tab and switch to a competing site. In these situations, the business is not only at risk of losing a sale, but also a repeat customer, which is a big opportunity cost. Remember, consumers, value their own time above all else, which is why a smooth user experience should always be first priority.

Search rankings

While many people expect loading times to influence user experience, few anticipate how much they can also affect search engine ranking algorithms. There are two factors influencing this. Firstly, Google searches have user engagement indexes that track how many potential customers are engaging with the content on a website. So if people keep dropping off a page shortly after opening it, Google will think something illegitimate is going on, placing the site lower in its rankings. Secondly, if the search engine is too slow to connect to the data on a particular web page in time, it will simply ignore the content, leaving the site out of search results, no matter how good its other SEO efforts are. And as you’re aware, search rankings have a large impact on web traffic, which is a crucial driver of sales.

Here are some simple tips to help improve your page loading speeds:

Compress your pages

Large pages are bulky and slow to download. The best way to speed pages up is to zip them, which reduces their bandwidth, improving download speeds by up to seventy percent (according to Yahoo).

Optimise images

Large images take too long to load, but small images are too low quality, which is why striking a perfect balance is key.

Enable browser caching

Caching temporarily stores data on visitors’ computers, keeping them from having to re-download it each time they visit your page.

Minimise CSS

Excess or unnecessary code can really slow download your speed. It’s important to regularly sift through your coding and make reductions where possible. You can also copy and paste CSS into tools like CSS Minimiser, which will optimise your stylesheet automatically.

The Merryn Bourne Creative team are experts at building websites that are both beautifully designed and quick to load. For more information about improving the functions of your site, contact us today.

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Why Google Analytics is your free gold mine for growth.

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Google Analytics is a powerful website analysis tool which helps you understand the people who use your website. But how can this help your business? We’ve put together five ways Google Analytics can help you improve your marketing strategy and keep visitors engaged with your website and business.

Hot spots – Where are people looking?

Google Analytics shows you what parts of your website are attracting interest and the key words and phrases which pull in new visitors through search results. Meaning you can offer new content and services your customers are interested in.

Boring bits – Where are people NOT looking?

Help weed out content your customers are not interested in. Sometimes content is just not appealing, other times bad positioning can lead to great content being lost. Having a lacklustre heading is the first step in losing customers focus and an easy fix. There are some great guides out there to help write a punchy headline.

Break down the bounce.

Bounce rates are when visitors leave your site without clicking through to other pages, which means they are not engaging with your content and your business. Google Analytics helps break down what point visitors leave your site so you can see what’s turning customers away.

Desktop, tablet or mobile – How are people viewing your site?

If your customers are mainly using a mobile to use your site or a specific browser it’s vital that your site is optimised for that platform and they are getting the best viewing experience. This is where having a responsive website is important, so no matter which platform they are using your site will still be fully functional. The geo location feature of Google Analytics is also helpful in targeting your key audience and producing content that is relevant to them.

Who is the best – How does your site rate against your competitors?

You can use Google Analytics to compare your customers engagement with that of your competitors and find out where your site needs improvement. However this tool’s usefulness can depend on if your competitors are also using Google Analytics.

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Web Security – WordPress

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99% of computer users are vulnerable to software vulnerabilities. Hackers use out of date versions of software including WordPress and WordPress plugins to access your data.

What is at risk when your websites not secure? Through a compromised website thieves can access your personal information, your clients information and a hacked website also leads to a blacklisting from Google, meaning your site won’t come up on any Google search listing.
So if all this can happen because you are not maintaining your website whats the point of having one? You’re not selling anything, all you have is basic website, you don’t really need it, right?
 Wrong. As we talked about in our post ‘Why Your Brand Needs a Website‘ a website, even a basic one can make a huge difference for a small company.

 Websites will:

  • Lend your company credibility. This is particularly important if you area home based business with no physical store front.
  • Save you time and money. Having all of your businesses information available online means you can spend less time answering
    questions and more time doing your job.
  • Keep your customers up to date with your latest products and projects.
  • Allow your brand to be accessed 24/7 from anywhere in the world.

 Web Security 101

With all this in mind, we have put together some simple steps you can take to make your WordPress site more secure, whether you are a tech wizard or a self proclaimed luddite.
Strong passwords
.

I know it sounds simple but it’s the first step, and can make a big difference!
 Avoid phrases or words or important dates. A password generators a great help with this, just remember to save it somewhere secure!

Limit your logins.

By limiting your login in attempts to 3 or using a 2 step verification system you can prevent brute force attacks which spam your login in page with passwords.  Visit ‘Two Step Authentication‘ to find out how.



Keep track of dash board activity.
Keeping a log of all the users and what actions they take on your dashboard will allow you to retrace your steps to where the point of breakage occurred.

Keep your site and computer up to date.

Keep up to date with the newest versions of WordPress, your themes and plugins. This also applies to keeping your computer and internet security software updated.
 Updates will fix any vulnerabilities and bugs.

Download your themes and plugins from a secure source.

Sure a free version of your favourite theme may sound promising but unsecured themes and plugins can contain malicious code that will make your website vulnerable to attacks.
 
A website is a great asset for your business, but like any investment it needs constant maintenance and care.
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AEH website lead generation

Recently Merryn Bourne Creative partnered with AEH Property Group to make some website changes to help increase the sites conversation rate. Our solution included adding an email capture form at the top of every sidebar. Having this new lead generation element positioned above the fold means users are more likely to notice and act on the call to action before having to perform a scroll action.

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CBC Group Responsive Wordpress Website

CBC Group responsive website

Merryn Bourne Creative and Concession Planning worked closely with the facilities management group, CBC GROUP to redesign their company website.

They now have a beautiful responsive CMS site with strong branding throughout. The new platform also features an interactive safety induction that allows for required sub contractors to complete an easy online questionnaire and agreement, which in turn cuts the internal admin processes for CBC Group.

For the potential client searching online, company statistics as infogrpahics show success in their sector in a snapshot, and gives the viewer a simple path to all core services, and required information.

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About HR responsive website

Flat design for the About HR brand, now live on their new website.

The About HR website is a responsive and conversion friendly website. Their three core services featured clearly underneath the main image and above the fold. The call to action and contact number in the top right hand corner makes it user friendly, and the contact details are always visible – this entices users to perform the action that is most valuable to About HR – call me! We love the flat design design, the simplicity of the structure and the colour!

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Brand Security

Did you know that Google boosts your SEO ranking if you have an SSL certificate installed on your website?

Don’t know what an SSL certificate is?

Well basically it ensures enhanced security for your users.

How do you know if you have an SSL certificate?

It’s easy to identify if your site has an SSL certificate installed. Have you ever realised that some websites have HTTP::// at the beginning of their URL and some have HTTPS:://? Well you guessed it, HTTPS::// means your site is secure!

Security is now top priority with Google.

Generally this security measure is only for Ecommerce sites, to protect your customers credit card information, but now security is Google’s top priority and wants HTTPS everywhere for safer browsing and secure online data.

We recommend.

Fish Tank Creative can install an SSL certificate on your website to help boost your site that little bit further up in search engines ranking. Call us to secure your brand, 02 8299 2223.

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