"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."


Tips for Better SEO:  Website Security

Posted by Scott Feder, Managing Partner at Shrewd Marketing LLC

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, this proverbial phrase is used to emphasize that you can make it easy for someone to do something, but you cannot force them to do it. By now, you would think that most, (or nearly all) webmasters and digital marketing agencies would take the steps necessary to secure their client websites on the Internet. What do I mean by that? Well, Google is the largest Internet search engine and Google Chrome web browser has a 67% global market share.


Normally, online visitors see a padlock icon next to the https:// in the Chrome browser bar when visiting a business website. It shows the security status of the website connection. If it's locked, it's deemed secure.

Clicking on the lock icon, displays a "Connection is Secure" message with an explanation that any information submitted, (for example, passwords or credit card numbers) is private when it is sent to a secure site. This assures online visitors, prospects and customers that the site is generally safe to visit and conduct business. This is especially important for websites where you can log-in, register, submit an e-mail, buy something online, download information or ask to be contacted.

Chrome also alerts users when a website they are visiting is not secure or even dangerous. Clicking on the icon next to the words "Not secure" displays an entirely different message: Your Connection to this site is not secure.

When this message appears, the Google Chrome web browser is suggesting that the true identify of the website cannot be verified because a site certificate is missing or cannot be authenticated with the identity or credentials of the domain registrant or site host.

Be sure to take the steps necessary to prevent online visitors from seeing a message that your company's website is not secure.    - Scott Feder, Managing Partner at Shrewd Marketing LLC

I can not speak for everyone else, but I certainly would not want a message to pop up on a website indicating that the information transferred to and from it could be be stolen by attackers!

Shrewd Marketing provides qualified business owners complimentary website reviews, SEO audits and visibility analysis reports. Our digital marketing agency, based in Loudoun County, Ashburn, VA and Rochester, NY performs a battery of tests and queries to determine how well a website is performing. We continue to be surprised how many fail the basic tests for speed, mobility and security. And that is bad for SEO, but why? Because websites that serve pages too slowly, look terrible on a mobile phone or are delivered on a connection that is not secure, do not deserve to rank well in local search.

Even though Shrewd Marketing and other local search industry pundits have been spouting this philosophy for 4 or 5 years now, can you believe there are still webmasters out there who either do not know industry best practices or simply refuse to follow them? Last week, I participated in a Networking and Waffles event at the Stagecoach Theater in Ashburn where I met several businesses who were interested in having me share digital marketing tips and recommendations for expanding their company's presence on the web. The next morning, our team measured the performance of 9 or 10 different websites. Only 2 passed the performance tests we conducted for page load speed, mobile responsiveness and website security as part of our digital marketing consultations.



These results really did not surprise us because we review, design, build and manage dozens of websites every day. While I can understand that page load speeds can be tricky to manage unless things like caching and image compression are used, and I realize that not all websites are mobile-friendly yet, how can so many webmasters let their websites fail the Google security and transparency test by supplying traffic that is not encrypted?

I pointed this out the next day when following up with a marketing contact I met the evening before. I suggested that there are many different variables to the search engine algorithms. I indicated that one key to successfully managing the visibility of a website in local search is to gain as many "trust" points as you can by taking care of the performance table stakes of speed, mobility and security first.

When I suggested that they could improve their SEO by adding an SSL site certificate, they replied, "yeah, our web guy says we don't need an SSL certificate, but when we are ready, we know where to get one". OK, good luck, I wanted to say while wondering how someone can make such an ill-informed decision, especially one that can negatively impact the performance and usability of a business website?

They certainly are not keeping up with the headlines or local search trends for SEO!

Shrewd Marketing automatically includes an SSL secure site certificate with every website that it designs and builds for small to mid-sized business customers in practically every industry including home improvement, health and wellness, business services, e-commerce, transportation, manufacturing, retail and more. Nearly all of the other companies, that Shrewd Marketing consults with to manage or market their websites on the Internet, opt to purchase and install SSL certificates for their websites.

Top 5 Reasons to have an SSL certificate for your Website

  1. Relatively inexpensive to purchase ($75 to $150/annually)
  2. Improves website visitor confidence
  3. Shows that website and customer security are important to your business
  4. Meets Google search engine and Google Chrome web browser best practices
  5. Can boost SEO and improve website traffic

Schedule a complimentary digital marketing consultation, contact Shrewd Marketing today!