My head is still buzzing from everything that went on at SMX Advanced this week in Seattle. To avoid confusion, I’m going to split my suggestions in to a couple of blog posts. Today I want to share some of the key technical SEO learnings from Seattle this week while they are fresh in my head. I’m not overly technical, so this stuff might go first. Better to jot it down. I’ll follow next week with a post on more standard SEO and then a post on some conversion ideas that I learned.
Important Technical SEO Info Straight from Google
Maile Ohye of Google talked to us about the technical aspects of SEO and what is important on the horizon. Sometimes the Google people are vague and cryptic with their information, making it difficult to to decipher what they really mean, but Maile does a good job of giving us something we can run with. Her information was also backed up by presentations from other independent authorities.
The first thing I want to share from Maile is the importance of HTTPS secure sites. We’ve known that this was considered a ranking factor for quite some time and I made my site https last year because of it. However, it hasn’t been looked on as a huge factor. It still isn’t, but there are other reasons to make sure you get secure right away.
- Browsers are beginning to prefer https and will not offer certain features for non-https sites
- Browsers are beginning to warn users that sites are not secure, which may send your visitors away
- People in general are becoming more knowledgeable about https meaning site security and may look down upon you for not having it.
- It is a factor now, and it may be more of a growing factor as it is adopted more. When very few people are doing it, it doesn’t seem like a differentiating factor, but as it is adopted, not having it could hurt you more than it appears right now.
You may want to read up more on https vs. http. There are other reasons you may want to have it to. For example, to control your content. Non-secure sites can have ads forced on them by providers without your consent. Nobody want to be putting ads out there on their site that they don’t control, or that they don’t get any monetary reward for.
The good news is that getting there doesn’t have to be that complicated or expensive. You should look in to this but I’m going to provide the basic steps below. This is where having a good relationship with your developer comes in handy, as you can trust them to take you through the process. The basics are below.
- Obtain 2048 bit TLS certificate from a Certificate Authority (0 to a couple hundred dollars)
- Have your developer/host configure the certificate (they should know what to do)
- 301 redirect all of your old pages to your new secure pages.
- technically http://mysite.com is different from https://mysite.com and you need to let the search engines now that this is the new site.
- 301’s will also pass your link authority, which preserves your domain strength. Don’t want to lose that.
For Google’s help on this, please go here.
Remember that you need to renew your certificate each year. My host actually doesn’t even remind you, so you have to make sure you stay on top of it or your site will suddenly lose the certificate and everyone that comes will be told that your site isn’t secure. That’s no fun.
To continue down the http trail, let’s talk about http/2, which is a bit technical. It is also a little bit more out in the future but coming fast. You should definitely keep up with news on the subject and make your developers aware of the importance.
The Very Basic Explanation:
Basically, the internet is set up on a protocol called http, which you see at the beginning of every web address, or https if you follow my advice above and make your site secure. This was developed years ago and without planning on how popular the internet would get and how fancy and advanced many websites would become. Right now the protocol requires many separate communications with a server every time you load a page. Each image may require a connection, each form, text, etc. This ends up requiring many connections to be made in a row just to load a page. With advanced pages, this can get very cumbersome and slow things down.
What http/2 will do is allow entire pages to get loaded with one communication to the server, drastically speeding up the internet. The internet will change in a big way. This will also be backwards compatible so old http will still be recognized.
The biggest issue in moving over is that many of the technical workarounds done to speed up sites on http, will now actually slow them down in http2 and sites like Amazon that have put in a lot of tools to speed things up, will initially be slowed down. It is likely you may have some tools in your plugins, etc. that may do this as well and will need to be dealt with.
In all likelihood a good CMS will adjust itself and you will be able to become compatible with new plugins, etc. but you should definitely be aware of the situation and how it may help or hinder your site going forward.
Hopefully these basics on HTTP/2 and HTTPS will help you and your business. If you want to make sure that somebody is always keeping an eye on this stuff for you so you don’t get taken by surprise, give us a call so we can help you manage your SEO.