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HTTP vs HTTPS: How Both Can Effect Your SEO

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HTTP vs HTTPS: How Both Can Effect Your SEO

Did you know that every year, one in three Americans will face a hacker attack on the World Wide Web? That’s one hacker attack every 39 seconds.

In order to prevent these attacks, it important to make sure your website is as secure as possible. But how do you ensure site security?

If you want a more secure site, you need to understand the difference between HTTP vs HTTPS websites. Knowing the difference, and knowing when to make the switch, can ensure that you are protecting your site visitors. You’ll also be improving your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts in the process.

So, let’s break it down.

HTTP vs HTTPS: What’s the Difference?

In the early days of the Internet, there wasn’t an “https vs http” issue as almost every website used HTTP to transmit information from the server to your browser. However, more and more websites are switching to HTTPS. In fact, back in 2014, Google started offering minor rating bumps to any website that made the switch.

But why? What’s so special about HTTPS?

Well, in order to understand the increasing popularity of HTTPS, it’s important to understand what exactly each one is. And, perhaps more importantly, what they can offer your site.

What is HTTP?

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It’s been used since the dawn of the World Wide Web to transfer data from web servers to browsers. This allows any user to view web pages.

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Basically, HTTP enables different systems to communicate with one another. Pretty much every early website used HTTP. Many still use it to this day.

The main problem with HTTP is that there is very little privacy. This means virtually anyone can see the information that is being transmitted through HTTP. This also means that it’s much easier to alter the content that is visible on a site or gain access.

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. Essentially, it does the same thing as HTTP, but with an added layer of security. This means that unlike HTTP, HTTPS encrypts the information that is flowing between the server and the browser.

This extra layer of encryption makes it harder for hackers to steal visitor information. Originally, prior to 2014, mostly e-commerce websites used HTTPS to protect payment information. But, as websites and the information that flows between them becomes more complex more sites are making the switch to HTTPS.

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HTTPS secures information by using an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate. This forms a secure encrypted connection between the server and the browser. As potentially sensitive information flows between the two, this protects it from being stolen.

What’s the Difference?

Both HTTP and HTTPS are used to send information from the webserver to the browser. The important distinction between the two is HTTPS’s use of an SSL certificate. This is especially important for websites collecting credit card information or other types of sensitive information such as social security numbers or passwords.

An SSL works by taking the information and encrypting it. Encryption translates information into a secure code. This means that even if the information is stolen, it’s unlikely the hackers will be able to understand it thanks to the secret code.

In addition to this extra secure layer, HTTPS is also secured by a TLS (transport layer security) protocol. TLS protocol provides additional data integrity. This means that the corruption, possible watering hole attacks or modification of data transfers is prevented.

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Another advantage of TLS is it’s added site authentication. This proves to users that they are communicating with the correct, intended website. Site authentication lets site visitors know that their information is going where it is supposed to.

Which is Better?

Obviously, HTTPS has a major security advantage over HTTP. But, HTTPS is most useful for e-commerce sites, or those sites that accept otherwise sensitive information. If you’re not one of these sites, switching to HTTPS can come with some serious hassles.

Still, in most cases, switching to HTTPS can be in your best interest. In addition to added security, HTTPS can give you a boost in your SEO efforts. That’s welcome news for any company trying to leave a serious technological footprint.

HTTPS and Your SEO Efforts

If you’re trying to give a boost to your SEO efforts (different than PPC), there are several reasons to switch over to HTTPS. Each of them will help you keep your visitors, and even score new ones. The SEO boosters offered by switching to HTTPS include:

Increases Your Website Ranking

As previously mentioned, Google offers a slight ratings boost to any website that makes the switch from HTTP to HTTPS. But, that’s not the only way that the HTTPS switch increases your long-term Google rankings.

Switching to HTTPS can lead to long-term website growth because your guests are more likely to stick around a secure website. More frequently, website visitors look for the lock symbol in their browser. This lets them know they’re on a secure site.

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This lock symbol only appears for HTTPS sites. It’s Google’s way of letting them know they’re safe and their information is secure. Switching to HTTPS can make visitors more comfortable, which means they’re much more likely to stick around.

Builds Visitor Trust

In addition to the comfort of the lock symbol, HTTPS sites offer guests lots of added security. Sites protected with HTTPS encryption not only protect visitors’ sensitive information but their browsing history, as well. Privacy while browsing means that anything your guests download, purchase, or sign up for won’t put them at risk. This gives them an added peace of mind, thus building their trust in your site. Trust in your site often leads to added trust in your organization at large.

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Additionally, HTTPS protects sites from added security breaches that could put guests at risk. Security breaches can damage your reputation as an organization. In some cases, they can even cost you extra money and valuable time.

Eligibility for AMP

It is becoming increasingly important for sites to be able to create AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) pages. As more and more people browse from their smartphones, you’ll want a site that is quick and easy to access on mobile. But, if you want an AMP page, you’ll need an HTTPS site.

AMP is basically a stripped-down version of HTML. This means faster loading for mobile and a fit-to-screen view of your webpage. However, it is impossible to generate an AMP page without an HTTPS protected site.

If you want a better experience for mobile users, you’ll need to make the switch to HTTPS. It’s more important now than ever before to have a mobile-friendly site, especially for your SEO rankings.

Mobile search rankings and local SEO matter for your website rankings. This is a major reason to make the switch to HTTPS if you want to boost your SEO efforts.

SEO Concerns When Switching From HTTP

It’s not always easy to make the switch from HTTP to HTTPS. In fact, in some cases, making the switch can negatively impact your SEO efforts. If you want to avoid these pitfalls, keep these tips in mind:

Inform Google Your Site Has Made the Switch

Google won’t automatically be notified that you’ve switched to HTTPS. They won’t be aware of it until the next time they crawl your site. That can take quite a while, with your SEO dropping every day.

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If you want to avoid this lengthy process, inform them of your switch right away. This way, they can give you your ratings boost and your site can be on its way to long-term rating boosts.

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Make Sure Your Certificates Are in Order

There are a few other certificates to be aware of other than SSL. These include:

  • Single Domain: Issued for one domain or subdomain
  • Multiple Domain (aka Unified Communications Certificate): Secures a primary domain and upwards of 99 additional subject alternative names
  • Wildcard SSL: Secures website URL and unlimited subdomains

Make sure that you have the right certificates for your domain needs. This will keep your SEO boosts from being slowed down by technical errors.

Don’t Prevent Google From Crawling Your HTTPS Site

If Google can’t access your robots.txt, they can’t get clear crawling instructions. This could prevent you from improving your SEO. If Google can’t crawl your site, it could negatively impact your potential search rankings.

Usually, this happens right after you’ve made the switch to HTTPS. Don’t forget to update your test server to allow bots. This will eliminate hang-ups.

Allow Search Engines to Index Your Page

Not allowing search engines to index your page could have a negative impact on your SEO. This could wipe out your rankings. Getting your rankings back can take a really long time, so you’ll want to get this in order.

Track Your HTTP to HTTPS Shift

Use Google WebMaster tools or any other analytics software to track your progress. This ensures everything goes smoothly. It will also catch any issues that arise as soon as possible, ensuring they don’t hurt your SEO.

Ready to Make the Switch?

Now that you understand HTTPS vs HTTP, and how they can impact your SEO, you’ll know if your company needs to make the switch. In almost every case, moving to HTTPS is in your best interest. From increasing your visitors’ trust to improving your website rankings, HTTPS can bring tons of benefits to your site.

If you’re ready to make the switch to make your site more secure, unlike the complexity of JSX in web development, this switch is less complex which you can do this in-house or outsource it the task. They can help you make the switch effortlessly, and ensure the best outcome for your SEO efforts.

Author: Randy Soderman

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SEO

7 Methods To Research & Analyze Your Audience For SEO

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7 Methods To Research & Analyze Your Audience For SEO

When I describe SEO, I explain that it is a mix of marketing, technical know-how, and psychology.

From a marketing perspective, you must have an overall understanding of your product, the problems it solves, and how to best communicate to your audience.

From a technical perspective, you must be able to create a foundation for your website that improves search performance.

Now, from a psychological perspective… that is where an SEO can really make a difference.

If you can learn how to not only identify your ideal website visitor but also determine who they are and what motivates them, your SEO work will really pay off. You’ll have the traffic numbers and also the ROI to support your efforts.

SEO isn’t just about the numbers (i.e., keyword ranking positions, number of backlinks, traffic, etc.). It is also about understanding the audience and building an SEO campaign around that information.

When SEO is centered around the right audience, targeted traffic increases, which leads to more conversions.

There are several methods that will help you research and analyze your audience for SEO.

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As you will see in the list below, there are tools weaved throughout each method to make things easier along the way.

1. Use Keywords To Gather Demographics Data

Keyword research is one of the core tasks of SEO. Keywords should be targeted and relevant to your products or services, which is something you likely already know.

Once you have a solid list of keywords, select the top five that represent your brand the best and find out the demographics associated with those words and phrases.

Google Trends will provide you with demographic information tied to the location and will show you how the keyword has trended over time.

Google Trends really came in handy during the pandemic when people’s online behaviors were quickly shifting.

One of my clients publishes recipes, and the question came up regarding the types of recipes people were searching for when they were stuck at home.

It was banana bread.

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Apparently, comfort food was the focus when we couldn’t leave our homes. You can see in the screenshot below how the trend for “banana bread” skyrocketed.

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Screenshot from Google Trends, June 2022

But, what about the demographic data?

Google Trends provides great data on the location, but there is also another tool I like to use for further demographic information, Demographics.io. This tool ties demographic data to keywords.

Using the same banana bread example, below is the data of people who were searching this keyword.

Demographics toolScreenshot from Demographics.io, June 2022

Tip: How To Apply This Information

Identifying demographic information, including age, gender, and location can help you in SEO in many ways.

You can look for local link opportunities in the geographic areas where queries occur.

In terms of age and gender, you can determine topics, interests, and other terminology that is relevant to those groups.

2. Identify Who Is Visiting Your Website

This method is kind of like painting the target around the arrow.

However, it is important to understand who is coming to your website and then you can determine if that is the correct audience.

One of the easiest ways to get this information is from Google Analytics.

Under the Audience section, you are able to view a range of audience information, including age, gender, location, and interests, as shown below:

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Analytics DemographicsScreenshot from Google Analytics, June 2022

Tip: How To Apply This Information

This data can give insight into the audience and will help you as you recommend content topics and target geographic areas.

On the other hand, you might look at this information and realize that it does not align with your organization’s target markets.

In that case, you need to take a close look at your keywords and content to make sure there is no misalignment.

3. Analyze Other Brands

To gather information about your target audience, you can look beyond your own website and analyze other brands and competitors.

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You would be looking for demographics and psychographics – basically, you want to collect as many insights as possible. The following tools can help you with this type of analysis.

Quantcast

Quantcast pulls together insights on purchase behaviors, occupations, device usage, demographics, domain affinity, and more. The example below is an analysis of Goodreads.com.

Analysis of Goodreads.comScreenshot from Quantcast, June 2022

 

Analysis of Goodreads.comScreenshot from Quantcast, June 2022

Audiense

Note: I love this tool and use it often.

According to Audiense.com, they build the audience using eight different criteria, “which can be combined together allowing the creation of highly targeted audiences: Demography, Relationships, Behavior (activity), Conversations, IBM Watson Personality Insights, Location, Interests, and Twitter profile.”

Audiense then creates audience segments by “clustering individuals based on ‘who knows who’ i.e., how these individuals are interconnected. We take into account who follows who and cluster them together – for instance, if person A follows person B then they’ll be clustered together.”

The first screen of the report provides a snapshot of the audience data, as shown below.

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Audiense InsightsScreenshot from Audiense, June 2022

What is so great about this tool is that you can drill down even more. Just check out the breakdown of information available (see the red box on the screenshot).

Audiense Insights GoodreadsScreenshot from Audiense, June 2022

Tip: How To Apply This Information

Similar to the last method, this data can give insight into the audience and will help you as you recommend content topics and target geographic areas.

You might also find some great link building ideas based on your interests.

4. Use Social Insights

Social platforms are one of the quickest ways to get information about an audience.

You can view follower/fan information directly on your company’s Facebook page, as shown below:

Facebook InsightsScreenshot from Facebook, June 2022

You can also view competitors’ and other brands’ audience information on Followerwonk.

What’s great about this tool is it also provides you with a word cloud to show you what users are talking about:

Followerwonk word cloudScreenshot from Followerwonk, June 2022

Tip: How To Apply This Information

Specifically, the word cloud in Followerwonk can help you identify other keywords you might have missed and can also present content marketing ideas.

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5. Send Out Surveys

This method is the most straightforward out of all of them on this list. If you want to understand your audience better, send out a survey.

To get a decent number of surveys returned, keep it short and sweet. Ask questions about basic demographics, overall interests, pain points, and needs.

Here is a great resource on how to create your survey: How To Create & Use Surveys For Content Marketing.

Tip: How To Apply This Information

Use the information you gather in the survey to identify content opportunities, including images and videos, keyword targets, etc.

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6. Identify Questions

With Google increasingly showing answers directly in SERPs, identifying common user questions has become that much more important.

Plus, we want to anticipate the long-tail queries of our potential audience, so we can get in front of them at the right time. There are many tools that provide common questions, including:

These tools pull from various data sources, so it is worthwhile to check out them all. Below is an example from AnswerThePublic.

Search listening tool AnswerThePublicScreenshot from AnswerThePublic, June 2022
Electric cars keyword from Answer The PublicScreenshot from AnswerThePublic, June 2022

Tip: How To Apply This Information

Create content around common questions to attract long-tail searches among your audience and to increase your odds of showing up as a direct answer in Google SERPs.

7. Research Secondary Data

Once you know age/interests/etc. of your audience, you can fill in the blanks through further research. Look for studies regarding one of the key aspects of your audience.

For example, if you determine that your audience is in the Baby Boomer generation, head to Google Scholar and look for published research on this group.

Tip: How To Apply This Information

Use this additional research to sketch your personas and get a better view of who it is you are trying to target via SEO.

Final Thoughts

It might seem like a lot of extra work to dive into your audience before getting into SEO tasks. However, it is well worth the time.

You will be able to drive better traffic to your website and improve your ROI on SEO.

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More Resources:


Featured Image: fizkes/Shutterstock



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