Even if you aren’t familiar with it, you probably recognize HTTPS — It’s that little string of letters you see at the beginning of most URLs these days. If you’re using an Internet browser like Chrome or Firefox, it’s probably accompanied by a padlock symbol or something similar.
It should look like this:
HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. It’s an extension of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which is the foundation for all data communication on the Internet.
In this article, we’ll explore what HTTPS is, why it matters for SEO, and what you can do to enable it on your website.
HTTP Vs. HTTPS
Before we get into what HTTPS is and how you can enable it, let’s do a refresher on HTTP so you have some understanding of why it’s important.
Put simply, HTTP is a system for sending and receiving information (data) across the Internet. Communicating across the Internet is always an exchange of information between a web client, such as an Internet browser, and a web server.
A web server is a combination of software and hardware dedicated to serving client requests online — you can think of it as a big computer that has files and software stored on it for the purpose of serving up websites to users.
When you arrived at this website, your Internet browser requested the web server that hosts the website to send data, which was then sent and rendered to you through your browser. All this requesting and responding occurs via the protocol for Internet communications: HTTP.
Today, when your browser connects to a website, it can do so using either HTTP or HTTPS depending on what’s enabled on the website’s server. But, if you connect via HTTP and not HTTPS, you’ll probably get a notification that says your connection is “not secure.”
That’s’ because HTTP isn’t an encrypted protocol. Anyone monitoring your session can read your requests to the web server and its responses. If you’re sending sensitive information like a password or social security number through that connection, a bad actor could potentially pick it up and use it for malicious purposes.
This is why your browser might warn you when you’re using an insecure connection:
To make that connection secure, all data being sent to and from the web server needs to be encrypted. That’s where HTTPS comes in.
As we noted, the “S” in “HTTPS” stands for “secure” — it’s the secure version of HTTP. This protocol uses Transport Layer Security (TLS), a cryptographic protocol, to keep communications between your browser and a web client private. Most HTTPS protocols used to use the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) cryptographic protocol, which was the predecessor of TLS.
When your website is secured with HTTPS, if anyone is monitoring communications between the web server and client, they’ll only see useless encrypted data. This makes HTTPS a safe protocol to use when sending sensitive information over the Internet.
As you can imagine, most website owners want to have HTTPS enabled so that their users know they are safe in using their website. Allowing users to send data over an insecure connection could be catastrophic for some companies and their customers. Can you imagine what would happen if it turned out that a bank’s customers were doing all their online banking through an insecure website?
But HTTPS is also important for any other type of website. Even if you don’t accept login information or other sensitive data from your users, you should still enable HTTPS. It’s the right thing to do for your users, and there are SEO benefits as well.
HTTPS and SEO
From a technical SEO perspective, we just need to turn to Google to understand the importance of HTTPS.
In 2014, Google announced that it would be giving a ranking boost to websites that use HTTPS. In their own words, this would be “a very lightweight signal” that would only give websites a relatively small benefit. They even said this signal carries “less weight than other signals such as high-quality content.”
But, more importantly, Google shortly thereafter proposed that web browsers mark websites that don’t use HTTPS as “not secure.” Since then, most browsers have taken up this proposal, which is why you get prompted when you enter a website that doesn’t use HTTPS.
This can have a devastating effect on your traffic and your click-through-rates. Nobody wants to use a website that has been marked “not secure,” regardless of whether they plan to transmit any sensitive data. Furthermore, some browsers will block users from entering an insecure website before they can even see the content, prompting them to hit the “back” button just to stay safe.
There are other SEO benefits to using HTTPS, too.
For one, you can get more data about where your traffic is coming from. Traffic sent from a secure HTTPS site to an insecure HTTP site has its referral data stripped away, according to Moz. That means all that traffic is listed as “direct” traffic, so you can’t tell where it was referred from.
HTTPS is also a huge trust factor for Internet users and other webmasters. People will be more likely to share and link to a secure website than an insecure one.
How to Enable HTTPS
To enable HTTPS, you need a valid SSL certificate. This is a small data file that binds a cryptographic key to your website, or even a string of domains under your ownership.
You used to have to purchase SSL certificates separately. But if you built your site using certain website building applications, such as Squarespace or Shopify, it probably generated an SSL certificate for you. You should already have HTTPS enabled.
Similarly, if your website hosting is managed remotely by a major hosting provider like Bluehost, GoDaddy, HostGator, DreamHost, etc. you may already have an SSL certificate as part of your hosting package. That means HTTPS should already be enabled.
If it isn’t but should be, you should contact your hosting provider. If you still have HTTP and you don’t have an SSL certificate as part of your website package, you’ll have to buy one.
Get an SSL Certificate
Getting an SSL Certificate is relatively easy. You may be able to buy one directly from your hosting provider if they haven’t issued you one already. For example, GoDaddy has a purchasing page dedicated solely to selling SSL certificates.
But you don’t have to go straight to your hosting provider, as their prices might be high. You can also buy a certificate from third-party sources known as Certificate Authorities (CA).
Manually configuring an SSL certificate takes several steps, and it requires you to install the certificate on the origin server where your website “lives.”
If you pay for managed hosting services, ask your hosting provider to configure your SSL certificate for you.
This is usually the best route if you don’t have the technical know-how to do this yourself or if you only have limited access to your server. What’s more, if you configure your certificate incorrectly, it could prevent users from finding your website.
If you decide to do this yourself, keep in mind that web hosting control panels and CA login dashboards vary. These are the basic steps you’ll need to follow:
Activate your certificate. Go to the SSL/TLS section in your web hosting control panel and choose to generate an SSL certificate signing request (CSR). Fill out any required fields.
Copy your CSR. It should appear as a big block of text that looks something like this (the first block):
Submit your CSR to your Certificate Authority. Log into your CA account and paste your CSR text to submit it. This option will likely be under an option entitled “Create a New Certificate,” “Submit CSR,” or a similar name.
Install your certificate. If your website hosting provider isn’t doing this for you, just paste your certificate (the second big block of text) into your web host’s control panel. Depending on what host you’re using, you should see an option to “Install an SSL Certificate” or something similar.
Check that your site is secure. At this point, your certificate is installed. It might take some time for it to be verified by your CA, however. If you visit your site later, you should see “https://” before your domain name.
If you’d like to verify your certificate, just click on the security icon in your browser (the padlock):
Then, click on “Certificate,” and you should see details about your SSL certificate, such as which CA it was issued by, who it was issued to, and for how long the certificate is valid.
That’s it. You’re secure!
Rely on the Experts
Remember, configuring a certificate incorrectly could make your website insecure, which defeats the purpose of enabling HTTPS in the first place. If you don’t know how to do this yourself, rely on a developer or your hosting provider to do it for you.
Bliss Drive can help, too. Contact us now to talk about how you can keep your website secure and improve your search rankings at the same time!
Bliss Drive President Richard Fong recently appeared on Bright Ideas Podcast to discuss his success as a digital marketer. Sharing his methods and ideas with host Trent Dyrsmid, he shined a light on the tools, tactics, and strategies used by today’s leading entrepreneurs.
Bliss Drive President Appears On Bright Ideas Podcast
Ranking at the top in search engines doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re starting at the beginning of your SEO journey, it can take up to two years or more to start ranking at the top of search engines. If done correctly, you can outrank big names like Amazon and Wal-Mart
Once you’re ranked highest, you don’t have to put as much money into your SEO strategy.
When you rank at the top, you’re getting much more organic conversions that your competitors are since people tend to buy based on organic searches because they trust Google.
Always do your keyword research. Take a look at all of the products you offer and narrow down a couple of categories that have good margins. Using tools like A-HREFS will show you a good range of keyword volume and difficulty and let you know what your competition is ranking for so that you can compare.
Make sure your keyword appears in these 5 things:
Title, or title tag
Body copy: Use 1%-2% of the keyword density for the focused keyword in your content.
Off-Page SEO Is Just As Important As On-Page.
Off-page SEO helps build your reputation and authority in your industry, which will help boost your website’s overall ranking. The more backlinking you do, the better your chances of Google believing that you are an authoritative source who should rank higher.
Stay Active On Social
Active social media pages allow you to link back to your site for more traffic while allowing you to easily and personally engage your customers.
Read the full transcript:
Trent: Hey, what’s up everybody? Trent Dyrsmid here; welcome back to another episode of the Bright Ideas Podcast, thank you so much for joining me today. We’re here to help you discover what works in e-Commerce by shining a light on the tools, the tactics and the strategies that are in use by today’s leading entrepreneurs. Speaking of joining me on the show today is a fellow by the name of Richard Fong. Richard. You can see him on the screen to my left or right, one of the two.
He runs an SEO agency in Orange County California and he helps e-Commerce business owners beat out the big companies like Amazon, Wal-Mart and multi-billion dollar brands in the organic search rank. And he’s been featured on Forbes and entrepreneurs magazines Websites.
He’s married with a one year old son so we know that’s a full time job because I used to have one of those. She’s a little older now and he is an avid salsa dancer. So Richard, thank you so much for making some time to come and share your wisdom with my audience, it’s a pleasure to have you on the show.
Rich: Hey, thank you for having me; it’s great to be here.
Trent: So in reading your bio, did we miss anything? Is there any other important details you think the audience should know about you before we jump into talking about SEO and how e-Commerce business owners can use it to increase revenue?
Rich: I think the only thing people may not know is that I was actually born in China, Shanghai and then I came over to the United States. I was actually in Kansas; I grew up there you know since eight to college and then went to UCI University of California Irvine up from there. Yeah. So you know I’m I speak some Mandarin not fluent but you know and then I’ve lived in the Midwest.
Trent: All right well, let’s dive into it. So, let’s start off with because we’re going to talk extensively about your expertise in SEO particularly how it pertains to running an e-Commerce store. So hopefully you have some kind of incredible results, a story for a client perhaps that you did that we can talk about and how your expertise played a role in achieving that result, so what comes to mind for that?
Rich: Yeah I do. So couple years back and we’re still working with this client. We helped them— There were a whole seller, they wholesale to distributors mainly and they knew that consumers were buying this stuff directly right. So they wanted to develop a website where they could sell to consumers directly and kind of circumvent the distributors.
So what they did was they built out a website and then once they had the website, they had no SEO, no ranking, no one could find them. Now if we go and look for them, if we look for it like say Bill shareholders or sign holders, they’re ranking number one the company name is displays and holders and we’re out ranking Amazon, Staples, Office Depot, Wal-Mart all those brands for very big keywords that are getting thousands and thousands of search forums every month.
And so right now, when they first hired us they were getting about three sales a day, right now they’re getting if you go check on a website. He made a testimonial video too, they’re doing about 20-30 orders every day. So we essentially grew a profit center for them out of nothing and that’s all based on e-Commerce sales direct to consumer.
Trent: So what’s the average order value for them?
Rich: A couple hundred dollars, it’s small, it’s like a brochure holder or sign holds about a couple dollars a piece. So sometimes they order you know several and sometimes they have bigger volumes.
Trent: Okay, so this is a meaningful amount of revenue if you’re getting 20-30 of those orders a day. [Oh yeah] How long did it take you to get them from essentially nowhere to where they are now? Was that a year exercise or a couple of months ago?
Rich: To gain number one ranking, it didn’t happen overnight for sure right, essentially we got them on the first page within the first— It’s been a couple of years now but within the first 6-12 months around that time range certain keywords were popping up on the first page but from the first page, you could be on the middle of the first page where the bottom the first page going up to the top three of the pages is kind of– it’s like a Richter scale.
It’s exponential in terms of difficulty because everybody wants to be on the top and then they’ve been building a lot of authority for the guys on the top three. So you have to do extra amount of— it’s much harder from like from page 10 to first page, than from 10th position to the first position, it’s ten times harder actually.
So from there, it took another— I would say another year before they actually got to the top three. So all in all it took about 2 years. And then in between that time there were times where the algorithm updates where we fall off back to the middle of the page and then right now they’re back on just because we figured out what the algorithm does and you know it’s constant off and on but consistently they’ve been on the top three for a lot. And if you look there actually they have two positions on the top three, number one and number two.
Trent: Ballpark, how much money have they had to spend with you to build to accomplish this particular result?
Rich: Tens of thousands, I wish they were spending millions but they’re not you know.
Trent: But even if it was 30 grand, given the volume of orders that they’re receiving now they are away…
Rich: Oh yeah, the authorized definitely estimate. Yeah. After email, SEO is one highest are why there right. Because once you’re there, you don’t have to keep really paying and then you don’t have to keep competing with your competitors on cost per click, you’re just there and a conversion on organic is much higher because people trust it. If you if you’re doing pay per clip right, the best click the rate you get is about 2%-5%. If it’s on each play maybe 10%. That means what 90% are not even going on an ad; they’re going straight to the organic where they’re preferring what Google has to offer.
So if you’re on the top three that gets about 50%-80% click through rates; so you’re getting majority the traffic and then the conversion is higher because they trust that what Google is serving up for them. So people tend to buy more based on organic.
Trent: Yeah, makes perfect sense; okay so now that we’ve established a result let’s unpack it and let’s walk through the process that you use just and obviously in the time that we have, we can we’re going to go in as much detail as we can but we’re not going to be able to explain absolutely every last little thing. So let’s— at the beginning where did you start? You met with the client, they said, “Hey, these are the keywords we want to rank for” and you started to do some research?
Rich: Yeah, in the beginning they just knew that they wanted more sales online data and we really know you know what keywords were or anything. They were very SEO novices if you will; they’d never work with SEO company before.
So, what we did was we went ahead and took a look at all their products all their offerings did keyword research to see what volume there are fake products just so you know we’re not tackling something that’s not going to drive a lot of volume for them. And then from there we kind of narrowed down to a couple of categories that we knew had good margins for them and had good volumes for them.
And we knew that we could get some traction and from there we went ahead. So let me backtrack, that’s the research phase right. Essentially with SEO you want to determine two things you wanted to determine that on page and you wanted to determine the off page. Okay, so once we figured out what keywords were what categories they wanted to go to.
We then focus on the page itself to make sure (a) is categorized correctly, the URLs are you know you has the keywords in the URLs they have products, most e-Commerce stages have product listing with pictures, very light descriptions. So we added a thousand words to the product category that’s very important, a lot of e-Commerce miss that.
Trent: Let me interrupt you there because we’ll get there to —- and I want to back up to the keyword research, what tools what tool or tools did you guys to help you figure out which keywords you should even be going after?
Rich: Yeah, so we use a couple of tools at the time and this was a couple years ago, Google keyword tool, what it’s actually good. They actually gave you days that’s not the case right. They give you a big range. So if I had do it right now, we would use ‘A-HREFS’. A-HREFS shows you not only what you’re doing but also what your competitors are doing.
So it’s a really good aggregator of your competition and it shows you a good range of keyword volume and the keyword difficulty of how difficult is it to actually rank for that keyword.
Trent: I actually love that tool, I had the CMO on the show I’m just looking out for the episode number and I’ve been using the tool since it is absolutely. So, I had him on, in case people want to listen, it’s episode number 264 on brightideas.co/264.
Okay, so you used A-HREFS and I’ll put a link to that in the show notes; so you used it to identify of all the keywords in the universe we should really be focused on. How many did you pick by the way to begin with?
Rich: We actually— so when we pick keywords, we don’t just pick like a couple of keywords, we pick categories or topics if you will. So for example, they’re ranked for brochure holders but they’re also ranked for like acrylic holders, all variations of brochure holders. That makes sense? So, we’re not trying to just go in and just rank for one key word because you will over optimize it, you wouldn’t make a lot sense. You want to allow the LSI semantic indexing. So you want to have a lot of variations that those keywords in that same topic category within that page, that’s what we did.
Trent: And in the show notes as well they have some really great videos that explain how to use their tool. I’ll make sure that I am. So for the audience I’ll embed some of those videos.
So now, you’ve you figured out these are the key words that we want to rank for, so the next step in your SEO process you’d mentioned earlier that there is on-page elements, there off-page elements, I’m guessing then you went and dealt with on page elements because that’s a relatively short amount of time to kind of get that right and then off-page takes a whole lot longer.
Rich: So once we figure out what the focus is, what the focus your URL is then we really evaluate the on-page yourself. So, on-page we actually have a 80 point checklist. There’s a lot of things we go through but I’m just going to give you the top maybe five things that we should let you know anyone should really look at to make sure they’re doing the right thing what they’re on-page.
Number one is the ‘Title’, so title is the title tag or whatever it’s showing up on your browser; if you don’t have the keywords in the title at least, you’re not going to rank Google doesn’t understand you if you don’t have that into it. And then but you don’t want to over stuff it, you don’t want to like over optimize it where you we in the same word but you at least want to have it one time into the title itself.
Number two as a ‘matter description and matter descriptions also very important because that’s what you see after the title, that’s the actual two sentence blurb that you would see. So you will want to have a variation or that keyword is actually for what you’re trying to rank as well and you want to write it in a way where it’s compelling for the user. Essentially a part of your ranking factor is the click the rate of that listing when they list you. If you write a very like robotic type of stuffing keyword, users may not click on it, Robots might read it but if they’re not clicking on it, the users you’re still not going to rank very high because Google will want to serve up what’s best for users. So title, matter description.
Number three is your H1 tag. So H1 tag is essentially your kind of your title when they visually see it. So the title and the map description the visitors don’t really see it, they just see the listing that’s for the Google search engine results. And then so the H1 is actually where you show the actual title itself. It doesn’t have to be huge it’s just a tag. So, when you are on the pages notice what that is. If you don’t have the keyword where variations of those keywords in there, you’re going to have a trouble, you’re going to have some problems listing it.
And I would go as far as H2 tags, I don’t stop there I go as far as H2, so those are kind of your subtitles and go ahead and get those within some key words of what you want. And then I would inject about a list a thousand fifteen hundred word of content. So, most e-Commerce, that’s where they like say oh wait wait, No I’m you know my store is all product based, I wanted to look simple and beautiful I can’t put a thousand words in my category, in my page.
So, what I recommend is typically visually have your product laid out the same way just put the content at the bottom. Okay, so if you don’t want a long piece of content, what you can do is you can use accordion style content. So you’ve seen those where you click the button and then the content adds up. So you could do like frequently asked questions, just have the subtitle and then as users are you know if they’re interested in the topic, they’ll click on it and then the content would open up. But for the search engine part, they read everything. So to them it’s their food to understand what your website’s about and then you have to have like if you don’t have it– most e-Commerce sites don’t have a lot of descriptions especially on their category pages. That’s why Google bots don’t understand what the contents about because it’s all scattered with different products et cetera.
Trent: But if you had like that to be clear you’re right you’re attempting to rank the category page on which there are multiple products you’re not doing right for every single product page.
Rich: So, let me back up for e-Commerce, you typically want to do it for a category page and here’s why. A visitor comes in, guess what’s going to happen, visitors is going to go and click through to the product and see what the product is about they have a lot of options they can go ahead and click through the products. What Google registered is, “Oh, they’ve found what they’re looking for”
They went ahead start engaging, if you start ranking for a product, user come, they see the product they see the players they don’t like it they’re back out. Guess what Google wasn’t. They didn’t find what they like, so we’re not going to serve this very high, does that make sense?
So what you want to do is you want to serve up a kind of a category page where you can funnel them through to your channel, to your products or to other categories. So that to Google it’s highly engaging, you got like 5-10 clicks on the website so that oh at least we’re serving up something that people want and you’re engaging your users are creating a long time on your Website because you’re showing them something that they want. So that’s why you want to use category of pages.
But back to the content, you definitely want to have the keywords in the content. But a lot of times, amateurs or novices who would try to do SEO on their website, they think of the keyword they want and then they overstuffed it. That’s a newbie mistake because Google’s algorithm they’re onto that back in the 90s, you could do that, you know people just write the same thing over and over and then they get on the first page, you can’t do that anymore.
So then once there’s 1%-2% of the keyword density for the focused keyword that you’re going after. So say for a thousand words article, you only want about you know 10-20 of that keyword within the article. I wouldn’t have it the same exact verbatim phrase; I would mix it up right. It just mixed up the keyword as much as you can have a couple maybe five, that’s exactly the same what you want and that way it’s natural and organic for Google to see.
Trent: Does A-HREFS, once you’ve done your on-page SEO, do they score it at all? Does the tool give you feedback?
Rich: We don’t use H-REFS to score the on-page, I’m not sure if they do or not, I’ve never used it, if they do.
Trent: How did you come up– You’ve got your 80 point checklist that you’re using for on-page, how did you come up with what is on that checklist?
Rich: So there’s a lot of– I mean there’s checklists out there that you can kind of look at. So, these are just very simple things for someone who hasn’t done any SEO to kind of get a handle on. There is also data structures, there’s schemas, there’s site maps, there’s internal links which are gets a little bit more advanced and complicated.
You can do schemas where you can essentially give your self-reviews, a risk snippet schemas of your products based on other people’s feedback and then Google will actually read it and give you the five stars using those and in product sometimes in Google rankings where you see five stars on listing. So that’s something you can totally control on-page wise as well.
So those are some of the things that we can add into the page itself on-page wise to make that appear. So it gets more technical and more complicated. But I just want to go over something that’s very simple for someone who has really looked into so much but that’s something that they could look into it once they figure out how much volume is in that key word they say, “Okay, let me go into my page and kind of just tweak these things after you tweet these things” you’re going to get results within like a week or two very quickly.
Trent: So when now that you’ve gone on-page complete now, the bigger and the more laborious and the more long task is the off page SEO link building.
Rich: That’s essentially yeah. That’s where SEO is at the end of the day right. So I tell my clients like you know on-pages, it may sound complicated but actually everything is very duplicate able.
So meaning that you can look at your competitors and see exactly what you’re doing on-page because Google is bots have to read it. So it’s actually visible to us as well. We can just do, “Oh do you see what is up?” so you can copy each out there, you can copy your competitor, your competitors can copy you at the end of the day, if everybody is copying each other, how is Google going to know how to rank one about the other?
The way they determine that is through the authority of the website, the domain itself and authority is established from back links other websites linking back to your website. This is how Google’s algorithm like start beating out all the other search engines because of this algorithm calculation, other links linking back to your website as a calculation for votes.
So with that, there’s a lot of strategies out there, there is a lot of ways to do back link building; the way we approach it, we approach it with the philosophy of how do we make our website look like a big brand? Because that’s what Google ultimately wants to rank high is they want a brand– you know even if you’re not Coca-Cola, there’s a lot of niches out there; they want to brand within that niche.
So, you have to think in terms of, “How do I look like a brand and not like a scummy affiliate type of deal?” So the difference between a big brand and affiliate was say okay, number one a brand a real business will probably have an address. If you don’t have an address you’re not verified on Google, Apple or bing, you’re probably not a real business in Google’s eyes. So the first thing we want to do is verify yourself on those three assets and then build the citations to those local addresses your name address and phone number even though if you’re not a local business, “Hey, I’m not a local business, I’m not trying to go for why I don’t need citations” but it does help because it allows Google to understand that you’re a business at a physical location. Okay, so that’s number one.
Second layer are social signals were media signals, so any brand would promote themselves. If you’re not promoting yourself it’s kind of like you’re not really active as a business. So that’s just a signal that what they looking at. So you want to have an active Facebook, Twitter, social media accounts, YouTube account. What we typically do is we have a blog and then we build RSS feed to the social media sites and then so whenever we post something on the blog, you actually post out to the social media sites itself and feeds back because it has a link to our specific focus pages.
Trent: You could do that but just by using buffer as well; someone’s got to do the RSS feed, you could just be the buffer zone or you’re just like Yeah
Rich: So you could do something like that and then what we also do is we do press releases but we also built other Web 2.0 assets that did you know that….
Sites.google.com so, it’s Google’s platform that allows you to kind of it’s there form a weekly where you know it’s something that they allow webmaster to kind of build a page, a site on their own site and you could do that with your own pages and add some content and link it back to your Website. So there’s a lot of these Web 2.0 assets that you can actually create content on, have a link to them back to your website, does that make sense?
Trent: It does.
Rich: Yeah, so there’s an over there, there’s literally hundreds of these assets you just got to evaluate how much domain authority each one has, if it’s worth it for us to build. But we definitely have our list of priorities of which type of assets to go after and build links in the…
Trent: How does A-HREFS come into play
Trent: So let’s get you to repeat what you said in the last one minute.
Rich: So the second layer of what we do is Web 2.0. So we have Web 2.0 sites that we can essentially go out and create an account and put some content in have a link back to our website.
Okay, so the first two layers that I take then along with the Web 2.0 press releases all these things they’re very controllable by us, we can go out and kind of get these links and build up our authority that way. You can’t control some of your anger texts on some of the Web 2.0s like press releases and social media. You’re not going to control too much of those anchor text coming back into text are essentially the word blue, you know underlined word, you can say … linking back to your website. Obviously you want to do a correct proportion. You don’t want overall optimize that either but that’s something that you want to kind of do it naturally, make it look natural.
Trent: So when you’re looking for places to get back links, does the A-HREFS tool help you to figure out where you should go?
Rich: A-HREFS have a specific section that just says referring domains that you can click on and it shows all your competitors, all the links that they’ve gotten, how they’ve gotten it where it is, so a lot. Oh we could go this link, I know they made a— they got the link back, it has this much value, let’s go do the same thing.
So you kind of build up a list of network that you can go back right away and get those links. So that’s one way and then the last tier, the third tier is actually the outreach where we actually go out to bloggers and webmasters and ask them to sponsor for a link. So essentially, we could write them an article that says, “Hey, can we have an article on your website and or sponsor it?” Give us some money to have a link back to us. And that’s a very solid way of doing that as well back until you find that when you’re reaching out to buy links like that the acceptance rate is at high or is it low?
Rich: It’s not so high but you know we played the volume game on that; that way we can still get enough links.
Trent: Okay, so you’re using A-HREFS to figure out, “Hey, these are all the sites that we might like to have a link on” And then you probably have a process that a virtual assistant uses to do that outreach to each of the site owners with your proposal, was it more or less correct?
Rich: Yeah we have an in-house team that just does nothing but link building and you know we do submissions and outreach so to kind of put these back links.
Trent: So, I would imagine and obviously there’s a lot of details in the outreach in the off-page SEO but in a nutshell, it’s covering off your bases with your social presence your Web 2.0 properties and is best you can and then going out and looking for sponsored links kind of like an ongoing forever, forever basis, would that be a fair assessment?
Trent: Yeah, obviously we want to assess how far we are along with the campaign; sometimes what happens is we get him on the first page like that where on the top and we’ll just stop pressure on the sources on that link, on that focused URL and then move on to the next one and brought it up.
Trent: So being as we’re having such horrible connectivity today I think we’ll go a little shorter on the interview than longer let me sum up with this last question. In your role as an SEO professional, has there and you don’t have to name any companies or anything like that but have you ever made any really big mistakes that you ended up you or your client paying a penalty for and what kind of lessons did you learn from that?
Rich: Yeah, you know in my early days when I was doing SEO, I was just trying it doing whatever you can to kind of get Google traffic; so in my early days, I remember I used to bill like we used to be an ass sense. I used to be an ass sense, I don’t know if you remember that affiliate. So we used to build out like 100 pages, 100 websites every month based on niches and we just produce whatever content out there that’s available kind of rehash it and just posted out there and try to get traffic and then do kind of advertising as an arbitrage.
Obviously, it’s very short term and you know you made money at the time but then make money in a long term. So the way I look at it now it is that. That was very short term thinking in terms of how we do it and that’s not something I would do today. But that was definitely an interesting beginning for me to kind of see how that works. You know if I were to do it now, I would probably make it more into a platform, a publication, focused rather than a hundred sites just focus on one site or two sites and then build it out.
Trent: Yeah, I actually got my start almost 10 years ago in exactly the same way I was building little micro sites. I was using the best spinner; it was hot and I was driving getting used to rank and I was sending the traffic to Amazon and getting affiliate commissions and it worked really well until Penguin and Panda came down and then it was over.
Rich: That’s right, that’s right. So we had the same beginning on we did. Yes. That’s awesome. Those are the days right. Like, “Wow! This actually works” Let me tell you if I can make $10 a site, let me make one hundred of those, right?
Trent: All right well thank you so much for coming on, if anyone has any questions or maybe they’re interested in working with you what is the single best way to get in touch?
Hansel had the right idea when he dropped breadcrumbs through the forest to find his way home. Though his trail of breadcrumbs didn’t help him much (alas, birds ate them), the story inspired the name of a website navigation element. If you’re serious about search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience, you need to know about what breadcrumbs mean for your website.
Breadcrumbs are an especially important component for larger websites that have a lot of low-level pages. Search engines use them to get a better understanding of how your website is structured; and your users rely on them to keep tabs on where they are in the hierarchy of your website, so they don’t get lost.
When you consider that 75% of website users rank “ease of use” as the most important characteristic of a website, this is something to pay attention to. In this guide and tutorial, you’ll learn how to use breadcrumbs to enhance your SEO and help your users navigate.
What are Breadcrumbs on a Website?
You may already be familiar with website breadcrumbs, even if you don’t realize it. In the most common cases, breadcrumbs are a sequence of small, named links that represent each page in a page hierarchy on your site. They expand as a user goes deeper and deeper into your page hierarchy.
They usually present at the top of the page under the main navigation menu. This provides a reference for where the user is and an easy way for them to jump back to previous pages.
The user doesn’t have to visit each page in the hierarchy for the breadcrumbs to present themselves. These types of breadcrumbs don’t show the user’s path through the site. Instead, they show the user where they are on the site in relation to other pages in a page hierarchy.
Here’s an example of how breadcrumbs look on eBay:
You can reach this page by going to the eBay home page, clicking on “Clothing, Shoes & Accessories,” “Men,” and then on “Men’s Clothing” But, most likely, you’ll arrive on this page by Googling “Men’s T-Shirts on eBay” and clicking on the page in the results.
The breadcrumbs still appear when you enter through search, providing a reference for where you are on the website.
Most computers (both Macs and PCs) use a similar breadcrumb system to help users navigate through their files. Here’s what it looks like on a Mac:
And here’s what it looks like on a PC:
Website breadcrumbs apply the same concept to the pages on your site. These are what are known as hierarchy-based breadcrumbs because they show the hierarchy of a sequence of file folders or pages.
They are also sometimes referred to as location-based breadcrumbs because they show the user where they are in reference to other files or pages.
There are other types of breadcrumbs, too. These are known as attribute-based breadcrumbs and path-based breadcrumbs.
Attribute-based breadcrumbs are the second most common type. They are a popular tool on eCommerce websites because they indicate what categories or tags are associated with the page that is currently being viewed. This allows the user to more easily shop by category or tag.
For example, let’s say you’re looking at a Bohemian-style rug shaped like a rectangle that’s 9 feet by 12 feet and between $300 and $600 (very specific!). You decide to shop on Overstock.com to get a great deal:
Here’s a great example of hierarchy-based breadcrumbs and attribute-based breadcrumbs in action at the same time.
Not only can you navigate the website based on the page hierarchy, but you can also navigate your shopping results by specific categories, like price and style. This makes it easier for you to find the rug you want, then further explore the Home Décor section so you can find drapes to match!
Path-based breadcrumbs are perhaps the least common. They present as the exact path the user follows as they navigate from page to page on the website.
Essentially, they look like this:
First Page > Second Page > Third Page > Current Page
While there are some benefits to this method, it can also be confusing for the user because it doesn’t show them the actual structure of your website. Path-based breadcrumbs also act as a stand-in for the forward and back buttons on a user’s browser, which makes them more-or-less obsolete.
How Breadcrumbs Help with Navigation
You can probably already tell how breadcrumbs can help with navigation. Consider the eBay website.
eBay needs to contain a great deal of information, all of which must be categorized and easy to find. It must also be accessible to shoppers who may not be tech-savvy, as well as those with disabilities who rely on assistive technologies like screen-readers.
Without the breadcrumbs as a reference, it would be easy for users to get lost on the website as they search for the information they’re looking for. There are thousands of pages on the website.
Using breadcrumbs also makes eBay easy for search engines to crawl and reference, which makes It easy for users to find specific pages using a search engine. If we do a Google search for “eBay Men’s Clothing,” the first result is the eBay Men’s Clothing page:
You can also see the “Men’s Clothing” page in the hierarchy of the search results. Similarly, breadcrumbs help Google display a page hierarchy for the page it’s showing in search results.
Here’s the second result for a search of “What are breadcrumbs in WordPress”:
Breadcrumbs only get used as a navigation tool about 6% of the time, while 40% of users click on embedded links, 31% use the browser back button, and 22% click on the navigation bar.
According to user experience expert Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group, “Breadcrumbs never cause problems in user testing: People might overlook this small design element, but they never misinterpret breadcrumb trails or have trouble operating them.”
Incidentally, breadcrumbs also “take up very little space on the page,” so they won’t use up too much of your page’s real estate.
How Breadcrumbs Help with SEO
As we referenced above, breadcrumbs help Google determine how your website is structured. The search engine can even use your breadcrumbs as search results, which can help users find specific pages on your site.
From an SEO and a business perspective, this gives your site a better chance of taking up more space on a search engine results page (SERP). As you can see in the eBay example, eBay not only occupies the first Google search result, but it’s subpages occupy the next three rows as well.
Naturally, doing a search that includes “eBay” is likely to bring up the eBay website, but you get the idea.
According to Yoast, breadcrumbs can also lower bounce rates. Because it’s more likely that someone will enter your website through organic search, breadcrumbs can help guide them to your higher-level pages if they can’t find what they’re looking for on the first one.
How Do You Enable Breadcrumbs?
If you want to enable breadcrumbs in WordPress, you can find multiple plugins that will do the task for you. All you have to do is install and configure them.
Enabling Breadcrumbs with Yoast
If you already use the SEO tool Yoast, you can enable Yoast breadcrumbs as well. One way is to add the following code to your WordPress theme in the location you want your breadcrumbs to appear (usually underneath the main navigation)
Yoast also notes that “depending on your theme, you may or may not need to add in the beginning <php and ending ?> php tags. If you are not sure, your theme developer can help.”
Once you embed the code, Yoast allows you to enable breadcrumbs directly in the tool. Here’s how to do it, step-by-step:
Step 1: Log in to your WordPress site and go to your dashboard.
Your dashboard should immediately appear when you log in.
Step 2: Go to the SEO tab
The ‘SEO’ tab is in the menu on the left-hand side.
Step 3: Click on ‘Search Appearance’
‘Search Appearance’ will appear in the list of SEO options.
Step 4: Click on the ‘Breadcrumbs’ tab.
You’ll find the ‘Breadcrumbs’ tab on the right.
Step 5: Toggle the ‘Breadcrumbs’ switch to ‘Enabled.’
You can remove Yoast’s breadcrumbs later if you like. All you have to do is toggle this option to ‘Disabled.’
Step 6: Set your breadcrumb settings to your preferences.
Yoast provides a few options for managing your breadcrumbs. For example, you can customize the separator that appears between them, add a prefix, or bold the last page listed in the breadcrumbs.
Step 7: Save your changes.
Once you’re finished, just save your changes.
On some platforms, you may need to add breadcrumbs manually, or you may need to reach out to the provider or the community for help. There doesn’t appear to be an easy way to enable breadcrumbs on platforms like Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix.
For example, Squarespace is a closed website building system, so it doesn’t allow for much customization. You’ll need to use the JSON-LD method instead of microdata if you want to add your own code.
You can inject your own code using “Code Injection” in the “Advanced” section under “Page Settings,” but only if you have a Premium account. Of course, you’ll need to compile your own code to do this, so it takes a little bit of coding skill.
Still, even if you have a website that isn’t on WordPress, you should still consider enabling breadcrumbs. They’re immensely important for SEO, and they could just improve your bounce rate and keep visitors on your site.
If you need help adding breadcrumbs to your website, don’t hesitate to reach out to use. We can provide a custom solution so you can take advantage of this benefit.
Remember, hierarchy-based breadcrumbs are usually your best option. They’ll help your users navigate your site and they’ll make it easier for Google to analyze and index your pages. If you have an eCommerce website, consider enabling both hierarchy-based breadcrumbs and attribute-based breadcrumbs so your customers can shop more easily.
To learn more about how you can improve your website and your business, contact us at Bliss Drive for a free consultation!
There’s a reason everyone has a smartphone. Not only are smartphones the go-to tool for keeping in touch with family and friends, but they are quickly replacing the device that was once dominant in Internet browsing: the desktop computer — and by extension, the laptop computer.
According to Statista, mobile browsing now accounts for approximately half of all website traffic worldwide. This statistic has stayed at about 50% since 2017.
In the United States, that percentage is even higher. ZDNet reported in February 2020 that 3 out of 5 Americans use a mobile device first when surfing the web. They also revealed that 52% of online shoppers purchased through a mobile device.
This shouldn’t be that surprising. It’s much easier to sit back in your armchair and browse the web on your phone than it is to boot up your computer or laptop. Who wants to click with a mouse when you can just tap with your finger?
But this trend also has huge implications for your business, especially if you rely on your website to attract customers, generate leads, or make sales. If you haven’t done so already, it’s past time for you to adapt your website for Mobile SEO.
If you don’t know what mobile SEO is or if you’re unsure if your website is optimized, don’t sweat it. This guide will walk you through the basics of how to optimize website for mobile devices.
What is Mobile SEO and Why is It Important for Mobile Phone Users?
Mobile SEO is two things in one. It’s search engine optimization (SEO) combined with a form of website development that generates a flawless viewing experience on mobile devices. In other words, it applies the best practices of SEO concerning your website, but specifically to how people can find and view it on their smartphone.
Most other Internet companies have already adapted to the mobile trend. Google (which is basically synonymous with the Internet these days) is one company that pushed hard for mobile-first optimization.
Google now uses what it calls “mobile-first indexing,” which means the search engine “predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking,” rather than the desktop version of the content of your website – this is mobile SEO.
That means that if your website doesn’t load properly or contains missing content when it’s viewed on mobile, Google won’t index it properly — it doesn’t matter how well it’s been structured for desktop.
Naturally, this can have huge implications for your site’s Google ranking. You’ve put a lot of time and money into your website. It would be a shame for all of that to go to waste just because it isn’t mobile optimized.
As a first step, just see how your website looks and feels on your mobile device. You can also use the following tools to test your webpage’s load speed and see how it looks on different types of mobile devices:
If content is missing, if images aren’t loading, if the text is so small it’s unreadable, and if it’s taking too long for content to load, your website will need some attention.
You can also check to see if specific webpages are generally mobile-friendly by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test for Mobile SEO tool on Google Search Console. Just plug in the URL, and after a brief analysis period, you’ll get your results.
Hopefully, they should look something like this:
If not, your first objective should be to adapt your site so that it works on mobile devices. There are a few ways to do this, but one method is now preferred over the others: using mobile-responsive design.
Implementing Mobile SEO – Responsive Web Design for a Mobile Phone
Most website building platforms and WordPress themes are now designed to be mobile-responsive. In fact, it’s rare to find one that isn’t. When your website is mobile-responsive, no matter what content you put on your site, it should rearrange itself to fit neatly and logically when being viewed from a smaller screen, such as that of a smartphone or tablet.
In the past, developers would build a “mobile version” of their website to be served dynamically to mobile users, or they would create a separate URL that their site would redirect to when being accessed by a mobile phone. While these two routes technically work, they aren’t good for your mobile SEO.
According to the Search Engine Journal, there is no separate Google Index for mobile, so only the “desktop version” of your website would be indexed, and it wouldn’t be mobile-optimized. Furthermore, Google wouldn’t register that your website is mobile-friendly, which could hurt you in search rankings.
If you’ve created or updated your website recently, you may already be covered. But if you’re using an older website builder or if you hard-coded your website from scratch, you may not have a mobile-responsive design.
Mobile SEO: Making Your Website Mobile-Responsive
Altogether, there are three ways to make your website mobile responsive.
1 – Use a mobile-responsive WordPress theme.
Again, very few WordPress themes aren’t mobile-responsive these days. But if you’ve got one of them, it’s probably time to move on.
This may require you to do some redesign work, but it’s the easiest way to avoid any hiccups when making the switch. The alternatives are to transfer your website to a new platform, or start a new website from scratch.
2 – Add code to make your website mobile responsive.
You can use HTML and cascading style sheets (CSS) to automatically resize, hide, shrink, and enlarge objects on your website. This code only works with a mobile-responsive design and may be necessary if your theme or website building platform doesn’t insert it automatically.
Just insert the following <meta> element to the head of the HTML on all your webpages:
This instructs the website browser to scale the page’s dimensions based on the size of the user’s screen. If your website isn’t built to be mobile SEO responsive in the first place, this could make the user experience worse if you don’t address the sizing of every element on the page.
For example, images that are displayed with a width wider than the user’s screen will force the user to zoom out or scroll horizontally just to see the entire webpage.
To make an image scale as well, you can set the CSS “width” property to 100%, like this example with “img_1.jpg”:
<img src="img_1.jpg" style="width:100%;">
This will make the image scale either larger or smaller than its original size to fit the screen. Naturally, you don’t want your image to appear giant on your user’s mobile screen. To avoid that possibility, just add the “max-width:100%” property, which allows the images to scale down but not up:
You can do the same thing with text by adding HTML as well. Here’s how you can scale an H1 tag to “viewport width” or “vw”:
<h1 style="font-size:10vw">Header Text Here</h1>
If you don’t have a mobile-responsive theme, you may have other elements on your website that require your attention, such as buttons and widgets. You may need to add code to each of these elements to make them size correctly on various screen sizes.
3 – Transfer your website or start from scratch.
If your website is still being hosted by a platform that looks like it hasn’t been updated since 2002, it might be time to find a new home on the Internet for your business. If your current website builder or hosting service doesn’t give you the tools you need to make your website mobile-responsive, they probably aren’t worth your time and money anyway.
The good news is that you should be able to keep your domain.
Do your best to save all your content when making the transfer. You may be able to export your site or even transfer it to a new platform automatically.
Mobile SEO: How to Optimize Your Website for Mobile Phones: Step by Step
Beyond mobile responsiveness, there are a few other elements of mobile SEO you may need to address on your website. Here’s what you can do, step by step.
1 – Make Your Webpages Load Fast
If you haven’t already, try running your homepage through Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. If you end up with a low speed score, the tool will provide you with plenty of information about what’s slowing your page down.
You can repeat this step for all your webpages to get an idea of which elements are slowing down your website on mobile devices.
You’ll see a detailed examination of what’s making your website slow in the “Lab Data” section. It might look something like this:
You may also need to reduce the impact of third-party code on your site or implement HTTP caching to speed up your load time when people visit your website repeatedly. If you need help, you may want to reach out to some experts to work on your website for you.
There are a few other tricks to reduce load times. One of the most basic is to reduce the “weight” of your webpages by literally minimizing the number of bytes that need to be loaded.
You can do this by compressing images and optimizing other assets like videos. You can even combine your images into CSS sprites to make them load faster. You can do these things manually, or you can use tools that do them automatically (there are tons of compression plugins available for WordPress).
If possible, consider uploading images in newer formats like JPEG-XR or WebP rather than GIF, PNG, or JPEG. These formats are better optimized for mobile viewing.
Meanwhile, instead of using a plug-in to play videos, consider using HTML5 by implementing the <video> and <source> elements where you want the video on the page. It should look like this:
The three video formats supported by HTML5 are MP4, WebM, and Ogg.
2 – Don’t Use “Intrusive” Pop-ups
We’re not going to wade into the pop-up debate too much, but if you use pop-ups on your website, you should be aware that they can impact your mobile SEO.
Originally, webmasters may have suggested you disable pop-ups complete for mobile viewers. More recently, Google has announced that some types of pop-ups won’t hurt your rankings, but others do.
Mainly, Google wants website owners to do away with what it deems “intrusive” pop-ups. These are usually pop-ups that take up the entire screen on a mobile device or otherwise make it difficult to access content on a smartphone.
According to the Google Webmaster Central Blog, techniques that make content less accessible include the following:
Showing a pop-up that covers the main content immediately after the user accesses the page or while they’re browsing. Displaying a standalone pop-up that must be dismissed before the user accesses the main content. Using a layout where the main content has been inclined beneath the fold and the above-the-fold content appears similar to the standalone pop-up.
Generally, if your pop-ups look like this on mobile, Google will penalize you for it:
So, if you’re going to have non-essential pop-ups on your website experience, make sure they are small, non-intrusive, and easy to recognize and dismiss for a nice mobile SEO experience, like this banner on the top of the webpage below:
3 – Don’t Block Resources
The problem with this approach these days is something we’ve already mentioned: Google’s mobile-first indexing technique. Whatever resources and content don’t appear on your mobile site won’t be crawled by Google. As far as the search engine is concerned, those assets probably don’t even exist for mobile SEO.
If you can’t build a strong mobile experience with what you have, it may be time to take a second look at your design. If you absolutely need to block content or resources on your site, make sure they aren’t critical to your users.
4 – Make Content Accessible
The term “accessibility” doesn’t just refer to how quickly your website loads or how easy it is to navigate. According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), putting accessibility into practice “is essential for developers and organizations that want to create high-quality websites and web tools, and not exclude people from using their products and services.”
If the Internet is for everyone, that means it needs to be accessible to people with disabilities too. Accessibility isn’t just an important ethical decision, it’s also an important business practice. Google will penalize websites that aren’t accessible.
Luckily, many of the aspects of mobile SEO overlap with accessibility. For example, all the following are elements of good mobile SEO, but they also exist to enhance your site’s accessibility:
Large, readable fonts
Color contrasting text
Image alt attributes
Link anchor texts
On-page table of contents
Image alt attributes work with screen-reading technology to describe images to users who are visually impaired. Video transcriptions make videos more accessible to people who are hard of hearing. On-site sitemaps and easy navigation tools make it easier for people who use voice commands to browse your website.
Start by looking at the way your pages appear on mobile. Are you using negative space to make it easy to identify content? Is your typeface large enough to read on the screen?
You should also pay attention to your image alt attributes and captions. If someone with a screen reader hears the alt attribute attached to one of your images, will they understand what is being depicted, or will they hear something like “image underscore seven three two one dot jpeg?”
Keep in mind that you’ll need to optimize your website for all sorts of devices, whether they are a phone, a tablet, or an AI assistant device.
Finally, you should follow general Mobile SEO guidelines to ensure your website is optimized for mobile. That means installing Google Search Console, generating and submitting a sitemap, using keywords, and adding structured data so it’s easy for Google to crawl your pages, among other strategies.
Check out some of our great mobile SEO and general SEO resources to learn more about on-page and off-page SEO: