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Changes that may affect your Google ranking

Google will be making two key changes to the way it ranks websites and these changes have the potential to impact how high your business website ranks in the coming months.

We understand that keeping up with the latest digital trends is difficult when you’re busy running a business, so here is a quick snap shot of key changes Google will be implementing and what you need to do to ensure your website ranking isn’t impacted.

Focus on mobile friendly websites

What’s changing?

Google is making changes to the way it scans and ranks websites in their search results, with an emphasis being put on mobile friendly websites. As part of the changes, when Google’s search bots (automated software used to browse your website and collect the information Google needs in order to rank and display your website in their search results) come to your website, they will be considering the mobile version of your website as your ‘primary’ website and basing your website’s ranking based on this version of your website.

Previously, Google’s website ranking was based on the desktop version of websites. Given the vast majority of Google searches are conducted via mobile devices, Google has made this change to ensure that users are receiving the best results via search.

What can you do about it?

If your website isn’t mobile friendly/responsive, it’s time to look at new website themes (if you’ve got a do-it-yourself website via platforms like WordPress or Wix) or speak to your website developer to identify what modifications, if any, might need to be made to your website.

As part of its focus on mobile friendly content, Google will look at the following factors when scanning the mobile version of your website:

  • Mobile friendly/responsive display page templates that adjust to the screen/display of different smart phone and tablet devices.
  • Page load time: making sure your website is quick to load and that any images are optimised for mobile.
  • Content quality - if you have a mobile website that displays less information than the desktop version of your site, you may notice a drop in your Google ranking.

Tip: If you use a website developer to manage your website, the cost of adjusting an already responsive website template should be between $300 to $1000. The cost of creating a new responsive template for your website could cost between $800 to $1,500.

Increased website security

What’s changing?

As part of Google’s call for a more secure internet, the Chrome browser will mark websites that don’t have appropriate security certificates (secure websites are generally identified by the ‘https’ at the start of their website addresses) and will be marked as ‘not secure’.

If you don’t have the appropriate security in place, when a potential customer comes to your website they’ll see a warning screen similar to this image below.

A screen shot showing the Google website security warning

 

There is also potential for your website’s search engine ranking on Google being effected, with websites that meet the necessary security measures being placed higher than unsecure sites.

What can you do about it?

The main thing to do is ensure that you have an appropriate Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate installed on your website.

A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate is a digital certificate that verifies the security of a website and encrypts any information users send to the website securely. For example, if your website has a contact form, your SSL certificate will ensure that any personal contact information provided is transmitted from the user to you without risk of being intercepted by a third party.

If you maintain your own website, you’ll need to purchase and install an appropriate SSL certificate to ensure your website meets Google’s security standards. In most instances, your website hosting company is likely to sell SSL certificates, which should cost between $30 to $100 to buy. Your website hosting company should be able to provide you with instructions on how to correctly install the certificate on your website.

If your website is managed by a third party, contact them to ask if your website has an SSL certificate installed. If it doesn’t, discuss what your options are to have this installed onto your website. In addition to paying for the cost of the SSL certificate, you may need to pay an installation fee (which should be around $30 to $150).

Looking for advice on how to set up a website for your business?

When it comes to setting up a website, it can be hard to know where to start. Should you do it yourself or hire a website professional? And what information and functionality should your website include?

If this scenario sounds familiar, you may want to attend our Website Planning workshop. The session will provide you with information to help you determine the kind of website you need, explore the main options for website development as well as sharing tips on managing search engine optimisation and monitoring website performance.

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