Is your website ready for the next Google SSL update and how will it impact your business?

Does your website start with “http://” or “https://”?

If it is the former rather than the latter, your website visitors (and your business) may have a large surprise starting October 1, 2017!

According to Google, “Starting October 2017, Chrome (version 62) will show a “NOT SECURE” warning when users enter text in a form on an HTTP page, and for all HTTP pages in Incognito mode.”

More simply put, if your site does not have an SSL certificate on October 1, 2017, Google Chrome will mark it as “NOT SECURE” if there are any text fields.

What does an SSL do for me?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificates encrypt the connection between the web browser and the server where the website resides. This makes it much harder for someone to intercept the traffic and steal the information, which in turn leads to a safer browsing experience for the average web user.

This is the second step in Google’s plan to force users to employ an SSL certificate. Step one was implemented in January of this year. It marked sites as “NOT SECURE” if they did not have an SSL certificate and accepted personal data, like credit cards or PayPal. This step, implemented October 1, will mark any site with text fields as “NOT SECURE” without an SSL. The final step, planned to roll out soon, is to mark any site as “NOT SECURE” that does not have an SSL certificate.

Because it is so much more secure, Google would prefer to have all websites protected by an SSL certificate. They have reinforced this notion in their ranking algorithm as well, with SSL protected websites ranking more highly.

What does this mean for you?

Your business and your website traffic are at risk with no SSL certificate!

What should I do to avoid this situation?

Talk to your webmaster or the person that handles your website hosting about adding an SSL.

Don’t have an SSL or not sure where to start?

Contact Integrity First Technology Solutions, Inc. (412.559.7177 or si@iftsdesign.com) and let them take care of it for you.

Don’t miss this opportunity to upgrade your website. Protect your clients and your website’s reputation!

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Get More Clients – A 7-Point Checklist to Increase Your Website Inquiries for Law Firms (or any other small business)

 

Have you ever wondered if your website is any good?  Better yet, have you ever wondered if Google thinks that your website is any good?  If no one visits your website, you won’t get any social shares or traffic.  Even worse, you won’t increase your Google ranking and get your website on that elusive first page with the amazing click-rates.

Follow the tips below, and you will increase the likelihood of your website ranking higher and generating more traffic.  Here is a 7-point checklist that will help you get started:

  1. Make sure that your website has an SSL certificate

Starting at the end of January 2017, Google Chrome will now alert users that a site is not secure if there is no SSL certificate and the site collects credit card or password information.  They intend to expand this rule to all websites.  Be proactive and protect your online presence with an SSL certificate.  Additionally, Google looks favorably upon websites that have certificates currently.

  1. Put your phone number in large font in the header of your website.

According to Google Mobile Movement, 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours.  You want it to be as easy as possible for that prospect or client to get in touch with you.  The easier it is, the more likely they are to send that email, pick up the phone or visit your business.  60% of local businesses don’t have their phone number on their website (according to BIA Kelsey).  Make sure that you aren’t one of them!

  1. Include compelling H1 or H2 headlines on your homepage

When it comes to writing headlines, it’s important that you include at least one keyword and format them properly using H1, H2, & H3 tags to tell Google what your page is about.  This should result in Google sending proper traffic to your site.

  1. Make sure that your content is keyword rich and describes exactly what your business does

By having at least 500 words of benefi­t-driven, keyword-rich content to tell Google what your website is all about, you will have a lot better chance of attracting the right visitors.  Remember, content is king so make sure that you have copy that is unique to YOU!

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  1. Include your top 3 practice areas with benefi­t-driven, keyword-rich copy

Try to minimize the legal jargon and speak to the average individual.  Let your site visitors know that you understand their problem and that you are the person to ­fix their problem. A simple trick is to minimize the times that you say “we” and instead use “you” or “your”. Try it!

  1. Professional branding is a must

Your website is your online face to the world and you only have 8 seconds to make a lasting impression.  Make sure that you have a professional logo, strong brand messaging and great looking aesthetics.  Try to build your personal brand into your business.  People trust individuals and like to put a face to a company.

  1. Be impossible to resist

Create a lead magnet (ebook, guide, checklist, etc.) to offer to your website visitors.  Make sure that it will be of great value to them, so that they want to provide their email address to download it.  When you email it to them, surprise them with a special offer available only to those who download it.  Keep the lead magnet short and easy to read.  Avoid industry jargon.

 

To recap, 7 quick wins that you can implement for your homepage are:

1. Make sure that your website has an SSL certificate
2. Put your phone number in large font in the header of your website
3. Include compelling H1 or H2 headlines on your homepage
4. Make sure that your content is keyword rich and describes exactly what your business does
5. Include your top 3 practice areas with benefi­t-driven, keyword-rich copy
6. Professional branding is a must
7. Be impossible to resist

If you found these 7 tips helpful, download the entire 47-point guide from Integrity First Technology Solutions.

 

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Does my Business Need a Website?

Example website for a company

If you are asking yourself, “Does my business need a website?” the answer is unequivocally “YES!”  Over 2.6 billion local searches are performed monthly (Small Business Community – https://smallbusinesscommunity.org/2013/03/15/online-marketing-for-local-business-introduction/).  Having a website isn’t just for e-commerce anymore; it’s a must for any legitimate business.  Your website should be the hub to your marketing plan.

You should implement a website for a number of reasons:

  1. Websites provide your contact information and location easily: 43% of searches use a local keyword.  86% of those convert to a phone call or visit to your physical location, according to SE Leads (http://localvox.com/resources/marketing-statistics/).  People aren’t just relying on the Yellow Pages or other print directories anymore. Instead, they’re trusting Google to list local businesses based on their search terms and location.
  1. Websites provide information about your business: Businesses spend thousands of dollars creating paper brochures and fliers that end up being thrown away or misplaced on desks.  Having a website allows you to change information real-time without having to pay printing costs. Customers and prospects will always receive the latest information when they visit your site.
  1. Websites allow you to attract new customers: Over 2.4 billion people use the internet daily.  By not having a website, you miss out on these potential customers.  Have you ever heard a business owner say, “No thanks, I have enough business”?
  1. Websites can establish trust and credibility: What your website looks like affects the perceived value of your business.  If it looks unappealing, is rife grammar mistakes and has broken functionality, people are going to assume that your business is exactly the same: dysfunctional.  Your website is a reflection of you and your business.  By having one that is grammatically correct and well structured, your business will gain instant credibility and represent the true nature of your expertise.  One important thing to remember is that it is BETTER TO HAVE NO WEBSITE THAN A BAD ONE.
  1. Websites can provide reviews, testimonials and your completed projects: People like to see that you are capable of doing the work that they want to hire you to do.  They also like to know that other people enjoyed working with you.  Therefore, providing customer testimonials or allowing reviews of your company online help to showcase your expertise and the qualities that make working with you unique.  You can also provide details of completed projects, showing the quality of your work.
  1. Websites provide the opportunity for a Vanity Email: Along with your site comes the ability to have an email address that is you@yourwebsite.com.  You may think that the Gmail, Yahoo! or Hotmail account that you currently have is fine, but it lacks professionalism.  A vanity email is much easier to remember and will resonate with your clients.  A 2015 Verisign study concluded that 65% of consumers consider a vanity domain to be more credible than a generic email account.
  1. Websites allow you to have a company blog or event page: A blog or event page on your site allows you to provide your clients with your latest promotions, events, discounts and more.  The blog also allows you to establish your expertise with your customers by writing high quality content that is relevant to them and your field.
  1. A website allows YOU to save time and money: Your website provides your clients with 24/7 access to your company and any information that you provide.  If you add a customer portal, ticketing system or even an FAQ section, you will streamline your process and decrease YOUR cost of customer support.
  1. A website allows you to keep up with your competition: I can guarantee that at least one of your competitors is online and if you are not, the additional people that they can reach will not even know about you.  Why make it easy for another company to beat you?  A good site can help level the playing field between big and small companies.

If you want to establish rapport with a broader set of customers, provide up to date information about your company, easily answer questions from clients, reach a new set of prospects and compete with your largest competitors, then a website is for you.  Integrity First Technology Solutions can help you create a successful website and more.  Contact us today!

 

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What do I Need in Order to have a Website for my Company?

In order to have a website for your company, you typically need to have three things:

  1. A domain
  2. A web host
  3. Your coded website files

Domain

http www go to website 3d abstract concept

As soon as you know the name of your company, you will want to start looking into a domain name, or what a user will type into their web browser to get to your site.  Generally, your domain name should be short and to the point.  There are two reasons for this:

  1. You want people to easily get to your site and short names are the easiest to remember
  2. This will most likely be your email address, so it should be easy to say and spell for others

For example, if your company name is “Betty Brown’s Cupcakes”, you may want to look into purchasing the domain “BBCupcakes.com”.  Some companies purchase multiple domain names and have them all forward to the main domain.  Using the cupcake company as an example, they may purchase “bettybrownscupcakes.com” as well as “bbcupcakes.com”.  Then they could have “bettybrownscupcakes.com” forward automatically to “bbcupcakes.com”.  This way, their customers are able to type the company name into the address bar and still arrive at the company’s main site.

A domain is normally purchased by year through a domain provider, but multiple years can be purchased as well, sometimes with a small per year discount.  The domain provider should provide a control panel that will allow you to configure your web host and email settings.

Web Host

3-Blog-Article-Image---webhostforwebsiteOnce you have a domain, you will need a space upon which to put your website.  This is where a web host comes in.  A web host will provide space on a server for you to put your site files.  They should assign you an IP address or server address, which you will need to enter in your domain settings.  This way, when your domain name is typed in a browser, the browser looks to the domain provider, who provides the server where your website sits.  The browser then looks at that server and is able to display your web page.

Website files

Once you have your structure in place for hosting your site, you will need an actual website to go on it.  To create your site, you will want to speak with a web design company about the best options for you.  They should go over site structure, content and framing as well as many other things that go into the creation of a website.

Bonus: SSL Certificate

It is highly recommended that an SSL certificate be purchased for your site to protect your site visitors.  For more information on SSL certificates, please see IFTS’ blog entry on SSLs.

Please see our blog entry next time on “My Site is Up and Running, so Now What?”

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What is an SSL Certificate and Does My Website Need One?

Previously, the popular opinion on SSL certificates was that the only sites that needed them were ones that collected personally identifiable information (such as a social security number), had a login feature or had a shopping cart/check out function (such as online banking, eBay or PayPal).

SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer” and it encrypts the connection between the client and server when browsing a website.  This is important because it makes the information that the user inputs on your website unreadable to anyone except your server.  It also makes your site more difficult to impersonate, and thus, your customers are less susceptible to phishing schemes.

Green SSL Security Button on white background.
Example SSL Security Button

An easy way to tell that an SSL certificate is being used on a website is an “https” in front of the domain name in the address bar.  Additionally, the browser will typically display a lock icon in the address bar or it will turn the address bar green.  According to this blog article by Google Webmaster Trends Analysts, Google is now looking for all websites to have SSL certificates.  They have called for “HTTPS everywhere on the web” to make the internet a safer place.  In fact, whether or not your site has an SSL certificate is now in their search-ranking algorithm.  This algorithm decides the order that webpages show up on Google results.  Therefore, to have a website perform to its highest standard, an SSL certificate is required.

How do I get an SSL certificate and how much will it cost?

To have an SSL certificate installed on your website, talk to your website hosting company.  They should be able to install the certificate and redirect your web traffic to the secure site.  This way, even if the non-secure version of your site is typed in the browser, visitors will be redirected seamlessly to the secure version.  In addition, you should resubmit your sitemap to Google and ensure that the default version of your domain that Google displays in the search results is the one protected by your SSL.

The annual cost of an SSL certificate can range from around fifty dollars to thousands.  The expensive certificates have a greater degree of encryption, have a greater brand recognition (e.g. Symantec), and are generally used when protecting social security numbers or banking information.  For a small to medium-sized business looking to protect their site visitors, one of the less expensive certificates should suffice as long as it uses 2048-bit key certificates.  Again, this is something to discuss with your webhost.

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