Google Search Goes to Secure Encryption Causing SEO Headaches

Google announced this past week that for all signed in users it will now show search results with an https:// address. This means that if you are signed in to Google+, Gmail or any other Google Properties when you go to the page will default to

So what you say, “no big deal”, well here’s the rest of the story…

“Today, a web site accessed through organic search results on (non-SSL) can see both that the user came from and their search query. (Technically speaking, the user’s browser passes this
information via the HTTP referrer field.) However, for organic search results on SSL search, a web site will only know that the user came from”

This is very important news for website owners who are using Google Analytics to track traffic on their website and for the SEO firms that you may employ who may be tracking keyword information. You can read the full article on the Google Webmaster blog.

The bottom-line is that Google is not going to show the search terms people used to find your website when doing organic searches. This information has been incredibly valuable. One, it let’s you know what keyword search activity has helped people to find you so you can build on these successes; two, it allows you to evaluate your current SEO strategy to adjust if needed; and three, it allows your Google AdWords account manager to harvest additional keywords to help your AdWords program perform better.

Google does go on to say that they are making the change to protect a user’s privacy but annoyingly enough they are showing the full data in Google AdWords accounts. As a result webmasters all around the world have gone crazy over this news. Here is a link to a site that has archived a few of the most interesting articles on this topic if you would like to read more.


Using Freeloaders to Your Advantage

You’ve hit the tipping point on all you do and now your website traffic is continuing to rise, in fact you’ve never had so many visitors to your website before, but your conversions have not grown at the same rate, what can you do?

First, it is great to be successful and have a high traffic site, but if you are not converting your readers into buyers you may want to consider a new strategy to specifically market to the reader-freeloaders on your website. Much of what you will select to do will be based on your specific sales goals.

If you are a local seller and your traffic has grown, but when you look in Google Analytics most of your traffic is outside of your service area, I would enjoy the numbers and know that Google will eventually award you with improved organic placement. However, I would put your out of area readers to work for your benefit by actively asking them to Google +1 your pages or like you on Facebook. You’ll then be able to get SEO juice off of the traffic that will never convert to a sale for you.

If you sell nationally or service locally but also sell products nationally, I would take a careful look at your traffic and the pages where you think you have freeloaders. On those pages you will need to evaluate if you should follow my advice on Google +1 and Facebook or if the pages are good areas for you to advertise the products you sell nationally.

If they are a good fit with product sales, then start by creating your own banners, buttons, and links to your store to promote your own products. If you are going to provide great informational content, you should work to have the readers who like what you say move into your store to buy, Google +1 you, like you on Facebook, or be added to your email subscriber list. Which direction you take or multiple directions will depend on the information specific to your site. The key is to put the traffic to work for you! Don’t just invest your time and money into a well trafficked website, move your readers to action that will benefit your long term approach and goals.


More On High Bounce Rates

Since I wrote about watching your website with Google Analytics and monitoring your bounce rate there have been a few questions from readers and customers that I felt I needed to address.

First, Google Analytics gives you an overall website bounce rate as well as a bounce rate by page. The higher the number the less relevant your page content is to your readers’ search queries and for that matter to your main website theme.

What causes a high bounce rate?

There are a few factors that can bump up your bounce rate. They are:

  • Your site is attracting the wrong type of readers
  • Your site is not user friendly and needs improved navigation
  • Your website has a long page load time and visitors are not waiting and leaving
  • You may be driving poorly targeted pay per click traffic to your website

I’ve see a few instances recently where there is great informational content on a site, but the content is driving up the site’s overall bounce rate. I can think of an example on my own website. I provide how-to’s as a courtesy on Outlook, email signatures, and other questions and topics from my newsletters over the years that clients have repeatedly asked for help with. Although this content is not about my services or even what I provide, it is archived on my site. I frequently point clients to pages of this informational content when they ask for how to fix a computer or email issue. As a result, these pages have been widely linked to around the web, and they drive traffic to my site. However, they typically have a very high bounce rate as the readers are not interested in my services just the information or how to. This could be a good reason for a high bounce rate.

If Google starts penalizing me for this content, these pages will be the very first I will delete. You may have similar types of pages on your site. Now, if you don’t have pages like this, and all your pages are about your own services, then a careful review of my list above may help you to isolate the issue causing your own high bounce rate.

If it makes sense to your business, you want to lower your bounce rate when possible but without hurting your overall traffic or reason you have content in place. Think carefully about your own situation and what your needs are for traffic before you start deleting files or dropping content blocks. You want to build on the things you do right not screw things up for yourself.


Are You Watching Your Website Stats? Why Not?

You can’t find out if your website is working for you if you never take a look at your website statistics! It is great to have a website and every business should have one, but sometimes just having one is not enough. Sometimes you need to “nurture” and “feed” your website to help it be the best promotion vehicle in your advertising arsenal.

When I say “nurture” and “feed” your website I mean specifically know what your website visitors are looking for when they come to visit, how long they stay, and what they do when they get there. I have found in many cases by a careful analysis of website statistics will allow us to recommend new pages, optimization, and areas for enhanced engagement with readers. Here’s just one example: from the integrated web search report we get for a client we found over and over that users were searching for a specific product. Based on this information, to make it easy for them to find it and to feed sales, we created new content on the home page to speak to this need and point readers to the shopping and more information sections on the product. In other cases, reviewing Google Analytics, we have found new search terms to use for optimization of content, new terms for AdWords programs, and services that readers are looking for and possibly not finding.

One key indicator to review in Google Analytics is a page’s bounce rate. Over 75% and you have some challenges that you need to address as your readers are not finding what they want or you are directing untargeted traffic to the page with pay per click programs and may need to add negative keywords to your program to cut costs and be more targeted.

A careful review of  your website statistics can be used to really review your online health. It is more than a gage of how many visitors you have a day, the wealth of information can help you develop new services, cater to an audience, and more carefully target pay per click advertising. As Google Analytics is free, there is simply no reason you should not be tracking and reviewing what is going online with your website.


What is Your Website Traffic? What’s Low?

That’s the question everyone wants to know… is my website traffic high, low or in between. For small businesses that are not start ups and have been on the web for over a year, I feel that traffic under 50 unique visitors a day is low.

If your website figures aren’t even in the double digits on the average in a 30 day period, you really need to start working to build your website traffic. Why have a website if no one visits it and if it does not generate leads for you?

Here’s another benchmark if you have over 100 unique visits a day and you are a small business your traffic is definitely in the normal to good zone. Higher than that around 200 visitors a day and you are doing great. If you have 30,000 unique visitors a day, you’d better be on a dedicated server before you give yourself a big pat on the back.

So if your numbers are low what should you and what can you do to boost them. Here are just a few suggestions to consider:

  • Start blogging but only if you can install a blog under your own domain name on your parent website’s server. That is really key! Offsite blogging won’t help you in this area.
  • Think about writing and syndicating articles at Google Knol, Go e-articles, and other sites. The key here to your traffic will simply be the quality of your writing and the timeliness of your content.
  • The easy path is to drive traffic to your website with Google AdWords or MSN adCenter (for Yahoo and Bing). When you don’t have time to do the other things this is very workable. Pay per click costs but the traffic you can generate immediately to expose the world to your services and products is well worth the investment. Just make sure you are targeted and don’t create a branding campaign that just brings your impressions and clicks.
  • Work all your angles! Do you have friends with websites on the Web? Get links back from them to your site. Consider doing guest blog writing. Tap into your network. If you are a member of a national or regional association ask if you can guest write for their online archived newsletter or blog. You want links and exposure.

These are just a few ideas to consider. Typically pay per click as it is the easiest is the route most people will pursue when they have little web traffic. Take some time to make sure your website is generating the traffic you need to feed your business.