Your 2019 Website Hot List

Your 2019 Website Hot List

(Don't worry, it's not too long!)

As you work on setting goals and resolutions for your business in 2019, we thought we'd give you a few very important things to consider for the hot list when it comes to your website. This past year brought some interesting changes to the website landscape and it is critical that you are not only aware of them, but that you take action to ensure your website is up to par with them.

1. SSL Is The New Web Standard

In the past, the only websites that were required to have an SSL  (secure socket layer) certificate installed were eCommerce sites, those collecting online payments. SSL is a payment gateway standard and requirement.

In the summer of 2018, Google's Chrome browser started displaying a  NOT SECURE message for EVERY website lacking a SSL certificate. This is a misleading message if your website isn't collecting sensitive information, but it must be paid attention to by website owners because it can cause users to leave your website unnecessarily out of fear.

Google is looking to create a more "secure" web, and this is one of the initiatives they've implemented to make it happen.

What does this mean to you?

You need to visit your website and look at the address bar at the top of your browser. If it shows HTTP://, there is no SSL certificate for your website.  If it shows HTTPS://, there is. The "S" stands for secure.

Next Steps

If you don't have an SSL certificate associated with your website, you need to. Contact your web hosting company and let them know you need to purchase and have one installed. Do not go online and purchase one on your own because there are different types of SSLs. The type you will need is dependent on your hosting server configuration.

You can typically expect a fee for the SSL purchase and initial install. Once the certificate is installed on your website, you will have to renew it each year to keep it active.

2. Google My Business Is Not Optional

In the fall of 2018, Google announced that Google+ will be phased out over a 10 month period. This is really no surprise and became entirely predictable when they started rolling some of Google+'s functions over to Google My Business. Google My Business, from its inception, drove Google maps listings and Google reviews. It's now even more robust with the ability to create albums, make posts, promote offers, and much more.

What does this mean to you?

With the top 33% of the Google search results page being occupied by listings owned by Google, you need to claim your space to have a chance of being in the mix. Whether you have a physical location or not, ensuring you have a claimed and complete Google My Business listing is essential. If you do have a physical location, it's realistically the only chance you have of showing up in the coveted 3-pack at the top of search and on Google maps.

Next Steps

Go to Google and search for your business by name. A large rectangular block should appear on the right side of search results (from desktop) with information about your business. If there is a link in the body of that listing that says "Own this business?", your Google My Business listing has not been claimed. You need to click that link and follow the steps provided by Google to claim it. From there, you will then be able to edit your listing, move your pin, add photos, and complete your business profile.

Next Next Steps

Make 2019 the year you work to grow your Google reviews. It makes a difference in search results.

Need evidence that Google reviews matter?

Businesses ranking on the first page of Google local search results have an average review rating of 4.42 stars. This was the finding in a recent BrightStar study. WOW!

Why is this?

Great reviews send "signals" to Google that the business can be trusted. Google values trustworthy businesses. They want to return the "best" results and reviews are an indicator.

What does it mean for you?

A consistent strategy for getting Google Reviews from your happiest customers must be part of your online marketing. In addition to the 4.42 avg star rating, businesses appearing in the top 3 positions in Google had an average of 47 reviews.

3. Mobile Friendly Is A Must

In March of  2018, Google rolled out its "mobile-first" index. Well, it really started in 2016 in experimental phases, but was officially announced by Google in March of this year. That's really all you need to know. Most search is done on mobile devices now, so Google values "mobile-first" when it returns search results because they want to return the best results to their audience of mobile users.

Mobile-first indexing is just what it sounds like... the mobile version of your website is the starting point for Google and what it includes in the index. If you've been putting off a redesign on your non-mobile-friendly website, it's time to get it done. In Google's own words (March 2018), "... if you only have desktop content, you will continue to be represented in our index. Having said that, we continue to encourage [businesses] to make their content mobile-friendly."

What does this mean to you?

If your website isn't mobile-friendly, make 2019 the year you get that taken care of. From a traditional desktop website, this typically means a redesign to a responsive format so the content on the website will scale nicely to any device.

Next Steps

Pull up your website on your smartphone. If you have to "pinch and squeeze" to view the content, you need to call your web designer and get quote to create a responsive design. It's an important investment for the future of your business online. Don't put it off - mobile isn't going away, it's growing.

That's your hot list! See, it wasn't so bad.

If you have questions about any of these recommendations, please don't hesitate to call or email us. We're here to help!

MSW Interactive Designs LLC


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