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Google Makes SSL Mandatory for Small Business

Columnist: J. Chandler
October, 2018 Issue

J. Chandler
All articles by columnist


Groaning time is here for small businesses. Google is making good on its long-held pledge to make SSL mandatory for websites. What do you mean mandatory? What is SSL? And why are small businesses groaning about it? Lucky for you, I’m here to help crack the code on SSL and SEO.

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer, an online security system typically used for Ecommerce sites. But that's not the “groany” part. Since 2014, Google has been threatening an SSL mandate for all websites. However, because it’s only one of many search engines in the world, Google first had to ensure it’s own browser achieved online dominance.

Now that more than 60 percent of Internet users access the web via Google Chrome, the mandate is significantly backed. Since Chrome's update was released on July 24, users now get an alarming message any time they try to visit a website not secured by SSL, that reads: "THIS SITE IS NOT SECURE."

Chrome users can ignore the message and proceed quickly to the site. But, let’s face it, who’s likely to do that? The idea that most of your viewers might see a line of capitalized letters screaming that your site is suspect, is definitely groan worthy. Here's another reason small business owners are groaning: SSL isn't free. Even for do-it-yourself website owners, it can be a major hassle to install and manage. Here’s the low down on your SSL options.

The price of SSL

Thankfully, there is happy news for you, with the price of SSL and installation being reasonably inexpensive. SSL certificates run $50 to $150 a year, and installation may cost $40 to $100.

But here's the really happy news: Many website owners already have SSL, but don’t realize it. (Google has been encouraging it for years, remember?) A lot of hosting companies have been adding it, more or less by default, to their customers' accounts over the years, so there's a good chance the SSL mandate may be a genuine non-issue for you after all. 

How do you determine whether you have SSL installed? Simple. Search your website's name in Google and see if a warning pops up. Alternatively, you can plug your site into this Quick SSL Checker (www.compasscrossing.com/SSL). 

No worries if either results in an alarming warning. In the grander scheme of running a business website, adding SSL is a minor detail. If you need help, contact your webmaster, or free feel to reach out to us, as we’d be more than happy to assist you in the most efficient, cost-effective way.
Performance & SEO
Once your website is fully secure, take the time to check out its performance. Think of it as an annual checkup. Here's another three letters that can give website owners more indigestion: SEO.

While some small business owners groan when Internet geeks start talking about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), all they’re really talking about is your website achieving the highest “ranking” for online searches. The algorithms Google and other search engines use to decide a website's search ranking, change frequently, and keeping up can be a nightmare. But here's the “smile-worthy” news: the goal of the algorithms are to ensure the most helpful, useful websites get top billing. What about yours?

The bottom line for SEO is to make sure your site is being found in top ranking by those searching for your type of business and expertise. Two simple, effective ways to achieve this, is to perform a local keyword search to see what your potential clients and customers are searching for and insert those keywords into your website content.  Secondly, back link your site to sites that have well-established online authority, such as directories and/or blogs relating to your industry. To check how your site is currently performing, here's a complimentary SEO Audit link (http://compasscrossing.com/Audit) to run your website through.

Getting the groans out of both SSL and SEO is good for business. And, once you're there, you'll be ready to tackle achieving top ranking on the coveted groan-worthy Google Maps 3-Pack. Lucky for you, we’ve cracked the code on that as well. So when those leads start rolling in, I hope you’re smiling again!

J. Chandler is the chief executive officer of Compass Crossing. The company has helped hundreds of businesses achieve greater success in the past 12 years, with our team of digital marketing experts who collectively contribute 25-plus years of marketing experience and digital expertise. For a complimentary audit, fill in the free report form at compasscrossing.com, or call (888) 399-5582.


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