- Unlike paid media, earned media lacks the tools to form trustworthy predictions about the outcomes, which can make potential SEO customers indecisive.
- A quick look at the typical story of how the pitching process works and the top reasons that make customers indecisive about an SEO proposal.
- SEOmonitor looks into all the aspects of pitching an SEO proposal, the key components, and how to help your customers say a loud yes instead of a silent no.
Unlike paid media, earned media lacks the tools to form trustworthy predictions about the outcomes, which can make potential SEO customers indecisive. Let’s take a typical story of how the SEO proposal and pitching process works.
Sarah, the CEO of a successful SEO agency, gets introduced to the CEO of another successful ecommerce company through a common friend.
She rallies her team and meets the client over Zoom. They have a wonderful conversation, and both of them are excited to start a great partnership.
Filled with optimism, Sarah assigns her best colleagues to craft an insightful SEO proposal. They analyze the competitors, do the keyword research, take the organic opportunity into account, and form a unique strategy on how they can reach impressive results.
The day of the presentation comes, and the ecommerce team gathers around, continuously nodding along with each slide. By the end of it, everyone feels excellent. Sarah is thrilled.
Checking emails stopped being a chore for Sarah. She quickly scans all of them, looking for confirmation on starting the project.
She does this daily for almost two weeks and, with each day, her confidence drops. There is no answer from the potential customer.
She feels awkward* to follow-up. What could she ask? Why don’t they at least say if they want to pursue the SEO campaign or not? What is with this “silent no”?
Content created in partnership with SEOmonitor.
What could be the reason that makes customers get indecisive?
If you’ve pitched a few clients already, you’ve probably experienced a similar situation.
It feels like a win, but then communication gets postponed. It’s not clear if you should follow-up or not. And even if you were to follow-up, what would you ask?
They haven’t raised any particular concerns or downright rejected the SEO proposal. There has to be something that brought them to your agency in the first place.
They’ve invested the time for the meetings and maybe even shared their analytics account. So there’s a hint of trust-building up so far.
What if the dilemma stems from them forming trust based on “gut feeling” in the meetings, but lacking enough knowledge to judge whether the projected results will, in the end, be achieved.
They want to make sure they make the best rational decision – but they can’t.
Explaining the reasoning behind each data point and action in your SEO proposal, and arguing from first principles, should leave less room for doubt and more for critical thinking.
Let’s look through the steps that can go into an SEO proposal and how to bring clarity and convey trust using granular data along the way.
What goes into an SEO proposal?
1. Show a deep understanding of the industry
Keyword research is the first step into better getting to know your customer and their industry.
The entire quality of the pitch depends on choosing the right keywords and being able to explain the principles behind your decision.
Coupled with your expertise of choosing precisely the ones that you know are valuable for optimizing, you’re building the keyword portfolio. But this may prove challenging for your customer.
Sometimes, business owners would have a different way of describing their business. So they could mistake queries for whichever words they would want their brand to be associated with.
You can help your customers focus on the end-users’ search habits in your SEO proposal by describing why it doesn’t make sense to improve visibility for queries that are navigational keywords and trigger site links. Then, follow-up with why you grouped the ones that set off the same search results and are part of the same topic, for more understanding.
Customers might think of their competitors as being other companies selling similar services and products, regardless of their organic visibility. They might even disagree that a particular website or company is in their industry, but you have data on your side. You’ve selected only the companies that get the most impressions for the selected group of keywords – and it’s all easily verifiable by searching on Google.
The different visibility scores set the stage for what the opportunity will be. While it’s impossible to predict what the future will hold, the present results are precise.
If a competitor has already achieved success, it shows there’s a substantial opportunity.
2. Establish the truth on the current SEO performance by splitting the organic traffic in brand and non-brand
The outcome of SEO is the increase in organic traffic. This makes many people turn towards the organic traffic figure whenever they want to measure SEO performance.
The total number of organic traffic is composed of both brand and non-brand organic visits. Still, it is only the non-brand traffic that connects to and is dependent on, search engine optimization.
Your customer might intuitively realize this, but they didn’t have the tools to be able to study the data. If you split the two, you focus the evaluation process on SEO. It, also, shows that you would not take credit for marketing activities that were already going on, and so removes another fear that could make the customer doubtful.
Plus, it might be the first time the customer can put their finger on how much their branding drives their income, a question they have probably struggled with for a long time.
3. Present a realistic forecast that can be understood and verified
Estimating impact in terms of clicks and conversions instead of rankings
From a customer perspective, all of the improvements in visibility have just one final goal – an increase in their business performance.
Clicks, ecommerce transactions, or goals are the way businesses keep track of them. By transposing better rankings to clicks and conversions, you tie the SEO campaign to the reality of running a business.
Decoding the impact of rank changes into clicks and conversions can look like a simple formula for a customer at first.
Still, when taking into account search volumes, year over year trends that influence the past data, and dynamic changing CTRs, you show much work and thought goes into the process.
But to do that, you need to get into an even lower layer — the way Google displays results for each keyword and how changes in search features influence click-through rates.
Not only that, but the advent of mobile brings even more pieces to the puzzle.
The “ten blue links” have diminished in favor of a mix between search features and organic results. For example, a search for “hotels in Paris” would trigger Google’s hotel widget and at least two ads. It takes more than three full scrolls to get to the first organic result.
By using a variable CTR model for each SERP, you remove the possibility that the methodology could be considered oversimplified and expose the customer to the complexities of modern organic optimizations.
By adding monthly swings in search volume and year-over-year trends, you set the building blocks for a data-driven, comprehensive forecast.
Highlight how their traffic would look like with and without the SEO campaign
Unless your customers have just launched their website, they already rank in search engines.
By going the extra mile and first creating and presenting a forecast based on their current traffic and the search trends that might influence them, you lay out a foundation of transparency and easily researchable assumptions.
Highlighting the difference between existing, projected, and additional traffic and conversions you remove one last piece of doubt – What might happen if I won’t go through with the SEO campaign?
Setting expectations and aligning SEO with the customer’s business projection
While some customers know that SEO is more of a marathon than a sprint, for others, it can be their first foray in attempting to improve visibility.
By acknowledging that the first months would bring less impact, but it picks up as the campaign progresses, you are transparent from the start.
A 12-month forecast allows customers to be able to take their sales projections and fit them on top of the SEO opportunity.
Instead of treating SEO as an independent tactic, they can now imagine the campaign as an essential activity to their day-to-day business operations.
Including seasonality allows for better inventory planning and proves, once more, that you’re committed to their long term success.
They also get to learn about consumers’ habits and maybe, in the future, rely even more on search data when making a business decision.
4. Compare the SEO budget to the equivalent in PPC
Is the SEO campaign worth it?
This question might go through someone’s mind when having to make the final decision.
By bringing an external source of truth in the form of how much it would cost to run a paid search campaign on the exact keyword portfolio, you highlight how valuable it is for other companies to grab the first results.
It allows the customer to perform their independent research and build more trust in the projected outcome. Not only that, but they now have a point of reference for your pricing as well.
5. Convey transparency by discussing performance tracking
As you have now navigated the ins and outs of the forecast, there’s still one more thing that may get the customer stuck in a loop.
Can they trust your agency on delivery? Would they be able to check the progress by themselves?
They can’t just load up their analytics account and see the impact – the results are a mix between branded and non-branded keywords.
You could provide a detailed explanation of how reporting will run in a relationship with the set goal and what goes into the metrics that describe their visibility.
Taking it a step further and including the objective in the contract can remove any fear they still have.
It’s bold, but isn’t it worth it to have your agency’s day-to-day operations aligned with your customer’s results?
How to help your customers say a loud yes instead of a silent no?
Remove doubts that can form in their mind, by explaining each hypothesis and backing it up with evidence, going through the following:
- Show a deep understanding of the industry
- Establish the truth on their current SEO performance by splitting brand and non-brand traffic
- Present a realistic forecast that can be understood and verified
- Compare the SEO budget to the equivalent in PPC
- Convey transparency by discussing performance tracking
Meticulously going through all of these steps is hard. We get that. That’s why we’ve launched a new version of our “Search Awards” winning SEO forecasting module.
It helps you along each of these actions, except for one. The hangover you get after celebrating your 10th closed deal in a single month.
Our forecasting methodology has been successfully used for more than four years, by hundreds of clients, to set realistic objectives and improve their pitches. That’s why we’ve gone a step further.
We created an SEO proposal builder that leverages data from SEOmonitor, with the simplicity of Google Slides, and gives real-world examples from other SEO agencies around the world, in an intuitive drag-and-drop interface.
But that’s only a part of what we do. We’ve designed SEOmonitor to help you acquire, manage, and retain more customers for your agency.
Join us, and hundreds of SEO agencies clients, in the journey of bringing more transparency and measurability to the SEO industry. Click here for a trial that doesn’t ask you for a credit card, but gives you full access to the platform.
Top tip: How to follow-up without the awkwardness
Instead of just asking busy customers if they had time to review your proposal, why not take a bit of time to go through their existing organic industry landscape and look for significant changes that they may not even know about – Yet!
With Signals, you can easily spot those insights that can help you re-open the conversation with your indecisive customers.
Q&A with Moz’s Sarah Bird
- Hyperlocal SEO will help struggling communities salvage their local businesses.
- Moz surveyed over 1,400 local business marketers and more than half said they plan to implement Google’s new features to support COVID-19 affected businesses.
- Five under-rated yet crucial parameters marketers need to stay on top of.
- Sarah Bird’s special tips to optimize audience engagement at various marketing touchpoints.
- The best things you can do for landing pages is….?
- Dive in for these golden nuggets and a lot more.
2020 has hit the reset button for the world in many ways adding more wheels to digital marketers’ and brands’ “car of struggles” for success. SEO is somewhat looked at as a game of Russian roulette where you win some and you lose some, and COVID-19 hasn’t made this any easier. To help you hit bull’s eye and add an extra push to your digital strategies, we caught up with Moz’s CEO, Sarah Bird to uncover emerging trends in the search scape, SEO, audience behaviors, and more!
Q. What technologies, tools, and audience behaviors do you see shape up as 2020 progresses. If you were to draw a line between the temporary and ones that are here to stay, what would it be?
Sarah Bird: Hyperlocal search has been important for years. 2020 has only increased its merit.
COVID-19 has made active local business listings management more vital than ever before. Communities struggling to keep themselves supplied and cared for in changed conditions must depend on the internet as a crucial resource, and when business listings can quickly communicate to them what’s available, where, when, and how, that’s truly important.
With Google rolling out new features that allow business owners to share updates about curbside pickup, home delivery, or special hours for vulnerable populations directly on their listings, customers can access convenient information with a simple search. We surveyed over 1,400 local business marketers and more than half said they plan to implement such services permanently. Aside from being absolutely necessary this year, businesses recognize that the investment in ecommerce should not simply be for the short-term, but should be able to accommodate their business and customers in the long-term.
Q. If you were to pick the hero of Moz’s local and international SEO strategy for the rest of 2020, what would it be?
Sarah Bird: Reputation management will be crucial for local SEO strategy during 2020. We offer reputation management features through Moz Local that we urge users to leverage.
Some of the most valuable features of Moz Local at this time are review alerts that allow you to quickly facilitate complaint resolution and response rating for quality control. During hectic times, customers are more emotional — this can either work for or against you. Should you receive a poor review during this time, it’s imperative that you respond quickly and empathetically.
Moz Local also offers a sentiment analysis feature that shows the most commonly used words for each of your star ratings. This can be useful in deciphering exactly what customers are finding important during this time.
Q. What five under-rated yet crucial parameters do marketers need to stay on top of to ensure that their brand has positively influenced their customers/target audiences?
- Keywords: Understanding your own keywords and those of your competitors ensures marketers have a plan in place to secure visibility on a brand’s offerings or content.
- External links: These are an important source of ranking power in a SERP.
- Differentiation: Framing content correctly is key to reaching target audiences. Sometimes that means presenting contrarian ideas, as described by Caroline Forsey of HubSpot.
- Omnichannel communication: Not all of your readers are going to read and engage via laptop or mobile, but be sure to consider how SEO is involved in your social media strategy.
- Outcome alignment: SEO goals don’t always have to focus on clicks. Ensure your marketing team is aligned on how content or a topic should be engaged, as it could mean that your ideal outcome is answering your customer’s question directly within the SERP.
Q. What are the best ways to use entities that can leverage BERT, add more dimensions to keyword strategy, content, and the overall digital presence?
Sarah Bird: I don’t encourage SEOs or marketers to optimize for BERT. There are too many variables to develop an effective strategy toward this model.
Instead, marketers should continue the focus on the overarching goal of creating excellent content that holistically understands and meets the intent of users. This is no small feat and requires an intense understanding of your business, your audience, and how the two intertwine. Creating world-class content that’s data-driven, timely, and empathetic to the audience will prove to be far more effective than focusing on this specific component of an algorithmic change from Google.
Q. Tips to optimize audience engagement at marketing touchpoints like emails, landing pages, and social media?
Sarah Bird: Each of these touchpoints are important for a business’s SEO strategy. These aren’t tactics that can be tacked on — they all have a powerful impact.
Email marketing delivers some of the highest ROI, generating $38 for every $1 spent. When it comes to emails, call-to-actions must be clear. Consider which landing pages you’re sending people to and whether they’re appropriate to improve bounce rates.
Social shares of a brand’s content have a high correlation to ranking (as described by our own Cyrus Shepard.) As with everything in SEO, a focus should be put on the keywords used as well as the medium of the content being put out and whether or not it’s optimized.
High-converting landing pages may lead to high bounce rates, which could negatively impact SEO. Rand Fishkin actually addressed this exact issue in a Whiteboard Friday. The best things you can do for landing pages is – focus on high-conversion long-tail keywords and to provide keyword-based content.
Feel free to share your thoughts on our interview and the emerging trends, drop a comment!
Top 10 Best Austin SEO Companies: Gotch SEO Choice 2020
If you’re looking for an unbiased data-driven list of the best SEO companies in Austin for 2020, you’re in the right place.
In this post, we rank local outfits in the famous Texas town according to objective criteria that strip out personal prejudice. The companies in this list got there because of merit, not because their executives enjoy a cushy relationship with us.
What’s more, we base all our rankings on public-available information about each agency, so you can easily cross-check our scores. So, without further ado, let’s get into the rankings.
Top 10 SEO Companies in Austin, Texas
- Thrive Internet Marketing Agency (32 points)
- Complete SEO (31 points)
- TastyPlacement SEO (30 points)
- OgreLogic Solutions LLC (26 points)
- Digitech Web Design Austin (25 points)
- WEBii.net (23 points)
- MARION Integrated Marketing (23 points)
- Regex SEO (22 points)
- Big Gorilla Design (22 points)
- Geek Powered Studios (21 points)
1. Thrive: Top Austin SEO Company
Thrive comes in first place in our list of the top SEO agencies in Austin, Texas. Established in 2005 in Arlington, this company has stood the test of time, and it now employs over a hundred people, working with clients all over the world.
Thrive excelled across all our test criteria and performed admirably on the website performance front. It earned the maximum score owing to its rapid loading speed and mobile-friendliness. It was also the top dog for website traffic, gaining more visits than the other nine agencies in this list combined.
At root, the firm is a full-service digital marketing agency. They offer search engine optimization, link building, web design, social media marketing. This marketing agency adopts what it calls a “big-picture” approach to its thinking, helping its clients with both the nitty-gritty technical side of gaining online visibility, as well as high-level strategy. It currently boasts customers in places as far-flung as Hong Kong and Germany.
2. Complete SEO: Award-Winning Marketing Experts
Complete SEO is a locally-owned agency in Austin that provides enormous value for its clients. The firm takes a fundamentally different approach from other agencies in the industry. Instead of using outdated templates, it takes into consideration its clients’ budgets, goals, competition, and values, and then uses this information to construct a unique plan of action. On these criteria, this agency in Austine builds high-quality SEO campaigns.
In today’s market, that approach is most welcome. It may explain why the firm managed to achieve a 5 out of 5 review score across 25 Google Reviews.
Right now, Complete SEO offers free consultations, so clients can find out whether the service is a match for their needs or goals without having to hand over any money. It is particularly popular among outlets that have tried other digital marketing companies in the past but were disappointed. And it publicly posts its case studies to back up its performance claims.
3. Tasty Placements: Google Partner for Your Marketing Services.
TastyPlacement SEO is now more than ten years old, making it one of the more experienced agencies on this list. Founded during the financial crisis of 2008, the company has a list of impressive accolades, including unrivaled Google certifications, regular speaking engagements, and even books on the latest SEO practices.
The agency earned the maximum points on our SEO best-practices score and, like Complete SEO, received a perfect 5 out of 5 on for its average Google Review score too. To grow your business this SEO agency offers a variety of internet marketing: social media, SEO, PPC, content marketing and so on.
The firm likes to brand itself as a “thought leader,” owing to its academic achievements in the search engine arena. Its ebook WordPress Search Engine Optimization is a full-length treatise on everything you need to know on how to get your site to rank higher. The agency first published it in 2012, and it has seen multiple editions since.
4. OgreLogic: Full-Service Web Development
OgreLogic comes in a solid fourth place based on our objective points system. The company is famous in the Austin area for defining itself not as a digital marketing agency, but as a “global software development partner.”
This terminology is deliberate. OgreLogic sees its work as more encompassing than mere digital marketing. It creates software from the ground up designed to help firms realize their visions and attract more clients. Both SEO consultants and web design developers at the outfit work together to solve the real problems that their clients face.
There are no templates here – just a passionate focus on maximizing the usefulness of digital technology to maximize your return on investments.
OgreLogic believes that it offers a competitive advantage across a range of domains. For instance, it never shies away from sharing the results of its work. Instead, it proves its transparency by offering clients data on service performance at regular intervals. This SEO company in Austine, TX provides email marketing, link building, on-page search engine optimization, local SEO to help big and small businesses grow.
It does well on the promptness front too, delivering SEO campaigns that respect its clients’ timetables and immediate business needs. There’s a lot to like here.
5. Digitech: Search Engine Optimization in Austine, TX
Digitech came in fifth overall, owing to its excellent website experience and positive, third-party client feedback. The company is the brainchild of Darryl Stevens, a naturally creative visionary. Like so many great SEOs, he is entirely self-taught. He mastered web design and search engine optimization by serving clients in the online marketplace back in the heyday of digital marketing. This marketing company in Austin, TX offers PPC, SEO, graphic design, social media marketing to make sure their marketing strategy helps with your business growth.
Now, he is a contributor to top online publications, such as Entrepreneur and Forbes magazine, thanks to his deep expertise.
Digitech takes a philosophical view of its work, believing that “inside every impossible is a possible just trying to get out.” Darryl and the team are a group of creative thinkers who want to help brands solve their most intractable online outreach problems. Services include design, development, marketing, fractional CMO, and exclusive SEO.
Notable clients include Universal Music Group, Election Science, and the American Heart Association.
6. WEBii: Web Development with Search Engines on Mind
WEBii was one of the most impressive agencies on our Austin SEO shortlist but fell out of the top five because of the relative obscurity of its website.
The company is an old hand in the Austin area. The founders set up the firm in 1996 with a mission to bring better customer service to the web hosting industry. Since then, it has evolved, expanding its operations into custom web development, domain name registration service, and search engine optimization.
The long experience of the company makes it something of a jack-of-all-trades. Its team offers WordPress web development, server administration, graphic design, project management, and custom web design. All the people who work for the firm pride themselves on their communication skills and prioritize staying in regular contact with customers, keeping them apprised of developments.
Companies requiring a full-stack solution should consider this agency.
7. Marion: Graphic Design & Full Service SEO
Marion did well under our scoring system, primarily due to the positive user experience. The driving force behind this is the company’s unique mix of creative, technical, and strategic assistance. It doesn’t just adopt a cookie-cutter approach but instead learns all of its clients inside out before beginning work.
Each customer gets a virtual CMO – somebody who works with them to understand their business goals turn them into an SEO roadmap. They then get access to a host of services, including logo design, assistance with catalogs, and illustrations. Each account holder receives expert account management, assisted by professional digital marketing specialists, content creators, and web designers.
Over the years, the firm has won several awards, including Gold Winner at the 2020 AVA Digital Awards, 2019 MarCom Gold Winner, and 2017 Silver Awards Winner at the Davey Awards. Carey Balzer, Jon Anger, and Robert Dihu – the three founding partners – offer either full-service digital marketing services or supplement in-house marketing teams.
8. Regex SEO: Digital Marketing in Austine, TX
Regex SEO is another small-time Austin SEO company with massive marketing agency potential and interesting history.
The founders of the company were sick of standard SEO industry marketing approaches. For years, the digital marketing industry over-promised and under-delivered. It hyped pre-packaged plans but failed to generate results for clients. The team behind Regex SEO decided to do something about it. They rejected the subterfuge and shoddy work provided by many agencies and set up their own agency instead. This Austin SEO services company helps you grow your business with pay per click, content marketing, social media marketing, graphic design, and email marketing campaigns.
Regex SEO has won a host of awards and earned widespread online marketing industry recognition. In 2017, it was a Marketer of the Year finalist and later won numerous UpCity, MarCom, and AVA digital awards. The firm’s current clients include the likes of Service Corporation International, Dignity Memorial, and Maison Luisant.
Our scoring system ranked it eighth. Like many of the other boutique agencies on this list, it offers excellent service but fell down because of relatively lackluster website traffic performance. We expect this one to rise in the future.
9. Big Gorilla Design: Brand Awareness in Search Results
Coming in at the ninth place of the top SEO companies is the somewhat hilariously named Big Gorilla Design. The outfit concentrates on legitimate SEO tactics – not just keyword stuffing. Their list of services covers just about everything you could imagine, including content marketing, email marketing, graphic design, eCommerce site development, and print design.
Big Gorilla Design marketing agency sees itself as an SEO services educator, rather like Tasty Placements, and works hard with clients to discover their actual needs before recommending services. It’s not just about rankings. It is also about building brands.
Big Gorilla Design did well on our test in most areas. But, as with so many other agencies, lack of traffic to its website and inbound links dragged its score down.
With that said, the agency offers clients a unique “out-of-the-box” approach to internet marketing and a lot of flexibility. They provide a vast range of options, including choice over the underlying platforms for the websites they create – such as WordPress or static HTML.
The company has a good sense of humor. The road to success is, according to their marketing, “paved with bananas (and other cool things).”
10. Geek Powered Studio: Search Engine Optimization & Content Marketing
Geek Powered Studios rounds out our list of the top SEO companies in Austin, TX in 2020. SEO specialist Guillermo Ortiz founded the digital marketing agency in 2009 during the depths of the financial slump, drawing on his experience of web design. What began as a small side project in San Antonio, flourished into a full-scale digital marketing agency, employing over a dozen people and serving an ever-growing list of clients. They offer the whole spectrum of online marketing: from social media marketing, pay per click advertising, email marketing to maximize your return on investments.
Geek Powered Studios has won several awards, including the 2014 BBB Torch Award and the 2016 US Search Awards. The company has also featured on Mashable, American Express Open, and Tech Cocktail.
Why did it come tenth in our objective test? The main culprit was the failure of the company’s website to respond rapidly to user input. If it hadn’t been for that, it would have received a much higher score. Also, the company’s website ranked well outside of the top ten, which seems to undermine its promise to deliver on its SEO promises.
How We Score
So there you have it: our top 10 best SEO companies in Austin. Remember, we don’t rank companies in our lists according to mere opinion or solely based on what Google says. Instead, we use an objective in-house scoring system that allows us to compare companies objectively, based on a wide range of parameters.
Our scoring system takes into consideration the following criteria:
- Average user review scores
- The total number of Google Reviews
- Total website traffic
- The number of linking domains
- The domain ranking
- If the agency ranks in the top ten
- Website experience parameters, including loading speed, mobile-friendliness, and SSL certification
We then assign a score, up to a maximum value of 5 for each of the above criteria, depending on the relative performance of the agency. Companies with a lot of reviews, for instance, will score 5, while those with relatively few will earn 1. We then sum all of the individual components to arrive at a final score out of 35 for every firm.
The top-scoring SEO agency in this was Thrive Internet Marketing on 32, followed closely by Complete SEO on 31 and Tasty Placements SEO on 30. The rest clustered between 26 and 21, and a whole host of other Austin agencies never made it onto the list.
You can take a look at our raw scoring data here.
Enquire With Us Today
The purpose of this guide was to provide you with a comprehensive insight into the types of companies offering SEO services in Austin, Texas. While there are some technical differences between the firms, the above SEO agencies represent the cream of the crop. You should, therefore, choose the one from the list of top Austin SEO companies that offers the best services for your particular niche.
How Does Your Decision Impact SEO Results?
HTTPS (https://) is HTTP (http://) with the use of an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate. SSL (or TLS) certificates encrypt normal HTTP requests and responses. HTTPS is more secure than HTTP. HTTPS is so important that Google uses it as a ranking factor in its organic search results.
Question for you:
Did you know there’s a hacker attack in the World Wide Web every 39 seconds, affecting one in three Americans every year?
But if you’re not protecting the information being passed through your domain, you could be skyrocketing the chances of a cyber-attack happening to your site, your website that uses HTTP dropping down organic ranks—and sacrificing your customers’ sensitive data.
(Which, as you’ve probably guessed, is a huge GDPR issue.)
Preventing that security catastrophe starts with learning the key difference between HTTP vs HTTPS protocols: A type of website encryption that impacts how a domain collects, stores and uses visitor data.
In this guide, we’re sharing everything you need to know about SSL encryption, and listing information on how you can use security certificates and encrypted connections to help boost your SEO. Read this text until the end to learn what HTTP and HTTPS stand for, including how to use web protocols to protect sensitive data, such as credit card information.
What is HTTP?
Simply put, HTTP (stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol) basically what makes the internetwork.
HTTP is the core protocol of any world wide web data exchange. It enables transferring data such as hypertext, plain text, a structured text that uses hyperlinks between nodes. A variation of the protocol is needed to access any website—hence why URLs address usually start with “http://www…”—and works by sending a command to a website server to fetch the webpage your URL corresponds to. Why use HTTPs instead?
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS (stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) works in the same way as standard HTTP.
Is https really secure and is it the only difference between HTTP vs HTTPS? All of the data sent through a webpage using HTTPS has an additional layer of security which is extremely important for sensitive information. This is called a Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol and protects any third-parties from eavesdropping on any type of data being passed through the secure https encryption.
Secure protocol HTTPS gives domains extra protection because the data being submitted to and from the server is encrypted—meaning nobody has the ability to steal, hack, or view private data.
Plus, data is passed through the protocol sites that can’t be changed or corrupted.
You can check whether your website address has HTTPS encryption by viewing the URL in your browser. If there’s a green padlock before your domain name, your site has a secure SSL/TLS protocol:
(Your customers check this, too: 28% of internet users look for the green address bar.)
In order to make your website run on HTTPS, you’ll need a Security Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. This certificate, originally developed by Netscape, is what encrypts the site’s data and proves to website visitors that you’re a secure website. The advantages of https are clear enough to force the site to use https.
SSL as a Google ranking factor: the Main Difference between HTTP and HTTPS
WhyNoHTTPS found many of the top 100 websites still don’t load securely—including Baidu, ESPN, and MyShopify.
Does that make HTTPS encryption completely irrelevant for SEO?
Not necessarily. In fact, those websites are an anomaly.
Google’s team has expressed their opinion on HTTP vs HTTPS and the need for HTTPS time and time again. So much so, they’ve released an algorithm update based around it—causing sites without SSL to TLS security to struggle on their quest to rank highly in the SERPs.
“Over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”
It seems they’re taking their own advice. Over 90% of sites owned by Google—including Google News, YouTube, and content promoted through their Google Ads network—send encrypted user traffic:
…But Google has said they’re working hard to make this figure closer to 100%.
4 Key SEO Benefits of Using HTTPS
These days, there’s more to SEO than encryption certificates.
It’s unlikely that a switch from HTTP vs HTTPS will skyrocket your rankings to page one. It takes an entire strategy—including on-page SEO, acquiring backlinks, and creating SEO content —to see SEO success.
However, there’s no doubt that making the switch has SEO benefits. Those include:
1. It Gives Better User Experience
It’ll come as no surprise to hear that user experience (UX) is a huge part of Search Engine Optimization Results.
If people are landing on your site pages through organic search and you’re greeting them with flashing text, bouncing icons, and countless pop-up ads, they aren’t going to stick around. Chances are, they’ll be mad that search engines pointed them there. The secure protocol grants the use of https greater security in web transactions.
Google doesn’t want that reputation, which is why UX forms a huge part of SEO strategies.
Unsecure pages without an SSL or TLS (HTTP vs HTTPS) don’t fit the “high-quality, trustworthy, and reliable” criteria that Google set for sites to achieve high rankings.
In fact, Google is so against insecure sites that a recent Chrome browser latest update now tells users when they’re visiting a site without an SSL or TLS, labeling the unencrypted site as “Not Secure”:
Seeing that browser warning sign would give you a fright, right?
You’d think twice about continuing to the site after knowing your data is at risk, which isn’t going to lead to a great user experience—nor high rankings.
2. Secure URL Address Can Increase Dwell Time
Now that you understand what does https protect, here’s another important thing to mention. Dwell time is an important factor for SEO. It’s determined by the amount of time a searcher spends on your site before clicking back to the SERPs, which tells Google how accurate your result was for their query.
Domains without HTTPS connection could be sabotaging their own dwell time. SSL or TLS encryption is extremely important at this point.
The content you’re sharing could be the perfect fit for your searcher. But if they’re being faced with an ugly “Not Secure” message, you won’t have the chance to show them your awesome content.
They’ll simply head back to their SERPs, and contribute to low dwell time.
Google’s spiders will then view your site as low-quality, or totally irrelevant to that search term, and your URL will drop down the ranks—even if your content is top-notch.
3. Sites with HTTPS Load Faster
When you click a link and land on a site, how long do you wait for the content to load before your patience runs out?
Research by Incapsula found that 55% of people are willing to wait a maximum of five seconds. Combine that with the 7% of people who expect a page to load immediately, and you’ll see why site speed is a critical ranking factor when comparing HTTP vs HTTPS.
(Remember: search engines want to point searchers in the direction of sites that are fast, reliable, and trustworthy to keep sensitive information safe.)
There’s such a huge importance on site speed that Google rolled out a “speed update”, impacting how mobile SERPs would be produced. Read their announcement:
“People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible — studies show that people really care about the speed of a page. Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Today we’re announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.”
Using HTTPS vs HTTP gives you an SEO advantage because websites using HTTP are 824% slower than HTTPS:
Granted, you can use techniques like compressing files, optimizing images, or reducing redirects to boost your connection speed.
But using HTTPS connection is a quick win that could see huge returns from one change.
4. HTTPS Leads to Accurate SEO Reporting
You’ll need to regularly check-in and audit your SEO results to find out what’s helping your performance, what isn’t, and tweak your strategy accordingly.
That’s the tried-and-tested process of any marketing campaign, right?
It’s not an easy task though; SEO is notoriously difficult to report on. Comparing HTTP vs HTTPS: switching to HTTPS can help improve the results.
That’s because referral information is stripped when a connection isn’t secure with an SSL to TLS protocol (HTTP). Traffic sources aren’t named on sites with HTTP address, meaning you’ll see a bunch of visitors who’ve come from “direct” source—when in reality, they’ve probably been referred from social media, organic search, or paid ads.
Secure sites using HTTPS vs HTTP protocols, on the other hand, protect (and show) this referral information in your analytics dashboard. You’ll be able to clearly pinpoint the best sources of user traffic to your domain, making reporting more accurate.
You can, therefore, tweak your SEO strategy based on reliable referral user traffic information.
How to Migrate to HTTPS Without Losing Your World Wide Web Traffic
Are you ready to take advantage of the SEO benefits that HTTPS provides?
Unfortunately, migrating from HTTP to HTTPS isn’t as simple as contacting your site server host to change your URL address. The switch means the links you’ve built to your old domain (without secured protocols) are no longer working—hence why many site owners worry about losing their organic user traffic during the migration.
Here’s how you can switch without that happening.
1. Install an SSL certificate
Ready to start protecting the data being passed through your site, and experience the SEO benefits of HTTPS protocol?
You’ll need to install an SSL certificate to establish an encrypted connection for the server.
Platforms such as WP Engine have public key encryption via SSL/TLS available as add-ons if you’re already using them for your web server hosting. You might need to pay extra for this, but don’t treat SSL certificates as an unnecessary expense that you can avoid.
Google is actively rewarding secure key encryption with higher results, and 85% of internet users avoid shopping on unsecured resources—meaning the SEO benefits you’ll get in return will outweigh the (small) cost of installation.
Alternatively, you could also use a free service like:
Once you have the SSL encryption for your domain, you’ll need to install it on your site.
You can either utilize a WordPress plugin like Really Simple SSL to do this (which will automatically detect your new SSL secure certificate) or ask your server hosting provider to activate the key certificate on your site.
Once you’ve enabled the SSL certificate for your domain, it’s time to set the HTTPS version as the default URL for your site.
Sign in to your WordPress dashboard, click Settings, and be sure your WordPress and the URL include the HTTPS prefix:
(The Really Simple SSL plugin might do the difference automatically, but it’s worth double-checking.)
2. Automatically redirect HTTP to HTTPS
Your old HTTP URL is no longer in use, but people still might land on the unsecure version on their browser. So, as soon as you’ve changed your default URL, you’ll have to automatically 301 redirect users landing on the old URL to the new one.
For example: If someone visits https://gotchseo.com, a browser redirect would automatically send them to the secure https version at https://gotchseo.com.
The server hosting provider you’re using will likely generate this secure redirect once they’ve installed your SSL certificate. But if you’re installing it manually, get instructions from the guide to redirect HTTP to HTTPS, depending on your server.
3. Add the new URL to Search Console
Use analytics to measure http https impact. You probably already know that Google Search Console is the primary way Google will communicate with you about your site. Not only that, but it contains tons of sensitive information that SEOs can use to understand (and improve) their organic results.
That’s why when you’re migrating to HTTPS, add the new URL to Google Search Console as a new “property”:
When you get to this stage, take special care to include the URL exactly as you see it in your web browser—including the https://www. prefix.
You’ll then see two properties in your Search Console account: The HTTP and HTTPS versions of your website.
(Bear in mind it might take a while for Google to crawl the new version, but from now on, your site SEO data will be found in the HTTPS account.)
4. Find and replace external backlinks
You’ve automatically redirected from HTTP to the protected web server, and crawlers analyze the new version of your site.
What happens next?
The answer lies within backlinks: Arguably the most important factor of any SEO strategy, because external links prove to Google that your website is trustworthy.
…But the backlinks you’ve previously built point to the unsecure version of your domain address. And even if you’ve redirected your old URL to the new HTTPS domain, you’ll still need to check (and replace) external backlinks pointing to the HTTP version.
For every external link you find, check to see whether you’re automatically redirected from the HTTP to the SSL secured hypertext transfer protocol (HTTPS) version of your website. If you’re not, don’t panic.
Simply install the Redirection plugin for WordPress and create the link yourself.
Redirecting these backlinks makes sure you’re not losing any link juice.
Since the backlink leads people to the secure version of your site instead of the unsecure HTTP version (or worse, a 404 error page), Google will crawl the backlinks—and take them into consideration when determining your rankings.
5. Scan for crawl errors
Now you’ve checked that your site’s external backlinks are in check and know how to use https instead of http, let’s confirm you’re not losing any search engine optimization value with the internal links littered around your website.
Sign in to your Google Search Console account and head to the Coverage report.
Here, you’ll find broken internal links that crawlers don’t recognize and that you’ll get to redirect to the page with a secure connection:
Redirect broken internal links to the same page on the secured HTTPS version of your site.
This works similar to external links in the fact that search engines can now crawl your site, and understand what it should rank for, without dead ends blocking their tracks.
Are you convinced of the huge difference and ready to switch from HTTP to HTTPS?
Following this guide is the key to the successful migration—without losing your organic Wold Wide Web traffic in the process.
Using HTTPS instead of HTTP is essential these days. Not only are you protecting your business and domain name from hacker attacks, and public-key encryption via SSL/TLS also protects your sensitive data and credit card information. Installed SSL certificates and encryption data is bound to support your SEO strategy.
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