articles tagged with: google
With 2017 seeing Google continue their campaign against insecure web sites (read my blog to find out more), we thought this was a good opportunity to look behind the abbreviations and discover what SSL and HTTPS mean and the impact they have on everyday web site visitors.
1. SSL stands for ‘Secure Sockets Layer.’ In layman’s terms, this is a secure way of sending information over the Internet. Any data transferred 'over SSL' - such as web page content from a server to your browser - gets encrypted prior to being sent over the web for viewing.
2. Many websites use SSL for secure areas of their sites, particularly user accounts and online checkouts. As information is encrypted, the theory is that even if someone unwelcome gets hold of it, they'll be unable to do anything with it.
3. SSL is applied to your website – or parts of your website – by way of a digital certificate, which is purchased and added to your domain to demonstrate its security to users. It also ensures any content from that domain is encypted.
4. When you visit a website whose address starts with ‘https’, the ‘s’ after the ‘http’ indicates the website is secure, and has SSL. You should also see a padlock before the https, like below:
5. SSL keeps personal data such as your name, address or credit card information between you and the merchant who you are sending it to.
6. If you want to find out more information about a site’s security, by clicking the ‘i’ icon, or right-clicking the padlock, you can get more details.
7. Like everything in life, there's a wide range of SSL certificates available and they vary in features and price. Some are free but will require ongoing administration, others are more expensive but offer the tightest security including the strongest encyption algorithms and verification checks.
SSL is likely to be a hot topic in 2017 with Google's planned warnings for insecure web sites.
If you’d like to know more about SSL, securing your site and how to get an SSL certificate, please get in touch.
Created on Tuesday December 13 2016 01:30 PM
Google are big believers in HTTPS and SSL - they've been focused on making the web 'more secure' for all of us for some time now. One way in which they do this is to prioritise secure web sites in their search results, and another is showing a site's security status in the address bar within their native browser, Chrome.
2017 will see Google continue this campaign with some significant new features. Early in the year, Chrome will start to display additional security warnings for specific pages on web sites that are not secure – so HTTP, not HTTPS. These warnings will be fairly stark, as shown, and as you can imagine, not the most reassuring sight for a visitor to your web site.
As time passes, Google have said that their criteria will gradually become stricter and the warnings will also be added to all non-secure pages - the aim is, by some point in 2017, to mark all HTTP sites as ‘non-secure’ with a red security indicator.
This is likely to have considerable impact. Google Chrome currently accounts for 47% of all UK web users, so these warnings are going to be seen by a lot of people. Equally, Google will continue to rank non-secure sites lower in their search results. And history has shown that what Google does, others follow, and we're likely to see a similar approach adopted by other browsers such as Safrari, Firefox and Internet Explorer.
Web site owners who have or do not move to SSL will suffer not just the effect on web traffic and performance, but there is a risk to jeopardising customer trust.
If your website does not yet have SSL / HTTPS, or you’d like to know more about how to make your website more secure – and therefore more favourable with Google – please get in touch.
Google’s official article about these changes is available on their blog.
You may also like to read my blog which explains what SSL and HTTPS really means.
Created on Tuesday December 13 2016 01:28 PM
Last Thursday I was invited along to a Seminar at Google HQ in London by our good friends at Push.
The session, held in what looked like a very cool TV studio, had multiple speakers from Google, Shirlaws and Push, covering a range of topics from how Google is changing over the coming months, business and economic growth patterns, and how Adwords is changing both imminently and in the future. It was really good :-)
Rather than regurgitate the sessions, I thought I'd share some of my favourite facts and stats from the day.
- now has 7 products used by <1bn users (!)
- aims to have those products used twice a day - what they call their 'toothbrush test'
- generates 10% of its Global revenue from the UK
- claims that by 2019, Google Ads will be 39% of all media spend.
Google sees Internet usage fitting broadly within these four areas:
I want to know
- 65% of online consumers look up more information online than ever before
- 66% use their mobile to do so.
I want to go
- 2x more 'near me' searches than ever before
- 82% of smartphone users use a search engine to find local business.
I want to do
- 91% of smartphone users turn to their phone to do a task
- 70% increase in 'how-to' searches year on year.
I want to buy
- 82% of smartphone users consult their phone in a shop when deciding about a purchase
- 9% increase in mobile conversions (that is, users making a purchase on their phone).
The Internet in general:
- there are 60 trillion web addresses and 4 million Apps
- there are 3 billion+ web searches every day
- 15% of those daily searches have never been seen before
- mobile searches have surpassed desktop
- we are checking our phones 150 times per day on average (really?).
Think about these figures - do you feel you fit into these statistics? What are your thoughts on internet use, and how many times a day do YOU think you check your phone?! We'd love to hear your thoughts, drop us a line or feel free to comment below.
Created on Friday September 30 2016 02:57 PM
At the heart of this rather apocalyptic term is a fundamental change to the way that Google is ranking search results. Up to now, web sites that are suitable for display and use on a mobile phone were highlighted in their search results, but Google are now ramping things up and taking the 'mobile friendliness' of a web site as a significant factor in how highly your site will be ranked on their results pages. So if your web site isn't optimised for being used on smartphones and tablets, you could start to lose some valuable Google rankings.
This could spell big problems for business-critical sites such as eCommerce stores and SaaS platforms, with USA Today claiming at least 40% of 'top web sites' could be hit. The commercial aspect of search engine rankings are vital for online businesses, particularly where the majority of their traffic comes from Google searches. But just as important is the effect this will have on non-commercial sites, where users often search Google to find relevant information, advice or support.
This is, of course, another good reason to ensure that your web site is optimised for mobile - something that we at This is Focus have been doing for over three years now. For our customers, 'mobilegeddon' means their web sites will appear healthily in search results, with a nice reassuring 'mobile friendly' label.
But there's other important reasons for optimising your web site for mobile:
User experience: ensuring that whatever device your users employ, they can obtain the information they need.
Accessibility: why should users who only have access to a specific device be penalised?
Sustainability: new devices surface so quickly. Being 'mobile friendly' is more than 'doing a mobile version of your web site'. There are many combinations of screen sizes - iPads have mini-versions, iPhones have big versions. Our technology means we take screen size as the key factor in how a web site is displayed - not just the device accessing it.
There's no doubt that Google set trends and in some ways, govern the way that web sites are delivered. Google react to how users search for information, and they clearly think that this core change in their ranking tech is delivering users the content they want in a format they need. It could be the first of a series of changes they implement that favour well designed, robust and useful web sites.
Handily, Google have provided a nice online tool to check if your web site is 'mobile friendly'. Simply visit:
https://www.google.co.uk/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ and enter your web site address. If it fails, then please do feel free to have a chat with the This is Focus team to see how we can turn that red cross into a green tick....
Created on Friday April 24 2015 11:17 AM
If you've been doing some Google searches on your mobile phone recently you may have seen a new "Mobile Friendly" label turn up as part of the search result pages.
The global rollout of this new feature started in late November 2014 and is designed to highlight to the user web sites that are optimised for viewing and using on a mobile device, and those that are not. This is quite important - some of our client sites receive up to 40% of their traffic through mobile phones, and optimised web sites are also favoured by Google themselves in terms of search rankings.
Google used a number of automated tests to determine the 'mobile friendliness' of a site including the detection of unsupported software (such as Adobe Flash) and ensuring that links on the page are sufficiently spaced so they can be easily 'tapped'. Google have also provided a handy online tool for checking to see if a web site would achieve the 'mobile friendly' label:
So if you find that Google decides that your web site isn't as mobile friendly as you'd like it to be, then please do give the Focus team a shout.
Created on Wednesday December 17 2014 03:24 PM
Do you spend hours poring over Google Analytics, fascinated by all those numbers and pages being viewed?
Does it excite you, and empower you to make changes to your site? But you're not quiiiite sure what those changes should be, and wait a minute you've just found a new bit about Demographics, but oh that needs a UA upgrade, how do I do that? And then you decide you'll go back to it next week and make a proper plan... and next week you forget where you got to...
Sound familiar? Our (new) friends at OneSpace were in just that place - in fact quite well informed about Google Analytics, but felt they needed a bit of direction and guidance to get more out of it. So I took a trip out of the office to meet them. We enjoyed a few hours talking about their website objectives, and how they could take some stats from Google Analytics and turn these into some meaningful, achievable tasks.
These, I think, are three of the most valuable tips:
1. Link your site up with Webmaster Tools. Doing this gives you an insight into those '(not provided)' keywords that Analytics teases you with. Can be really handy for improving your content or setting up an Adwords campaign.
2. My favourite - always use 'Secondary dimension'. For everything. It brings a whole new meaning to so many stats. For example, Your top 10 landing pages are reasonably interesting, but add in the 'Device' as a secondary dimension, and suddenly you find that the top three landing pages are actually being viewed on a mobile... and your site isn't optimised for mobile...
3. Lastly, get to grips with Shortcuts. When you've got a really good secondary dimension view set up, save it as a shortcut. Makes it so much easier for next time.
Give these ideas a go, get stuck in and let us know how you get on!
Thank you to Paddy at OneSpace for his kind comments and biscuit supply:
"Thanks again for your time! We found that really helpful. [We've] talked to various SEO consultants in the past and not found it at all helpful, so we're very pleased with today's session."
So how do you work with Analytics? Do you get what you need out of it, and manage to make beneficial changes and developments to your website? Or do you dip in and out and not really have any direction?
Created on Friday September 19 2014 02:34 PM
At Focus we are believers in keeping things simple - so over the course of a few blog articles I'm going to try and apply that approach to an area of digital marketing that can by it's nature get a bit complex - that being web site analytics.
The information you can gain from software such as Google Analytics (other analytics platforms are available!) can overwhelm - so we're going to pick a few more of the important KPIs and have a bit more of a delve and look at them - including their meaning and usefulness. (For the purposes of these articles I'm going to be referring to Google Analytics - or GA - as it's the most widely used analytics software and we happen to use it at Focus).
We start off with Bounce Rate - generally defined as the percentage of visitors who came to a page on your web site, viewed a single page, and then left - either to go to another site or by closing the browser. Bounce Rate (BR) is an important KPI that people get very excited about - especially when it's high, as this indicates lots of people are hitting your site and leaving straight away.
But is that a bad thing? It might not be - we'll explain more later.
Firstly, back to Google Analytics - which provides an overall bounce rate as part of it's 'Content' overview. But remember this will be for the whole web site, and for that reason, the overall BR isn't the most useful of stats. Instead it's best to focus on bounce rates for individual sections and pages - which is available in the list of pages seen at:
Content -> Site Content -> Pages.
To improve the accuracy of this list we also need to remove statistical anomolies that can skew the numbers (general good practice if you remember back to GCSE Maths). To do this, apply an Advanced Filter in Google Analytics to exclude these outliers - we tend to only include pages where the bounce rate is more than 10% and less than 95%.
(See above 'advanced' surrounded in red - clicking this will allow you to apply a filter, of the type shown in green.)
Google Analytics also allows you to view bounce rates for different visitor types - by adding a Secondary Dimension. For example: if we add a Secondary Dimension of 'Visitor Type' we obtain seperate bounce rates for New and Returning visitors - this can give an insight into how engaging your web site is to different audiences.
There are other Secondary Dimensions - such as Keyword, Campaign and Landing Page - that are derived from your Google AdWord marketing activities. When applied correctly we now obtain bounce rates for individual pay per click (PPC) campaigns running from your AdWords account - this data is gold dust when looking at how successful paid-for campaigns have been (and where changes needs to be made).
So once you've got your bounce rate, how do you know if it's any good? When should the alarm bells start ringing? Whilst there are some general rules (see later), you need to bear in mind that bounce rates will vary between sites and use cases. At Focus we've built quite a few online directories for local authorities - and organisations listed in these directories tend to have high search engine rankings for specific key terms (such as their names). In this case, a user might want some contact information for an organisation - and having done a keyword search in an engine such as Google, they see the details they need in our Directory and leave the site having the information they require. In this instance - a high bounce rate, but the site has fulfilled the needs of the user.
eCommerce sites are a different story - generally we want users to convert, that is, land on a product page, move deeper into the site, use the basket and checkout. So high bounce rates on eCommerce sites are of poor value to the business and these pages need to be reviewed as priority.
Remember what was said before - look at the bounce rates of individual sections of your site rather than the site as a whole. If you are a charity, an overall bounce rate of 65% for the whole site will probably cause panic. What's more important though is to look at bounce rates for sections such as the donation facility - if 65% of users are leaving that section after one page, there's clearly some usability issues that need looking at. Taking each section at a time - with the most important sections addressed first - will help provide structure and reassurance, rather than trying to tackle the whole picture head-on.
Back to those rules then, and these are to be taken as general guides only:
- bounce rates of 60% or over: take a snapshot, review your content as soon as you can and start planning some changes.
- bounce rates of 25% to 60%: are generally the average, these should make up the majority of your report.
- bounce rates below 25%: great, but don't ignore them. Make sure these pages are working really hard as clearly they are engaging the user, so ensure you include promotional news, or offers, or target them to really drive that 'call to action' and web site conversion.
Where you feel that your bounce rate is a bit scary, you'll want to consider making some changes:
- review your content, is it out of date or innaccurate, does it engage the user? See our article on writing good content for the web, which is aimed at charities but has guidelines for all.
- look at web site usability, is it obvious enough to the user where to go next? Does the site layout and navigation inhibit users from getting further into your site, and completing the desired 'call to action'? This is particularly crucial for landing pages used as part of PPC campaigns - literally money can be being poured away through poor design.
- check how quickly your pages load, nothing whacks up the bounce rate like a slow loading web site.
It's also worth noting that Google Analytics allows you to check the bounce rate from mobile devices. If you've got a high bounce rate from iPhones, Androids etc the key reason could be users are hitting your 'non mobile' web site. With more and more people using their phones and tablets to view the web, having a site that's 'mobile-usable' is more important than ever.
So for starters, that's a whole lot of bouncing. We hope you've found the information above interesting and useful (well, about as interesting as stats can be....)
If you've got any questions then do get in touch, and we'll be publishing more web analytics blogs in the near future, so keep an eye out for more hints, tips and advice.
Created on Thursday June 27 2013 08:25 AM
The trouble with being dead busy and heads-down-cracking-on is you get a bit inward-facing... which is great for the here and now, but means you can lose sight a bit of what's happening out there in the big wide world of Web. So yesterday was a great opportunity for me to raise my head up, and spend the day at a conference in Bristol City Centre - On The Edge Digital. It was a really inspiring event - the speakers covered a range of topics, some of which we know, some we think we know and some we can learn a lot from!
The subjects included:
- Content - matching it to your sales process, and your target audience
- Localised SEO (search Engine Optimisation) and Searches - what does it mean to be Local?
- Email Marketing - some easy methods to try to get improved results
- PPC (Pay Per Click) - quick wins and Google's new Enhanced campaigns
- Social Media - strategy, common mistakes and what channels to use
- RWD (Responsive Web Design) - understanding more about why, and when to make the change to give the best user experience
- Social Networking for B2B - making it the right fit; and fitting it in!
And I do love the Digital World. It's inspiring and jaw-dropping and infuriating and exciting and keeps on changing ALL THE TIME. I love learning about latest developments and trends and news and views, forming opinions, putting them into practice, and then applying new developments and trends and news and views to make ongoing improvements... and so it goes on.
If you think it's about time to review your website or digital marketing strategy, please do get in touch. There's some exciting new developments happening right now, and it's all fresh in my mind - so let's have a chat and see what we can do to get you a bit of Digital Love too :-)
Created on Wednesday June 12 2013 09:15 AM
Google+ has announced today that companies and brands can create a presence on the social network from the search giants – following a similar style to Facebook pages.
They have five categories:
- Local Business or Place
- Product or Brand
- Company, Institution or Organization
- Arts, Entertainment or Sports
Over 40m have already signed up to Google+, and in articles this morning it has been mooted that a shift in social networking could occur with this new change….but why?
Well, the new features will allow users to recommend brands by using the +1 button, add companies to their circles so they can be kept updated with news and chat via its multi-person video tool Hangouts (something we’ve used for internal meetings and think i).
It’s also noted that this new development could be a way of attracting celebrities and journalists away from Twitter – this is mainly due to the additional features Google+ could offer with its integration in search, gmail, news etc. If there was a major shift the 40m+ users would surely skyrocket.
We’re going to take a look at the opportunities that a business page would offer not only us but also our clients – so look out for our advice on setting up a page!
Created on Tuesday November 08 2011 11:51 AM
So, at Focus we've been trying out the new Google+ system from Google to try to figure out if it's going to change our digital lives.
First things first -- it is very much like Facebook. At its core, it performs much of the same functionality as Facebook - you befriend people (add them to your "Circles", in Google+ parlance), and can then exchange messages, photos, videos and links.
Second, it even looks like Facebook - you still get the central feed of all your friends' activity, and the site design is even fairly similar at first glance.
So, what differentiates Google+ from Facebook?
Well, let's start with the bad: right now, the odds are that none of your friends are on there. Of course, this is reasonably obvious, as the service has only just launched and they're limiting invites right now, but it's still likely to present a significant hurdle to adoption, especially for casual users - Auntie Mabel isn't likely to sign up to "a site like Facebook, but with none of your friends or family on there."
So what's there functionally to convince you into making the jump?
First, you organise your contacts into Circles, which is a very nice implementation and superior to Facebook. I can organise people into friends, colleagues, family -- and create my own circles, such as the local poker club.
Then, when I post a message, I can choose what circle or circles are going to receive this message.
It sounds like a simple idea - it is! - but it's a very powerful one. Now I can post videos of the kids to friends and family, comments on technology to my colleagues, and jokes to my friends.
In Facebook, it's rather more that everything goes to everyone, which may not be what I want - either from a privacy standpoint or a "boring family members with technical stuff" standpoint.
Next, there's "Hangouts", where contacts in any of your circles can join in a virtual chat room, and chat via text, voice or video. Up to 10 people can video chat simultaneously for free, which is quite impressive, and may (incidentally) worry Skype, who require you to pay to video chat with more than one person.
I'm going to skip over "Sparks", which is supposed to feed me information I'd find interesting (like "when your Grandpa used to cut articles out of the paper and send them to you", according to Google), but in my testing, it seems to be a poor version of Google search, giving me a random mish-mash of barely-interesting results. Hopefully that'll get better, as Google clearly should have the search knowledge to pull this feature off well. Or perhaps it'll return great results for the content that you're interested in.
Finally, there's the increasing integration with other Google services.
For example, there's the "+1" integration -- if you share a link on Google+ about a great pet shop, say, I can "+1" it, which is giving the site my personal recommendation - a feature you may well have seen rolling out over Google's search results recently.
Now, if my one of my friends searches on Google search for pet shops, the site I recommended will come up with my recommendation noted - giving them some reassurance that it's something their friends approve of. It also seems likely that "+1"'d sites may rank higher for you in the search results.
Also, the new black Google navigation bar is going to be standard amongst all your Google services - Search, GMail, YouTube, Docs, Reader - so Google+ is going to have the advantage of being "right there at the top of your page" when you're using any of those sites.
So: is Google+ an improvement on Facebook? Probably, yes, at least on paper. Is it going to gain any widespread use? That's a lot harder to answer, and it's certainly going to be challenging for it to make gains into Facebook's massive dominance, but when it launches fully it will clearly be right there in front of a huge amount of existing Google users.
Facebook, of course, aren't sitting idle in response to this new competition - there are new announcments abounding of Skype integration so you can video chat with your friends, but we'll have to see what pans out there.
We will keep you posted!
Created on Thursday July 07 2011 12:58 PM
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