Google announced late Wednesday afternoon that some formulaic changes are looming. In an attempt to better protect Internet users, Google will begin to include secure, encrypted HTTPS connections in their list of factors which determine search engine results. The news comes as little surprise as the Internet’s most powerful search engine has a history of altering their algorithms in efforts to stay current.

When conversational search through mobile devices became more prevalent, Google changed the landscape with their Hummingbird update.  By updating what results would display for particular searches based on factors like responsive design, immediacy and unique value, Google reinforced the idea that relevancy is essential.  The next logical thing for Google to respond to was clearly Internet security. Data security and privacy concerns are at an all-time high amongst Web browsers as the Snowden leaks and stories of Russian hackers have dominated the headlines.

Google webmaster trends analysts Zineb Ait Bahajji and Gary Illyes explained the focus on security in a blog post saying, “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.”

Google EncryptionThe blog goes on to explain that encryption is still miniscule when it comes to all of the factors that impact rankings. Quality websites that feature a responsive design, engaging content, compelling blog posts, and a presence on social media will all still rank well without encryption – for now. Like most Google updates it’s important for your business to understand that they are much more likely to grow in strength than deteriorate.  If Google is putting more of an emphasis on security, it’s a safe bet that encrypted websites will have a better chance of rising up the rankings. However, there is a cost involved.

The cost of encryption in the past was pretty prohibitive for the bottom line of a business. The monthly spend involved with a HTTPS address seemed futile when it often slowed down site response time. But technology has evolved over time and while encryption will still cost a site more on a monthly basis, response times should no longer be a factor.

Businesses must determine if paying the monthly bill for a secure, encrypted HTTPS connection will be worth the investment.  Like most things in the world of online marketing, the answer isn’t absolute. WebiMax believes that protecting your customers through a secured website is obviously a wise move. However, when it comes to rankings, companies can’t stop there. The secure website will only produce a return on investment if all other Internet marketing efforts are working in unison.

If you don’t have a secure, encrypted HTTPS connection, your rankings aren’t doomed. In fact, there are many things a marketing campaign should focus on first.  However, the message remains the same. A well-balanced website will always be in a better position to rank than its competitors. Encrypted connections are just another piece to an ever evolving puzzle.

Wx_Facebook_Google-vs.-AmazFor years, Amazon has been viewed as the cream of the crop when it comes to fast, dependable delivery. With their pristine reputation, more and more larger brands integrated their products into the Amazon shopping feed and innovations like Amazon Prime made online shopping more and more common.  However, Amazon’s reign at the top has a formidable challenger as Google now has their own plans to dominate the online shopping space with Google’s Shopping Express.

Google’s Shopping Express is only available in limited areas as it currently services Manhattan and Los Angeles. The catch with the service is that Google Shopping Express will make same day deliveries of the products ordered. Big retailers like Target, Walgreens and Babies R’ Us are integrated into Google Shopping Express and thus far the demand has been overwhelming. So overwhelming, in fact, that the Manhattan delivery service needed to cut short the day and stop making deliveries due to high volume.

Overall, I see this as one of the best moves that Google has made in some time. It has intrinsic value that provides immediate revenue. Google has the power of their own search engine to promote this service and while Amazon is testing drones for immediate deliveries, Google is in fast motion with this new initiative. This ability to order and receive items on the same day has already begun to change the landscape of online shopping.

I predict a day where retail stores become less and less visible and are primarily just locations for people to compare products they want to purchase before ordering them online. Yes, in most cases, those purchases will be made through mobile devices – and, obviously, the deliveries will be made the same day.

While I think there is enough room for both Amazon and Google to exist in this fast growing marketplace, over time, I expect each service will become exclusive providers of product for different retailers. This ability would enable both companies to prosper, and force consumers to utilize both options based on what product they wish to purchase.

It’s important to impress all of the Internet’s search engines because you never know where your next big customer will come from. But it’s even more important to impress Google because, at the end of the day, it’s the search engine that the majority of people use to conduct online queries.

In case you don’t believe me when I say that Google reigns supreme, I have the numbers for you.

Before we talk about how you can impress Google with things other than great web content, captivating web copy, streamlined design and clean code, you need to understand why it’s important to impress Googleafter you impress your readers, of course.

Here are the numbers, which demonstrate Google’s trend of controlling the search engine market share in the past and present, and project a continuation of that control in the future.

google trend chart

So now that we’ve cleared that up, there’s another concern we need to address before getting to the good stuff. And that concern deals with the following question …

How do Google-Inspired Plugins impress Google?

For some of you, the answer isn’t as flattering as you may have expected it to be.

The truth is that Google-inspired WordPress plugins do NOT impress Google if you don’t have a following on Google+. 

If you have a larger following on Facebook, you’ll want to investigate Facebook-inspired WordPress plugins. Or, if you have a larger following on a different social media platform (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), you’ll want to investigate WordPress plugins inspired by that platform. In other words, the WordPress plugins you have on your blog should be based on the platform where your market engages the most.

But back to the question of how Google-inspired plugins impress Google. And if you’ve been wondering what I mean by “impress,” I mean helping your website obtain higher rankings in search engine results.

Google-inspired plugins impress Google in two key ways:

#1) They Encourage Google +1s. Industry-respected research indicates that well-positioned pages in Google search share these social signals. The graph below shows specific social signals that high-ranking pages share, and includes information about other factors like word count, the existence of H1s, and keywords in body.

Google Inspired Plugin Graph

#2) They allow readers to share your post with a comment, which increases clickthroughs to your blog. Unlike standard comment plugins, the Google+ comment plugin (see the Google+ Comments plugin below) allows users to comment on your post and share their comments at the same time. The comment they leave is distributed to their social followers and a link to your post rides along with it.

This helps you bring in traffic because the colleagues, friends, and family members of the person who shared your post can then add unique value to it. The commenter also personalized it with their comment. This means that when your post is shared by a reader who comments, it’s more appealing for their followers to click through to your post. They can sense how much it impacted their colleague, friend, etc., via the shared comment and, in effect, want it to impact them the same way.

When I shared my post about evergreen SEO tactics on Webimax’s blog via Google+, it showed up like this to my Google+ followers.

If you have the Google+ Comment Plugin, this is how a comment would appear on your blog – much more impactful than a standard comment.

Note: There’s a chance you have an audience on Google+, but haven’t yet discovered it. To find out, do a Google+ Community search for topics related to your industry. If you discover an untapped market on Google+, start a series of new conversations and also focus on adding value to existing ones. And if you build up enough traction on Google+ after giving the platform a shot, revisit this post. Also, rest assured that you can have more than one brand of social media plugins on your blog – however, I recommend having no more than two.

You can see a great example of how two brands of social media plugins are married on Marilyn Moran’s blog – the professional blog of one of Webimax’s extremely talented project managers.

Now for the Good Stuff – The Plugins!

Google+ Comments Box

When installed, the Google+ comment box will be inserted above the existing comment section on your blog. It will look something like this (taken from M. Moran’s blog post on Mark Traphagen):

Example of Google Plus Comments

Note the easy opportunity for a reader to share their comment, along with your post, to their followers on Google+. It’s as simple as ticking a box!

New Google Plus Badge Widget

The Google Plus Badge Widget is a widget that becomes accessible after you download and install the plugin. With this widget, it becomes incredibly easy to give your readers the opportunity to follow you on Google Plus — and after reading your awesome content, they’ll want to. Plus, it comes in one of two great styles and colors.

Guy Kawasaki Google Plus Badge

Note: The above is not Marilyn Moran’s alias! Guy Kawasaki is, in fact, a famous Silicon Valley author, speaker, investor and business advisor.

Google Plus Badge

This produces a Google+ icon that follows readers down the page and gives them yet another opportunity to follow you. Having both this and the New Google Plus Badge Widget may seem like overkill, but we’ll leave you to your best judgment.

I hope you enjoy these new blog plugins and, by all means, if you have tips to help a blog better serve Google – and its readers! – please comment below.



Search engine optimization, in simple terms, is an Internet marketing strategy that strives to improve rankings and visibility for a company. It is successful when a website is ranked high on a search engine’s first page.

Businesses benefit tremendously from having their websites appear first on a popular search engine such as Google or Yahoo. When this happens, it not only increases user convenience, but also builds a good reputation or image for the company. If you own a business and want to gain more customers, utilizing organic SEO practices is an intelligent decision that will confer an extra layer of legitimacy on your enterprise and improve user experience.

With all of the advantages of SEO, however, some people have taken unnatural approaches to getting their sites ranked high. In 1997, search engine designers noticed that webmasters were attempting to artificially influence the rankings by engaging in a practice known as “keyword stuffing.” This is when webpages are filled with excessive—and sometimes irrelevant—keywords in order to raise that site’s or page’s rankings for those search terms. During that time, very early search engines such as Altavista and Infoseek had to adjust their algorithms to prevent webmasters from abusing keyword stuffing or SEO manipulation.

What happens when a website is overstuffed with unnecessary keywords? For one thing, potential customers can easily see that the content of the website is not organic—or, in other words, natural—which can drive them away. We’re all familiar with spam, and that is how an overstuffed or manipulated website can appear. This is damaging because, despite a business having an excellent product or service, customers don’t want to visit a spammy website.

The alternative to this bad practice is organic search optimization, which is the process of delivering natural search engine placement.

One of the most important parts of organic search engine optimization is doing keyword research to see which terms are ranking the best. The goal is to target relevant keywords that will generate the most hits. Copywriting is another crucial part of SEO, as fresh and original content ranks higher and does not appear as spam, but rather as targeted information for a specific audience. Link building is also important, since having your link published on other websites is another good way to build traffic.

When it comes to generating leads, overstuffing keywords can dramatically lower your chances of SEO success and could even result in a penalty. Organic SEO is the way to go in order to gain customers and keep them, as well.

One of the most difficult things to do is revive a dead brand, but I have to give Yahoo credit for doing everything they can to make it happen. I recall the days that Yahoo was the champion of the search space and “the” place to go for online news. They were the success story coming in and pulling away the market share from AOL in the early days of the online revolution. Somewhere along the way, Google came in and with little advertising or fanfare blew away Yahoo into an afterthought.

Yahoo went through some very lean times and made a bold move in bringing Google royalty, Marissa Mayer, on board to turn the company around. Yahoo also added the purchase of Tumblr to stay current and find a way to stay with the pack in regards to innovation. But, have any of these changes and innovations actually helped increase market share or, more importantly, boost interest in their advertising product? Not in my eyes.

Rankings and advertising on Yahoo are seen as a secondary channel compared to Google. Google continues to be the place for people to go to find things, and I always view Google advertising as having more “proactive” consumers…people who do searches with the intent of making a purchase. Yahoo’s belief is you come in for the news with Katie Couric and you stay for ads – but will it work? Likely not, but hats off to Yahoo for trying; with big salaries like Mayer and Couric and billion dollar purchases like Tumblr, the reality is Yahoo has likely positioned itself for a horrific and epic fall.There will be a day someone will knock Google off its perch and gain the market share in the search space but that company won’t be Yahoo. Katie Couric Image

Will Yahoo! Adding Katie Couric revitalize their brand?

Photo Courtesy of the Washington Post

Recent SEO news has been heavily focused on off-site content, such as the seemingly unending war that’s currently going on between people who think we still need to focus a lot of energy into linkbuilding efforts, their opponents who think it’s time to lay it to rest, and those who are steadfast proponents of the notion that it’s a profoundly mediocre SEO tactic. The recent (but, arguably, pretty mild) Penguin 2.0 update can probably do all the explaining as to why SEO enthusiasts are discussing social media, guest blogging, and, well, everything BUT on-site content in their recent contributions to the community, but we can’t let the importance of having well-optimized on-site content slip through the cracks.

Google Penguin UpdateSince Penguin 2.0 did introduce some important changes, that should probably be rule number one: Don’t neglect your on-site content! You should be refreshing this stuff relatively frequently, especially, of course, if any of the information changes. There’s speculation that frequently-updated sites are better kept on Google’s radar, so that never hurts.

More specifically, stay on top of your keyword usage. Something I’ve seen all too often is webmasters who think they need to use their keywords in their exact forms as the anchor text for their links, and this is actually pretty punishable behavior. If your keyword is “lawn care New Jersey,” do yourself a favor and include a few stop-words to make that keyword sound more natural. Doesn’t “lawn care here in New Jersey” just sound easier to fit in a sentence?

In addition to that, make sure you’re varying your anchor text. Don’t target the same exact keywords over and over again on the same page – Google now sees this as spammy. A good way to switch up similar keywords is by branding them (Sprinkler King’s New Jersey lawn care).

During your content refresh, always do some thorough proofreading. You can never have enough proofreading. It might sound like common sense, but in my few years’ experience in SEO writing, I’ve seen a shameful number of pages that have spelling, grammar, and syntax errors…right on the company page. Not only will that make a visitor question your company’s authenticity, it’ll be a red flag to Google, too, since spam content is usually similarly low-quality. This is why the person writing your on-site content should never be just a writer or just an SEO expert – it should be someone who is well-trained in both, or two experts working side-by-side.

A lot of webmasters also have a hard time resisting the urge to ignore their e-commerce pages. It makes little sense – product descriptions are easy to optimize, but if they go neglected, they can easily account for duplicate content. Take advantage of your ability to optimize your e-commerce; it’s like free SEO real-estate on your website!

And, finally, don’t get too link or strong-tag happy. When a site visitor is just trying to get some basic info, it’s distracting when every other word is bolded or linked. Let the keywords come naturally and don’t put a crazy emphasis on them for a better experience.

So, your homework for today is to go home and refresh your content to make it Penguin 2.0-friendly!