Google Will Soon Notify Chrome Users of Non-HTTPS Sites

As frustrating as keeping up with Google can sometimes be, or as strange as some of their standards may seem, they’ve done a lot to clean up the web. Today, content-heavy websites with interesting, useful information make it to the top of the search engine rankings (most of the time).

Compare that to the early 2000s, before Google went public, when pretty much anything went on the web. Heck, that even was still the case just 5 years ago.

We’ve talked about Google docking (or boosting) your rankings based on whether you have HTTP secure (HTTPS) before. That’s in place.

What Google’s Got Up Its Sleeve That It’s Now Revealing

Beginning in October, Google will show the words “not secure” in their Chrome browser’s address bar whenever you type data into website that doesn’t use HTTP secure. And they’re right. Not having HTTPS in place means the data you enter is more exposed to cyber criminals. Practically, that means any website which starts with http:// without the “https://.”

And when you browse in “Incognito” mode, the HTTPS warnings will appear on all pages you visit. Google also plans to expand this to all Chrome users eventually.

Why Can Google Force The Issue on This?

Google’s got the power because they have what the market wants. Chrome dominates the browser market. Chrome has more than 50% market share, with the next closest being Apple’s Safari at 15% or so:

As long as the market desires what Google has in Chrome, they’re going to be able to continue to shape the internet. Don’t count on that changing anytime soon, by the way.

Microsoft Edge is trying to compete directly with Chrome by being faster. But as you can (just barely) see, it’s the lowest blue line on the chart there, with around 1.0% of overall market share. And even though you can’t see this well either, that’s gone down slightly from the same time last year.

Fortunately, HTTPS Isn’t A Big Time Or Financial Cost

HTTPS securely encrypts any information going to or from your server (or host). So, the bad guys only get encrypted data if they happen to nab it.

Installing HTTPS takes just a few simple steps:

  1. A hosting service with a dedicated IP address
  2. Buying a HTTPS certificate (usually $50 – $150 per year)
  3. Activating the certificate
  4. Installing the certificate (usually just a few simple steps)
  5. Updating your site to HTTPS

Whew! That’s it. Not really a big deal, is it? Be thankful for that.

HTTPS makes the web a more secure place. So it’s a good thing.

We’ll see what Google comes up with next.

Google Introduces “Verified Customer Reviews”

Have an online store?

You’ll want to include Google’s “Verified Customer Reviews.” They’re a new kind of review exclusively reserved for customers who have actually purchased from you.

With the “Google Reviews,” which you’re probably thinking of, technically anyone can leave one. So, the credibility of those isn’t quite what it could be. Although in most cases, Google Reviews are 100% legit.

How Does It Work?

Pretty simple. You sign up for a free Merchant Center account. After you sign up, your customers get the option to receive an email after they purchase that asks for their feedback.

Then, you can get a badge for your website that displays your rating. In addition, your seller rating appears on Google Shopping and Adwords ads.

It can be quite the credibility booster that leads to more sales.

How Can You Get More Google Reviews?

This feature is cool and easy to implement. What if you have a physical store subject to the standard Google Reviews?

How do you get more of those?

Fortunately, it’s not as hard as you fear. Here’s a few strategies for getting more of those:

  • Have a Method for Following Up with Every Customer

    Collect customer information. Whether you’re a savvy law firm, or if you sell antiques, you can easily get your customer’s email.Once you have it, set a reminder to send your customer a brief (1-2 sentences) email asking them to leave you a review. That email should include a link they can click to leave you a review.

    Doing this makes it easy for your customers. The one thing they have least of is time.

  • Publicly Respond to Any Complaints or Negative Feedback

    You won’t get 5-star reviews every time. When you get anything short of that, respond to what the customer didn’t like publicly.Try to understand what went wrong in their mind. And see what you can do to fix it. When you do, make sure you publicly post what you did. And ask your customer to update their review with how you handled the situation, and how they feel about your company now.

    Not only does this show you errors in your business, but it also builds a lot of trust with potential customers who do read your reviews. And this could earn you many more customers in the future.

  • Offer a Giveaway in Exchange for Reviews

    To keep this honest and ethical, you’re not paying one customer for a good review. Instead, you’re giving away something of value in exchange for any review.Make the item or service given away related to your business so you don’t attract people who could care less about your company.

Reviews are invaluable to your online success. Make sure you get as many as you can. And take each one to heart.

Google Introduces “Verified Customer Reviews”

Have an online store?

You’ll want to include Google’s “Verified Customer Reviews.” They’re a new kind of review exclusively reserved for customers who have actually purchased from you.

With the “Google Reviews,” which you’re probably thinking of, technically anyone can leave one. So, the credibility of those isn’t quite what it could be. Although in most cases, Google Reviews are 100% legit.

How Does It Work?

Pretty simple. You sign up for a free Merchant Center account. After you sign up, your customers get the option to receive an email after they purchase that asks for their feedback.

Then, you can get a badge for your website that displays your rating. In addition, your seller rating appears on Google Shopping and Adwords ads.

It can be quite the credibility booster that leads to more sales.

How Can You Get More Google Reviews?

This feature is cool and easy to implement. What if you have a physical store subject to the standard Google Reviews?

How do you get more of those?

Fortunately, it’s not as hard as you fear. Here are a few strategies for getting more of those:

  1. Have a Method for Following Up with Every Customer

Collect customer information. Whether you’re a savvy law firm or an antique shop, you can easily get your customer’s email.

Once you have it, set a reminder to send your customer a brief (1-2 sentences) email asking them to leave you a review. That email should include a link they can click to leave you a review.

Doing this makes it easy for your customers. The one thing they have least of is time.

  1. Publicly Respond to Any Complaints or Negative Feedback

You won’t get 5-star reviews every time. When you get anything short of that, respond to what the customer didn’t like publicly.

Try to understand what went wrong in their mind. And see what you can do to fix it. When you do, make sure you publicly post what you did. And ask your customer to update their review with how you handled the situation, and how they feel about your company now.

Not only does this show you errors in your business, but it also builds a lot of trust with potential customers who do read your reviews. And this could earn you many more customers in the future.

  1. Offer a Giveaway in Exchange for Reviews

To keep this honest and ethical, you’re not paying one customer for a good review. Instead, you’re giving away something of value in exchange for any review.

Make the item or service given away related to your business so you don’t attract people who could care less about your company.

Reviews are invaluable to your online success. Make sure you get as many as you can. And take each one to heart.

Top 4 Benefits of FAQ Pages

Your website has a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page, doesn’t it? Many, but not all, websites do.

Why?

Improve Your Search Rankings

Your FAQ page includes some of the most commonly asked questions about your business. Of course, people type many of these questions into Google. So, you immediately get exposure for those questions.

Nice.

They Can Reduce Unnecessary Customer Service Phone Calls and Shorten Call Times

You know how your customers ask the same questions over and over. Some are quite complex and definitely require a phone call to address. You sometimes have to know specific customer information to give an accurate answer.

That’s good use of your customer service time.

However, sometimes you get questions with easy, straightforward answers. Better to use your website’s time and energy, rather than your employee’s, right? You can save on your customer service time and costs with a well-constructed FAQ page.

You Can Repurpose Your FAQ Content

When you use content to market your business, it takes a fair amount of time and money to do. In certain industries, it takes weeks to produce a quality piece.

You can cut down on that time and cost by repurposing your FAQ page. You can offer brief questions and answers in your newsletter. Each FAQ could become a social media post. You can also create in-depth blog posts with extended answers to each question.

Or, you might even turn the whole FAQ into a downloadable PDF your potential customers can take with them so they don’t forget you (few other small and local businesses do this). You could also use it to put behind a form asking for people’s emails.

Increase Your Sales

You get customer objections in person. Not every customer fully trusts you to buy from you immediately. You know how to alleviate their fear of purchasing. So, do the same process with your FAQ page. Turn that question into an opportunity for further engagement…or to close the sale.

Many websites don’t prioritize the creation of a FAQ page. That means it gets forgotten. It’s a huge missed opportunity. And now that you know the benefits of a FAQ page, you can get a quick win your competitors don’t even bother to look for.

Google Ramps Up Efforts to Filter Out Factually Inaccurate Content

Did you know Google has teams of human quality-raters whose sole job is to rate the quality of websites?

Google gives them their own document in its “General Search Quality Guidelines.” Simply put, the searchers have to conduct various searches and rate how well the pages returned satisfy their query. This information then gets applied to Google’s algorithm so it can automatically apply the judgment to its search results.

Google does this for “offensive” and “upsetting” content. But of most concern to you is that they do this for “factually inaccurate” content. Google recently updated the section of their search guidelines that describes how evaluators should rate “inaccurate” content.

What Should You Do About This?

Truthfully, you don’t even need to look at the document to understand what to do. If you look from a high level at what Google’s trying to do strategically, they’re trying to clean up the web.

Users should be able to go to a website, get the information they want, and get a factually accurate answer.

What if there are different opinions on the correct answer to a question? Now, there’s a legitimate concern.

But again, you have to go back to what Google wants to do: help users. So if there are differing opinions on a particular subject, it’s okay to offer those as possible answers.

Let This Example Clear “Inaccurate” Up for You

Google offers an example in its search evaluator guidelines document. The website in question states (and this is serious):

“Christopher Columbus was born in 1951 in Sydney, Australia…”

You can see an image of this website here.

It continues:

“Columbus knew he had to make this idea of sailing, using a western route, more popular. So, he produced and appeared on infomercials which aired four times daily.”

Clearly, that’s not accurate information. It’s not going to help the website’s users in any meaningful way.

If this were a humor website portrayed as such, it may not get subjected to the filter. However, as it is, it appears to want to be a legitimate website. So, its real motivation may be to deceive its intended target audience (young elementary school students).

Google doesn’t want that in its search results because users won’t find that helpful.

So when you publish blog posts or web pages, make sure your information has good factual backing. As long as you have solid intent to help your users, you’ll be okay.

Soon, It’s Likely All Your Browsing Will Be HTTPS Encrypted

Let the surfing begin

Google sets the tone for how the internet works. One of its visions that hasn’t had as much publicity is its desire to make all browsing encrypted.

These days, Chrome uses now have at least 50% of the content they view delivered by HTTPS. That number jumps to 66% when you look at it in terms of time spent browsing by HTTPS. For now, Google expects both of these to increase.

Why Does Google Get So Gung-Ho About HTTPS?

HTTPS exponentially increases your security on the web. For example, you may have noticed the address for your credit card company is https:// instead of http://. When personally identifiable information is used, HTTPS comes into play.

HTTPS only encrypts information in transit. So, if hackers attempt to steal the information, they can get it. But it’s next-to-impossible for them to decrypt it into the original information they want (your credit card number, for example).

However, it’s important to note that it doesn’t secure any other aspect of your website design. And there’s a lot more to web-site security than implementing HTTPS.

Google May Mark HTTP Websites as Non-Secure

Now, as a fair warning, we’re not sure if Google definitively plans to do this. However, in a 2014 proposal, Google said it may start displaying websites using only HTTP in its Chrome browser as “non-secure.”

This Forbes article has this to say about Google and HTTPS:

“Google is getting ready for another push. They’re going to start subtly shaming sites that aren’t using HTTPS. In January when a new version of the browser is pushed to users, Chrome will start labeling pages served via HTTP as insecure.”

Now, we can’t find any factual basis for the first part about “shaming sites that aren’t using HTTPS.” And we don’t have anything on the second part, either.

However, both changes make sense for the future security of the web. It’s no secret that online security is a major concern for consumers and companies.

Google sincerely wants to make the web a better place for its searchers. So, requiring HTTPS totally makes sense.

That’s just our opinion, though. And we don’t actually know when or if this will happen.

But, you might as well prepare for it because it’s totally consistent with Google. By the way, adding HTTPS to your website design isn’t a huge, time-consuming deal. So keep it on your radar, but don’t panic.

…And make sure you stay tuned to our blog for further updates!