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What is an SSL? Why do I need one?

buy a cheap ssl
Picture courtesy of Symantec

What is an SSL & Why do I need one?

SSL Certificates also known as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a security protocol used by Web browsers and Web servers to help users protect their data during transfer.

Now is the time when you need to buy one and have it installed in your website. Google wants the whole Internet to be secured. We agree, but website owners need to understand what this means for them so they can purchase the correct type of SSL.

You should take advice before buying as there are many alternatives.

SSL Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organisation’s details.

In the case of a Web browser, SSL activates the padlock symbol and “HTTPS” and allows secure connections from a Web server to the browser.

SSL is a security protocol that:

  • Protects user data during transfer.
  • Digitally binds a cryptographic key to organisation’s details.
  • Secures credit card transactions, data transfers, logon credentials, and more.
  • Provides authentication of the business and/or domain.

How do SSL Certificates work?

This is the process that happens when browser software encounters a website with SSL:

  1. The browser software (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari etc.) attempts to connect to a Website secured with SSL.
  2. The browser requests that the web server identify itself.
  3. The server sends the browser a copy of its SSL Certificate.
  4. The browser software checks whether it trusts the SSL Certificate. If so, it sends a message to the server.
  5. The server sends back a digitally signed acknowledgement to start an SSL encrypted session.
  6. Encrypted data is shared between the browser and the server.

That’s the technical stuff over with.

The bottom line is that Google is on the war path against unsecured websites. Your website can lose its ranking or be flagged as NOT SECURE if you don’t get one installed by your developers.

What sorts of SSL are available?

There are many types of SSL available but for the purposes of this article I will outline the three most commonly used and the types of website that they are most suited for.

  1. Domain Validated (DV) Quick, basic certificates that only need to verify that a person owns the domain they need to protect before being issued.

Used on simple brochure websites that are not one of the main marketing activities of the company. Thawte is a popular provider of these (they have others as well).

  1. Organisation Validated (OV) More robust certificates that require a light company validation before being issued.

More suited to companies whose reputation and brand are important to them. GeoTrust is a good example. (Again all major providers do these types)

  1. Extended Validation (EV) The most premium SSL certificates that require a company to complete an extensive validation process before the certificate is issued.

Ecommerce websites and others who wish to be secured by a recognisable security certificate such as Norton (Symantec). (And you guessed it, the other CA’s – Certificate Authorities – also do these).

I know that there are other providers but I’m trying to keep things simple!

Which is right for you?

That’s not an answer that I can give here as there is a conversation to be had about the most suitable SSL for your business and your business website.

If you want more advice about this rather important development, then please get in touch with us for some free advice. We can even install an SSL into your website if you need one. Call 01746 769612.

How to write more rich content for Google

website rich content explained

How to write Rich Content for website success #2

Continued from previous post www.clickingmad.com/blog/how to write rich content for Google.

What does “rich content” mean? (it’s a phrase used by Google, Bing; aka Microsoft and other search engines). I believe rich content to mean several things;

  • Unique.
  • Interesting
  • Easy to read.

Unique content is not a quick fix, you have to think about your product or service perhaps a little differently than you do indoors so to speak. Think about how your customers talk about it. What words do they use to describe your goods and services? How does your trade body talk about them? Use different terminology to describe them. Above all it has to be your own language, do not copy your content from anyone else.

Look at competitors by all means, perhaps for inspiration, but always re word what you say so that the search engines couldn’t possible have read it anywhere else. If the content is already in their database, they will know and the will penalise you for it. One way to do this is think about the conversation you might have with a prospective customer or client. Think about the words and phrases you use when talking to them. Use some “unique” selling points that I bet spill easily off your tongue, but that you struggle to write down.

I don’t know about you, but I can tell when content has been written by someone who is not very good at English, or who doesn’t really know about the subject. I can also tell if it’s been written by a marketeer. Too much spin and not enough substance. Too many buzz words and not enough facts. I tend to feel similar to hearing a script on a telesales call from a call centre; they’re reading the words but they don’t know (or don’t care) what they are saying. Making content interesting is not easy. But it’s doable.

Two ways to write website copy;

An example of fictional content on a website selling hotel breaks.

Boring: “2 nights bed and breakfast at the “Dorchestering Hotel”, Central London. River views and top class service. Book now.”

Interesting: “Fancy a break at a top class London hotel with all the trimmings? How about watching the sunset over the famous river Thames and looking forward to a sumptuous full English breakfast the next morning after a relaxing comfortable night in your beautifully decorated room? All included.

Why not take in a show or museum visit during your 2 night break. Be welcomed in style by clicking here to book now.”

See my point? Yes it’s waffling a tad but the facts are all there and it’s SELLING the trip.

A good example of content writing;

Here is a real life example from email inbox from Groupon, an broadcast email sales tool for retail deals.

“When life’s a bed of roses it usually means you have things sweet, or you’re a particularly messy gardener. Blossom into bedding with today’s Groupon for memory foam Silentnight pillows distributed by (name deleted). These Silentnight pillows can be bought as a single, pair, quad, or happy group of eight to provide a soft spot for weary heads.

Now that’s flowery alright, but I think it’s brilliantly written. Quirky, funny and still with all the relevant facts in the offer. That’s what I mean by interesting. It also makes you want to buy the product!

Ease of reading may sound a bit obvious. I always read out loud anything I write, apart from my shopping list! This is more aimed at your real website visitor but is also relevant to search engines as they often will present an excerpt of your text in their results. Therefore if your content is easy to read the user will get the gist straight away, which is of course what you want. Try not to use too many technical, industry only words.

Stop the hype

Be very careful over the use of nonsense marketing terms that everyone falls foul of. Examples of which might include;

Holistic
Seamless
Blue Sky Thinking
Ground breaking
Mission critical
Best of breed
Leader
Outside the box
Robust
Empower
Iconic
Win Win
Proactive
Best in class
Turnkey
Industry standard

 

 

 

 

The reason I don’t like these type of words is that they seem to imply that the companies that use them have a totally unique way of doing things. Does anyone? Really?

They are being used to pretend to be unique, then that pretence may lead us to the conclusion that we can’t believe anything they say in their website, or press release (where these types of words are most commonly used).

What I want to see are facts, details and proof. Well written and concise, after all none of us have much time anymore to be “flannelled”. (see my article on website speed.. here) We need (or expect) instant results, accurately describing the product or service that we seek. If highly descriptive or even misleading terminology is used we immediately mistrust the source.

Maybe I am becoming cynical in my (not so) advanced years. But tell it like it is. Try to get your website visitor to trust you by telling them the truth even before they make contact. Surely that’s a better way than shallow over used “speak”. Apologies to marketeers (who disagree) out there.

  • For SEO success write interesting, unique content.
  • To engage your website visitors write interesting and unique content.

For assistance on SEO as a business tool contact a professional company or spend about 4 years learning the subject. Don’t be fooled into thinking it is either cheap or quick, but be assured that it can and does work, over time.

If you have any questions about SEO and content writing, please get in touch by clicking the box on the right and we will keep you “in the loop” or call 01746 769612 for some free advice.

SSL Stop press: You now NEED to secure your website.

“from January 2017 Google will penalise websites that do not use a secure connection”

Website security - ssl's
Do you want your website contact form to look like this? Image courtesy of Google.
Q: Why do you need an SSL on your website?
A: Because Google will show your website as NOT SAFE if you don’t.

In June 2016 I wrote a blog article on why you should secure your website. The full article is here: www.clickingmad.com/blog/why-should-your-website-be-secured

Essentially an SSL means that communication between the website you are using and the server it is hosted on is treated as a secure connection. You will have noticed the padlock on shopping websites, for example.

All websites now need securing with an SSL, not just shopping websites.

There has recently been an update by Google.

In an update reported to me today Google has said that from January it will effectively penalise websites that do not use a secure connection.

They now tell us that they expect to be warning users not to use forms on websites that are not secured by an SSL. (SSL stands for secure socket layer) within their Chrome browser. Your website visitor will leave your website if they see this.

You have been warned!

If you want advice on what type of SSL your website needs, then please get in touch with us. All our advice is free.