Despite that 2017 has just started, your small business is probably already behind on some important website changes for the new year. January 1, 2017 brought some new requirements for your website that you should be quick to follow or suffer reduced website traffic, engagement, and even missing out on making your 2017 business goals.
Kim, our creative director, shared how to conduct a year-end SEO audit over at GoDaddy and it’s a great place to start if you’re looking to increase your website traffic in 2017. But what’s even more important is making these important changes to your website as quickly as possible to start 2017 on the right foot.
2017 Website Checklist of Must-Do Updates
Google rarely states exactly what they expect from your website but each one of these three changes you should consider making today are straight from Google itself, which is all the more reason to put these three changes on the top of your to do list.
While this isn’t the complete checklist of website updates you should consider completing to start off 2017, these are straight from the horse’s mouth on what is most important in 2017.
Get an SSL Certificate
An SSL certificate is a website security feature that encrypts information sent to your website from visitors. If you’ve been on a website that appears with lock symbol in your browser bar, it means the website has taken this extra precaution to keep your information safe. SSL certificates can bit a bit tricky to add to your website correctly so bringing in outside help is usually a smart decision for your small business marketing.
Browsers are upping the ante when it comes to showcasing which websites are insecure. Starting at the beginning of 2017, Google Chrome and Firefox started highlighting which websites aren’t using an SSL certificate to visitors. That could mean a decrease in traffic if you don’t have an SSL enabled on your site.
On top of building a better user experience, SSL certificates can give your website a small boost in search engine rankings. Google even says a 2048-bit certificate can give your website a boost in rankings so there’s a clear benefit to adding this to your website.
You can purchase a basic SSL certificate for around $70 per year but keep in mind installation isn’t very straightforward. The process is a bit complicated and usually involves more than just setting up a simple redirect so bringing in an SEO expert to help can make the process quick and easy.
Get Rid of Popups
Starting January 1, Google started penalizing websites that show pop ups to mobile devices. If your website has pop ups enabled to capture email addresses from visitors or with special pop up offers, it might be hurting your website rankings. You should remove pop ups from your website as soon as possible if you’re concerned about SEO.
Google announced in August 2016 they planned to implement this new change. If you’ve neglected to disable pop ups for mobile visitors on your website, you’ve likely suffered a decrease in your rankings that you might be able to recover with a few changes to your pop ups.
While pop ups might have been essential to your digital marketing strategy in 2016, it’s time to figure out a new way to capture email addresses from first time visitors or special offers you show in your pop ups. Bringing in a website design expert to help you figure out how to make these changes and help improve your website rankings by improving your user experience.
Make Your Site Mobile-Responsive
Google is moving further and further towards a mobile-first environment and made a number of announcements in 2016 about changes related to mobile-friendly website requirements. On April 21, 2015, Google started using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal and 2016 saw this signal increase in importance when it comes to high ranking websites.
2017 is likely to go further down the rabbit hole of mobile-friendliness as Google continues to make changes. In November 2016, Google announced plans to implement a mobile-first index, meaning your website will be ranked only using the version of your site shown to mobile visitors.
Google prefers mobile-responsive websites that adjust their content to the screen size, rather than separate site versions served to visitors on different screen sizes. In an effort to maintain consistency and user experience across all devices, switching your website to a responsive design is the first step towards making your website more mobile-friendly and score higher rankings.
Working with a skilled website design team that designs with mobile-first in mind is essential to the success of your website now that Google is taking a mobile-first approach. While a website design typically takes a few months, starting as soon as you can will get the ball rolling so you can keep up with Google and your competitors in 2017.
Need Digital Marketing Help in 2017?
If you haven’t made these changes to your website yet, it’s important to do these as quickly as you can to preserve your website’s rankings and maintain your website traffic. Our digital marketing team can help if you’re unsure how to approach these new Google requirements for 2017. Contact us to find out what changes you need to make and how we can help you succeed in 2017.