Website Not Secure – Here’s What You Need To Do

Imagine if people trying to visit your website got an alert saying that your website is not secure. Do you think it would deter them? Hell, yes it would! That’s what’s going to start happening in July on websites that have HTTP when people visit using the latest version of Chrome browser (Chrome 68) visit.

Chrome is the most popular browser used worldwide with about 50% penetration. So if your site doesn’t have encryption with an SSL/TLS certificate and HTTPS set up this affects you.Website Security Out-Smarts Marketing

HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure and works as a layer of security between the client (visitor)  and the site when a connection is established. Data that usually moves from the site to the client and vice versa in plain text is encrypted securely by the browser when a TLS certificate is in place. That means eavesdroppers won’t be able to read important information from your users, like passwords and credit card numbers, in plain text.

Up until now this alert only appeared on form pages (i.e. contact forms) but moving forward it’s going to show up on all pages that aren’t secured.

What to expect for non HTTPS sites? In July you can expect to see a drop in traffic to your site, conversions will likely fall too. You may also see a drop in your page rank – where you show up in Google search. Google started lowering the rank of non encrypted sites three years ago.

What Should You Do

First check to make sure you don’t already have HTTPS set up.

Then decide on an SSL certificate. They vary in prices from free to the most expensive we’ve seen which was over one hundred dollars. There is a newer free way to get TLS certificates through an initiative called Let’s Encrypt. Certificates created this way expire every three months, but most hosts have an automated solution to renew the certificate before it expires, so you don’t have to do anything once it’s set up.

More expensive purchased certificates often come with additional insurance for online transactions, which might be desired if you are running an online store. Purchased certificates expire less frequently than free ones provided by Let’s Encrypt, lasting as long as 3 years.

Once you’ve made the switch, there’s still a little work to do if you use Google Analytics or AdWords. You can find out more about that on our previous post about website security.

WordPress websites also need to be updated to ensure your pages don’t show up with a “mixed content” warning, which means that some materials (often images) are being embedded on the page using an unencrypted connection (i.e. http:// instead of https://, note the s).

If you need us to do this for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out.


How to Use Google Grants and AdWords for Non-Profits: Important Changes You Should Be Aware of in 2018

Did you know that Google offers ad grants for non-profit an charity organizations in Canada, allowing them to run their AdWords with a budget of $10,000 per month? If you run a charity or non-profit, this is something you have to take advantage of – it’s free advertising and drives targeted traffic to your site (if you set it up right!).  

  • First, you need a Tech Soup account  and registration – which verifies your non-profit status and eligibility
  • Once that is approved, you can then set up your new Google account and apply to manage your grants ads.

Google Ad Grant Changes for Non-Profits

Over the years, 35,000 non-profits have set up Ad Grant AdWords accounts, and it has been a popular offering, but recently though, Google has been rolling out a slew of changes that govern how ads are set up in the Grants program.

Out-Smarts: How to Use Google Grants and AdWords for Non-Profits: Important Changes You Should Be Aware of in 2018
How to Use Google Grants and AdWords for Non-Profits

I am guessing these changes are because many organizations were lax about maintaining their ads –  setting up accounts, campaigns and groups and then not maintaining their accounts well or keeping up with the new features Google has rolled out over the last couple of years like ad extensions. It could also be because some non-profits didn’t set up their accounts properly in the first place (for example not using geographical audience targeting).

As a result of these changes which were announced in December and went into effect earlier this month, non-profits are scrambling to review their ad campaigns and make them compliant – if they don’t, they risk having their ad account cancelled.

The good news is that there will no longer be the USD 2 ad bid cap which means that non-profits can bid more competitively and show up higher than ever before. There are some caveats though.

The New Google Grants AdWords Rules for 2018:

  • The two dollar bid cap has been removed
  • Advertisers must use maximum conversions bidding – this automatically sets your bidding so that you maximize the conversions of your campaign given your budget (for non-profits that about $333 per day). This means setting up conversions on Google and tracking them using two snippets of code that get added to your site and to the page you want to track.
  • Advertisers must use geographical targeting aka geo-targeting – this simply means that your ads must be targeted to your geographic area and not blanket targeted to broad geographical areas where you don’t operate.
  • Each campaign must have at least 2 Ad Groups that are live.
  • Each ad group must have at least 2 ad variations running.
  • Each ad must have a minimum of 2 site link extensions – site link extensions are links and titles that show up below your ads highlighting important aspects of your business and encouraging people to click through to specific web pages on your site.
  • Your account must show a CTR of at least 5% or your account could be cancelled. This is the rule is the one that everyone is panicking about, but if your campaigns are set up properly with keywords that are tight (specific to what your non-profit does), and you’re not bidding on words that don’t relate to your ad text, you should see your CTR increase.

Ten Tips to Help Non-Profits Comply with the Google Ad Grant Changes:

  1. Have specific campaigns for each component of your non-profit business using specific keywords, both in the keywords themselves and in your ad text and landing pages.
  2. Stop using keywords that are too generic – low-quality keywords.
  3. Conversely, don’t have ad groups that only have one keyword.
  4. Work to create better, target keyword centric ad copy.
  5. Make sure that your landing pages map back to your ad campaigns and groups and that everything works as it should on the page so that visitors convert once the land on your site.
  6. Set up conversion tracking and make sure that you are tracking conversions after people click through to your site.
  7. Use Google Analytics to understand campaign traffic, keywords that are driving visits from people who engage once they land on your site, and bid adjustments.
  8. Don’t use keywords that mention your competitors or other companies.
  9. Implement your changes now, if your CTR is less than 5% for two consecutive months your account could be suspended.
  10. If you don’t have the expertise in-house to make these changes, or the budget to hire experts then consider switching to AdWords Express.

Google Grants can be a great asset to a cash-strapped charity or non-profit organization. Done right, your campaigns can drive targeted traffic to your site, but your site has to deliver too. It is worth taking time to create great landing pages that convert once your visitor lands on them.

If you’re one of the non-profits that have neglected their campaigns over the years, this is the perfect time to restructure them and to take advantage of some of the great enhancements Google has been rolling out recently.

If you are concerned about your non-profit ads and don’t know where to start, we’d love to review them for you and make some recommendations. Get in touch with us here.

 


Google Analytics Set Up and Tips

There’s an updated version of this post. Click here to read it. 

A few weeks ago we posted a blog about understanding your traffic and recommended you try Google Analytics. If you haven’t already done so, here’s how to install Analytics:

1. First of all you will need a Google account. If you are using gmail you can use those login details and if not, sign up for an account then proceed to check in with Google – click on the sign up button to get started.

2. Enter your site details including URL and time zones, click to continue then enter your contact info.

3. You will be taken to the tracking instructions. To make sure Google knows to track your site, you must put the code given on the right-hand side of your screen on your site – copy and paste it onto every page.

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Once you have it set up and it’s been tracking traffic for a few days, you will find all kinds of valuable information that will enable you to improve your online marketing efforts and make educated decisions:

Your traffic: where it comes from (both geographically and from other sites), how often people visit, how long they stay and which pages they visit and more;

Your content: which pages they land on and where they go from there, which content drives the most traffic etc (or the least);

Your goals: track your online marketing goals including conversion rates, funnels and Adwords campaigns.

Tips

  • Filter out visits from you or your employees as they can skew your results.
  • Set goals – Analytics allows you to set goals pertaining to your traffic. You should use these to track success.
  • One of the things I like best about Analytics is the ability to view data in different ways – remember to use these capabilities to view graphical representations of your data.

Having problems installing Google Analytics or no time to do so? Just let us know. This is just one of the many services we provide.

Thanks to songglod on Flickr for the traffic pic!