SSL May Affect Google Rankings

There appears to be even more steps towards killing the ability to properly track SEO analytics. According to a new report that popped up on the Wall Street Journal, Google Head of Spam Matt Cutts is hoping that Google will allow him to give better rankings to websites with SSL certificates (an https address instead of just http). That simple change in the algorithm can not only be more costly for site owners, it may cause some problems with keyword research.

With the current Heartbleed debacle, Google may very well decide to side with Matt with his suggestion now that his “opinion” has legs and a verifiable exploit to prove its value. However, if your website doesn’t sell products or collect customer information, will the benefits be perceptual or will there truly be a disadvantage not to have it regardless?

Additionally, SSL has notoriously caused problems with properly tracking some pieces of analytical data and most importantly keywords. Yahoo! recently made the SSL jump and lost more than half of their documented traffic as it got pigeonholed as Direct traffic and not attributed to Yahoo. They’ve made some adjustments to fix the problem, but will the average website owner be able to properly capture that data when they suffer the same fate?

Only time will tell what will happen in this nuance if and when it occurs, but we’ve heard from some sources that Google already has pieces of their algorithm that focuses on the presence of an SSL and views is as an authority piece since websites with secure socket layers are less likely to be fly by night.

While an SSL certificate only runs about $50 a year, is it still fair to give websites that have them a ranking advantage?  All being equal, if your site doesn’t collect data from customers, should a competitor that does collect names and emails have an advantage over you simply because they have an SSL certificate?

What are your thoughts? Concerned, relieved, or ticked?

SSL Direct Traffic




Negative SEO and Penguin 2.0

Penguin 2.0 and Negative SEOBy now, you’ve heard us screaming about negative SEO and for the most part being “pa-shawed” by people and called Negative Nancies, but we have a very bad feeling that it’s about to take front and center during the latest release of what Google is calling Penguin 2.0.

For those late to the party, negative SEO is when “Company A” can pay black hat agencies to set up massive amounts of links in bad neighborhoods linking to “Company B”. When Google sees these massive amount of links, they start penalizing Company B in the rankings because it looks like Company B is illegally buying links. Company A wins.  Google denies that it truly has this desired effect, but at the same time released a Disavow Tool for Company B to put in place to tell Google which bad sites to ignore.

Now Google is set to release Penguin 2.0 in the next couple of weeks and will continue in waves over the summer. Penguin 2.0’s primary focus is to clear out and/or penalize websites that are practicing the art of buying links or that try to essentially game Google‘s system, which is exactly what negative SEO is designed to make unsuspecting sites look like they’re doing to Google.

The question is now, how will Google be able to sort out which companies are victims of negative SEO and which companies are actually breaking the rules. Google’s Matt Cutt’s put out a video explaining that Mom & Pop stores shouldn’t worry (see the video on our previous post), but what if you’re not a Mom & Pop store?  And as mentioned, he then denoted that you could use the Disavow tool to indicate what websites have you listed on them that you want Google to ignore. The problem there is that you have to know those sites exist and by then, it’s too late.

While we know we sound a tad like Chicken Little here, this simply has bad news written all over it that Google would release an algorithm change that would play right into the hands of negative SEO. People should expect to hear more about this in the coming 1+ months as companies far and wide begin to fall off the Google SERP’s and start screaming foul. Just remember this post when all hell breaks loose in the coming weeks.

What Can You Do?
Unfortunately not much, because if you can find those bad links (if you have them), so can Google and they’re much quicker than you probably are.  Any bad sites that have your site listed on them are probably already indexed by Google. But if you haven’t experienced any bad effects of their presence yet, the time to act is now.

Use tools like Arelis/IBP to start looking to see if your website has been placed anywhere that you are not familiar with or didn’t setup yourself. You should expect to see certain growth patterns and an occasional bad anomaly, but if you start seeing placement on completely irrelevant websites or sites that contain questionable content, use the Disavow tool like your life depended on it because when Penguin 2.0 is in full swing, your companies online existence may very well be in major jeopardy.