Sam Harrelson



Sam Harrelson

Google To Start Marking Sites Without HTTPS as Not Secure in July

If your nonprofit, church, or business website isn’t https:// with a reputable SSL certificate, Google’s Chrome browser update will start showing a warning message when visitors arrive. This will affect your site’s trustworthiness.

Get in touch if you need help or what to know more. You can also read a great take (and much needed insight) on this from blogging and podcasting visionary Dave Winer here.

For the past several years, we’ve moved toward a more secure web by strongly advocating that sites adopt HTTPS encryption. And within the last year, we’ve also helped users understand that HTTP sites are not secure by gradually marking a larger subset of HTTP pages as “not secure”. Beginning in July 2018 with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure”.

— Read on security.googleblog.com/2018/02/a-secure-web-is-here-to-stay.html




Ultimate guide to SEO for small businesses (and nonprofits)

There’s some really helpful advice here for small businesses, nonprofits, and / or churches looking to get a start on SEO basics. You can take a course on Lynda.com or watch some YouTube videos to learn more about what SEO can mean for your group, but the fundamentals here are pretty spot on:

SEO isn’t just for big business. As a small company or a local business, there is actually a lot you can do yourself to get good results from search. This ultimate guide for local and small business SEO will help you get the most out of search by finding your niche, optimizing your pages and using social media.

— Read on yoast.com/ultimate-guide-to-small-business-seo/




SEO for beginners free course

Here’s a free and good course on SEO basics. Whether you’re a business, church or nonprofit, you should have some basic understandings of what SEO means to your website and how just a few tweaks can really make a big difference.

I went through most of the course and there’s some good info here, especially for beginners:

– Get quick wins to make your site rank higher in Google, Bing or Yahoo
– Have a solid basic understanding of search engine optimization and how search engines work

— Read on yoast.com/academy/course/free-seo-course-seo-for-beginners/




What is Local SEO?

Here’s a good read on the thinking behind “local SEO” and how to implement some of the strategies on your website. We do this for a number of clients when we build or revise their sites, particularly churches and nonprofits (and small businesses) who really depend on local search traffic in fundraising or awareness campaigns.

Local SEO is about how to optimize your website to rank better for a local audience. A website gives you the opportunity to target the entire (online) world. But if the target audience for your business is actually located in or near the city you have your office or shop, you’ll need to practice at least some local SEO as well. You need to optimize for your city name, optimize your address details. In short: you need to optimize so people know where you are located and are able to find you offline (if required). In this post, we will try to explain what local SEO is, so you can optimize your local site as well!

Source: What is local SEO? • SEO for beginners • Yoast




Moving beyond links

I’ve long argued that “links are dead” (going on a decade now). Some of that was hyperbolic to discuss the need for a better mechanism to derive value or information from one site to the next or from a marketing campaign.

It looks like Google might be moving beyond links as well and towards more of an “entity database” where the connections and relationships between search terms are prioritized. I can get behind that.

The idea that we can push our rankings forward through entity associations, and not just links, is incredibly powerful and versatile. Links have tried to serve this function and have done a great job, but there are a LOT of advantages for Google to move toward the entity model for weighting as well as a variety of other internal needs.

Source: Google patent on related entities and what it means for SEO – Search Engine Land




Google Rolls Out “Mobile First” Indexing Today

Facebook is undergoing serious challenges to its place as a web hub between the public PR crisis involving its role in the mis/use of data related to Cambridge Analytica and the 2016 election as well as its ongoing tweaks to algorithms which now demote business and group pages in preference to users seeing more content from friends and family.

In the midst of that, there’s been a real uptick in the amount of attention that Google search results receive and topics such as SEO and page loading speed as more and more companies begin to reconsider their social media ad spends on Facebook and Twitter. Companies of all sizes are either pulling their Facebook ad buys altogether or crunching numbers to determine the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Suddenly, Google search results and SEO are becoming the new darlings of the marketing and advertising world again. So, it’s important that starting today, Google is rolling out its “mobile first” indexing scheme.

Whether you’re a big company or a small church or a medium-sized nonprofit, it’s important that you take into consideration elements such as how quickly and how well your website loads on mobile devices (if you want to rank well, at least):

To recap, our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have typically used the desktop version of a page’s content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is vastly different from the mobile version. Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.

We continue to have one single index that we use for serving search results. We do not have a “mobile-first index” that’s separate from our main index. Historically, the desktop version was indexed, but increasingly, we will be using the mobile versions of content.

Source: Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Rolling out mobile-first indexing




Why Some Services Cost More Than Others (Education)

“Holistic local SEO campaigns are the best for providing long-term value because the results won’t disappear immediately if you stop working with the agency. They also offer an element of education that you could argue is the most valuable of all.

While these services can seem a bit costly, they’re worth their price in every aspect. They’re highly targeted campaigns run by thoughtful local SEO technicians who know how to focus on getting results. The investment into these campaigns typically ranges from $899 to $ 1,999 per month depending on the company, their specific offerings and the business’s overall goals.”

Source: Why costs for local SEO campaigns vary

We work with a number of businesses, organizations, and even churches on what can be defined as “holistic” SEO programs to increase their site’s effectiveness at reaching desired potential customers or interactions at the local level.

There are some great “automated” services where you can “set it and forget it” and pay a monthly fee to do your search optimization as the article points out (Moz Local, Synup, Yext etc). We’ve steered a few of our clients in that direction given their budget, goals, or scope of demographics. The same goes with building a site… there are great solutions such as Squarespace or even WordPress.com for building your own website on the cheap, and sometimes that’s a better solution (I’d stay away from Wix or Weebly because of the way those site generators perform in Google searches, but that’s just me).

However, if you want the real trifecta of successful results, you have to hire an expert (which is what we do):

  1. Education from Expert Consultations (most important)
  2. Focus on Real Results for Long Term
  3. Customization for Your Specific Goals

You simply can’t get that with DIY programs.

I often see advertisements for website builders or newsletter delivery solutions or business card designers / makers that promise “ease of use” and “success” for small businesses or organizations working on shoestring budgets. It’s tempting to consider using those, especially when you are starting out or looking to make the jump to the next plateau. Sometimes, that’s a wise move. More often than not, you realize a few months into your endeavors that it would have been better to “hire an agency” or an expert to help you both clarify your goals as well as implement a site or newsletter or business card design that is both professional and custom to your needs.

Don’t discount the education component of marketing. I don’t expect my clients to run out and pass a Google Search Exam after a few months or years, but nothing makes me happier than when a client understands the value of their marketing investment and starts brainstorming with our team or even wants to learn more about how web design really works.

I’m a teacher at heart, I guess.




Google’s Matt Cutts on Link Building and Memorable Websites

Matt is right… create an experience and work towards the big picture rather than just make something for the moment…

Link Building Is Not Illegal (or Inherently Bad) with Matt Cutts: “Their goal should really be to make a fantastic website that people love and tell their friends about and link to and want to experience. As a result, your website starts to become stronger and stronger in the rankings.”

Go read the whole interview and pull your own conclusions from it. It’s not a short read, but it’s worth it.

Be unique and do your best work in all that you do.




Handy Google Spreadsheet Keyword Generator

I keep track of all our keyword bids, ideas, brainstorms and lists in Google Drive via Spreadsheets.

I had no idea this was possible but will be using the heck out of this feature now…

A Glimpse Into Google’s Brain, Hidden In A Spreadsheet App: “Yesterday TechCrunch reported that if you make a spreadsheet in Google Drive (Google Docs, formerly), enter and highlight the names of two beers, and pull down on the corner of the spreadsheet cell while holding Option or Control, the app will automatically fill the following cells with the names of other beers. The information is pulled, seemingly, from nowhere.”

And a few examples here.

And no, it’s not just for beer. I made a few quick tries with keyword lists for specific specialty clients and was impressed with the nature of the returns.

It’s not a replacement for keyword-specific tools, but a nice way to brainstorm from time to time.

Google Sets have been around for a while and I was always impressed with what was possible (and bewildered they “shut down” the service a few years back). Nice to see Sets having a long life ahead as a part of Google Drive.




Discovery Motors and Search Engines

Here’s a fun infographic we put together about one of our bigger selling points with clients (Discovery ie social media tied to SEO is insanely important to business):​