By Mary Oquendo
On any given day, there are over 3.5 billion searches on Google, each looking to be directed to a website that can help them. It’s safe to say that websites rule. But did you know there are rules that websites need to follow in order to be 1) found in a Google search, and 2) compliant with FTC (Federal Trade Commission) regulations.
Let’s start with the playground bully. You’re happily swinging away when someone much larger than you decides they want your swing. You could stand your ground, but we know how that plays out.
Think of Google as the very large kid on the playground. You want to play there? Well then, you follow their guidelines. Google owns the Chrome browser and it is the search engine. Remember the daily 3.5 billion searches.
Google has instituted TWO new directives
1. SSL Certificate: The word on the street is you can thank the porn industry for this. 12% of all internet sites are porn related. To “protect” users from fraudulent sites, Google is requiring all websites have a basic SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. The purpose of this certificate is to provide an extra layer between your computer and any site. It changes ‘http://’ to ‘https://’. It provides that little lock you see on some websites.
Without this certificate, anyone visiting your website will get a warning that this site may be unsafe. That has the potential to drastically reduce the number of people going to your site. That’s if your site will even appear in a search. Google can and will blacklist sites they feel have been compromised. Blacklisting means you will not show up in a search or in the Chrome browser at all. (Even by manually typing your site name in the browser bar.)
This rule is already in effect. If you’re not sure you really need to bother with this, head over to the Chrome browser and put your website in the search bar. That is how your site will appear to potential clients.
My recommendation is to have your host provider install this certificate. It should run you anywhere from $10–30 a year. DO NOT USE cheaper third party software, you will thank me later. If Square Space is your host, then they automatically do it for you.
And don’t forget to have your provider do a 301 redirect as well. The certificate is meaningless without a 301 redirect. If you don’t know what it is, then don’t attempt on your own.
2. Pop–Ups: This is only important if you have a pop–up on your site. A pop–up encourages people to sign up for your newsletter. If Google considers your pop–up intrusive, then they will blacklist your site for mobile applications. Pop–up dimensions can appear much larger on mobile devices. If you are uncertain if your pop–up is annoying Google, visit your website from your phone. If it appears quickly or takes up the screen, then it’s intrusive and you need to fix that. If you don’t know how, contact your pop–up provider.
Google is the search engine of choice by billions of users. Don’t reduce the likelihood of potential clients even finding your site. These are pretty easy changes to make. If you think this is beyond your capabilities, then let your website hosting company do it for you.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC Compliant)
1. Children: You want to make it clear that you do not knowingly solicit information from anyone under the age of 18. This is a fairly new requirement.
2. Submission, Storage, and Sharing of Personal Data: What are you doing with any personal information such as emails and other contact information from clients?
3. Information Storage: Where is their personal information stored?
4. Confidential Information: Under what circumstances will you disclose personal information?
1. It’s the law. While it is unlikely that the FTC is trolling the Internet looking for sites without Privacy Policies, your site could be reported to them.
2. Third party apps such as Google Analytics and Google Adwords require them. In fact, Google Adwords has specific wordage they want included.
With over 3.5 billion searches every day, you want your website included. Following Google’s new rules, as well as being FTC compliant, will make your website rule! ✂