Filter: Search Engine Optimization

automated ssl

The Importance Of Automated SSL Encryption

When you put your credit card number into a website for an online transaction, surely you know to look for signs of a secure website such as the padlock icon in the web browser or the green address bar.  This is one way to protect yourself from others breaking in to your data. Google, Mozilla, and other major browsers are on a mission to make insecure HTTP a thing of the past. Google has made HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) and website loading speeds major ranking factors.  HTTPS uses a connection encrypted by transport-layer security to protect transmitted data from eavesdropping. Most browsers like Firefox and Chrome now prominently show ‘Not Secure’ warnings in the address bar and warnings also appear directly below form fields on pages using HTTP. These changes show that HTTPS is now a necessity for all sites, because of its privacy and security benefits.

Businesses depend upon SSL certificates to encrypt data and authenticate both internal and external systems and applications to ensure appropriate access. By having websites and endpoints on the Web configured with a SSL certificate, users are assured that the endpoint has been authenticated and any communication with these sites over the HTTPS protocol is encrypted. Complete encryption of data transfer with Secure Socket Layer certificates (SSL certificates) is quickly becoming the norm throughout the Internet.

The Need For Automated SSL Encryption

SSL certificates are used not just for browser-based security but also for secure server-to-server communication for applications and data exchange. The implementation of SSL certificates is rarely automated which means trying to recall special commands, going over steps to renew and deploy a certificate and then tackling complicated installation processes, which can be tricky even for experienced website administrators. The consequences of improperly configured or expired certificate can be disastrous for an organization amounting to financial losses, fines for non-compliance, and lower productivity.

All SSL digital certificates have a lifecycle anywhere between one and three years and upon expiration are not considered valid. SSL certificates need to be renewed at the end of their life to avoid outages, service disruption and security concerns. Sometimes certificates may also need to be replaced earlier (e.g., bugs, end-of-life of SHA-1 hashing, change in company policy). Keeping certificates up to date, especially when maintaining a multitude of servers can be really annoying. Moving to an automated SSL certificate lifecycle processes takes out the need to rely on manual processes; it takes the guesswork out to improve efficiency and reduce security risks for your business. cPanel addresses the pain point of SSL installation and renewal through the AutoSSL feature.

Fully Automated SSL Encryption With AutoSSL

cPanel, Inc., has recently added a feature called AutoSSL (automated SSL) to automatically provision, issue, configure and install validated SSL certificates to its web hosting partners’ websites. Automated SSL also enables SSL on admin-based logins, email and internally running services in cPanel. AutoSSL is now available to all cPanel web hosting accounts and those running WHM version 60 or later. It is possible to view the logs for AutoSSL right from the WHM interface. AutoSSL automatically includes corresponding www. domains for each domain and subdomain in the certificate. But AutoSSL only includes domains and subdomains that pass a Domain Control Validation (DCV) test as proof of ownership of the domain.

Take The Hard Work Out With Automated SSL Encryption

With AutoSSL enabled, there is no need to fill out lengthy forms and no more having to manually copy certificates into place.  Your websites are automatically secured and encrypted with free Domain Validated SSL certificate and your coverage never lapses. A cronjob handles the request, download and installation of new SSL certificates around expiration time for all of your hosted domains.

Secure Your Website With Automated SSL Encryption

Users will enjoy a more streamlined experience, with fully automatic issuance, renewal, validation and setup of SSL certificates for all websites, logins and endpoints on the server. An automated SSL encryption system eliminates common human errors in the process, which may be caused by the system admin or anyone installing the certificate. Automated SSL encryption improves the privacy, security and trust of websites for the end users because there will be no lapse in a valid certificate.

secure socket layer

Securing Your Website With SSL Certificate

The Internet has made sending and receiving information online a breeze. But there is also the threat of unauthorized viewing, data tampering, and phoney messages. Surprisingly, a lot of business owners do not fully understand how to use security tools at their disposal to keep cybercriminals and hackers at bay. It can be a real challenge to know where to start, when you are defending against malicious code that can damage your system and against cyberthieves on the lookout for sensitive data to sell on the black market. One thing every business can do to protect their website and customers is to use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates, particularly if they run an e-commerce site or collect personal customer information through their site.

What Is SSL?

The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is the most widely used Internet security protocol used today. This encryption technology protects your sensitive information as it travels between the visitors’ web browser and the web server of the website they are interacting with. This secure link ensures that all data is transmitted without being intercepted by prying hackers.

SSL encrypts all data before it is sent so that no one besides you and the website you’re submitting the information to, can see and access what you type into your browser. Random characters are inserted into the original information to make it incomprehensible for anyone without the proper encryption key. Therefore, if it does fall into the wrong hands there is nothing to worry about since the information is unreadable.

SSL Certificate Basics

When you visit a website that has an SSL certificate issued by a trustworthy authority, your browser (i.e. Internet Explorer®, Firefox® and Chrome™) will form a connection with the webserver, recognize the SSL certificate, and then connect your browser and the server so that confidential information can be exchanged.

To enable SSL on your site, you need to get an SSL Certificate that identifies you and install it on your web server. The SSL certificate must also be digitally signed by another trusted root certificate to prove that the SSL certificate provider can be trusted. Business owners can get standard and extended certificates along with tools to manage multiple certificates or security challenges.

Steps For Getting A SSL Certificate

Once you have selected Certification Authority vendor, send a request for certification and pay for the certificate.

Every CA will provide a Certification Practice Statement (CPS) with more specific information about their verification process and how long it will take to receive approval, depending on the complexity of your organization and the type of certification applied for. Business owners then have to go through various stages of vetting before they can install the certificate on their site and connect to a secure server on the web.

When the SSL Certificate is installed properly, you can access a site instantly by changing the URL from http:// to https://. The secure connection happens instantly and technically.

How Can Consumers Tell if a Website is Certified?

SSL is a transparent protocol which requires no interaction from the end user. Users can verify whether the web address in their browser displays a padlock, or, in the case of Extended Validation SSL, if there is both a padlock and a green bar. This assures visitors that the site is SSL certified and that your connection is automatically secured.

How Can SSL Be Used For Business?   

The most common applications of SSL are to secure payment transactions, system logins, email, data transfer, and any other sensitive data exchanged online.

If your organization has to comply with regional, national or international regulations, such as Payment Card Industry compliance, on data privacy and security then you will need an SSL certificate with the proper encryption. EV SSL provides advanced security measures to deal with the bigger risks that come with e-commerce today.

SSL is critical for protecting sensitive information such as customer names, phone numbers, addresses and credit card numbers. It also defends your site from malware and prevents malvertising from eating into your resources.

SSL secures webmail and helps establish secure connection between an email client such as Microsoft Outlook and an email server such as Microsoft Exchange.

SSL can also be used to secure intranet based traffic such as internal networks, extranets, and database connections. It also helps transfer of files over https and FTP(s) services safely.

Future-Proof Your Site With SSL Certificate

Online businesses can gain and retain their customer’s trust by getting SSL certification.  Lunarpages offers free dedicated  SSL certificate  and dedicated IP’s with all of our business plans or you can get a Dedicated SSL certificate on your account. Shared SSL certificate will function only with HTML, and cgi/perl based documents/scripts/carts but it will not work with ASP, JSP or PHP pages because of security restrictions on the servers. For that you will need to purchase a Dedicated SSL Certificate and Dedicated IP. If you’re still unsure about how SSL will affect your website, contact Lunarpages at 1-877-586-7207 (US/Canada) to know more.

reputation management

Cost of Online Reputation Management

Do you know what people are saying about you online?  Traditional marketing has always known the value of word of mouth marketing.  Today the internet, well, more specifically search engines, has made knowing what people are saying about you even more important than traditional word of mouth marketing.  Why?  Because 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.  So, if your reputation isn’t managed well it could be very costly.  And, did you know that what people say about you online impacts your search results?  Let’s learn some more.

Case in Point

A few years ago, American Airlines had a costly run in with a guitar.  In fact, it cost the airline $180 million and a 10% loss in their stock prices.  When a passenger witnessed the airline mishandling his guitar, which resulted in the instrument being seriously damaged, and the airline refused to pay for the damages, the passenger — musician David Caroll — wrote a song, United Breaks Guitars. The YouTube video was a huge hit with more than 15 million views and the major contributor to the airlines dip in stock prices.

Granted, this one incident didn’t bring American Airlines to destruction, but it is a good example of how, when a company has a bad reputation, business is simply more difficult to conduct, the cost of doing business increases and it’s far more difficult to retain customers and employees, shareholders, and other important stakeholders, than it is in good times.

How to Fix a Bad Online Reputation

Arguably, protecting an organization’s reputation is the most important yet difficult task facing senior management teams and boards of directors today.  First, it’s important to point out that reputation management is a game best played using offense.  When you’re on the defense, when you’re trying to fix a negative online sentiment it’s an uphill battle that takes a lot more work than had you started your vigilance early and when things were calm and clean.  However, if you find your business in a toxic situation, here are some things you can do to keep your reputation on track:

  • Monitor! This is first and foremost. If you don’t know whether or not you have a negative reputation, how can you fix it?  There are a lot of tools as well as agencies such as LocalDirective that offer services to help you monitor your online reputation.  But just like protecting your online identity, monitoring isn’t enough.
  • You need to respond to what is out there and be proactive in acquiring positive reviews, testimonials, and stories from happy customers.
  • Finally, never become complacent. The moment you think you’re safe something will happen.  What I mean is that just because there isn’t negative chatter around your business doesn’t mean that you don’t need a reputation management program.  Be proactive in building your brand as a strong company to do business with.

You know, Benjamin Franklin once said “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation and only one bad one to lose it”.  No other words have ringed so true as this statement.  Especially in today’s digital, share-everything world.

How to Manage Your Online Reputation

Managing your online reputation isn’t just for businesses with a toxic situation.  Your online reputation also plays into other things such as your search results.   I am sure you’ve seen the stars that show up next to a company in Google search results, but did you ever wonder how or why the stars were there?  Most SEO strategists find a strong correlation between reviews and organic search result rankings, particularly in Google. It is widely believed in the industry that the importance of reviews as they relate to search result rankings will only increase over time. Therefore, being able to display your stars will show Google that your customers trust you, that they are happy with what you provide, and that you’re a credible solution.  Here are some things we know about reviews and how they impact local SEO:

  • It’s generally believed that 10 reviews left at Google provides a little bit of a ranking boost
  • Google may be trying to incorporate review sentiment into its ranking algorithms so it would be who of you to get ahead of that and start managing your sentiment today so that when this does happen you’re not playing catch up.
  • On-page SEO remains the top factor that Google considers when ranking local business, but studies show that reviews are rapidly growing in importance.
  • Finally, Google knows a fake review when it sees one and can penalize you for such tactics. In order to rank and to rank with stars, be sure that your reviews legitimate.

 

Get Started Today

While SEO and online reputation management play nicely together, they are not the same thing and should not be used unethically to impact each other. Online reputation management avoids using black hat SEO techniques.  Black hat techniques can ultimately damage your reputation by making it difficult to maintain a positive long term presence on search engine results.

At DirectiveGroup we can help you develop an ethical online reputation while avoiding harmful tactics such as buying fake reviews. Online reputation management done well is designed to establish a long term positive online presence for a business or individual. Let us help you create engaging social media profiles, a positive review presence, and multiple points of positive, high quality content to ensure that you maintain a positive online reputation that lasts.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at DirectiveGroup, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact them today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.

wordpress seo

Top WordPress SEO Tips To Stay Ahead Of The Competition In 2017

What is the point of having a beautifully designed WordPress website without any traffic? It is possible to skyrocket traffic on your site and dominate your competition through search engine optimization. If you believe that “SEO is dead,” then you may have already lost the SERPs game. With the Google Panda update, Google may have brought down the hammer on black-hat methods and loopholes but white-hate SEO practices are still encouraged. The SEO landscape is constantly evolving and the goalposts may have changed but it certainly is not dead. Organic search is alive and well. Knowing what notable search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing care more about can help your business take unique approaches to ensure a perfect search-engine optimized website that is focused on; clean code, keywords, alt tags, XML sitemaps, links, good content and more. If you’re running a WordPress-based site, you do not have to scratch your head anymore about what to do from an SEO standpoint. In this post we are going to share the top trends in WordPress SEO to help improve your visibility in search engines page results for a winning play in 2017.

WordPress Search Engine Optimization Trends In 2017

Avoid cutting corners and taking back alleys for better and faster ranking. Also remember that search engine optimization is more than a plugin; it is a continuous process. So, even though you can use popular WordPress SEO plugins like, WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin or All-In-One SEO Pack to get the work done, you also need to put in effort to analyze and improve the optimization of your WordPress site. The aim of all SEO strategies is to deliver a high-quality web experience with interesting and relevant content. Here are some of the SEO trends that you can use to come out on top in the New Year.

SEO HTTPS For WordPress

From 2017, Google has made HTTPS mandatory for all websites, including WordPress powered websites. Because of the aggressive push from Google in the direction of secured websites, it may be more work for website developers but it will ensure better security for users. If you are building a new WordPress site in 2017, you should implement HTTPS for your WordPress site before launching because switching from HTTP to secure versions or HTTPS is not easy.

Setup Pretty Permalinks

Permalinks are the unique addresses of your website pages, blog posts, images, etc. For SEO purposes, your permalink structure should be readable so that crawlers can easily access your website’s content. By default, WordPress creates permalinks (URL structure) that are not efficiently set up for SEO. It currently inserts the day and name into the URL by default, which makes it seem dated to Google. There is a need to adjust the URL to post name manually to maximize the potential of your website for SEO. Google prefers URLs that contain your title and or keywords in the post, and shorter URLs fare better. Although (Post Name) is an ideal option, some prefer using (Category Name) though there may be issues with optimization of contents of categories in the latter case. The “Post name” permalink setting is both clean and you can reap the benefit of using the title or your keyword in the URL If you are changing the permalink structure after your posts go live, all your previous links will be useless so make sure to redirect previous URLs to the new permalink by editing the .htaccess file or through a third party plugin like Change Permalink Helper.

Links Help

Search engines rank authoritative domains higher and the best way of building this authority is through quality organic links. This will remain highly important through 2017 and you must work hard on building your links strategy.

· Canonical URL

Canonical links are important in building smart link hierarchy for search engines indexing the same content that is available under different URLs.

· Affiliate Links

Affiliate links help track a commission or referral of product/services or signup between websites. Since Google generally frowns upon affiliate links, they should always be nofollow. Nofollow links do not give your website any link juice, but can still generate natural traffic. Use a WordPress affiliate plugin such as Pretty Links to track your affiliate links and make sure they are nofollow.

· Interlinks

Work on adding more internal links between one page of blog post, or even a product page to another on the same site. This will ensure that you keep the users within your site for longer thus spreading link juice throughout your site. It helps to establish hierarchy of information and structure within your site. Moreover the Google spiders should have a clear way to reach the internal links so make sure to reline all possible related pages.

· High Domain Authority External Links

Work on adding some external links to high domain authority sites within your content to improve your WordPress SEO. This helps Google know that you are linking to an external high quality content to provide users with additional information. You can make the link open in a new tab or window so that people can come back and browse your site later on if needed.

Evergreen Quality Content

Even in 2017, content will still be king. Search engines and users love high-quality content and longer-form content. To be able to rank high on the search engine pages, you need to ensure that your top articles are detailed and contain the right keywords, including long-tail keyword variations. Check out Neil Patel’s article on how long-form content can boost your SERPs. But there is a place for short posts like reviews and other brief articles too, as long as the content is well-researched and appealing. It is hard to overestimate the importance of evergreen content for the website SEO as it stays relevant for a longer period of time and keeps delivering new traffic and social shares. WordPress offers plenty of resources to help improve your content and make it more optimized for the search engines, such as the Readability option of the Yoast SEO plugin.

Website Speed

Website speed is hugely important when it comes to WordPress SEO. Page speed matters to visitors and search engines alike. Website owners have less than 5 seconds to engage visitors before they abandon the site and over 74% of users accessing the mobile site will click out if it takes longer than 5 seconds to load. The best way to fix this is by using a fast such as Lunarpages, implementing a Content Delivery Network like MaxCDN or Photon option from Jetpack , and optimizing your site to boost page speed accordingly. For example, by using cache plugins for a WordPress powered site, such as W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache.

WordPress- The Only Way Up

SEO trends keep growing quickly but you do not have to spread your resources for everything all at once. Just keep up with the current trends, and filter out the rest to build your SEO strategy slowly. Follow simple steps like embracing Google Analytics for tracking your performance, changing the default media settings, focusing on updating and enhancing the quality of your content to make your WordPress site rank high in search engines.

Most web hosts offer some form of optimized or managed WordPress services with site-friendly features, including automatic data backups, page caching, and automatic CMS updates. You can get online support 24/7/365 via the Lunarpages Help Desk or check out our WordPress tutorial guide for beginners.

link building

Link Building 101: What You Need to Know to Get Started

“If you build it they will come”.  Kevin Costner will live on forever because he uttered those words in the movie Field of Dreams in 1989.  While it may still be true for a lot of things, it’s a dangerous philosophy to run your online business by.  In order to be successful, websites need more than to simply be built.  They need compelling content, a functional design, personalized user experiences, and need to be user friendly. They also need traffic.  Link building is one of the most important ways to help drive traffic to your website.  Not only that, but quality inbound links help increase your search ranking.  Let’s talk about why link building is important and how you can get started on increasing your links today.

Link Building: What is it and why is it important?

Before we get into why link building is important, let’s make sure that we all know what it is.  Link building is when you acquire links from other websites into your website.  It’s one way of driving traffic to your website. There is no one way to build links.  It’s a difficult and complex process and one that SEO professionals agree is the hardest part of their jobs.  You could spend hours trying to master the art of link building and if you’re successful at generating high-quality links, it can truly put you ahead of your competition.

Link building continues to be one of the many factors that Google and other search engines consider when ranking search results.  We don’t know how many you need to rank above the competition; we just know that you need them.  Google isn’t denying that links are a major factor in ranking.  They recently revealed that content, links pointing to your site and RankBrain (their artificial intelligence system) are the three most important signals contributing to the result of a search query.  These are not the only things that determine your ranking but they are what Google considers to be the top 3.  If that’s not reason enough to learn more about link building and to make sure you’re doing it right, I don’t know what is.
Link building doesn’t just make Google and the search engines happy.  It’s also good for business.  It involves reaching out to other relevant websites and blogs in your industry. This outreach can help you build long-term relationships with key influencers in your industry, and these relationships can mean that your brand becomes highly regarded and trusted.

Building a Link Building Campaign

There are white hat, grey hat, and black hat tactics that companies can use to help drive links back to their website.  White hat techniques are considered ethical SEO.  Black hat SEO refers to aggressive tactics that are implemented only to impress or trick search engines—not humans.  Grey hat tactics are those that fall somewhere in between.  So how can you gain/earn links to start a link building campaign?  First, let’s look at some things not to do:

  • Ask for links.  You can’t just call up a website and ask them to link to your website.  You need to offer something of value to their visitors.
  • Buying links.  If nothing else stay as far away from this temptation as possible.  If you’re caught using this black hat tactic you could be penalized by Google.
  • Cloaking.  This is when you show search engines different content than what you serve up to your users.
  • Link farms. This is when a group of websites get together and decide that they are all going to link to each other.
  • Buying expired domains. While this is considered more of a grey hat tactic, we still wouldn’t recommend it.  Companies who employ this tactic have a watch list of domains that are about to expire.  When the domain does expire they immediately buy the domain and replace the pages with links to their website.

While these are just a few of the link building tactics to stay away from they are some of the more popular ones that companies fall victim to.  Moving on.  Let’s review a few of the white hat approaches to building credible, authoritative links to your website.

  • Reviews and testimonials: Acquiring reviews and testimonials about your business has tremendous business impact in building good online sentiment and serves as a referral source for future business.  It also helps in your link building strategy.   Testimonials and reviews offer a great opportunity for you to get a backlink and potential traffic from the review sites that your customers leave reviews on.
  • Blogs: Consistent, frequent and industry specific blogs that focus on satisfying your customer’s needs will, over time, gain authority.  Once you have done this, other bloggers, websites and businesses will want to link to your blog.  Don’t just blog on your own site.  Reach out to other industry influencers to see if you can establish a content partnership where you each guest blog on their others site.  Guest blogging is a great way to get backlinks and increase search ranking.
  •  Link baiting: When you create content that that encourages people to link to your page from another website you have participated in link baiting.
  • Web directory linking: The best directories to participate in are the ones that also provide useful information for your potential customers.

Getting Started

Remember, just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come.  As with most SEO strategies, link building takes time—and a lot of knowledge.

The benefits of a successful link building program include not just increased SEO but also greater visibility online, more traffic being driven to your website, and an increase in brand awareness.  Thanks to Google algorithms and other search engine changes, the link building world is changing rapidly.  Now is the time to get on board with this growing form of marketing.

So what now?  It’s a lot of work to take on by yourself.  GlobalDirective can help.  We have been placed in the 97% percentile of Google partners.  That means that we’re not just doing some things right, we’re doing a lot of things right.  And we can help you with those “things” too.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at GlobalDirective, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact GlobalDirective today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.