No Noise Friday 15 August’14

The latest news about web marketing, SEO, PPC & Analytics. But only the stuff that matters from a New Zealand perspective. Less noise, more signal!

If your business has anything to do with the online world you know how much information is out there. It’s overwhelming and constantly changing.  Finding out what’s relevant to your business amongst all the noise is time consuming and can result in information overload.

At SureFire Search we want to help you by sifting through all the noise and highlighting what’s new and noteworthy in SEO, PPC and Web Analytics. But more importantly, answer the question – Why this might matter to YOU and YOUR business here in New Zealand.

Here’s what caught our attention this week…

  1. Google to give slight rankings boost to secure SSL websites – what you need to know
  2. Faulty redirects notice in Google Webmaster Tools
  3. Why you should be paying attention to mobile spend growth in the UK & Australia
  4. Google reacts to SEO extortion emails

1.Google to give slight rankings boost to secure SSL websites – what you need to know

The SEO community is making a lot of noise around Google’s announcement that HTTPS will now be considered a slight ranking signal. Google stated:

“…over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal…”

Why should you care?

It’s important to note that it’s a minor ranking signal. Changing your website from HTTP to HTTPS isn’t going to skyrocket your website to the number one spot. In fact, based on Google’s testing “fewer than 1% of global queries” will be impacted.

Should you change your website from HTTP to  HTTPS for SEO purposes only? The short answer is no. There are far more important signals and factors to focus on if  improving your rank on Google is the goal. For example; quality content and good site structure. Google has stated that they may increase the the signal strength of HTTPS at some point in the future but right now it’s minor.

With this announcement watch out for people seeing it as an opportunity to sell you a SSL 2048-bit key certificate on your website. It’s not that simple.

If you do change from a HTTP to a HTTPS website you must do it correctly. The change will affect, among other things your Webmaster Tools, Google AdWords and website URL redirections. It’s not as simple as just putting a certificate on your website.

Here’s a tweet that sums it up perfectly:

SSL Tweet Example


And if you’re wondering  what some of those things are, here are seven…

  • Consistent URLs everywhere
  • Clean URL structure
  • Great Content
  • Relevant content at the top of the page
  • Good backlink profile
  • Keyword targeted (not stuffed) title tags
  • Increase website speed

2.Faulty redirects notice in Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools released a new feature this week. The feature notifies webmasters of faulty redirects that they have in place.

Webmasters will now be notified if they are sending their mobile users to their website’s home page rather than the destination URL that the user intends to go to.

SureFire noted in a previous post that Google would be notifying mobile searchers that they could be sent to the home page rather than the page they were expecting. This is shown in diagram below:

Searcher Redirection Notification

Webmasters will now be notified by an email that looks like this:

Webmaster Tools Redirect Notice

Why should you care?

Mobile search is increasing.  A Google representative confirmed with SureFire that mobile search will overtake desktop search in New Zealand sometime next year. It’s at a tipping point now. If you don’t have a mobile responsive or mobile website you need rectify that. Equally important is that the mobile version of your website is set up correctly.

This new Webmaster Tools feature highlights just how important giving searchers a good mobile experience is to Google.

From a consumers point of view – how frustrating is it to click on a link and be taken to a homepage instead of the page with the information you were after. Don’t let that frustrated consumer be your potential customer.

3.Why you should be paying attention to mobile spend growth in the UK & Australia

Mobile spend increased significantly in the US, UK and Australian markets over the last year. Digital marketing software firm Kenshoo released data which shows a share rise between 8 and 11 percent in Q2 year over year.

Kenshoo Data

Why should you care?

The New Zealand market tends to follow trends slightly behind the Australian and UK markets. Recent IAB figures revealed that NZ advertising spend on mobile grew 122% YoY which is significant, but still behind Australia which saw over 300% YoY growth at the end of 2013.

As mentioned, expectations are for mobile to eclipse desktop internet access by mid 2015. For many businesses mobile traffic has doubled in the last year  and is sitting at around 30%.

Webmasters can easily check their individual situation by looking in Google Analytics. To do this log in to GA. Under audience select mobile. Select overview. Then adjust the dates to compare YoY figures.

Webmasters should also try accessing their website on a mobile phone to see how it looks. If it’s not mobile friendly it will be costing you lost business.

Ideally you should have a responsive design website that automatically reformats size and layout based on device. That requires a site redesign and build which is expensive. The much cheaper option is a separate mobile friendly version of your site, i.e. m.domain.co.nz in addition to www.domain.co.nz.

We can assist with that if required.

4. Google reacts to SEO extortion emails

There are some vile people online with widespread reports that webmasters are being extorted with negative SEO emails.

Here’s an example email:

Subject: I Want To Buy. Please Guide Me.


Read this email very carefully.

This is an extortion email.

We will do NEGATIVE SEO to your website by giving it 20,000 XRumer forum profile backlinks (permanent & mostly dofollow) pointing directly to your website and hence your website will get penalised & knocked off the Google’s Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) forever, if you do not pay us $1,500.00 (payable by Western Union).

This is no false claim or a hoax, download the following Notepad file containing 20,000 XRumer forum profile backlinks pointing to http://www.negativeseo.cn.pn/ (this is our website and go and see on this website, you will find our email address issmt1@yahoo.com from which this email right now is being sent to you) :


Just reply to this email to let us know if you will pay just $1,500.00 or not for us to refrain or not from ruining your precious website & business permanently. Also if you ignore this email and do not reply to this email within the next 24-48 hours, then we will go ahead and build 20,000 XRumer forum profile backlinks pointing directly to your website.

We are awaiting your wise decision.


Why should you care?

Google has stated on many occasions that there “is almost nothing” any competitor that you have can do to negatively affect your rankings within Google.

Search Engine Land forwarded the above email to Google. They responded that their (Google’s) algorithms have been designed to prevent things like what the extortion email is saying from happening.

SureFire is unaware if anybody in New Zealand has received an email threat like this. But do be aware that this is occurring worldwide.

If you do receive an email like this do not pay them. Google has asked that you report them to


The worst case scenario is they carry out the threat. If that does happen – all you need to do is use the disavow tool to disavow any suspicious links that suddenly appear.

Most likely its just a threat where they are banking on the less informed paying them.

OK, that’s what we think. We’re keen to hear your thoughts on any of the above – please comment below. 

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About the Author SureFire

These search marketing news updates feature articles of interest picked up through the week by the SureFire team.

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