Cloud9 Marketing news and updates on both our growing company and the industry at large. If it’s news worthy, we will share or discuss it on our blog.

If you have a website, you’ve probably heard of SSL certificates, but are you actually aware of what they are and why they are important?

If not, keep reading…

SSL is an acronym for secure sockets layer. SSL certificates are the backbone of website security, and are vital for any business with an online presence, especially in 2018. SSL certificates allow someone’s browser to bridge a secure connection to your server, ensuring that the information is securely transferred.

You can tell if a website is SSL secure by looking at the URL structure. If a website’s URL starts out with “http,” it is not SSL secure. If it starts with “https,” then it is secure. Some browsers will also display a small lock icon to indicate you are browsing a secure website.

Here are a few reasons why all of this is important.

1. Stops Information Theft

When information is submitted on a website, it usually goes through a channel of computers before it reaches the intended party. So the chances of that information being stolen along the way are higher if SSL is not applied. SSL encrypts the information so that it’s readable only to the party it is intended for. It does this by adding random characters to the submitted information, which can only be accessed with an encryption key. The information is useless to anyone who doesn’t have that key.

With identity theft on the rise, information security is more important than ever. SSL ensures you keep everyone’s information safe, which builds confidence in people who are visiting your site.

2. Provides a Sense of Security to People Visiting Your Website

With identity theft on the rise, information security is more important than ever. SSL ensures you keep everyone’s information safe, which builds confidence in people who are visiting your site.

3. A Necessity for Online Payments

An SSL certificate is a requirement for any website that accepts payments with an encryption of at least 128-bit. So, if you have an ecommerce site, you have to have an SSL certificate installed if you plan on taking credit card payments.

4. It’s Mandatory in 2018

To ensure safer browsing in 2018, Google flagged any website that doesn’t have SSL certification by the end of 2017. It’s important to note that this change will affect all websites and not just ecommerce sites. So, if you’re a restaurant owner, lawyer, dentist, realtor or consultant, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that this change doesn’t apply to you. It does.

Now that January 1st has passed, when people try to access a website without a SSL certification, a ‘Not Secure’ message will appear, which will more often times than not prompt them to leave.

Maintaining an online presence can be tough, so don’t make it any harder for yourself than it already is. If you don’t already have an SSL certificate on your website, NOW is the time to do so. If you would like to speak with a Cloud9 hosting specialist about making your website secure, contact us today.

search engine optimization SEO digital marketing

Marketing has come a long way in the last few years, if you ask people in the industry many would probably agree there have been more changes in marketing in the last 5 years, then there has been in the 50 years prior. With the explosion of the internet, uptake of mobile and ability to seamlessly track and monitor advertising spend and ROI online, it’s no surprise businesses around the world are diverting their budget to digital in 2016. Here are some key Marketing Stats that are so important to the way a business markets their products and services in both the B2B and B2C space, they simply cannot be ignored.

  1. In 2016 67% more leads will be generated by companies with an active blog

Content marketing is essential for optimal SEO performance and is the best way to drive traffic to your website. Blogging about useful, informative and engaging information that is relevant to your target market will drive traffic to your website, ultimately increasing conversions for your business.

  1. The average person now spends more time online then TV and all other media combined

This should come as no surprise. Smartphones, tablets and computers have become an extension of people’s bodies and people now turn to the internet instead of traditional media like TV, print and radio to get information.

  1. Total spending on Internet advertising is predicted to grow 12.9% next year. The Internet will become the largest medium for advertising in 2016 (ahead of TV)

Internet advertising is cost effective, highly targeted and traceable. These three features along with potential reach have seen the internet surpass TV for total ad spend.

  1. Social ad spending has doubled over the past two years.

Social media advertising is easy, cheap and effective. With platforms like Instagram now offering ad functionality, total social ad spend is expected to continue with double digit growth over the coming years.

  1. By 2019 mobile advertising will represent 72% of all US digital ad spending

As smartphones become more functional, and websites more mobile-friendly consumers will increasingly use their mobile to research and purchase products and services online.

  1. Digital marketing spend is forecasted to account for 35% of total budgets in 2016.

How much has your business allocated to digital marketing this year? Companies have noticed the value of online marketing and larger portions of budget are being spent on digital marketing.

  1. The top four channels for increases in digital marketing spend last year were email marketing (61% of marketers increasing spending on this channel), social media (49%), mobile marketing (40%), and SEO/PPC (38%)

Most businesses have a combination of email marketing, social media, mobile marketing and PPC as part of their digital marketing portfolio. It is getting rarer for companies not to leverage all four of these components to varying degrees.

  1. Mobile commerce is growing fast, 87% of internet users now have a smartphone – mobiles are revolutionizing business

Around the world smart phones and mobile uptake is becoming the norm presenting an enormous opportunity for mobile advertising.

  1. 93% of shoppers buying decisions are influenced by social media

Although social media is not known as the best conversion platform it is absolutely essential for brand awareness and influencing customers to choose your company over the competition. To increase conversions, social media advertising is very effective.

  1. Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy a positive ROI

Content marketing is commonly agreed by marketing experts to be the most important SEO element and those who commit to prioritizing blogging are seeing results.

There is no longer a question of having an online presence or not, and a website that’s not producing fresh content, or a social media presence that’s sitting stagnant, can do more harm then good online. The question now is having the right mix of online marketing components for your business to ensure you are reaching clients with the right message at the right time.

At Cloud9 Marketing we specialize in creating customized digital marketing strategies for our clients in Whistler BC and around the world. Whether it’s social media, SEO, web design, graphic design, content marketing and blogging or branding, we deliver results-driven, customer-centric and highly engaging digital marketing services communicating unique brands to the right people at the right time.

google-search

Google has just made a big change to the way it displays search ads which could have significant impact on your business. The right hand side of search results will no longer display search ads and will only display Product Listings Ads (PLAs) on highly commercial searches. Find out what this could mean for your business, and how you can utilize these changes to your advantage.

In the past a search engine result page (SERP) would show three paid advertisements above the organic listings, a handful on the right hand side and some underneath the organic results. With the new changes, up to four advertisements will be displayed above the organic search results and there will be no ads shown to the right of the results, except for PLAs in highly competitive commercial searches (such as insurance or airfares). According to Google, the click-thru-rates (CTRs) of ads on the right hand side was poor and this new change is expected to benefit advertisers in the long run, while creating a more user friendly search experience for browsers.

The biggest change this will have for advertisers is unless you are in the top four positions- it is very likely your impressions and CTRs will diminish. Competition for the top four spots will increase resulting in higher bids needed to obtain these spots. Those businesses who do manage to snag a spot in the top four ad results will likely see an increase in impressions and CTRs. Businesses who don’t have a budget to position in the top four will need to be more selective with their keywords and compete on words with a lower CPC or will face being buried underneath organic search results.

These changes will also affect organic search results as an additional ad displayed above organic results will limit the space for organic results on each page. This and the increase of ad extensions will encroach on dwindling organic search result space. Some experts believe the new changes may actually increase the CTR of organic results on the first page as the portion of web traffic that click on right hand ads (5.61%), may now click on organic results instead. Either way vying for that sought-after first page of Google will be more difficult for organic and paid results alike.

The new changes will take on the same layout as mobile searches and will affect advertisers across all languages and around the world. The changes were rolled out on February 18th 2016, and were some of the biggest changes Google has made to the SERPS in years.

So how can you use these changes to your advantage? Paid advertisers need to be selective on their key words and bid competitively. Maintaining a high quality-score through relevant ads, keywords and landing pages, using ad extensions and maintaining strong click thru rates will help secure a top spot. Those selling products can take advantage of the product listing ads to the right and top of the browser. Businesses relying on organic search results need to ensure their SEO strategy is rock solid to compete for a first page rank. As users become more sophisticated and business categories become more competitive it will take expertise and strategy to be displayed on the coveted first page of Google.

Need help with your Adwords (PPC) or SEO? Cloud9 Marketing creates and implements results driven digital marketing strategies using the latest trends and innovations in online and search engine marketing. Contact us today and see how we can help you.

mobile friendly digital marketing

 

If you haven’t made a priority of making your website mobile friendly, you might want to start thinking about changing that.

It could cost you your ranking on Google. (Cue the horror film screams.)

What Happened

In mid-April, Google announced that they were developing a new mobile-friendly ranking algorithm. The idea was that mobile-friendly sites would, in theory, appear higher in search engine results when users were conducting their searches on a mobile phone.

To a lot of people, this wasn’t just some small change: this was “Mobilegeddon”. Businesses began to panic about the mobile-friendliness of their websites (what took you so long?), with many opting to expedite the process before the algorithm change took effect.

On April 21st, the world of SEO held its collective breath as it waited to see Mobilegeddon unfold. It wasn’t unlike the moment the clock struck midnight on December 31, 1999. And just as our wild fears of the Y2K bug were all for nothing, it turns out that the fuss behind Mobilegeddon may have been a little bit excessive.

For now, at least.

What Could Happen

It turned out that the change in the algorithm didn’t have as severe an impact as many had expected. It took a week to fully roll out, but even after that week, the changes weren’t as drastic as anticipated.

This is thought to be generally attributable to a few factors.

First, and perhaps most importantly, the update was implemented, but not all websites have been reindexed. As these websites’ scores become updated, it could potentially affect the rankings in mobile search. (Read more here.)

Second, the fact that many companies decided to take action on making their website mobile friendly prior to the launch of the update could have lessened the impact of the update. In theory, the update is supposed to make mobile friendly sites appear higher than non-mobile friendly sites in mobile searches; if the site is, indeed, mobile friendly, then it should remain roughly where it is in desktop searches, assuming competing sites have taken similar action.

Third, many note that the update was said to be one factor that affects search engine results. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the only factor, or the “be all or end all” factor. Other factors could take priority in the ranking, making the effects not as noticeable as people expected.

Time will tell how much impact this change has really caused, but for now, it’s safe to say that the so called “Mobilegeddon” was an overreaction.

What Should I Do?

Algorithm update or not, you really should have a mobile friendly website. If your site looks bad on mobile devices, you’re going to lose out on the audience that is visiting you from those sources—and you probably know that more and more people are using mobile devices to do their internet searches.

To find out whether Google considers your website to be mobile-friendly or not, just enter the web address into this site.

You want it to say “Awesome! This page is mobile friendly” after you complete your analysis. If it doesn’t say that, you have some work to do.

Cloud9 Marketing can help you bring your website up to mobile-friendly standards, preventing you from losing out on potential business and on your mobile search engine results ranking. Contact us, and we’ll set up a plan for