How to Keep Your Google “My Business” Listing Active and Healthy

Action will delineate and define you.
—Thomas Jefferson

Fresh from a conversation with Google’s My Business group, here are some ways to keep your listing in top shape, working 24/7 to bring in more business.

Let’s assume that your listing 100% complete, accurate, and ready for the world.

Once that’s done, the key to keeping your listing healthy is ACTIVITY — both on your part as the listing owner, and from users.

Activity may be clicks, reviews, adding photos, or many other actions that we’ll detail below. Google tracks all activity and uses that data to understand user behavior and preference.

Law of the Jungle

Every wonder why the same cluster of listings dominate top search results?

More activity = more visibility. More visibility = more activity.

Success builds upon itself. Worthy listings reach the top and tend to stay there until disrupted by a better listing. Remember Google’s goal is provide the best experience for users. They monitor user signals — listing activity — as a key component of the feedback loop.

If you don’t touch your listing for months at a time, that’s an indication to Google that either your business lacks vigor, or is not particularly concerned about the user experience.  Google is not likely to reward your business with higher rankings.  Similarly, if your users don’t engage your listing or website from search, there won’t be much independent social proof that supports higher rankings.

  • Sign-in to your listing and do something
  • Induce users to engage your listing and website

How to help yourself (as the listing owner)

  1. Sign-in occasionally to check your listing. Is everything current? Update hours, holidays, basic business information
  2. Reach out to customers for new reviews
  3. Respond to all existing reviews, and to new reviews as they come in
  4. Add high-quality photos on a regular basis, show what’s happening at your business
  5. Use the new Google listing Posts feature for events, announcements, new posts, etc. Posts expire in 7 days, so this is a weekly task. How to Create a Post. How to Make Great Business Posts.
  6. Encourage people to click on your listing by linking to it (instead of to your website) from email messages you send out, within social media updates, etc.
  7. Add fresh, optimized content to your website
  8. Get some advice on how to build a reasonable number of backlinks to your website
  9. Make sure your website is fast (loads within about 2 seconds) and is fully responsive on a mobile device

How others can help you by interacting with your listing

Especially if you have a new listing, one that’s unloved, or buried in the search results, prime the pump.

Get some outside activity going that proves engagement with your listing. Maybe friends of your business can help? Consider hiring some of this activity done for you by assistants (on their own devices!).  Doing so is largely uncharted territory though — terra incognita — so be prudent and don’t go crazy with it, OK?

Not all of these actions are available simultaneously; it depends on how you’re viewing the listing (desktop vs. mobile), and time of day (during open hours or not).

  1. Search to find your business in the local results, then click to see the knowledge panel
  2. Add photos
  3. Scroll and view photos
  4. Click on a review
  5. Like (thumbs-up) a review
  6. Get directions
  7. Visit the website
  8. Call the business
  9. Send a chat message to the business
  10. Click “Learn more” about a post
  11. Share a post
  12. ​Share a listing
  13. Send the listing to your phone
  14. Download an offline map
  15. Save as a favorite, want-to-go, or starred place

The big picture

Google often repeats their core mantra: Ranking is all about the actions you and your users take to influence Proximity, Relevance, and Prominence (website authority). That has not changed in many years. For local businesses, listing optimization and activity are an important facet of the game.

Step-by-Step Framework for High-Conversion Home Pages

Landing Pages vs. Home Pages

Landing Pages

Landing pages bring people who don’t already know about your organization out of hiding. They educate, introduce your product or service, qualify leads, and use a call-to-action to invoke further action in response to your offer. 

In that sense, good home pages are designed just like landing pages.

However pure landing pages do not include site navigation or other elements that might take a user away from the conversion path. Since they are specific and make the case to take a certain action, landing pages are perfect advertising endpoints.

Home Pages

Home pages are extended landing pages. Like landing pages, they also educate, introduce your product or service, qualify leads, and use a call-to-action to invoke further action in response to your offer.  However, home pages include full navigation, and other site-wide elements such as footers and sidebars.

Home pages may not make a deep case for your offer, but they should present a summary, and often act as a way-finding or launch point for visitors with varying interests. Visitors not familiar with your business can learn more clicking through to your posts or landing pages.

How to Launch Landing and Home Pages Quickly

  • Use the checklist below as a rough framework.  Instead of starting with the dreaded “blank canvas”, use the framework to understand what page elements to include, where they fit, and what they should do.  The guide is meant as a starting point; there’s no single “right” answer. You just have to create and test to find out what works for YOU.
  • Use the right tools to quickly build pages, capture leads, and track conversions.  LeadPages, Unbounce, and InstaPage are all valid solutions, but they are relatively expensive and showing their age. We’ve switched over to Elementor Pro to build landing pages, including lead forms, and popups.  It’s the same excellent tool we use to build entire sites. Low cost and effective.

Step-by-Step Guide

Use this guide to create an effective home or landing page that can be deployed quickly, has a structured but flexible flow, and hits both rational and emotional points that help sell your offer.

Top Bar

This part of the page appears above the content and navigation, it might be called a top bar, and might be the same on every page.

  • Logo
  • Click-to-call button
  • Email button
  • Book appointment button

Start with the END RESULT in mind. What action do you want the visitor to take?

  • Figure out what you’re trying to accomplish with the page. A clear goal saves time and frustration.
  • Refine the exact language and action. The action might be buy a product, make an appointment, opt-in to a list, download a guide, etc.
  • Write the call-to-action button text. Make the button text compelling. “Submit” is weak! The button can launch a popup form if you like. 
  • If there’s a secondary pre-sale CTA, like “download our white paper”, the value of that lead magnet must be strong.
  • Decide what information the form should collect. It should be simple and clean, briefly re-state the CTA, and give an indication of what happens next. 

Continue at the BEGINNING, with a killer headline, benefits, and call-to-action button.

In the actual layout, this section will appear at the top of the page, as well as at the bottom of the page (perhaps using a different design).

  • Big killer headline. This is the value proposition, the central promise. Concisely explain the product or service and its value in a few words. 
  • A persuasive sub-headline might be needed to expand on benefits. The headline, subheading, and call-to-action button work together
  • What are the most vital things visitors need to know immediately? What are the major benefits?

Image or video

  • Big relevant Image to that shows the product or supports the service.
  • Explainer video also works well in place of the image.
  • Could be combined with the headline side-by-side, or as a full-width hero image behind the headline.
  • Sliders generally suck for conversion — avoid.

Call-to-Action Button

  • Create a big, contrasting button for the user to take the next step in your conversion process.

Explain how this offer solves a problem and leads to a beneficial outcome

  • Teaser of the content visitors can get
  • If you’re the kind of person . . . (qualify the audience)
  • Problem that will be solved
  • Outcome that will be achieved

What’s different about this offer? Pain, pleasure, and objection points

  • What’s different about this offer? Expand on the value proposition.
  • Bring on the pain! Highlight the problem or frustration visitors feel
  • Bring on the pleasure! What positive emotional feelings does this offer provide? For example: freedom, relief, joy, respect, trendiness, security, vibrancy, calmness, fulfillment, acceptance, appreciation, recognition, honor, compensation, admiration, etc.
  • Anticipate and counter fears and objections

Testimonials and case studies

  • Use full names and photos of testimonial authors to enhance credibility
  • Or, video testimonials
  • Can be sourced from existing reviews
  • Bring out the real evidence of success

Social proof and trust elements

  • Mention any media coverage, brand-name users, number of users, credentials, associations, etc.
  • Use logos of recognized brands, associations, organizations, etc
  • Security seals and credit card logos

Risk reversal or guarantee

  • Simplest form of risk reversal is the money-back guarantee.
  • Make it stronger by guaranteeing a certain level of service, a certain outcome etc.
  • Consider lengthening the guarantee. Long duration guarantees typically result in fewer claims and more buyer confidence

Deliverable summary, what does the buyer get?

  • If applicable, list exactly what the buyer receives, using whatever media is appropriate.

Repeat Call-to-Action

  • Re-state the CTA used at the top of the page. This section is another opportunity for the user to get involved, after they read the core points.

Content Feed

  • Blog posts or social feed . . . some content the user can follow if they are not ready to take action.


These elements should appear at the very bottom of the page, below the content.

  • Contact details
  • Social icons
  • Navigation
  • Credit card logos


7 Reasons Your Business Needs a Secure Website Now

Secure website conversion

July 2018: Google will mark unencrypted web pages as “not secure”, alerting visitors to potential danger.

This massive change has been several years in the making, it WILL affect your business if your website is not set up properly. Let’s find out how . . .

If you don’t have a secure website — with a padlock icon in the browser bar — Google will soon mark your pages with a “Not Secure” symbol like this as a warning to your website visitors:

Not secure warning

Technically, the warning symbol means the website’s connection to the server is not encrypted using the HTTPS protocol.

Google is effectively telling your customers / patients / clients NOT to use your website. Who wants to use a site that the #1 search engine has labeled as potentially dangerous?

Marketing Kryptonite

Can you imagine how alarming Google’s warning will be for your users? It looks scary . . . maybe it’s not safe to proceed. A significant number of your website visitors will click away immediately.

The last thing you want is to lose business over security concerns,  especially in light of the giant Equifax data breach of 2017.

You don’t need a new website, but you do need to convert it to the secure HTTPS standard right away.

What’s the Deadline to Convert to a Secure Website?

We’ve already in the middle of the change. Here’s Google’s timeline:

  • Phase 1, January 2017: Google adds warnings to pages that ask for passwords or credit card numbers.
  • Phase 2, October 2017: Google adds warnings to pages accepting any user information.
  • Phase 3: July 2018:  Deadline! Google says “All HTTP pages will be marked as “Not Secure
  • Phase 4: Ongoing: Google cranks it up by marking HTTP pages with an additional red alert symbol

Why is Google Changing Everything ???!!!

Google has decided that secure websites — those that use an encrypted HTTPS connection — provide a better user experience.

Secure websites are safer for users, help block against hacking attempts, and are faster too. To make that happen, Google has commanded all humans to implement their “HTTPS Everywhere” policy. I’m joking a bit here, but yes, secure sites really do benefit everyone.

We’ve Reached the Tipping Point — all Websites Should Be Secure

Google’s push to make all websites secure has been covered by CNN, LA Times, PC WorldFortuneBBC, ZDnet, Wired, Sophos, Street Fight, and Search Engine Journal.

Big brands such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Netflix, and Instagram have already made the switch.

The global transition is happening now.  We’ve reached the tipping point for all business owners to take action.

Without a secure website, your business will experience

  • Diminished customer confidence
  • Suppressed search rankings
  • Slower download speeds

Please keep in mind Google’s Chrome browser has a 58% market share and over 1 billion users — this change WILL effect the majority of your audience.

7 Reasons to Convert to a Secure Website

  1. No Warnings: Google’s “not secure” warning will go away!
  2. User Confidence and Trust: An encrypted connection means privacy and security, leading to user confidence and trust.
  3. Competitive Advantage: If your site is secure, and a competitor’s site is not, you’re more likely to get the click.
  4. Higher Rankings: Google rewards secure pages with higher rankings.
  5. E-commerce Ready: Want to take credit card payments directly? A secure site is required.
  6. Speed: HTTP, the Web’s core protocol, has been upgraded to HTTP/2. HTTP/2 boosts download speeds 200-300%. Naturally, Google loves it. Here’s the kicker: HTTP/2 only works on secure websites and networks.
  7. Enhanced Security: A secure site helps prevent Phishing and Man-in-the-Middle attacks. While not a guarantee against hacking, it is a smart move in the right direction.

Who Needs a Secure Website?

  • All service businesses
  • Professional practices
  • Associations
  • Manufacturers
  • Online magazines and directories
  • Retail establishments

If your business is in any way dependent on Internet traffic for new customers, or collects any type of information from users (including email addresses), this affects you. It’s a business-critical project that simply has to get done correctly and quickly.

“Implementing HTTPS would be a strong advantage against your competition” — 2017 SEMrush Ranking Factors Report.

Please check your website. 

Does it have a padlock icon in the address bar?

If not, it’s time to fix it.


How do I Get This Done?

You’ll need two things . . .

  • an SSL Certificate (a secure document that binds your domain to your organization)
  • Someone to do the technical conversion process

Some hosting companies provide FREE Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificates. If yours does, great, there’s no cost for the certificate itself.  Otherwise, you’ll need to buy a basic SSL Certificate which typically costs $20 – $60 per year.  We recommend Rapid SSL (we’ll install the certificate for you).

We provide a professional secure website conversion service. Use the referral code “amigo” to get $100 off until this offer expires.

Keep in mind, we only convert WordPress sites at this time.  Find out if your site uses WordPress.


Convert Your WordPress Website to Secure HTTPS Quickly and Affordably

$100 off — enter the referral code “amigo”.

  • No-risk 1-year warranty
  • Report proving work is complete and correct
  • Professional methodology, no quirky “workarounds” or temporary band-aids!
  • Full refund if we fail to get a padlock showing your site is secure
  • Speed optimization included, your home page will load in 2 seconds or less
  • Complementary SEO review; we’ll alert you missed opportunities

Mobile Lead Capture: Acquire Offline Leads in Seconds

Leads are Everywhere. Can you Capture Them?

When we talk about “capturing leads” we’re using marketing jargon. I don’t think of myself as a “lead” and I certainly don’t want to be “captured”.  I assume you don’t either, but in the world of marketing, we’re temporarily stuck with these abstract terms until we know the individual. At that point, we switch to connecting with a real person to present a legitimate opportunity that benefits everyone.

So, let’s consider all the places where you could encounter potential leads — real people that can benefit from your service. Where can you find individuals or groups who are aligned with your service and might be open to working together?

  • Chance encounters
  • Conferences
  • Events
  • Meetings
  • Office visits
  • Presentations
  • Traveling
  • Networking groups

And consider where potential leads might see your visual marketing materials:

  • Ads
  • Apparel
  • Business cards
  • Handouts
  • Print media
  • Promotional items
  • Signage
  • Street projection
  • TV spots
  • Vehicles

That’s a lot of opportunities to tell your story.

How do you Start Marketing Conversations and Keep Them Going?

We know that traditional methods often fall short. Business cards get lost, are forgotten, or pitched-out. Beyond that, cards don’t invoke action.

How about “staying in touch” by swapping phone numbers or email address? Well, maybe, provided at least one person is motivated enough to reach out. That doesn’t happen consistently. Time goes by, the situation changes, inertia is lost. There’s no immediacy and no clear follow-up process that builds confidence and trust.

Filling out a website form? Not very personal. Generally speaking, we’re reluctant to do it. Website opt-ins are notoriously low.

Personal referrals? Can be great, but there’s no filtering — personal referrals may not fit your preferred client profile at all.

Leads Wants Answers. Right. Now.

Leads want 24/7 access to a knowledgeable person or expert, someone that can answer questions, solve issues, and guide them to the next action. The immediacy of a phone call is hard to beat.

But what happens when that expert is not around? Let’s say you’re that expert. You might have your phone number displayed all over town, but there’s no way you can take calls around the clock and still have a life.

Most service businesses are only open for live calls 40 hours out of 168 total hours in a week — 24% of the time! The other 76% of the time leads must rely on other communication channels, and that’s where the train leaves the track.

Most websites do a poor job of bringing leads into a marketing funnel. Typically, 95%+ of visitors poke around a bit, then leave without taking any action.

The time delay of voicemail and email responses kills momentum. How many times have you left a voice message, or sent an email message, only to get a lame response hours or days later. Too late!

Live chat has merit, but requires a knowledgeable person working the chat dashboard in real time. Still not ideal.

This is where mobile lead capture comes in. It involves a simple action (text a keyword), followed by an immediate response.

The response can include text, images, audio, or video — whatever it takes to introduce your service to your lead. It’s the next best thing to being there. Think about it, even if a lead is driving around in their vehicle in the middle of night, they can hear your introduction / explainer podcast within seconds.  That’s very powerful. And just the beginning. Since leads have opted-in, your branded educational material keeps on comin’.

Mobile lead capture enhances other communication channels too.

Instead of the ubiquitous voice mail prompt:

“We’re not available, please leave your message at the tone.”

How about . . .

“Please text WILDFIRE to 444999 for immediate, detailed information on how to maximize your property damage settlement”.

Instead of a one-way request, we’ve already started a conversation, without touching a website.

When a potential customer sends that text message they are making a “micro-commitment”. Something that’s easy, fast, and less intimidating than calling a business they don’t know.

Mobile lead capture qualifies and pre-sells your leads without eating up your time. How? By sending an educational autoresponder series — pre-written email or text messages that explain the context, features, and benefits of your offer.

So when that first phone call happens, both you and your lead are better informed. Your lead has already figured out if they are a match for your offer, and you have actionable personal information on your lead.

How Mobile Lead Capture Works

Mobile lead capture combines offline flexibility with online automation.  It’s voluntary, immediate, and consistently delivers your message.

Here’s how it works:

  • Display your special keyword and shortcode anywhere offline. For example: “Text WILDFIRE to 444999”
  • When your lead enters your keyword and shortcode in their text app, they are prompted to enter their email address.
  • Your email automation app jumps into action: qualifying, educating, making offers, etc.


You don’t need a billboard to make Mobile Lead Capture work. Any means to display the keyword and shortcode will do.

Mobile lead capture immediately triggers automated marketing that works for you 24/7, building your brand, offering solutions, and defining your company as the best choice.

There’s no delay and the follow-up is always consistent and timely. It’s also scalable — there’s no limit to the number of people that can get an introduction to your offer.

And how about this — depending on how active your lead is online, the mobile lead capture system may provide many additional details:

  • Full name
  • City
  • State
  • Zip code
  • Gender
  • Employer
  • Job title
  • Twitter bio
  • Facebook profile
  • Photo

Suddenly, you know quite a bit about your lead! 

How is that possible? By tapping into your lead’s public social media profiles via their email address. It’s all automatic and happens within seconds.  When I entered just my email address in the mobile lead capture system, here’s what came back. I don’t even use social media very much (personally), yet you get a pretty good idea what I’m all about:


This data is simultaneously uploaded to the drip email system. So I can start sending personalized messages right away, like this:

Hi Michael,

Thanks for reaching out today.

Did you know that many property owners receive less than the full insurance settlement they are entitled to? If you’re frustrated with the outcome of your claim, you’re not alone.

Thankfully, there’s a way to level the playing field, to get real help from a professional that works for YOU, not some big insurance company.

I’ll explain how a licensed “public adjuster” can maximize your property damage insurance claim settlement.

Remember, you are entitled to a full payout of any legitimate claim, up to the limits of your policy.

There’s no charge to independently review of your insurance policy and assess your property damage.

Please watch this short video, it could make a big difference in your claim settlement results:

[button] Yes, I’d like to know more about maximizing my claim. [/button]

If you have any questions, please call me directly at 555-555-5555.

Best regards,

Michael Charvet


The personalized email message can point to any resource on the web: a blog post,  a conversational bot, an explainer video, etc.

Naturally, this method also captures your lead’s mobile phone number so you can CALL the lead, you know . . . like a human. It’s a beautiful thing.

So there you go . . .  a powerful way to collect offline leads and drop them into your marketing workflow.

Text vs. Email

You might be wondering . . . why move leads to an email list, instead of using text messaging exclusively?

Text messaging has advantages, primarily fast opens and high click-through rates. It’s perfect for short alerts, time-limited offers, and events.

But not all situations fit the text messaging model. For example, I don’t want a text message just to tell me about a new blog post. Email is a better fit for that. And if it’s something I might want to find or consume later, I definitely want email so I can easily search for it.

Email automation apps employ sophisticated user behavior triggers to send highly relevant and personalized messages to the recipient.

Finally, sending email is dirt cheap compared to sending text.

Solution: use a mix of email and text messages. Benefit from the strengths of each medium. In this mobile lead capture scenario, you’ll probably end up with text for the initial communication, followed by email for the bulk of the messages, and perhaps punctuated with personal phone calls or (automated) text.



  • Traditional lead capture methods are inconsistent and may not induce action
  • A better way: bring leads into your automated email workflow via text messaging
  • The system nurtures your lead 24/7: qualifying, educating, making offers
  • Use a mix of email and text messages. Benefit from the strengths of each
  • You don’t know what you don’t know. The only way to find out what lead capture methods convert best is to test and refine them.

Print and Share Your Best Reviews with Google’s “Small Thanks” Program

Google thanks poster program

Printable review posters

Here’s a simple, helpful tool from Google that will help reinforce your brand and reputation.  The idea is to “Turn your customers into your greatest advocates” by printing out selected reviews and displaying them as posters, flyers, postcards, etc.

The tool is free and simple to use; just pick your reviews, the layout (either one or three reviews on the poster), and your preferred design. Then send the .pdf file that Google generates to your favorite print shop.

Who knows how long Google will offer this service, so if you like to idea of promoting your reviews in print form, go for it. Reviews are a keystone concept in local SEO because they contribute to “social proof” — the public’s assessment of your business.

Pick your layout and reviews

Choose your color and style


Local Search Ecosystem 2017: Drive Visibility by Listing Your Business in All the Right Places

The folks at Whitespark just released the 2017 Local Search Ecosystem graphic. Here’s how to use it to boost your visibility in search.

In a nutshell: To maximize your search engine rankings, your business must be accurately listed on directory sites that match your industry and location, plus general directories and major search engines.

Practically speaking, that means accurate information about your business, at least the name, phone number, and street address —  a citation — should appear on most of the sites shown in the graphic below.

Use the interactive version.  Zoom the image.local search ecosystem


Where should your business be listed?

  • Primary Data Aggregators (Factual, Acxiom, Localeze, Infogroup)
  • Major Search Engines (Google, Bing, Apple)
  • Key Sites (Facebook, Yelp, YP, Dun & Bradstreet, others as shown )
  • Vertical Directories (eLocal, WhitePages, MapQuest, others as shown, plus directories in your industry)
  • Geographic Directories (Manta, Dexknows, Brownbook, others as shown, plus directories in your local city or region)

Trust through consistency

It’s obvious how darned complex the interactions between these sites have become. There’s a great deal of information sharing.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure your business information is consistent across the board. From a search engine perspective, consistency means it’s more likely the information is correct, and therefore, trustworthy.

Trustworthy sites get the edge in search.

How to eat this elephant, one bite at a time

(No actual elephants were harmed in this metaphor)


  1. Start with the big boys: Google, Bing, and . . . Apple? Are  you surprised to see Apple listed as a core search engine? Yahoo has imploded to less than 4% of the search market worldwide. Meanwhile Apple is driving a lot of mobile searches through iPhones. Something else: Google now supplies the bulk of Apple’s search results. So it gets down to Google + Bing. Microsoft’s Bing is a significant player, especially in desktop search.
  2. Next, square away your listings at the primary data aggregators (Factual, Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze). You’ve probably never heard of these companies unless you’re an insider, but they send a great deal of data downstream. Important!
  3. Check all the Vertical and Geo directories in the graphic. Is your business listing present and accurate? If not, submit your information directly if the site accepts it; otherwise, wait until they get it from outside sources.
  4. That leaves local and industry directories. These will be unique to you and your local competitors. Want to know what citations sites your competitors are using? We have a tool that does just that; reach out to us for more information. A search for “your-niche association (or organization)” and “your-city association (or organization)” will reveal opportunities.How many local and industry citations do you need? My snarky answer is “more than the next guy”.  To get in the top tier of search results, you’ll likely need 50+ general citations, 10+ local citations, and 10+ industry citations. The reputation of the site matters too; it’s better to get a citation on than

    Consider joining some local organizations and industry associations, there are also many free directories.


  • List your business everywhere it makes sense
  • Business information should be entirely consistent down to the punctuation
  • Get listings on general sites, plus sites specific to your industry and location
  • Need some help with this? Give us a call or send a message

How to Verify Your Apple Maps Listing

Apple Maps provides a good citation opportunity; it’s worthwhile to make sure your business information is correct and verified on Apple’s system.

We have already found or created your listing. All that remains is the verification process, which is best done from your location, at your convenience.  It only takes a minute or two.

Step 1: Make sure you can receive a call in the next few minutes on your business phone number.

Step 2: Sign-in to Apple Maps Connect  using the Apple credentials (username and password) we have provided.



Step 2: Click the Alert link “Answer a call to this location”. If you see two or more listings, choose the listing that matches the business name you provided in our Questionnaire.


Step 3: Click the “Call me now” to call your business number. The automated system will call you and provide a code. Enter that code on your screen. That’s it! You’re verified. Thank you.


12-Step Secure HTTPS WordPress Conversion Process

Now that Google has clamped down on websites that are insecure (not using an encrypted HTTPS connection). It’s time to convert your WordPress site if you haven’t already done so.

Want this done for you, the right way? Hire us. Use the referral code “amigo” to get $100 off for a limited time. Place your order here.    

Getting started with secure website conversion

We’ll need a few temporary credentials to start work. If you don’t have these handy, your web developer probably does. We can reach out to them as needed.

  • FTP user / password to update .htaccess and robots.txt files
  • cPanel user / password to install SSL Certificate (may be same as FTP above)
  • WordPress admin user / password to update General settings
  • Google Search Console user / password to add HTTPS property and XML sitemap (if you don’t have this, we’ll create a new account for you)

Conversion process

Although their are many detailed steps, this is basic process we use to convert your WordPress website to the HTTPS protocol:

  1. Install SSL certificate
  2. Take screenshots and backup the website for safety
  3. Update .htaccess server file to redirect HTTP traffic to HTTPS
  4. Add HSTS (HTTP Strict Transport Security) policy to block man-in-the-middle attacks
  5. Update robots.txt server file to clean-up any legacy HTTP links
  6. Update all internal WordPress links to HTTPS
  7. Install lightweight caching plugin (only if you don’t already have one) to dramatically speed up the site
  8. Test all pages to fix any remaining insecure links, including scripts, CSS files, hot-linked images, etc
  9. Speed Test. The home page should load within 1 – 2 seconds. If it doesn’t, we’ll alert you to other issues
  10. Update Google Search Console to add new HTTPS property, add new sitemap, request re-indexing
  11. Optional SSL / content monitoring setup. We check your certificate and website content site every 15 minutes, and alert you if it’s not loading.
  12. Project report that documents the work has been done correctly. We check your installation for a valid certificate, green padlock, website errors, server issues, and download speed. If you ordered 24/7 monitoring or  a CDN (content delivery network), we’ll include those too.

Sample project report



SSL Certificates: Why Your Need One, What Type to Get, How Much to Pay

SSL Certificates 101

You may already know that Google is using a carrot-and-stick policy to force all websites to use encryption.

Starting in January 2017, if your website is not secure — meaning it’s not using the encrypted HTTPS protocol and doesn’t have a green padlock symbol — your pages will eventually marked with red warning symbol.

Google online help says this about the warning: 

“We suggest you don’t enter any private or personal information on this page. If possible, don’t use the site.”

From a marketing perspective, it’s a fiasco, an awesome way to drive away business. But in the long run, it’s truly best for everyone. We support the change.

Here’s the key: to enable your secure website, you MUST have an SSL Certificate.

It’s simply a digital “signature” that ensures visitors that your website indeed belongs to you, and it encrypts the connection between your visitors and your website. Result: privacy and assurance that sensitive data like credit card numbers and passwords are not being intercepted by the dark side.

If you haven’t converted already, we offer a secure HTTPS website conversion service that gets it done quickly and affordably.

Welcome to the world of SSL Certificates, where distinctions are tough to discern, and prices cover an enormous range — from zero to hundreds of dollars per year. Yet, all certificates provide similar features and meet baseline security requirements.

So, what’s the difference between certs and how much should you pay?

Let’s dive-in to quickly find out why it’s “what the market will bear” environment and how to tips things in your favor.

Firstly, be aware they SSL certificate industry is a confusing labyrinth of brands and cross-marketing partnerships. A small number of official Certificate Authorities issue the certificates. The top five — Comodo, Symantec, GoDaddy, GlobalSign, and DigiCert — control 90%+ of the market. If you buy a certificate, you’ll probably be buying directly or indirectly from one of them.

Nice business right?  Scalable, recurring, mostly automated, high margin. This cash cow has been milked for 20 years. And that’s where it gets interesting . . .

SSL Certificates have been a cash cow for years.
Hello! My name is Certi, and yes, I am a cash cow.

Certificates are sold directly at retail prices by the certificate authorities, but they are also marketed downstream by hosting companies as well as thousands of independent re-sellers and affiliates.

Re-sellers often market brand-name certficates at a fraction of retail price — 80% off in some cases. Yet, the product is identical. How is that possible? Because the incremental cost of issuing a new, basic certificate approaches zero. It’s a fully automated process and can be scaled to meet demand. A strong re-seller can negotiate in bulk, driving the price way down.

The primary difference between certificates is the level of validation — how thoroughly the organization that wants the certificate is vetted by the certificate authority. If you want a convey a high-level of assurance to your customers that your website does indeed belong to your organization, you can pay the certificate authority review more documentation about your business. These are the

  1. Domain Verification: Simple, fast, cheap. This is what most businesses need — a green padlock symbol and an encrypted connection. The CA simply checks that the organization owns the domain. The certificate assures the consumer that they are visiting the intended domain.
  2. Organization Verification: A deeper verification process, at a mid-tier price. This is for businesses that conduct a significant amount of e-commerce. The CA checks documents to confirm the business identity and location. Consumers are reasonably assured of the company’s identity and location.
  3. Extended Verification: Extreme verification at a top-tier price. Only the CA does in-depth research on your business identity, location,

For practical purposes though, there’s very little difference. If a

For small business sites that are not deep into e-commerce, I’m not seeing any compelling reason to pay more than necessary. That’s my working theory for the moment.


By the way, Google will be nullifying all Symantec, Verisign, GeoTrust, Thawte, RapidSSL for security policy violations. You may


How to Tap Reddit’s Massive Traffic to Find Hot Topics for Your Business Blog

The massive traffic on reddit is a great source for blog titles and post topic ideas. Create content around these proven hot ideas to drive traffic to your website.

Give the People What They Want

The days of fooling search engines using manipulative SEO tactics are behind us. Goodbye!

Going forward, many factors will influence the strength of your business presence on the Web: user behavior patterns, the proximity of the searcher to your location, and of course, the relevance and authority of your website content.

You will need some amount of thoughtful content on your website to engage users, to drive search results, and to compete at the local level, in your own town. That’s a big change from a few years ago. The bar has been raised.

But resources are limited, business owners usually don’t have time to do content research. We need a shortcut to answer some crucial questions:

What topics will resonate with your audience? What headlines will induce readers to click so you at least have a shot at engaging them, and to ultimately sell your product or service?

It’s tempting to think we know what others want, or what questions they might have. So often, we’re wrong.

Rather than guessing, it’s more effective to observe real behavior and take action based on what people do. That’s what I’m advocating here. Rather than creating content out of the blue because we think people will like it, how about if we let their behavior point the way?

Your content needs to be effective and you don’t have unlimited time to create it. So let’s …

  • Find out what’s hot
  • Give the people what they want

Reddit to the Rescue

Reddit gets about 250 MILLION unique visitors per month — massive traffic that you can quickly tap to find headlines and topics that are hot. By looking at reader feedback — called upvotes on Reddit — we can discover headlines and content that are proven to engage readers.

The idea is find out what topics and headlines are generating a response, then comment or improve on that content, then re-publish it to your email list and social channels.

Remember that the majority of your shared content can be curated from other sources — you don’t need to create everything from scratch.

How to Grab Hot Headlines and Topics from Reddit

  1. Go to Search for your business type, or a niche you want to develop. For example: physical therapy, nutrition, audio systems, auto repair, chiropractic, etc.
  2. Click on a subreddit with at least several thousand members (r/physicaltherary, r/keto, r/dogtraining, r/supplements, etc.)
  3. In the menu bar, click the Top link. You’ll should see a list of popular headlines / posts sorted by upvotes over the past year.
  4. From the top posts, pick some that have plenty of upvotes and fit your niche. Use them as a starting point for your post / headline (post title).
  5. Check Related Subreddits in sidebar. You may find a subreddit that’s more popular than your initial search. Subreddits also suggest blog categories you may have missed.
  6. Optional: Squeeze even more juice by running the headlines through an analyzer: CoSchedule or Sharethrough.

Reddit Headline Example

Pretend you’re a dog trainer that wants to attract more local clients and build your brand as a dog behavior expert.

Search Reddit for dog training. Choose one of the top subreddits such as Click Top in the menu to sort by upvotes.

There are many strong headlines on this page. Here’s a good one. A catchy title with 198 upvotes.

Yes, your dog really does understand what you say, study suggests.


Reddit example search

This reddit points to a CBS post, so you use this content directly, but you can certainly use a variation of the headline, comment on the story, and share it with a link pointing back to your post using Sniply.


Pasting this headline into Buzzsumo reveals it has 7,500 shares — a solid indicator that this headline and topic, or a variation, could do very well with your audience.

Use Buzzsumo to verify shares. Is it hot or not?

Use LSI Graph to find related searches to include in your content

Reality Check: Don’t Freak Out if Your Post Doesn’t Get Any Shares or Links

Don’t be surprised if your posts seems to go nowhere. It’s tough for small local blogs to surface in the ocean of content there.

However, adding fresh content that dovetails with your client’s interests is important for local businesses, even without shares or links.

That’s simply because you’ll be building your website’s authority and relevance. In a tight local market, website authority can make or break first-page visibility (assuming Local SEO fundamentals are in place.)

You’ll need more, and more relevant, content than the next guy to stay at the top of the local search rankings.

Beyond that customers, clients, and patients all notice. Good-looking fresh content means you’re on top of things and thinking about your business. That alone instills trust and confidence.

So regardless of the final share and link outcome, you might as well jump-in and build a content foundation, even if doesn’t reach beyond your local market.

Wrapping Up Your Content Package

In two minutes we’ve discovered a topic and headline that is likely to be shared and will help bring people into a marketing funnel.

To wrap this process up, you’ll need to provide your take on the content you found. For example:

  • Explain what it means.
  • What is your experts view?
  • Do you agree or disagree?
  • How might this item affect your local clients?

How much text should you add? Well, that’s really up to you and your resources. I can tell you that posts of 1,000 – 2,000 words get the most engagement. Whoa! You may not have time or desire to do that. So make your content shorter. You may not get all the juice, but you’ll get some.

Workaround: Some people love to talk about their niche. If that’s you, here’s a streamlined method: capture your thoughts on a digital recorder, transcribe the audio file, then paste it in your post. Six minutes of audio = 1,000 words on average. Not bad!

Add a few related related phrases to your transcription from LSI Graph. Type-in your topic and get results in seconds.

Don’t scrimp on photos. Research shows that one photo per 100 words maximizes shares. Try Librestock, Flickr Creative Commons, or have some fun taking your own.

Finally, post your masterpiece to your blog and share it far and wide. Send it out to your mailing list and update your social media channels.

Far better than guessing, right?

P.S.: If you’re not crazy about Reddit, try Buzzsumo or EpicBeat.  Unlike Reddit, these services are not free, but you may be able to run a few free searches per day before being locked-out.

Alternative: Use Epicbeat to find hot headlines and topics.