Although privacy protection practices are an important area in various industries over the last couple of years, the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry is probably slightly behind when it comes to privacy and data protection. There’s been an increase in awareness since the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, hackers successfully targeting large corporations such as Yahoo and many other incidents that triggered the need for better privacy protection.
That being said, SEO agencies mainly focus on ranking websites, creating awesome content and increasing traffic for their clients. However, privacy is often an overlooked part of the overall SEO strategy. While SEO specialists heavily rely on data to create new strategies and also store a great deal of information, they often neglect how the data is stored.
Privacy And SEO
SEO is a long-term, time-intensive project and it would be a shame if all the hard work falls apart due to a data breach, bad privacy practices or a hacked website.
In essence, if you don’t implement security and privacy as a part of your SEO strategy, you’ll lose a significant amount of traffic and eventually a loss in revenue and profits. Google could also penalize websites for various reasons. Even though it’s not proven that “insecure” websites are heavily penalized, Google might implement it into their algorithm any time. (There’s been speculation this is already happening as you’ll see below).
By doing so, you generate customer trust, which is extremely valuable for any business. If customers trust your business, they’ll keep coming back, refer others to your site and promote your business by word of mouth. Thus, you both retain and acquire customers at the same time. In addition, high customer trust means higher engagement rates and an increase in conversion which ultimately leads to higher profits.
Recently there has been a lot of speculation around Google heavily factoring E-A-T into their algorithms. E-A-T stands for:
The trustworthiness is a broad umbrella. Things like privacy and proper security may very well play a big role in this.
Negative Impact on Your SEO
The lack of privacy and security protection can have a negative impact in areas that are mostly inter-connected with one another, eventually leading to a significant decrease in revenue.
Here’s how overlooking privacy as part of your SEO strategy can have a negative impact:
- Decrease in “dwell-time,” higher bounce rates & CTR
According to experts, dwell-time is an important ranking factor. In short, it’s a combination of the duration of a session, bounce rate and click-through-rate. For Google, this metric is a clear indication of whether a website offers relevant, high-quality products, services or content.
However, there’s a flipside. For example, if you run a webshop a visitor clicks to the product page but then sees a “Not Secure” warning, because the page isn’t supported by an SSL certificate, the visitor will most likely leave the page immediately. People are simply not willing to enter their personal and payment information on an insecure page.
If this happens frequently, the session duration and CTR will decrease, whereas the bounce rate will increase. I assume you can guess what happens. The shop will drop in the ranking.
The result of the above will be a significant drop in rankings since Google Chrome and Firefox will warn website visitors when a page lacks proper security. Google pushes website owners to switch to HTTPS and said it’s a ranking signal.
“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 SEO’s, it’s now time to get an SSL certificate. The “Not Secure” sign is for people to reconsider their decision to shop on a specific page.
- Traffic volume declines
If you fail to meet standard ranking guidelines such as an SSL certificate, the website will drop in the rankings due to a significant decrease in organic traffic. As a result, the website will generate less revenue and profit.
In short, the dwell-time will decrease, non-encrypted pages will drop in rankings which will eventually lead to a decrease in profit.
As an SEO, you must be proactive in your approach to take privacy into account as it takes a lot of time and effort to grow websites. It’s not worth it to leave your SEO data vulnerable for attacks and hackers and not to mention leaving your website vulnerable to lower rankings.
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- Don’t Overlook Privacy as a Part of Your SEO Strategy - October 17, 2018