Local search update: ‘Best’ filter invading the local pack

The trends for local businesses in current times indicate a sudden rise in searches on mobile devices. With most products and services available on mobile Apps, local searches have become popular. And, from the looks of it this trend is bound to continue. You can enhance the ranking of your business by using local SEO services. Local SEO services will increase in importance with time.
For small businesses such as a single location store or family owned retail stores, with a little knowledge of the field, the local SEO can be managed by a single person. But when it comes to larger brands or multi-location brands, more specialized SEO services are needed.
As of now the trends indicate that Google is laying importance on sites that provide quality products and services and ranking them higher in local SEO. This is apparent from the fact that all those products/services that receive the “Best” rating by their customers surge up the Google rankings.
Let us now delve into the types of rankings, factors that impact them and where the “Best” filter plays its role!
There are two types of rankings that are considered for the success of a business enterprise:

Snack Pack Rankings
These are essentially the small box of results that appear on the top of the results page. This box contains details such as opening hours, contact details, addresses, location on Google Maps, and review.
This snack pack has far-reaching effects for a business especially if the reviews listed are good ones.
Organic Page Rankings
These are search results appearing for those searches that do not involve the local search aspects. However, since local searches are dominated by people looking for contact details, reviews, location, etc. it is snack pack rankings that are more relevant in the context of local SEO.
Hence, it is apparent that businesses need to focus on both types of ranking if they want to thrive.
So what should businesses focus on:
1. My Business Signals
Google My Business Pages is a vital factor that the business should ensure is complete in all respects.
For this, the business should ensure that:
The business is set in the appropriate category.
The Google My Business page should contain the relevant keywords in the title.
The website link should be functional and crawlable.
It should contain the working hours.
The address should be correctly indicated.
2. Link Signals
Link signals are backlinks to a site. They play an important role in the organic as well as snack pack ranking results.
Some aspects of link building that impact rankings are:
Authority of links
It is recommended that you have reputed legitimate sites instead of spammy sites which will result in penalties.
Link building with quality links
The ranking of a site improves because of quality authoritative backlinks. High-quality backlinks can be created through quality content and high-quality guest blogging.
Linking Anchor text
The relevant content should be linked with the anchor text.
3. On Page Signals
These are the key factors on the page you are trying to rank. For local SEO these are Name, Address, and Phone Number. Keywords such as the business location and domain authority are relevant. All these details boost the ranking of the site. However, stuffing the page with keywords should be avoided.
What you need to focus on?
Page Title
It is vital to appropriately place the keywords such as the location and business name.
Meta Description
You will need to provide a 250-320 characters long description of the page for the convenience of users.
Page Url
It is an effective factor for local ranking if it includes both the city and the location.
Heading tags
The heading tags should be keyword oriented for good local SEO ranking.
Alt text
In case you are using images, it is recommended that you use its Alt text and important keywords to reference your business name or location in the appropriate manner.
However, the content should be of good quality and keyword stuffing should be avoided.
4. Citation Signals

These are basically indicators of how well your business details can be validated by other online sources such as social media platforms, reviews from other sites, etc.
The basic factors essential for citation signals are the consistency in Name, Address, and Phone number of the business across various channels. This enhances the credibility of the business leading to improved ranking.
5. Reviews

Reviews are important feedbacks about a business. Genuine, positive reviews go a long way in promoting the business.
Now Google and other Search engines are using online reviews for ranking a business. These reviews play a vital role in the snack pack rankings. Therefore they are important for local SEO.
Most business have understood the importance of these reviews and encourage their clients to provide reviews about their experience.
However certain factors should be borne in mind regarding reviews:
Fake reviews should be avoided
Fake reviews are penalized and also if a customer realizes that the review is fake, he/she will be put off.
The reviews should not be written by the business owners or staff
A genuine feedback about a business can be provided by its customers only. When a business owner or staff provides the review, it will be a biased version. Therefore, such reviews will negatively impact the rankings.
How to deal with bad reviews
A business is bound to receive both good and bad reviews. In case of bad reviews, the enterprise should work on the reason for it and take steps for improving its product or service. Many a time bad reviews may be posted by competitors to damage the online reputation of the company. There are professional companies that provide Online Professional Management services to help out businesses in such cases.
In recent times it has been experienced that reviews that contain the word “Best” help rank the business higher in Google rankings. This implies that businesses need to focus on providing quality products and services that provide customers a great experience so that they rate them as “Best” or “Great”.
Behavioral Signals
This is the technical information regarding user interaction with the website of the business.
Some of the indicators are:
Click through rate
It is an indication of how many times the link of the business is clicked when compared with other websites. The relevance of a webpage is estimated based on the number of clicks it receives.
Bounce rates
This is when users revert back to search results after visiting a page. This gives an indication to search engines that the search result is not relevant and lowers the ranking of the page.
Mobile clicks to call
If users click to call a business based on the search results, the search engines enhance the ranking of such sites.
Check in
When users check in to a business location, the search engines crawl such information impacting the ranking positively.
Therefore, for better local SEO rankings, a business should work on optimizing its website so that it is relevant to the keyword.
Personalization
Search engines have evolved to provide personalized search results to users. For local SEO the location of the business becomes vital. The site should also be responsive. Also, when users search through mobiles, they may use voice search making long-tail keywords relevant.
Social Signals
As of now, there is no clarity regarding the significance of social media for local SEO. However, considering that social media is an important aspect for most businesses, it is necessary to have a social presence.

The following is the summary of local SEO ranking factors:

My Business Signals 19%
Link Signals 17%
On Page Signals 14%
Citation Signals 13%
Review Signals 13%
Behavioral Signals 10%
Personalization 10%
Social Signals 4%

From the above figure it is apparent that factors like My Business signals, citations and reviews carry a weightage of 45% for ranking a website. In these cases, it is observed that words like “Best”, “Great”, and “Awesome” have a tremendous impact on the local SEO ranking.
For small businesses, Google is quality of the product/services based on customer ratings and reviews as a factor for ranking. When the “Best” filter is applied, only those businesses offering quality products/services will surge up in the searches. Hence, businesses need to optimize the site for the word “Best.”
If you want your business to have a higher snack pack ranking to be a leader in the product/services provided, you will need to focus on local SEO services that optimize your site for Best!

How to Protect your Website from Data Breaches?

A website is the digital identity of a business. Irrespective of the scale of business, all businesses have a website. Unfortunately, all websites are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. And, when a data breach occurs, it costs a business dearly. Data breaches have be-come quite common resulting in huge losses. According to experts, by the year 2020, the average cost of a data security breach for a major business would be more than $150 million! (Source: Big Commerce)

What is a data breach?

The U.S. Department of Justice defines a data breach as “the loss of control, compro-mise, unauthorized disclosure, unauthorized acquisition, access for an unauthorized purpose, or unauthorized access to data whether physical or electronic.”

Although data breach has a long history(it has existed for decades), it has become more prevalent in recent times. This is because of increased deployment
of cloud computing, digital storage, connected devices, to name a few.

Let us take a look at some of the disturbing realities about data breaches:

According to the Imperva 2019, Cyberthreat Defense Report, it is expected that 57.6% of Government organizations, 73.5% of educational organizations, and 74.5% of retail organizations are at a direct risk of suffering data breaches and compromises. These figures are definitely alarming as they represent a high level of risk to sensitive data.

As we are aware, IoT based systems are going to take center stage in the near future. But IoT devices also make the system vulnerable to cyber-attacks. This is affirmed by the fact that experts predict that almost 25% of enterprises would succumb to data breaches through IoT devices by the year 2020. And, this becomes more of a concern because only 10% of the IT security budget allocated by companies is towards smart device security. (Source: Gartner)

Businesses are directly at a risk in case of cyber attacks to their website because the average cost of a data breach for a company is $3.86 million. (Source: https://securityintelligence.com/series/ponemon-institute-cost-of-a-data-breach-2018/)

These stats indicate why website security is imperative for the health of a business when data breaches have become rampant across the globe.

What is website security?

Website security is essentially the measures taken to secure a website from cyber at-tacks. Website security is not a one-time process. It is an ongoing process to ensure that the website is safe from data breaches.

There are several reasons for cyberattacks on websites:

  • Exploiting the website visitors.
  • Accessing sensitive data stored in the server,
  • For black-hat SEO purposes to trick crawlers/bots.
  • Misusing server resources, etc.

Cyber Threats to Websites:

SQL Injections: This type of attack is accomplished by a hacker by injecting a malicious code in a vulnerable SQL query. The hacker adds a specifically crafted request to the message sent by the website to the database. This type of breach has the potential to modify or add malicious content to the database.

Cross-site Scripting: In this type of attack, a malicious client-side script is injected into a website. The hacker injects content into a website and modifies how it is displayed. Consequently, when a page gets loaded, the victim’s browser executes the code provided by the attacker. This has the potential of complete site takeover, in case a site admin loads the code.

Credential Brute Force Attack: The most common way in which the security of a website is compromised is by accessing a website’s admin area, control panel, or SFTP servers. An attacker gains access by programming a script to try different combinations of user names and passwords to crack the one that works. This attack can lead to spam campaigns, credit card stealing, and many more.

Denial of Service(DoS): In this type of attack, the hacker makes a machine or network resource unavailable to the user by disrupting the services of a host connected to the internet. It is implemented by flooding the network, server, or application with fake traffic. Even a small amount of traffic can successfully attack
a vulnerable resource-intensive endpoint.

Consequences of these attacks on a Website:

  • Injection of SEO spam on the page.
  • Access sensitive visitor information such as credit card details, etc.
  • Escalate access level by running exploits on the server..
  • Mine cryptocurrency using the visitor’s computer
  • Store control and command scripts and botnet commands
  • Lead visitors to scam sites
  • Host malicious downloads
  • Attack other sites

How to Protect your Website from a Data Breach?

Regularly Update the Site
Since most attacks are automated, bots are constantly scanning sites for vulnerabilities. Therefore, updating once a month or once a week may not suffice as the bots are likely to find the vulnerability before you patch it.

Update your website whenever a new plug-in or CMS version is available. These up-dates contain security enhancements to patch any vulnerability.

Strong and Cryptic Passwords
Stolen and weak passwords are one of the most common causes of a data breach. Al-though you may be tempted to use the same password at different places, it is recom-mended that you refrain from doing so. The risk of using the same password for multiple sites is that even if one site gets hacked, the security on other sites is at risk.

Use unique, cryptic passwords. You can create unique passwords with the help of a password manager.

Change the Default CMS Settings
Cyber attacks on the website are mostly automated and rely on users having only de-fault settings. The best way to ward off several attacks is by changing the default set-tings when a CMS is installed.

Selecting Secure Extensions
Plugins, add-ons, extensions, etc. that are used to enhance the functionality of a web-site have the potential to compromise the security of the website. Therefore, ensure that you use extensions/plugins/add ons from reliable sources only. Also, verify aspects such as the age of the extension and the number of installs, and when it was last updated, etc. before using it.

Encrypt Everything
You can use a modern algorithm to protect your data with encryption. By encrypting your hard drive, database, etc. you will make it difficult for the attacker to understand the information in case of a data breach.

Installing SSL Certification
SSL certificates ensure that the data is sent to the right server and not intercepted. It encrypts the data being transferred between the host(webserver) and the client(web browser).

Install Monitoring Tools
These tools constantly scan and monitor the health of a website. They provide alerts in case of a breach so that corrective action can be taken in time.

Website Firewall
Any vulnerability in your website leads to breaches such as the attacker sending a visi-tor to fake websites, displaying fake information, ransomware attacks or even wiping out the entire data on the site. Even a completely patched website is prone to a DDoS attack.

To protect your website from any such attack, you can install a web application fire-wall(WAF).

Online Copyright Protection
International copyright protection safeguards the website content by constantly monitoring it thereby protecting it from theft and copyright infringement. A protection badge is issued by various agencies to certify that the page to which the badge is added is protected and secure.

DCMA.com is one such agency that offers a protection badge. A DCMA protection badge is an icon or graphic placed on the website. DCMA.com offers a choice of 300 badges besides allowing custom creation of a webmaster’s own badge.

A DCMA protection badge serves as a link to the website’s content ownership state-ment certificate. DCMA badge facilitates adding a certificate on each page of the web-site. It also indicates to the users that the site is a secure one as it has opted for DCMA.com for securing it.

Besides these methods, some free security tools that can be used to protect your website from data breaches:

  • SiteCheck
  • Sucuri Load Time Tester
  • Sucuri WordPress Security Plugin
  • Google Search Console
  • Bing Webmaster Tools
  • Yandex Webmaster
  • Unmask Parasites
  • Best Website Security Software
  • Best WAF

In Conclusion
A data breach on a website can lead to grave consequences for a business. It may have to face lawsuits, heavy penalties, ruined reputation, to name a few. Besides, it can even lead to a loss of about 98% of website traffic. Therefore, it is necessary to take a holistic view of website security and approach it with an in-depth defense strategy.

Key points in Developing a Successful Real Estate Website

Not so long ago, home buyers and sellers connected through real estate agents. But not anymore! With the arrival of the digital age, buyers are going online to search for homes that meet their requirements. 95% of all homebuyers are searching online. (Source: National Association of Realtors- NAR). Real estate agents also use websites to list properties for selling/renting to connect with buyers/tenants.

Are you still wondering if you should invest in building a real estate website? Well! The time to ponder is over as real estate websites are a must in today’s world and have a bright future ahead!

Real estate portal development is not very complicated but giving your website a competitive edge requires out-of-the-box ideas. After all, your website is your online presence. So, you should include all the vital ingredients in it to put your best foot forward.

Let’s get started with the basics for real estate website development:

1. The basic building blocks for a real estate website are:

• Domain Name: A domain name is your online identity by which the visitors to your site will recognize you. Make sure that you choose a domain name that is easy to remember and also represents your identity.

• Web Hosting: A web host provides the technologies and services required for a website so that it can be viewed on the internet. Websites are hosted on servers. There are several versions of servers available. You can choose a web host that is well-suited to your website.

• Web Builder: Website builders are used for building the software on your website. Using the website builders, you can design your website.

2. Essential Features for your Website

When you are designing your website, you need to bear a few things in mind:

• Although you may be tempted to include a lot of details on the landing page, make sure that you design it such that it does not look cluttered. A clean home page with essential information makes a good design.

• The website should be easy to navigate. The user should be able to locate any detail he requires easily. Tabs such as those for registration, payment, CTAs, etc. should be easy to find.

• Your website should be easy to register on. It is recommended that you keep your registration forms precise so that users are inclined to register.

• As per Statists, the number of mobile users in 2020 is a whopping 3.5 billion! With so many existing users and the number increasing, it is imperative to have responsive website designs.

• Although responsive design is a necessary feature, you should not neglect features on the desktop design. This is because, in a real estate website, your audience will not be satisfied with viewing a property on a mobile, they will want to get a clearer picture which is possible in the desktop version.

• The website should have a good loading speed because if a website takes too long to load, the user will move to a different website. Fast loading speeds are required for both mobile and desktop versions. Stats reveal that even a 100ms delay in load time can drop conversion rates by 7%. (Source: https://unbounce.com/landing-pages/7-page-speed-stats-for-marketers/)

3. Criteria for Website Design

Whenever you are building a website, one of the prerequisites is identifying who your users are and designing the website according to their needs.

In the case of a real estate website, your users are buyers, sellers, and real estate agents.

Let us now look at the specific needs of your users:

• Buyers: They will look to view properties according to their specific needs. Therefore, you will need to provide listings of properties on your website with details such as the description of the property, pictures, details such as proximity of schools, etc. It is beneficial to include location maps of the property on the website. Also, include filters such as the number of rooms, square foot area of the home, the area where it is located, price, etc. This will enable the buyers to narrow down their search easily and find those properties that match their selection criteria.

• Sellers: Sellers will list their properties on the website. The website should be easy to list the property. The payment terms for listing should be clearly indicated. It is a good idea to offer online help through chatbots, etc. to guide the seller for listing, etc. The seller will be required to upload a description of the property, pictures, virtual tours, etc. on the website.

• Real Estate Agents: They can function as agents for sellers as well as buyers. They will have the same needs as buyers or sellers.

It is not just sufficient to have a well-designed website. The real-estate sector is a highly competitive one. Therefore, you need to work on your website so that it has high visibility. Digital marketing can help you get wide exposure for your website.

Let us delve into different aspects of digital marketing that help your website get a high exposure:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO implies optimizing your website for search engines. Optimizing a website entails including keywords in the website that are searched frequently. A well-optimized site will get a high ranking on search engines driving traffic to it.

Social Media Marketing: Social Media has emerged as one of the most powerful forces in recent times. 42% of the world’s population uses social media. That’s 3.2 billion users worldwide. (Source: Emarsys) Therefore, having a strong social media presence is vital for any website. You can share your listings on social media platforms to connect with a larger audience.

Content Marketing: It is a well-known fact that “Content is King.” You will need to publish relevant, informative content such as blogs, articles, etc. on your website. Well-articulated content is vital for engaging your audience.

These are the basics for designing and marketing a real estate website. It helps to take the help of a professional real estate website development companies to create an engaging website.

If you want a well-designed website for your company, one of the best real estate website design companies is ClicksTree! Call us Now for customized website designs!

Everything you need to know about Scalable Mobile Application Development

“In 2020, There will be a widespread belief that the World Wide Web is less important and useful than in the past and applications are a dominant feature in people’s lives.”- Pew Research Internet Project

Well! As we step into 2020, we realize that this quote is a statement of fact with the exponential growth in the number of mobile application users worldwide. Stats reveal that there will be 7 billion mobile users worldwide by 2020! (Source: https://www.appannie.com/en/insights/market-data/application-annie-2017-2022-forecast/)

And out of this, mobile applications account for 57% of digital media usage.
(Source: https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Presentations-and-Whitepapers/2017/The-2017-US-Mobile-Application-Report)

We can also experience this growth in the number of application users around us with the rise in the variations in applications available to us. Mobile applications have certainly simplified our lives. Today, we have virtual assistant applications like Siri, Alexa, etc., banking applications, food delivery applications, gaming applications, to name a few. Technology has made all the services available to us at our fingertips.

Therefore, designing a mobile application definitely makes a lot of business sense. However, mobile application development comes with its own set of challenges. Hence, it is best to hire top application development companies to develop a mobile application for your business.

It is definitely encouraging to note that the number of application users is rising globally. However, it proposes a challenge to application developers- “Is your application capable of serving the increased number of users in the future?”

To cater to the increasing number of users, you need to build scalable applications that can function at high loads without impacting the functionality of the application.

A scalable application is one that can cater to an increased number of users without compromising on the user experience and loading speed, etc. of the application.

Therefore, it is essential to develop scalable applications for your business!

Points to be considered before developing the application:

• Establish the objective behind developing the application.
• Identify your target audience.
• How do you expect your application to be used?
• Based on these aspects you can determine the platforms for developing the application.
• What languages and frameworks will be suitable for your application?
• What is the budget allocated for application development?

Once you have established these aspects for application development, you will need to focus on developing a scalable mobile application.

How to develop a scalable mobile application?

1. Choice of Technology

It is important to integrate scalability from the initial stages of application development. Therefore, the technologies chosen for application development will depend on the scalability aspect of the application.

Programming languages that support scalability are:

• Python for Android application development
• C# for iOS and Android application development, etc.

Database:

Several NoSQL databases support scalability. Compare different databases and select the one that offers the best features for your application.

Communication:

To develop a scalable application, you need to ensure that the communication channels between the different services are also scalable.

Scalable communication channels can be established with the help of a loosely coupled system such as a messaging bus.

2. Make Multiple Replicas

Making multiple replicas of everything eliminates the risk of application failure due to the failure of a specific resource. You can simply run your database on multiple servers to avoid single point failure.

3. Port the Logic that you can Verify

The logic in your application is the code written at the backend. When multiple users make requests in your application then the load on the server increases impacting the performance of the application. Also, there are chances that the user could override the logic you have ported. To address such issues, you can port the logic that you can verify.

One of the best ways to execute this is with BaaS (Backend as a service) Cloud. BaaS also takes care of the security aspect of the application.

Pushing the logic to the user reduces the number of CPU cycles thereby enhancing the scalability.

4. Cache “Hot Data”

The scalability of your application can be enhanced by storing frequently used data or “hot data” in specialized in-memory databases. A database like Redis is a good option for improving scalability because it performs reads and writes at a high speed.

It is important to note that you should not cache all the data. Cache data that is frequently used or that which requires a lot of calculations.

5. Test, Test, Test!

The importance of testing the application cannot be stressed enough. Once you have developed the application, you can get it tested by people in your organization. These users will test the application in an unbiased manner. They might even come up with queries that your mobile may not be able to address. This feedback will help you enhance the features of your application. To ascertain that your application works seamlessly at peak loads, the scalability of the application needs to be verified repeatedly

Although not exhaustive, these are a few tips by which you can build scalable mobile applications.

It is recommended that you engage in professional mobile application development services to develop a scalable mobile application for your business.

The best mobile application development company is ClicksTree. We build customized mobile applications for our clients.

What is Google’s Broad Core Update?

We are aware of the updates that Google regularly introduces in its algorithms to provide better search experience to its users. One of the latest updates is the “Core algorithm update” introduced in March 2018.
Let us see what the core update is all about.
The core update focuses on enhancing the quality of SERPs rather than the quality of content. This objective of this update is to reward the unrewarded sites rather than impose any kind of penalties on these sites.
Broad core updates are introduced several times during a day to improve the search results. In fact, core algorithm updates have been updated on a regular basis since 2012.
There is a misconception in the SEO industry regarding this update that the focus is on ranking pages that are of low quality. However, the fact that remains that the focus has now shifted to providing as many related results to users during a search as possible. Therefore, the assumption that sites that did not rank earlier did not deserve to figure in searches is incorrect.
It is important to note that this update targets the best answers to any query instead of low-quality web pages.

Process of Update:

Google introduces two changes to their core algorithm per day. As per Google, their most experienced search engineers launch a change in SERPs only after analyzing and reviewing the data from different experiments. Based on this process Google has introduced 665 enhancements in search results in 2012.
One of the most apparent effects of this update is that pages that may have been ranking highly in search results may find themselves out of the top 100 suddenly during the day. However, the same pages may again find themselves ranked better on the same day!
In case, you find your page dropping in search engine rankings, Don’t Get Alarmed! It is definitely not an indication that there is something wrong with your site. It is just that it could be that your page is in the midst of algorithm testing with Google’s broad core update.

Impacts of the core update:

There are no penalties imposed so there are no drastic losses.
Content updates were not a criterion for improved ranking of the page.
The focus of Google for ranking the page was no longer dependent on only the quality but also factors such as location, etc. so as to provide the users more relevant results.
The broad core is not about penalizing any site so actually, nothing much can be done in case you find your page falling in search results. The best option is to wait and watch.
However, if you experience that your page is not able to resurface in the rankings or improve its place, it is time to take action!

How to cope with the core update?

Ensuring that your page remains high in the search results while competing with other sites in the purview of the core update can be quite challenging.
If it is any reassurance, understand that you are not alone! All your competitors are facing the same uncertainties.
In order to cope with these updates, first of all, you will need to follow the SERPs proactively and observe what is ranking high and what is not. Based on that you could tweak your site accordingly.
Next, it is important to identify the purpose of the core algorithm update. The sole objective of this update is to provide search results from the user’s perspective, it is time to put on the thinking hat of your user!

What does this imply?

It simply means to provide enough content on your page that will answer the search queries from various angles.
For example, if you have a real estate site that provides a means for buying/selling properties without an agent, you can have content on your page that will provide results to users with a number of queries such as: how to sell my home privately, how to sell without an agent, agent-free selling, etc.
The more you try to think like a user, more queries you will have and you can provide content that satisfies more users. This will ensure that your site improves its position in SERPs as it provides more comprehensive search results to users.
The focus of content has now shifted to solving the problems of users instead of being keyword centric. This will definitely provide a better user experience. You should provide an easy and convenient means to your users to find specific answers to their queries whether it is a product/service. Also, the search answers should cater to location-specific queries as well.
The content should be able to match the intent of the users. The content that is relevant and has authority is bound to be stable to algorithmic changes and have high visibility.

In a Nutshell:

Google’s Core Update is definitely shaking up the rankings drastically leaving the site owners confused. However, it is heartening to know that these changes are not to penalize any site but these changes are made in the search engines to make searches more user-friendly. These updates that are implemented by Google twice a day cause major changes, but nothing much can be done by the site owner as these changes in ranking do not reflect on any shortcoming of the site.
However, the key to ensuring that your site is not much affected by the update is by providing comprehensive user-friendly content on your site. There are digital marketing companies that provide professional content writing services. These professionals are aware of the nuances of the updates by Google and can provide customized content that strikes a chord with a large number of users.