Summer 2018 Website Changes

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The summer of 2018 is shaping up to have a lot of changes that impact website owners. In short order they are:

  • European Union’s new GDPR privacy policy which affects everyone worldwide
  • Chrome’s July release which will flag any site not using an SSL as “not secure”
  • Google’s July rollout of speed as an increased ranking factor
  • Google’s mobile-first indexing and preference for mobile-friendly pages

That’s a lot of things for website owners to worry about, so let’s talk specifically about what you need to do (or have your webmaster do for you).

European Union’s GDPR

The GDPR is probably the most confusing one on this list, as this has a legal impact on your business. And since no business is the same, it’s very hard to give general advice on legal matters. Also, I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t give you legal advice anyway.

What you need to do by May 25, 2018 for the GDPR

Basically, you need to have a privacy policy for your website and that policy must account for the GDPR

I have a tutorial walking you through how to use a free tool to build a privacy policy for your website. You should block off a good hour for building that policy, and I always recommend that you have a lawyer familiar with your specific business needs and with privacy policies for the web review it. It’s also important to note that most lawyers don’t handle privacy policies for the web (in fact, many lawyer’s websites don’t even have a privacy policy), and if they aren’t experienced in it, you shouldn’t ask them anything about it.

Next is the GDPR is new legislation from the European Union. I have a specific article devoted to the GDPR and what impacts it has on your website & business. The basics are:

  • The new law is extra-territorial, which means it extends outside the EU and a number of countries have already signed reciprocal agreements
  • It applies to EU citizens, regardless of where they are. So even if you are a little nail salon in Texas, you may still have EU citizens visiting your site. Remember, there are plenty of people running around out there with dual-citizenship.
  • EU citizens have new rights, which includes the right to be forgotten.
  • It prohibits data transfer from compliant countries to non-compliant countries, which means you need to know where your data is stored and where your contractors live/work.

Chrome’s SSL Impact

Coming in July 2018, Chrome will start announcing if a site is not using an SSL.

The addition of those two words is going to concern a lot of site visitors, so you need to get your website update to using an SSL before July.

The good news is that several quality hosting companies are offering free SSLs through the Let’s Encrypt project. This allows you to get an SSL installed on your site in under 5 minutes and for free.

The bad news is that you need to do more than just install an SSL. Here’s a rundown of the basics:

  • You need to have website hosting that will support an SSL, some companies don’t
  • Your website hosting needs to support the correct protocols (a number of companies only support this on specific tiers of their hosting and some companies like GoDaddy officially say they won’t support it)
  • You need to get your SSL installed (quick & free on some hosting, complex & expensive on others)
  • You need to tell your website to use the SSL – this can be easy or it can be quite complex
  • You need to make sure you aren’t trying to access any insecure content (for example if you load an image that is hosted on another website, that image needs to be loaded over HTTPS or you’ll get an error)
  • Use Why no padlock to check your site when done

For more info on getting your SSL setup, see my article on switching your WordPress site to SSL.

Google’s Speed Update

Google has been using website loading speed as a ranking factor in desktop search results for a while, but in July 2018 they will be using it in mobile search results too.

The reason? People don’t like to wait, and there is a bit of data to back up faster-loading pages to better website conversions and happier people:

In fact, Google also has a number of official recommendations for best practices:

  • Load your website content on mobile in under 3 seconds
  • Have your average time to the first byte of your website loaded in under 1.3 seconds
  • Reduce your number of requests to under 50
  • Reduce your page size to under 500KB

Google’s Mobile First Indexing

Google has been working on improving the mobile experience, and as part of that, it’s now moving websites to mobile-first indexing. That means that instead of including a website’s desktop site in the index, it will include their mobile site. This means the site will rank better for mobile searches. Google is notifying sites if they are becoming mobile-first indexed via the search console notifications.

So what do you need to do?

  • First, make sure that you have your website setup on Google Search Console.
  • Second, make sure that your website passes Google’s mobile-friendly test.
  • Third, make sure your site looks good and loads quickly (see the above notes on speed)
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