Time doesn't bypass anything, or anybody! That includes our computers, our mobile phones, our TV's, our cars......even us! So why would websites be any different?
Yet it's been my experience in the past that when I notify some clients that their sites have become outdated and no longer have security support they seem surprised. It's as if they weren't aware that websites, like everything in life, are affected by the passage of time.
So how does a website age? Visually you can always tell an old website because of the way it looks, as it will appear somewhat dated compared to modern ones. But it's not the visual element that's the problem.....it's the code that's been used within it where the problem lies. Because as time goes on, security holes appear. And if they're not patched and updated then there are going to be security breaches!
Another critical element in the "safe" life expectation of a site is PHP. PHP is the scripting language on the server that runs all our clients' websites......in fact around 83% of the sites on the Web are powered by PHP.
Over the years, as with all technology, PHP has advanced considerably. It's much more secure, and now considerably faster in the time it takes to render web pages. This gives you peace of mind re security, and a much better experience to your users. But as it advances through the versions it becomes necessary to remove certain coding elements that older sites used. This is to ensure that any unsafe elements are no longer included, and to continue to advance the application in terms of performance and security.
Unlike some years ago, we now have the option to run multiple PHP versions on a server at the same time......so most web hosts are able to accommodate the needs of all users at any given time. At present we have PHP 5.6, 7.0, 7.1, and 7.2 available which can be assigned on a per site basis. And 7.3 is due to launch next month so that will be added as well.
But a big change also happens next month which will affect clients on older sites: PHP 5.6 and 7.0 will become unsupported and end of line! Here's the PHP version calendar:
After those two highlighted dates, any users on PHP 5.6 and 7.0 will no longer have security support and are potentially exposed to unpatched security vulnerabilities.
The key point you have to be aware of here is that if you still need to run on those old PHP versions, then there's elements within your site that are out of date as well. So there's two risks facing you: outdated site software and outdated server software.
In terms of our clients, we will continue to provide PHP 5.6 and 7.0 for them until the expiry of their current hosting period. At that point, if they don't intend to upgrade their sites, we will find an alternative Web Host for them who can still offer these outdated versions. But be aware, those Hosts won't be able to offer that facility indefinitely......there will come a point in time when they'll withdraw them too.
As always, my advice is this: Only use currently supported versions of site software and server software. If you don't, then you're putting yourself, and others on the server, at risk of potential security breaches.
As I mentioned earlier, some clients don't like to hear that they are potentially at risk. But we have a responsibility to keep clients informed, in the same way your mechanic would give you a safety advisory related to your car. I doubt that anybody wants to get a report saying their brakes are failing........but it's most definitely something they need to be told!
Another reaction I get is when clients say "Why would anybody want to hack my site? It doesn't get a lot of visitors so I'll just leave the site as it is".
Now just change that thought process to "Why would anybody want to burgle my house or steal my car? I'll just carry on leaving the doors unlocked".
Make no mistake, Point 1 and Point 2 express exactly the same point of view.....that somehow it won't happen to me. However, statistics suggest that it will happen to you if you don't take security seriously. There are more than 1.86 billion websites on the internet. Around 1% of these, something like 18,500,000, are infected with malware at a given time each week; while the average website is attacked 44 times every day. Official Industry Source HERE!
Just because you're not aware of this situation doesn't mean it's not happening. It just means it's not happening to you because of the proactive steps we have taken on an ongoing basis over many years.
If we are no longer able to take those measures because of the circumstances I've detailed in this article then we have a responsibility to our clients to make them aware of it. Of course, what they decide to do at that point is their decision......but nobody who's a client of ours can ever say "I didn't know".
Now here's 3 questions:
1. Did your web developer personally contact you prior to the day and explain these principles?
2. Did your web developer implement these changes prior to 25th May?
3. Did your web developer make all the necessary changes to your site to ensure you were compliant without billing you for their services?
If you answered "Yes" to all three then you're obviously a WebSpain client. As I've said in the past, not all web designers are created equal. This is just another example of how we always go further in the area of client support.
As far as GDPR will develop in the future, there are no guarantees that the stipulations, or even the interpretations, won't actually change. And at this point it remains to be seen how closely the regulations are actually going to be enforced.
No doubt there are millions of website owners out there that haven't got a clue about all this.......because their web developer never bothered to bring them up to speed about their responsibilities. You'll be able to spot them quite easily if they don't have a "specific consent" option in their forms. Potentially, organizations not in compliance could face hefty penalties of up to 20 million euros, or 4 percent of their worldwide annual turnover, whichever is higher - so this isn't something that you can leave to chance.
But there's one area where the GDPR isn't clear at the moment.....and that's HTTPS/SSL encryption on websites. The GDPR regulations specifically state that all user information received must be stored securely, and all reasonable precautions must be taken in terms of it's security at point of contact and thereafter.
To me, that would infer it's necessary to have all connections encrypted rather than unsecured......despite the fact SSL Security isn't directly referenced. So my personal recommendation (as I've been saying for 3 years) is to ensure that you have an encrypted connection to your site.
Google has been saying this throughout this period, and now with the introduction of GDPR the onus is on you personally to ensure that you are seen to be complying with the legal responsibilities that you now have. Also, from July onwards, Google Chrome browsers will begin to flag every website that does not use HTTPS encryption with the warnings 'Not secure' prominently highlighted in the address bar. That's a business-killer if ever there was one.
Failure to secure peoples' data in the past was just seen to be unprofessional......now it breaks European law. There's a big difference. Seriously.......just don't take any chances on this because the stakes just got a lot higher.
Very often, we don't notice the changes that happen progressively throughout the course of our lives......because they're not instant, they're gradual. The same applies to our websites.
We've just replaced the WebSpain site, and despite it being less than two years old, it was starting to date considerably compared to others in our field. That prompted me to visit the Wayback Machine which periodically takes snapshots of sites over the years.......to see just how sad some of the earlier versions of WebSpain actually were compared to today.
What I found made for scary viewing......as an example, this monstrosity is from 2010!
I cringe looking at it. It's a bit like bringing out your old photos from the 70's when you had big hair and even bigger flares! It feels like I've put a photo of my dirty underpants online.
But the reality is that the type of presentation you see there was par for the course in 2010. That was all we had to work with back then because the technology that is available today didn't exist. Mobile websites? No such thing!
We normally replace our site every 18 months so there's been about 4 or 5 updates since then.......but comparing the 2010 presentation to today is a real eye opener! Things have changed a lot in 8 years.
I want to emphasise that it's not a case of we've got better at what we do.....it's a case of the technology and applications available to us to work with are now on a totally different level to back then. And like real life, it didn't happen overnight......it was a progression over those years, but at a much faster rate. The mobile era was the game changer, but even that technology at this present time is much more advanced than it was 5 years ago.
Now ask yourself this question if you are a client from recent years:
Would you have even contacted us to find out more information if our website still looked like that?
Highly unlikely......because we would have looked like amateurs or a defunct business. It's the kiss of death at point of discovery!
The fact is, if you can't immediately present yourself as a professional then you will not be taken seriously. Besides looking unprofessional, old sites will also be riddled with security issues and running on slow, outdated, and vulnerable PHP versions on servers.
PHP have announced that later this year, versions 5.6 and 7.0 on the server will be discontinued and unsupported. So if you're still running an older site then this could present problems.
The red dot denotes expiry of those versions......contact us if you want to know whether you're affected! This new WebSpain site runs on PHP 7.2, which as you can see is supported till the end of 2020.
So to summarise, running outdated and obsolete sites can not only adversely affect your business in terms of client pereception, it also puts you and your users at risk of hacking and phishing attacks. Stay current!
Make sure you present yourself as a live, thriving business.....not as somebody who's trapped in time! And definitely don't wait until you plummet to the depths of obsolescence and embarrassment of the WebSpain 2010 site. Because everyone will be laughing at your site in the same way as most of you are now laughing at my old one!
For over 3 years we've been advising website owners to get HTTPS/SSL encryption in place because the internet has been moving towards a totally encrypted medium. A major development is now taking effect from July 2018 onwards.....and from thereon it's going to get much more difficult to present yourself online as a professional business unless you have this system in place.
Because from then on, Google will be placing a "Not Secure" warning in the browser for all sites (and all pages on all sites) that are not encrypted. The official announcement from Google can be seen HERE!
There are many benefits of having HTTPS/SSL encryption in place:
1. A 2048 bit encrypted connection between the user and the site gives a higher level of security for data transmission.
2. An SSL certificate also provides authentication. This means that users can be sure that they are sending information to YOU, and not to a criminal’s server.
3. Protection from Phishing, where a criminal tries to impersonate you or your website.
4. You can use a Dedicated IP address that gives you protection from any IP blacklisting of your site and e-mail caused by other users on the shared server IP address.
5. Enhanced professionalism giving clients confidence in doing business with you.
6. Trust! Browsers give visual cues, such as the lock icon in the address bar, which tells visitors that their connection is secure.
7. SSL is a criteria for search engine ranking, so potentially higher placement in searches.
8. You'll get a "Secure" message displayed on your site rather than "Not Secure".
If that all sounds a bit technical.....then here's a short video that will explain it.
So if you haven't got SSL in place then now is the time to make a move before you end up losing business! Simply because the words "Not Secure" on every page of your site are not going to inspire or reassure any potential client!
It appears that 2018 has started with an avalanche of Spam e-mails from self professed SEO Experts, Marketing Consultants, Promotional Analysts.....and various other surreal titles that these people dream up. And the content of these mails all contain serious warnings.
The mails usually emanate from the Indian subcontinent, and for reasons best known to themselves these individuals will be doing business under some ludicrous pseudonym like Buck Rogers, Rhett Butler, or Troy Tempest.
Their modus operandi is basically to panic you by forecasting imminent doom for you and your business due to multitudes of technical problems with your site! And they'll know all this just by getting the e-mail address off it! Because that is all they've actually done!
This approach can be viewed as an unethical and misleading practice designed to take advantage of end users who don't understand the technical aspects. Or maybe they're just that inept that they believe it themselves. Either way, they want your money.....and they'll tell you anything to get it.
Their usual sales pitches, based on total fiction, go along these lines:
1. Your site can't be found on Google. Call me cynical, but I don't think they've thought this one out very well. Because if you can't be found on Google, how did they find you? Crystal Ball? Ouija Board? The Voices in their Head?
2. No metatags on the pages! These are the keywords that can be put in the header of each page.....visible to search engines only. Problem is they've actually been obsolete for over 10 years!
Just see what Google said back in 2009: Google does not use the keywords meta tag. So putting in metatags is irrelevant! Nobody can see them and search engines don't use them! But these "experts" are quite happy to charge you to put them in anyway.
3. Not enough Keywords! These are still relevant today but in a contextual and natural manner, and used in moderation. Don't look to jam them in wherever you can or you'll end up getting penalised for poor quality content.
Simple rule to follow: Deliver information on your site in a natural manner as if you were speaking to somebody face to face. As an example, if you are an estate agent in Spain would you actually stand in front of a prospecive client and say something like this? "Property for Sale Spain, Best Spanish Property, Spanish Property Costa del Sol etc etc". Of course you wouldn't.....so why do it on your website?
Google has analysed your site as a human would since 2015.....using it's Artificial Intelligence System RankBrain. So just write for humans because that's what Google wants. Jamming keywords will only diminish your credibility as far as Google is concerned.
4. A specific type of website application is better for SEO! Totally wrong! Google doesn't care whether you use Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, or even basic HTML. They are only interested in the end result.....which is whether you have a quality site that delivers value to users. The actual software application that is powering it is irrelevant. So somebody using this pitch will be trying to get you to order a new website from them by dangling the carrot of SEO enhancement.
5. You don't have enough H1, H2, H3 tags on your site! While it is still good practice to use them if required, the practice of stuffing them everywhere has no bearing whatsoever. And may even be viewed as spammy in some cases.
Basically, it's the quality of the content covered by the tags that is evaluated.....not the tag itself. Start putting them everywhere with insufficient depth of content to warrant it sends a clear signal to Google. And not a positive one.
6. Social media likes and shares boost search engine rankings! The simple act of liking or sharing has no bearing on your site's search engine positioning at all. If it drives traffic to your site then that is a different matter and is viewed as a positive signal. Social media activity is highly recommended to get your business and brand directly in front of potential clients ......thereby eliminating them searching on Google where your rankings may not be so good. There's more ways than Google to generate business these days.
But selling you Social Media promotional services under the guise of it somehow enhancing your presence on Google is incorrect. You'll only enhance your presence on the Social Media channels....nowhere else.
So what is the Reality?
The reality is contained in Google's Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. What they stipulate as essential requirements are Page Quality, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness, Supplementary Content, Quality User Experience, Functionality, Mobile optimisation, SSL Security, and Page Loading Speed. Remember that there's a wealth of articles on this site that cover these areas.....and all with links to Google for validation.
As I always say, we do not provide SEO services......we just build websites properly based on Google's guidelines! Nobody elses's!
We follow their directives and then implement those processes in the best way possible for your business.
So what Buck Rogers says, what a Kiddie Blogger says, what the man in the pub says, or what a friend of a friend who knows about this stuff says......they're not relevant to me! Don't let them be relevant to you either!
Technology keeps on moving forward at a rapid pace both in hardware and software. You either stay with it or you try and struggle by with the technology of yesteryear. That's not a good way to do business......and eventually you won't have a business! So this month our old Dedicated Server in London (circa 2014) was finally retired and replaced with a powerhouse system to keep us at the forefront of the industry.
So what's changed?
Our new server is an Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2450 0 @ 2.10GHz with 32 CPUs and 20 MB SmartCache. Among it's capabilities are Intel® Turbo Boost Technology, Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology, and Intel® Virtualization Technology (VT-x).
As per our previous server, we have 32GB RAM.....but of a much later generation for faster speeds.
This is the biggest game-changer of the lot because our old 1TB SATA drive has been replaced by 6 x 480GB Solid State Drives (SSD).
SSD Drives use flash memory to deliver vastly superior performance and durability over traditional SATA hard drives. Because without moving parts to slow your computer down, SSD's offer instant-load performance, and faster application loading times. Plus, they're more durable! With traditional hard drives, the continuous motion generated by small moving parts creates heat, which is a leading factor in hard drive failure. SSD is what you actually have in your mobile phone, and you know how much quicker that is compared to your nomal desktop PC.
The reason you don't have SSD drives in your home computer is price. They are very expensive.....and we've got SIX of them.
RAID 6 Array
The 6 SSD drives are set up in a RAID 6 configuration. This means that the system can continue to run after two disks fail, and lost data can be automatically reconstructed by the IOA after a disk failure. Also, two failed disk units can be replaced without stopping the system. I certainly don't want to test this aspect, but it's nice to have the peace of mind that goes with it.
To summarise, we want to offer the best hosting experience possible. This massive technology upgrade ensures that we can continue to provide high spec servers populated with a very low number of clients, delivering maximum CPU and memory allocation. This is the critical factor NOT diskspace! So don't be misled by ridiculous marketing ploys about unlimited webhosting which doesn't actually exist.
Don't think for one minute that you will get the same experience on some hosting reseller offering resources that they don't actually have, while simultaneously quoting prices that are financially unsustainable. Not all web hosting is the same.
Please note that these hosting services are only available to our web design clients on sites that we have built. We do not accept outside hosting clients as we will not introduce any risky, outdated, or vulnerable software onto our servers. Yes......we turn hosting clients away on a weekly basis! Crazy business logic so I've been told......but we're not compromising our standards.
Our goal is to give our clients the best experience possible, and we try our very best to achieve that. Hence the major upgrade of our hosting infrastructure to reflect the ongoing advancements in technology. In this industry, if you're not moving forward, then you're actually going backwards.....and we've always chosen to lead from the front!
I'm not keen on using the phrase "SEO" as it's been so abused over the years that it's meaning and interpretation has become lost. Personally I'd say that the majority of the points in this article relate to building a website properly in the first place, and then actually populating it with content that users want to read.
But here's a list of essential components that make up what would be interpreted as a professional website by Google and other search engines.
1. Website Security (HTTPS): This is a ranking factor now, and Google recommends switching to HTTPS to also help with demonstrating professionalism, increasing conversion rates, and building trust with users. It's no accident that 65% of sites that hold the top three positions have implemented HTTPS.
2. Content Length: Content length for sites in the top three positions are on average 45 percent longer than content on sites in 20th position. But beware of writing masses of "padded" content to increase page density......the key is to write content of a necessary length to be relevant and match user intent.
3. Keywords: These are obviously still relevant today......but the era of jamming them everywhere on the site is long gone. If you do this you'll end up in the Sin Bin! So you need to use long tail search strings incorporating keywords contextually (within sentences) when required. Use them sparingly.....do not go overboard on this.
4. Website Traffic: Interestingly, traffic from search engines does not appear have any major impact on rankings. It's direct traffic that matters......so share your content across Social Media. If Google tracks a lot of traffic coming from other sources it will potentially revise your positioning because your site appears to be popular.
5. Bounce Rate: This relates to the time users spend on your site. If you get a visit from a user and they leave immediately....that's a negative. But if they stay on the site and visit numerous pages....that's a positive. How do you retain users? Just write good content as I've always said.
6. Pages per Session: This is closely linked with Bounce Rate! Because the higher number of pages a user visits per session demonstrates to Google that you have content on your site that is of value and relevant to the search query they entered.
6. Backlinks: But unlike years ago it's not quantity.....it's quality! Do not have links on bad sites or Google will assess you at the level of the bad site that you've "buddied up" to. Essentially you've shown them that you're keeping bad company. And whatever you do, do not make reciprocal links with other sites because you'll both get canned.
7. Page Speed: Users like fast pages so don't bog your page down with auto-running videos, multiple large images, or resources that load from other sources like Social Media streams. Yes.....you need to make it look attractive and professional.....but there is such a thing as overkill.
8. On-site Optimisation: Factors such as meta descriptions, meta titles, H1 and H2 tags etc are still relevant and should be used accordingly. But be aware these are not a "Band Aid" for low quality content. If your content is assessed as poor then no amount of on-site optimisation will help you.
9. Mobile Compatibility: If you don't have this in place by now then you're probably not even in business any more. Around 55 - 60% of searches come from mobile devices.....so without it, most of your target market has gone.
Now review those points, and look for the pattern! As always, that pattern is quality content! It's never been any different......in fact Bill Gates predicted this back in 1996:
"Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet" and "If people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will".
Admittedly there were ways that unscrupulous individuals could cheat their way to high rankings years ago, but since 2012 those practices will end up making you invisible on search engines! My advice is to beware of web agencies promising you instant high rankings - because you'll end up disappearing without a trace on all searches for a very long time. It will be the Kiss of Death!
So just play by the rules (I always have) and generate quality content that addresses your visitors' questions and specific areas of interest......and then distribute it across Social Media to expand your target audience.
Peace of Mind......how much is that worth to you? Is it even possible to even put a price on it? Because when prospective clients initially contact us, they invariably want a quotation based on their requirements. That's quite understandable......we know they'll be contacting other designers with the same request in order to compare prices.
However, a price comparison is only valid when you're comparing "like for like". And in our case that's going to be difficult, because the depth of service and support that we provide on an ongoing basis far exceeds most other web designers. That, alone, is what makes us different, because we bring peace of mind!
Now I'm aware that there are many good web designers out there......but there are also a large number of "putter-uppers".
Basically a "putter-upper" can be defined as someone who puts a site up, takes the money.....and is gone! If you've got problems you're on your own! Not sure how to do something or need advice? Then be prepared to cross their palm with even more silver first.
A "putter-upper" sees the transaction as a one night stand, whereas a professional web designer is looking to build a longterm relationship. Who would you prefer to entrust the future of your business with?
To illustrate this point, I'm going to recount a real life example that we experienced recently when a potential client made the wrong choice! It's by no means a one-off scenario......it tends to happen on a regular basis as people prioritise "cheap" as the overriding factor in their purchasing decision. This course of action rarely ends well! We all want value for money......but some things you just don't cut corners on, because not all web designers are created equal!
The story goes like this: We were contacted in June by someone wanting a quotation for a business site. After speaking to them and analysing their requirements we gave them a price.....and never heard any more. Until last week!
Back they came, but with a request for us to repair a site because it had been hacked and destroyed within a month. Apparently their "web designer" didn't want to know and blamed the Hosting company. The Hosting company (who are bottom of the barrel as well) blamed the web designer. The Hosts did manage to restore the site from a backup taken a month ago (so they lost a month's data)......but they were then back to where they were prior to hacking. Just a matter of time before it's blitzed again!
We always make it clear that we don't work on other peoples' sites....only our own. After all.....if you're not a WebSpain client you can't expect to receive the premium level of support that our clients enjoy. As it was, the site was done in Wordpress, and we're solely Joomla developers.....so we couldn't have helped anyway. But I did give them details of a couple of developers who may be able to sort it out......but their services won't come cheap.
What a mess......and with a site that was only a month old! That trainwreck happened because they prioritised "cheap" over everything else. They did not compare "like for like" or even consider the necessity of ongoing support or assistance. Ultimately, the cheap price from the "putter-upper" is going to turn out to be a lot more costly in the long run, without even factoring in the stress, frustration, and helplessness when faced with a situation that they didn't understand.
Obviously, there's absolutely nothing wrong with looking for a competitive price when you're buying something. But don't confuse "cheap" with "value for money", because these are two different things. Compare prospective designers on a "like for like" basis!
As far as what we bring to the table, it's 40 years business experience, 30 years of which is in IT, with the last 20 years solely in Web Design and Hosting. Now factor in 500+ clients in 10 different countries, our own dedicated servers in both the UK and US, and longstanding contracts with the Spanish government and Military Divisions linked to NATO. Just try matching those.....and that's before we even get started on the levels of customer service! Remember what I said.....you must compare "like for like".
So if you're looking for a total web package incorporating both design and hosting.....do your research. The professionals may be slightly more expensive, but as people find out, it can ultimately end up costing you a whole lot more when you deal with an amateur! Practise due diligence, look for a verifiable track record at a professional level, read Client Testimonials and take up references!
Are you popular on Google? Irrespective of your current status on the search engines, do you actually know what needs to be put in place to get a good ranking? The problem is there's so much conjecture, speculation, misinformation, and in some cases outright lies, that it's difficult to know who or what to believe!
Let me clarify our position! Unlike many others we do not offer additional SEO services. We just build websites properly, rather than put something together than sell a range of payable add-on services to maximise profit and generate perpetual income. We have no vested financial interest in advising you in this area.....so we just give you the truth!
That being established, you'll see by the wealth of information on this site that I've advised people on best web practices for many years. But the problem is that the game keeps changing all the time. Additionally, Google are never really specific on what trigger factors are the most important at any given point......because the more people know, the more likely it is that unscrupulous self-appointed "SEO Experts" will try to cheat the system as they were doing 10 years ago.
So it's been a much debated topic for many years....but now the researchers at SEM Rush have published what I would consider to be the most conclusive data that I've seen in recent years. What they did was analyse data from 600,000 global keywords via a machine-learning algorithm called Random Forest. This process checked the pages’ positions in search results against a list of ranking factors. The objective was to conclusively determine the factors that influence positions in SERPs.
12 factors that influence page position were analysed in order of importance: from the most influential to the least. Then they limited the scope of the analysed data to the first 100 positions for each keyword.
The end result is a 40+ page PDF document which requires a lot of analysis to get to the real determining factors involved in search engine placement. But don't worry, I've been right through it in some depth to summarise the results. It covers all the bases, and the results are irrefutable.
Out of the 12 factors Google analysed, direct traffic seems to be the most important one! In other words, the more visits your website gets, the higher it is likely to rank. But it appears that search engine traffic is not the predominant factor in improving your ranking, it is organic traffic from other sources that seems to have the biggest effect.
What is organic traffic? This would refer to social traffic, referrals, and direct traffic. So what they're saying is if you create great content that people want to read, then you have to get it in front of your audience via social media, mailshots, and placement on other sites that are considered to be of high value. That will then drive organic traffic to your site that Google will track.
The next element is the users' time spent on your site. If they visit your site and navigate through multiple pages reading numerous articles then that's a positive. If they get there and immediately leave (because your content is poor quality or the user experience is lacking) your bounce rate goes up and that is considered to be a negative. Simply because this sends a clear signal to Google that your site is not meeting users' expectations. Google want to deliver the best quality results, so if your content is sparse and lacking in any value they're just not going to recommend you. Simple as that!
Referring domains! The pages that rank higher have more backlinks from quality domains. Just a warning here! Do not under any circumstances share links or buy links.....you need to earn them from influential sites! How do you do that? Produce quality content that people will link to.....as I'm doing with SEM Rush.
Content length! Short articles which just gloss over and generalise on subjects are not going to cut it. Research suggests that content should be at least 1000 words in length (this article is 1150 words) and go into subjects in depth. But be aware that content length is only important for your page’s success as long as it is valuable, well-written, and optimised. Also, in your articles you must link to recognised sources to validate your points as I'm doing in this article. If you don't do this then the content could be evaluated as your opinion rather than documented fact.
The next factor is HTTPS/SSL! I've been saying this for 3 years now......get an SSL in place! If you look at the chart you'll see that the more popular the keywords are, the more probable it is that the top positions will be occupied by HTTPS domains. So if you have high quality content, then having an HTTPS version of your site is extremely important.
Keywords! As you can see from the chart, having keywords in meta descriptions, titles, and content is still relevant. But it appears to be that on-page SEO now has less importance than it has in the past! It seems that all the catchy meta descriptions, H1 and H2 tags in the world are going to be of little help if the quality of the content that it references is of very little value.
As I've always said, even back in the days when people could cheat their way to the top, content should be the core of your online business.
Don't waste your time with self indugent trivialities and stupid gimmicks on your website because nobody's interested....least of all Google.
Of course, website optimisation is still important in order to deliver the content in the right way. But if the actual content you're presenting is garbage or plagarised from other sources, then the search engines (and users) will evaluate you accordingly.
I exploded the myth years ago that there is no SEO Magic Bullet and this research (which is probably one of the most extensive ever released) proves that to be in the game from now on you have to generate quality content and market it. Capture big audiences across all the Social Media platforms and build your brand. That's the world we live in now!
To summarise, you need to generate great content, market it wherever you can, and drive traffic to the site. That all starts with Content Creation and then moves on to Content Marketing! And it's an ongoing job......not a one off!
So as paradoxical as it sounds....in order to gain popularity, you have to be popular!
Imagine this scenario! You've got a new website on a new domain. It looks great, it works well, and you've generated some quality content. So you sit back and wait for it to show up in the search listings......and it doesn't appear.
Weeks go by, you check every day, and still no sign of it appearing so you start getting worried. You ask yourself what's wrong with the site?.....why is Google ignoring it? At this point people usually start panicking and think that all their dreams of success are over before they even started!
Well the good news is there's no need to panic! The bad news is that you're going to have to wait a lot longer! Maybe up to 6 months! Because you're in the Google Sandbox!
What is Google Sandbox?
Quite simply it's a filter imposed on new sites. It’s purpose is to restrict ranking, especially for high-competition keywords, until the site is more established and can display a proven quality and trust factor. Look at it this way.....would you recommend a tradesman to a friend unless you're absolutely convinced of their professionalism, reliability, and integrity? And this is exactly the same thing!
It's interesting to note that Google actually deny there's a Sandbox. But they have a history of being deliberately vague in divulging information about their algorithms and evaluation processes.....so their statement has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Therefore, you just have to accept that with a new site and new domain you will have to wait to reap the full benefit of the work you've done.
What can you do to speed up the process?
Basically it comes down to demonstrating quality and trust. Make sure your site has regular quality content added, have SSL Security in place, and generate more activity across Social Media Channels.
With Social Media you can still be getting in front of people without Google's help.....so put your efforts there. A little and often is the best method. But don't start a Spamfest or you'll find yourself restricted on there as well!
Whatever you do, do not employ one of these self-professed "SEO Experts" who relentlessly bombard you with unwanted mail. That will cost you money and it won't end well. You could find yourself on Google's blacklist very easily and it could take you years to get off it. There is no quick fix in this situation....other than pay for Google Adwords. But that can end up being quite expensive so only go there as a last resort.
My message to those people with new sites and new domains is you have to be patient. Follow best practices in the way the site is built, keep generating quality content, and take advantage of the outreach that Social Media can give you. It will pay off in the end!