It's no secret that Google are continually revising their core updates in order to improve search results to their users. Therefore your positioning in the results can change accordingly.
But you may wonder why would your position change? Google actually give a simple analogy for this situation: Imagine you made a list of the top 100 movies in 2015, then in 2019 you refresh the list. Obviously the results are going to change. New movies may have come out, or you might reassess ones you previously saw and think they deserve a higher or lower place.
So apply this thinking to your website and understand that If your site drops.......it doesn't mean there's something necessarily wrong with it. It's just that newer sites may have come along, or possibly existing sites have increased the quality of their content to rank higher than they previously were.
Which brings me to the crucial word: Content!
Google doesn't rank your site on how artistic and pretty it is.....it doesn't care. In fact it can't even see how attractive it is because the search engine spider doesn't actually have eyes......it's just a machine that's scraping data off the page. It wouldn't know whether an image showed a Spanish Beach or the Spanish Inquisition unless I put in an "alt tag" to tell it that information. The visuals are just window dressing for your users......nothing more.
Of course your site must look attractive and professional.........but it has no bearing on your search positioning.
On-site optimisations to present your content to users and search engines are important........but ultimately you will live or die according to what your content contains. There's no way round this fact, and as I always say......"There is no Magic Bullet".
Google have just released an updated directive confirming what it is they look for when assessing a website. Full information HERE!
There's nothing in it that they haven't stated before as per previous Google Search Quality Guidelines, but it's worth you just browsing through these to get a better overall perspective:
Content and quality questions
Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?
If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely-recognized as an authority on its topic?
Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
Is the content free from easily-verified factual errors?
Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?
Presentation and production questions
Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?
Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?
Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
So forget what the SEO mail spammers say, forget what the bloke in the pub says, forget what the internet blowhards who claim to be the world's foremost SEO expert say......that directive as above is straight from the horse's mouth.
We may not agree with it! From my point of view it could be argued that whoever's got the best wordsmith (not the best web developer) on their team has the upper hand in this. But the good news is that great wordsmiths are few and far between in this business - because they're all earning much better money as journalists.
So if you are able to come up with content that demonstrates your industry knowledge while giving users valuable information, it will stand you in good stead when Google does it's indexing. And it also gives you something to promote on Social Media to a much wider audience.
Are you absolutely sure that you're fully complying with GDPR regulations and directives? You need to be certain of this, because if you don't comply there could be some serious pitfalls ahead. We all have responsibilities, so it's essential that we know exactly what is required of us.
In my position, I have a duty of care to advise you on best practices, and to ensure that your websites continue functioning 24/7/365 without grief! I can only do that with your cooperation in the event that your applications are approaching end of life. And since the implementation of GDPR in May 2018 the stakes have got a lot higher. Now it's not just me telling you, the European Union are saying it as well - and they're enforcing it to the letter.
Outdated software is always going to mean a jackpot for hackers, but there are some website owners who are seemingly willing to roll that dice! Unfortunately there's now another implication, and this one can do you more damage than any hacker is capable of doing. And that is failing to conform to GDPR compliance!
GDPR is about risk assessment and mitigation. If businesses use software that is EOL (End of Life) they are knowingly, or unknowingly, increasing their levels of risk and in breach of GDPR. If you fall into this category then you are likely to face the heaviest penalties if personal data is compromised.
That applies to everybody, irrespective of whether you're in the EU or not. For example, if you're in the US, the HIPAA Security Rules state that entities must “implement security measures sufficient to reduce risks and vulnerabilities". And if you're using unsupported or EOL software then you are in breach of this regulation.
So how does all this affect you and us?
In your case if you use outdated software and there is a data breach you face huge fines. In the first 9 months, 206,326 cases were reported!
The biggest so far is Google who had a €50 million fine levied in France, then the levels vary according to the severity of the breach. A Healthcare organisation in Germany had an €80K fine for exposing sensitive personal data, and even a small social site there got hit for €20K for storing user passwords in plain text.
In our case, we cannot provide you with EOL and outdated software. If we do, then we are in breach of GDPR regulations for using insecure applications to handle clients' data.
My ignorance or your ignorance doesn't cut it! We are all accountable, so we need to be aware of the possible ramifications of breaching GDPR regulations. Let me be absolutely clear here......the financial penalties in the event of a data breach are potentially crippling as you can see HERE!
I also suggest you review a summary of the regulations HERE......in particular the directive "Processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing".
What's caused this scenario?
It's down to the accumulation of data breaches over the last 25 years due to the casual attitudes of website owners, which also includes Government departments and large enterprises, who never took security seriously. Then throw in the massive corporations who've deliberately misappropriated users' personal data for both financial and political reasons.
This has now led to a situation where we're being monitored, and held to account, as if we're living in a world borrowed from the dystopian fiction novels of George Orwell!
To summarise.....I've always kept clients aware of the dangers of end of life software. However, I'll openly admit that in the past I have allowed a little bit of leeway for them to get their sites updated. Or if they choose to do so, move their accounts elsewhere and continue to take the risk. But I cannot do that any more......otherwise we'll all be breaching GDPR regulations. So if a client is approaching the point of EOL software on thir account, the situation needs to be addressed prior to expiry........not at some point after that date.
There may well be providers who will take this risk because they don't want to jeopardise their income stream. We won't do that.........the penalties for data breaches are too severe to leave anything to chance.
So we're all in the same boat here inasmuch as we have to ensure that we are in full compliance with GDPR regulations. Be aware that there's no "Get out of Jail" card on this one!
We covered the marketing tactic that is Unlimited Web Hosting many years ago when this particular "initiative" began to spread across the industry.
It has no effect on what we do because we're not web hosts in the strictest sense of the term. We're web developers that provide private dedicated hosting facilities to our web design clients as a component within our Managed Service Plans.
The reason we're covering this again is that we wanted clients who've come onboard with us more recently to be aware that sometimes not everything is what it seems to be in this industry. Because what companies claim, and how you interpret that claim, may be two different things. Basically, Web Hosting is a commodity - and like everything, it has it's limits. Many hosting companies offer "unlimited" plans, but be advised there are physical limitations to both disk space, bandwidth, and all other aspects of your hosting service. Before you buy an "unlimited" plan, you need to know what you're getting into.
Firstly, there is no such thing as an unlimited hard drive, everything is determined by the capacity of the drive itself. Furthermore, the network lines that carry data around the web (optic fiber, cable etc) have a finite capacity because there is a limit to the amount of data that can be transferred at any given point in time. So you will never have unlimited diskspace and bandwidth.....because it simply doesn't exist.
And unfortunately, there's a sting in the tail! Because hidden in the provider's terms of service will be very strict limits on CPU, RAM, MySQL, Number of Processes, Concurrent Connections, Disk IO, and Inodes.....and should you try to achieve this mythical "unlimited", you're going to hit those limits very quickly. Particularly if you have a site with a listing application for properties, vehicles etc that uses any type of XML feed import or export system.
In case there's any doubt on this, here's an extract from a major UK Unlimited Webhost's terms and conditions.......buried deep in their site. It's certainly nowhere near their sales pitch that's for sure!
"What is excluded from Unlimited:
In order to ensure that no one single website can adversely affect the other Registered Users, WebHost’s servers use systems to restrict the amount of CPU, Concurrent connections, IO, Number of processes, Memory, MySQL CPU & IO.
If a Registered User is identified as being close to these limits on a consistent basis, WebHost will advise alternative and more appropriate hosting services such as a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or a Dedicated Server.
In extreme instances WebHost reserves the right to suspend or cancel the service at their discretion".
The text above shows you what triggers the "upsell". Don't want to pay more? Then you'll be shown the door. They can get you on multiple elements of the service.........and the majority of users won't even understand what those items relate to.
Let me clarify that this is not illegal in any way. They claimed that you can use all the diskspace you want.......and presumably you can! Just as long as you don't trigger any of the other limits in the plan. Though they weren't very forthcoming with that info at point of sale were they? But those limitations were there in the Terms and Conditions when you initially ordered the Hosting account.......so if you didn't read the T&C's carefully then that's down to you.
If you check our Terms and Conditions you'll see they contain nothing like that whatsoever. We offer managed service plans which include hosting services, and they provide resources that actually exist. Of course there are limits applied to the resources a single individual client can use - as you can't have one user grabbing all server resources and disadvantaging others.
But I can guarantee (because I know the restrictions these unlimited guys apply) that our allocation of CPU, RAM, MySQL, Number of Processes, Concurrent Connections, Disk IO, and Inodes considerably exceed what they allow on their "unlimited" plans. In fact we have clients who would exceed the limits of an unlimited webhost due to Inode use with just one e-mail account.
Unlimited web hosting plans are simply a marketing ploy to get your business. And of course the providers don't support your website......only the server and network.
If your website gets hacked or just doesn't work, then you'll need to find somebody who can fix it. To ask for help with that would not be classed as a "Valid Enquiry" to your webhost. And that is also specified in their Terms and Conditions......which you probably never read. Site support is clearly specified in ours of course, as with us you have a Managed Service Plan, not a basic web hosting account.
We believe in ethical business practices, rather than deliberately misleading unknowing clients (who don't understand the technical aspects) just to get their money. Not all hosting providers are the same. Not all web designers are the same. There are levels!
And we are the very rare crossover between both those roles - what we do with both those aspects is always at the very highest level. And always 100% transparent!
Please note that our enterprise level hosting resources are only available for our web design clients as a component within our Managed Service Plans.
We're pleased to announce a new addition to our hosting infrastructure to further enhance the quality package that we deliver to our clients. Most people don't think about this aspect very much......but it's absolutely critical. It's the foundation of our business, and also your business.
Simply because, if your web site isn't live, and your mail service isn't operating, then your business can grind to halt. So the challenge of delivering that level of efficiency on a 24/7/365 basis is a big one. It's certainly not something that's achievable on a shoestring budget or by cutting corners. And it's not a gig for part-timers that's for sure.
As a quick overview of what's involved, you need to be aware that Web Hosting is normally delivered using a LAMP Stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP). All of these are open source and provide what is necessary to deliver the content of your site when they are installed onto a web server that's connected to the major public networks worldwide.
However, there are alternative commercial applications that can replace those base elements listed above to provide better performance and security. And we have just replaced the open source Apache component with the commercial server application known as Litespeed Web Server.
The key benefit of LiteSpeed is it's ability to deal with heavier traffic, utilising less memory and CPU resources than Apache. It can also handle DDOS attacks with more efficiency, and has full mod_security compatibility. The LiteSpeed Web Server can serve thousands of clients concurrently, and it's highly optimised code serves static and dynamic content much faster than a standard Apache server.
If you've been a client for many years, you already know that we've constantly invested in our hosting infrastructure. As far as we're concerned, this is a critical core element of our business. So let's recap on our progression over the years!
2003: Web Hosting Reseller Account.
2008: Our first Virtual Private Server (VPS) in London.
2010: Our second Virtual Private Server (VPS) in Michigan.
2012: Our first Dedicated Server in London.
2014: Our second Dedicated Server in Michigan.
2016: Conversion of servers to run on Cloud Linux operating system in order to deliver greater security, efficiency, and stability.
2017: London Dedicated Server replaced with a new, more powerful server containing 32GB RAM, 32 CPU's, 6 x 480GB SSD Drives RAID 6.
2019: Conversion of Servers to use Litespeed technology to further enhance our level of service.
So as we keep moving forward......so do you! All clients using currently supported PHP versions are now running on Litespeed. Unfortunately we are unable to provide this facility for those running on deprecated and withdrawn PHP versions. However, once old sites are replaced and are using current PHP versions they will be upgraded to Litespeed.
Now here's an interesting point that I'd like you to consider:
Back in 2003, for a cost of €150 a year you would receive 150MB diskspace and 5GB bandwidth.
Fast forward to 2019 and for €150 a year you receive 10,000MB diskspace and 150GB bandwidth.
That equates to €1 a megabyte in 2003, compared with €0.015 a megabyte in 2019. That's 65x the diskspace and 30x the bandwidth of 2003 while paying the same price.
Can you think of anybody else that you do business with who can say the same thing?
Of course, it's a fact that the mass purchase of diskspace and bandwidth have got cheaper for us to buy over the years. But throughout those years we've passed those savings back to our clients........while still continuing to invest in improving and enhancing our hosting infrastructure. This is absolutely necessary, because in IT, if you're not moving forwards.....then you're going backwards! Failure to do so is occupational suicide - just ask MySpace, Altavista, Lycos and all the other failed business models from the dotcom boom of 20 years ago.
We already have another initiative planned within the next year.......and if you're a WebSpain client then you can be sure that you'll be a part of it!
Please note that our hosting infrastructure is only available to our current web design clients using sites that we have built.
Every new client that comes onboard with WebSpain gets their first year of fully managed web services free of charge. They are then able to evaluate whether they want to stay as a longterm client, or perhaps take their site elsewhere.
But besides the allocation of server resources that you receive, there's the permanent ongoing attention that comes with it!
What we provide with our Managed Services Plans:
Site security updates applied on day of release.
Site errors rectified subject to site software being current.
Enterprise strength site security firewall.
Malware removal on sites using Cloud based Auto Clean for infected files.
Uptime monitor checking connectivity to your site every 5 minutes 24/7/365.
Proactive monitoring of site and server security notifications related to your account.
E-Mail delivery monitoring.
Ongoing DNSBL IP Reputation Checks.
Ongoing Domain Reputation checks powered by Google Safebrowsing.
Daily account backups to a remote server on the network using R1 Soft technology.
Twice a day database backups.
PHP version upgrades subject to site software being current.
Immediate site and mailbox restoration.
GDPR compliancy implementation.
SSL / Dedicated IP address implementation.
Cloud Linux optimised servers.
Industry-leading commercial server security system.
Sites protected within CageFS individual containers.
KernelCare seamless operating system security updates with no server reboot required.
cPHulk Brute Force Detection.
Shell Fork Bomb Protection.
Optimised ModSecurity rules.
High CPU, RAM, and disk inode allocations to each site.
SSD Hard Disks.
Rapid response to clients with personal support 365 days a year.
Please do not confuse our services as listed above with basic web hosting accounts that are sold by web hosting providers.
We do not sell basic web hosting services, we deliver Fully Managed Service Plans for our web design clients. No web host will manage, update, and rectify faults on your website, all they support is the server and the network.
What we don't provide with our Managed Services Plans:
Web Design services using any application other than the Joomla content management system.
Web Design services on any third party server.
Website or Hosting Support of any site that is located on a third party server.
Website or Hosting Support to anybody who is not a current client of WebSpain.
Website or Hosting Support for websites using end of line software and/or running on withdrawn PHP versions.
Website or Hosting Support for a client's additional services that have been contracted tthrough a third party provider.
Bulk E-Mail sending facilities.
Promotional and Marketing Services.
E-Mail Marketing Campaigns.
Bulk data input services.
Social Media Promotions.
PPC (Pay per Click).
Bespoke Programming and Coding.
As an example, the managed package detailed above for a client using 20GB diskspace in a UK datacenter would be approximately €395 a year. But of course there are alternatives to our services! Who knows......the grass may be greener elsewhere? So I've listed a few options, all of whom deliver professional services that I anticipate would be on a par with ours.
Web Hosting €280 a year (Clook) plus a Site Firewall €175 (Sucuri). Total €455.....but this does not contain site management, only hosting and security facilities.
Site Management €850 a year (Joomlashack). This contains site management, but no hosting facilities. So add the two options together to match the full WebSpain package and it would cost you €1305 a year.
Site Management and Hosting combined from €1050 up to €3200 a year (JoomDev). This is the closest match to what we provide, but there is no indication on their site of diskspace allocation or the number of sites covered. And there are limitations in the number of support tickets that you can submit per month..
So if you're comparing like for like that's how the figures stack up. Of course, if you don't want support or security of any kind for your site, and your only requirement is cheap hosting......then you're spoilt for choice. There's virtually no end to the numbers of "providers" who can supply you with diskspace on oversold servers and you can just wing it from thereon. It's what I call the "Occupational Suicide" option.
It's not a course of action that I would recommend if you have a viable business. But if your website isn't important to you, or you don't care about running obsolete software and having dubious neighbours with adult sites etc in close proximity to you.....then it's certainly worth considering. You may well be able to find somebody for less than €50 a year......but the amount you pay will have a direct bearing on the level of service you receive. Because at those unsustainable levels of pricing there is no margin for the provision of professional support personnel. Just bear in mind in that scenario you're on your own as regards your site, and depending where you go, you may well be on your own in the matter of having a reliable hosting service and e-mail facility as well.
One point I do want to emphasise is that if you do not have a current WebSpain account, you are not a WebSpain client. Therefore we will be unable to assist you with any problems that you may encounter. Our service is only for current WebSpain clients, as they are our sole focus of attention.
If you want to maintain similar levels of service then you're looking at over €1000 a year minimum......compared to our example price point of €395. Of course you can get cheaper if you're willing to lower your expectations. But when you go to the very bottom of the barrel then it's not how much money you can save, it's how much grief you can withstand!
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!
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!
When clients come to us for a website they generally have a list of expectations or requirements. Of course, that helps us to identify exactly what needs to be implemented in order to meet their requirements......but one important thing is always missing in their estimation at that point! And that factor is User expectations!
People tend to focus solely on what they want or what they like, with no regard to what potential users actually expect when they visit a website. That's where we come in.....because we make it absolutely clear what aspects need to be prioritised! However, some people don't want to listen and will take no advice whatsoever. All that matters to them is what they want, to the point of total exclusion of their potential users' requirements.
If you take this course of action then your website is unlikely to succeed......irrespective of how attractive it looks. Because if people can't figure out how to use it, or can't find anything on it, they'll leave and never return. Simply because you prioritised what you wanted over what they wanted.....thereby making it difficult, irritating, and time consuming for visitors!
So what is it that users expect?
1. Site Speed! Don't overload pages with giant images or introduce additional elements where data is retrieved from outside sources. Things like Live Chat boxes, Facebook and Twitter streams, Weather forecasts etc are an example of this!
Be aware that if you insist on bogging it down with resource intensive elements, slow page loads are going to be the end result. You'll then get a high bounce rate (which Google tracks) so your site rankings will drop as a result! Keep it as lean as possible, and avoid irrelevant, superfluous, and self indulgent elements that deliver no value to the user whatsoever.
2. Intuitive Navigation! Ensure that you have clearly visible and intuitive menu and sub-menu structures, along with categorisation of the elements contained within. Basically, don't throw everything into one place and then expect users to be able to hunt for what they want. Make life easy for them.......then they're more likely to bookmark the site and return in the future.
3. An Organised Site! No enormous paragraphs of text that go on forever! Short, sharp, straight to the point, introduce benefits, and accompany it with a great quality image to get their intial attention.
4. Aesthetics! When a visitor gets to your site you've got less than 10 seconds to make a positive impression. If your site looks a hideous and cluttered mess while resplendent in a myriad of migraine-inducing dayglo colours then you probably haven't got off to a good start! Your site must attract visitors straight away......first impressions count! But be aware that this is the point where you now need to actually validate yourself professionally, which brings us to the next point.....Value!
5. Value! In this context I'm referring to delivering on what you initially promised when you presented them with an attractive looking site!
On the intial front page intro you should be clearly defining what you deliver! But it's no good just saying it.....you need to actually deliver it in terms of quality written content that informs, educates, and advises.
Examples of poor value would be spurious unsubstantiated claims, ludicrous cliches, and sales pitches....all accompanied by a couple of generic paragraphs and a blurry image that you copied from Wikipedia! If you go down this route then site visitors (and Google) won't take you seriously.
6. Mobile Compatibility! Over half of the searches on Google now come from mobile devices.....so if you don't have a mobile site by now then you're not even in the game! Every site we've built since 2012 has been mobile compatible as standard and at no additional cost. Mobile must be at the core of everything you do!
7. Safety and Security! Visitors want to know that their identity, information, and even their computer is not at risk from malware, browser hijacks, viruses, trojans, hacking, or phishing attempts. Google is very interested in this factor as well........and everytime they visit they're running checks on your site to ensure that it's safe for visitors.
They're very clear on this.......all sites should now have SSL encryption in place to protect visitors. If you don't, then realistically it'll only be a matter of time until you drop off the radar on the search results. After all, do you think Google are going to send it's users to websites that they consider to be unsafe? And without SSL in place to provide an encrypted connection for visitors then your site status with Google is unsafe!
As you've seen, all those points were categorised as User expectations! Are User expectations important to you?
Maybe not.....but what if I changed the title to Google expectations? Would that now get your attention?
Because the fact is that what Users expect and what Google expects in terms of front end viewing is exactly the same thing!
So stop thinking about what You want.......and think about what Users want! Because your Users, and Google, will take you a lot more seriously if you do!
Is your Business worth a cup of Coffee a week? Because it seems that many site owners out there don't seem to think so!
And unfortunately for those people, Google are now telling their site visitors exactly how much value they actually place on it.
I'm talking about SSL encryption! Because for the past few years Google has been telling people how important it is to have SSL security encryption on their websites. We first brought it to your attention over two years ago in SSL for SEO.
Since that time we've updated you on the increased importance that Google (and other search engines) have been applying to it. In fact Google has even gone as far as to confirm they are interpreting the presence of an SSL certificate as a criteria in search engine positioning.....as we announced back in July 2015 in GOOGLE AND SSL SECURITY.
Now things have moved on again! In the past Google were giving incentives for site owners to put this in place. Now they're potentially penalising insecure sites by warning users that it could be a risk to their personal security. Effectively they're saying "We've given you two years to put this in place.....you haven't bothered, so now you're going to be penalised".
They're doing this by showing a warning icon in the browser address bar if SSL security is not in place. Prior to this, it was just a fairly innocuous blank icon of a page.....but now it's a large "I" denoting important information. Here you can see the difference between safe and unsafe sites:
As you see, WebSpain is in green with the padlock displayed, while the insecure site has the "I" icon. And when the user clicks that icon they are told "This page is not secure".
We didn't even notice that this system had been put in place! It was only when a client contacted us about one of their customers being reluctant to fill in an online form due to the risk of data theft, that we became aware of it.
As we've covered before, SSL encryption protects you and your clients from the risk of data theft and phishing. It also gives you potentially improved search engine positioning, while enhancing professionalism and client confidence. Additionally, you are protected from anybody else on the server getting the shared IP address blacklisted.
Ultimately it's your choice on whether you choose to implement it......we are just making you aware of the direction that things are headed. Taking this further, if they decide to redirect straight to their full page insecure message then users will see this:
Personally, I wouldn't bet against them putting an "Unsafe Site" warning in the search listings as well. Be aware that this isn't going to go away! If anything, they'll up the ante even further! So I would suggest that you address this issue now.....before your business starts getting disrupted.
Look at the benefits of SSL encryption......and balance that against the cost! It isn't even 2 Euros a week, which basically equates to a cup of coffee! Our businesss is most definitely worth a cup of coffee a week......is yours?
We've now entered the CloudLinux era, as our main UK server is now running on this commercial operating system. CloudLinux is purely designed for shared hosting environments, and delivers numerous benefits to you as a user, and to us as a web host.
1. Each account is contained within a “Lightweight Virtualized Environment” (LVE), that totally isolates each user. This means that tenants cannot jeopardize the stability of anybody else's site, or the server, because each one will be allocated a specific amount of memory, CPU etc that they can use.
2. CloudLinux OS also “cages” tenants from one another using a component called CageFS to minimise the risk of security breaches. This way, unstable scripts or malware are unable to spread across other sites causing defacement. This short video is a bit simplistic but it shows how individual users are caged to prevent them causing harm to anybody else's site.
3. LVE Manager will limit all CPU, IO, memory resources, numbers of processes, and concurrent connections per each user to maintain stability right across the platform.
4. CloudLinux comes with a PHP Selector which will allow users to define the version of PHP that they use. But unlike others, we will not be using this component to continue to run outdated and vulnerable versions of PHP.
If PHP have discontinued security updates for a particular version then it will be removed, because we won't abuse this feature by turning it into a "workaround" for potentially vulnerable software. That's just asking for trouble.
5. We have also implemented the additional security initiative known as Kernel Care! This automatically updates the linux Kernel of the operating system as soon as vulnerabilities are discovered. There's no waiting weeks for patches to be released while you remain at risk......it happens instantly!
The implementation of CloudLinux was something that we have been working towards for many months. Earlier this year we doubled the server memory to 32GB, and changed the PHP handler to FPM-FCGI, in order to take full advantage of CloudLinux and recent advances in server processes.
And when the time came to implement it, we didn't just get the datacentre support staff to handle the process, we took the unprecedented step of paying for the services of an external CloudLinux specialist to carry it out. Simply because we wanted to ensure that all aspects of this operating system were deployed in the most effective way possible.
It's a very specialised system, and a generic "one size fits all" installation is not what we wanted. We wanted it fine-tuned and optimised just for our sites!
As I've stated before, not all web hosting is the same. We know for a fact that we were already offering a far superior hosting platform to our competitors anyway.....the majority of which only operate on reseller accounts on other companies' shared servers. I'm not knocking that......we all have to start somewhere, and that's where we were 15 years ago.
But the reality is that you can't compare that environment to the type of infrastructure that we deliver via our own private dedicated servers. Now with the addition of CloudLinux, we've taken a big step forward once again!
We're determined to offer our clients the very best in all areas......and we'll make whatever investments that need to be made in order to achieve that, at no additional cost to yourselves!
Bottom line is that nobody else does what we do.....in the way that we do it. That is absolute fact, and for those of you who've been with us for many years......I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.