Tackling SEO & Digital Marketing, Part 2: Admin and Algorithms
If you haven’t already done so, you might want to start by reading part one of this series, where I break down some of the basics of how search engines work and how to interview and hire a consultant to help you reach your goals.
If you’ve survived part one of this series and you’ve come back for more, then you are likely a little crazy, fond of learning, or you’re devoted to doing whatever it takes to succeed. Whatever the reason, I like you already.
In part one, I mentioned that the ranking algorithm was made up of over 200 different factors and each factor carries a different weight or importance in calculating where a unique URL should rank for a particular search query. One of the factors that is DEAD SIMPLE for you to do is to make sure you have your website domain registered for multiple years.
The “who is” data or the data that is available—showing who owns a domain, how to contact the person, where it is hosted, etc.—is all easily accessible. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that a domain registered for 10 years might be more important to an owner than a site that is only registered for one year? The investment of registering your domain name for multiple years is a simple signal to the search engines that you are investing both time and money into your assets and it’s something they should pay attention to.
It is so simple, you likely won’t see ANY change, but you have to remember that optimization is a game of inches. An inch here and an inch there can be enough to get across the goal line in the end.
Quick caveat about this… Remember how I said in part one that people would disagree with some of what I wrote? This is one of those things. In 2009, there were several published blog posts where Google would not confirm that this is a ranking signal, and in fact said it wasn’t something you should worry about. But the fact remains, since they wouldn’t confirm it, and it is so easy to do… why not?
Like all things in life, all servers are not created equally. The processor speed, type of hard drive, memory and software running on the server along with the hardware at the hosting location all combine to deliver your website to the end user. Speed and consistency matter. It is important that your website provider’s hosting solution be reliable and is consistently fast. A website that errors out, displays incorrectly or not at all, is obviously bad. These are things that can impact the user’s experience when using your site.
I searched for but couldn’t find the direct article, but sometime in 2006, Amazon released information about how site speed impacted sales on their site. They found that if a page loaded 1/10th of a second slower, it resulted in a 1 percent decrease in sales. For a company that does millions of dollars in sales every day, a 1 percent increase or decrease in business can be huge. Now, keep in mind this study was released in 2006 and the iPhone was released in the summer of 2007. In our mobile first world, do you think our patience level and attention span has gotten any better? Obviously, the answer is no.
Be Mobile Friendly
A bonus topic that I hadn’t really thought to discuss previously, but which is related to user metrics, is how friendly your site is for a mobile experience. I’ll share more about user metrics below. But you need to be spending a lot of time using and testing your site on your mobile phone to make sure it is fast, that you can easily type and fill out the forms, that the navigation is easy to use, etc. You NEED to concentrate on this because 50 to 70 percent of your traffic is now coming from a mobile device.
History or age is a concept that is easy to understand, but difficult to do anything about. Essentially the theory is that the longer your site exists, the better off you are. In any business this is true. Sure something new and flashy gets attention, but all businesses need sustainable business for many years to be successful. Successful businesses are more likely to invest in producing content that visitors like and trust. The date when your domain was registered and when the bots first crawl your site begin the clock on the history and age of your site. Just as is true with Kentucky Bourbon, age matters. An older domain is typically a good thing.
Which begs the question, what to do if you are new? Like all new businesses, you’ll have to work harder in other areas of your business to over compensate and prove your worth. There is no quick way to remedy this outside of buying an older established domain. Which is similar to buying an existing business which might have a built-in customer base or brand recognition.
One of the tools that Google has built and that they give away for free is Google Analytics. This lets us track how a user engages with our site, how many pages they view, how long they view the site, and how quickly they click back to the search results and choose another option. Those all fall under visitor metrics. The simple gist here is that if the user likes your site and engages with the site in a positive manner, those are positive ranking factors.
(I’ve decided that Google Analytics is actually a complex enough topic, that it probably makes sense to do a video walk-through showing some of the most important features sometime in the future. I just need to find a willing participant to let me use their site and data for the video.)
This is a great time to add Google Analytics to your site if you currently aren’t using it. If you haven’t already done it, this would also be a good time to add the Facebook Pixel to your site. It is an entirely different topic, but the technology is related.
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