How Hosting Impacts on SEO

Bad hosting is killing your organic

Most people overlook search engine optimization (SEO) when thinking about web hosting providers. That’s because the metrics web hosts are responsible for often fly under the radar. But hosting impacts on SEO in ways you might not realise. Ever done an SEO scrape of your website? 

Well, run one now! It only takes a few minutes and you’ll see one of the first stats that matter.

page loading time matters

Load Speed

Now, website design has a huge impact on page load times, so you’ll want to make sure there are no rogue plug-ins or oversized images causing havoc. However, if you’ve done that and you’re still seeing poor load times across mobile and desktop, it’s time to talk to your host. Ask about their server load and cache system to see if performance can be improved. Not getting the response you want? Time to shop around!

Already on the market? Well, make sure you know where their servers are located.

server location impacts seo

Server Location

Where the host servers are located really impacts your data transfer speed and – just as importantly – suggested results from search engines. When you type something into Google, ever noticed that your device location is tracked? Don’t believe us? Scroll to the very bottom of the page of results and you’ll see where you’re located. Even if it’s general, it still impacts what page results you see and in what order. Search engines use many factors to determine what to display and one of those is a location match between you and the website that’s suggested.

And it goes without saying that the website has to be online more than it’s not.

uptime versus downtime

Uptime vs Downtime

You want to ensure as close to 100% uptime as possible. That’s because there are more than just visitors trying to reach your website. Search engines are too. They’re crawling your website daily, looking for updates, and checking it’s working. This is another way hosting impacts on SEO, if your web host is down due to technical issues, that’s a black mark against you. And it doesn’t take much for search engines to start de-ranking your page if it starts to look unstable to the web crawlers.

But it can be as stable as ever and still rank poorly if it’s unsecured.

ssl is standard

SSL

Rankings have been impacted by their HTTPS status for years already, so put quite simply… don’t go with a web hosting service that offers anything less. SSL is required by a lot of data protection standards as well, so you’re doing yourself a favour on multiple fronts by starting off with a secure site. We offer free 256-bit SSL certificates as standard, so it’s not an ask for your web host to do the same. Many firewalls will prevent access to unsecured sites automatically, so this is a really critical element of web hosting that we can’t emphasise enough!

As with any list, these factors aren’t exhaustive so it’s best to do your own research before committing to any long-term contracts. If you want to know what our packages include or have a question about one of these metrics, just reach out to one of our knowledgeable team members here.

Best Web Design Trends for 2020

As we approach 2020, we are starting to see some obvious trends appearing across various sectors

As we approach 2020, we are starting to see some obvious trends appearing across various sectors – not least the online world. Website design is one of the areas that has inevitably seen the most change in recent years. Web design trends change as we take technological leaps towards the future of online.

In response to the threat of a new year and predictions coming in from all angles, this article deals with some of the most obvious trends we can expect to see in 2020.

Adaptive Design

Adaptive design refers to the ability to enjoy a website – from any device. Being adaptive quite literally means adapting to suit all manner of devices. The content has to alter its format in line with the size of a screen. For example, a black of photos on a laptop screen may become a single file line of photos down the page of a mobile device – increasing user readability.

One of the most important things to look for in an adaptive design is an edited Menu design. This includes an obvious menu button and an easy-to-use menu list.

Notifications

When you sign up for something, it’s likely that your phone will pop up with an automated message to allow push notifications. If you’re anything like us, you typically say no. (If only to avoid the constant stream of notifications that apps and games can send to you every single day.) However, in 2020 the notification trend is set to rise. Users are acknowledging the value of knowing when something is about to happen or when an important news story hits the headlines.

Motion Design

Motion design refers to short videos – known as GIF’s – which allow users to interactively engage and explore something they may be interested in. GIF’s are especially useful when compared with more standard videos as they take up less space on the webpage and result in much quicker load times, keeping the user engaged and preventing them from clicking away in frustration. However, it is also worth noting that GIF’s are typically small bits of video content and will not provide an in-depth exploration of your product – for that you may well need a video.

Video

On to the more standard videos now, and despite the rise of GIF’s, video content is still set to increase in value as 2020 approaches. After all, if a video interests us then we are likely to watch to the end – just look at the sheer number of views on Facebook videos all over social media. The content is nothing special, yet the interest is peaked and users tend to watch to the end.

Users like relevant, simple and minimalistic videos that provide the information they need without extreme explanations or lengthy introductions.

Robo-Chat

This one comes back to AI – something we all know is coming! Artificial Intelligence sounds quite frankly terrifying, but the chances are that the invention of AI will make life easier for many of us, if for no other purpose than they can screen user questions and provide an engaging FAQ feature. ChatBots are created to mimic a real conversation, using built-in responses that are pre-determined by real humans. These responses are instant for users, with 24/7 service and an ability to help with basic issues regarding the website.

While they won’t replace human interaction; because some users will want to talk to a real person, their value is set to skyrocket.

Interactivity

People like to interact with tech. To feel like they are getting real value from a site, the more interactivity present, the better. This could cover everything from videos to animations and much more!

Minimalism

This might seem pretty contradictory considering we just covered interactivity, but minimalism is often as effective. Minimalism involves a simple user experience in a number of ways. This includes the design, colour scheme, volume of buttons and graphic details. It’s easier to understand and it will convert better.

What’s on the Out?

There are a few things we are likely to say goodbye to in 2020. First, one of these is in line with our final trend, and that is a complex design. The more complex the design, the harder the site is to navigate – and that’s simply not good enough anymore.

Lastly, a feature we can wave goodbye to is background scrolling. This means longer load times and an annoying pause as the background took a few seconds to catch up. This is unacceptable as we enter 2020.

Our Top 10 Key SEO Trends for 2020

The Winter months have well and truly set in, and with the end of 2019 fast approaching, it’s time to turn your attention to your 2020 strategy. Arm yourself with the most up-to-date info on SEO Trends for 2020.

Keeping up with the constant developments is a never-ending job all of its own, and unfortunately the same goes for keeping up with the competition. The internet is an endless minefield of competitors all vying for attention from prospective customers and clients – and the best way to get this attention is via the global search engines.

But as technology and content information matures, so does Google. It is no longer enough to just write a great blog – now it has to work alongside and in partnership with a specific set of rules implemented by organisations like Google.

Without further ado, here are 10 ways you can use SEO to harness Google’s attention and make sure your website features in those all-important top search results.

1. Consider featured snippets

When you Google something and wind up on a result page, generally the first thing on the screen is something called a Snippet. This literally does what it says on the tin, offering the searcher an extended preview of what they might find on that first site result – whether it’s instructions, tips or generic information.

To gain a chance at being the featured Snippet for any given search term, ensure you are answering the most common questions in clear and concise language. The Snippets receive a high percentage of clicks so it is worth spending the time tailoring your content accordingly.

2. Voice recognition and voice-driven searches

Our phones and smart devices are getting clever by the upgrade, with many now offering users a chance to search for anything they want – without having to tap a single button. While this has been attributed to accidental searches and even unintentional holiday bookings, it seems the powers of tech have honed and matured the technology to enable voice search to grow in popularity.

To work in partnership with this trend, you need to think about how people are searching using their voice – rather than their keypad. In short, the searches will be more detailed and keywords will become more conversational.

3. The growth of Artificial Intelligence

The majority of drivers may not be ready for driver-less cars yet, but artificial intelligence is on the rise and has recently become one of Googles most trusted advisors when it comes to user searches and search result algorithms. In short, the AI robots have learned what makes an article great; creating their own set of rules that we, as content creators, have to abide by if we want to continue to perform well online.

Does anybody know what these sets of rules look like? It’s all trial and error.

4. Online security

First GDPR and now this – if a user doesn’t feel that their information is safe when browsing your website, they won’t use it. It’s as simple as that. Increased user security is a trend which is only going to continue to grow, and SEO trends for 2020 are no different.

5. The power of the blue tick

Blue ticks have never meant more than they do today. A sign of status and popularity in the online world, a blue tag tends to mean that someone is a verified influencer – usually with an extremely large following and valuable networks.

Having one of these influencers endorse your brand is a priceless tool that enables your brand to be seen by networks and potential customers you couldn’t even dream of reaching before. Allow the social media trend to improve your website traffic and widen the reach of your content.

6. User experience

Remember the days when everything took minutes to buffer? We used to sit in front of the screen and watch the buffering wheel for days on end – but not today. Today, users want everything instantly, and if it’s not instant on your website then they will simply head to a different website that is. It doesn’t matter if you have great content – if the user experience isn’t exactly what they expect, you will very quickly find yourself losing valuable visitors.

Quick load times, an easy to navigate website, and optimised content for all devices – they’re all important!

7. Videos vs. Written content

Facebook has launched a new video viewing page which takes you straight onto another related video once your first one finishes. This subtle but clever way to introducing you to new content highlights how important video is becoming in the world of online content, as users are now just as likely to watch a tutorial as they are to read one.

Youtube advertising has never been so popular. As SEO trends for 2020 go, online videos will take over – pulling viewers away from their television screens. Make sure your videos are optimised in terms of SEO, to harness the power of this ever-growing trend. Great keywords and descriptions can mean the difference between a viral clip and a video that falls flat.

8. Quality Content

A pretty simple one really. You can do all the SEO and tagging in the world. But without quality content, you will never be able to retain potential customers. Give them value, well-researched information and clear calls to action! In a fast-paced world, your content needs to prove itself as informative yet entertaining; useful but also high quality and approachable.

9. Dwell time will increase in prominence

Time on site is about to become even more critical as one of the key SEO trends for 2020. If a user is spending lots of time on your website, that’s good. The search engine will know that the quality of your content and website is likely to be high. This is going to become even more of an influential factor as we enter 2020.

10. It’s not going to be just about Google

Google pretty much owns the search engine world. The phrase “Google it” is used to answer most questions asked by millions of people every single day. However, this could be set to change, as other search engines rise in prominence.

Likely, SEO requirements will differ particularly as different and new search engines work to attract users and gain support. We’ll have to watch this space to see what happens…

Want to learn about web design trends for 2020? Check out this post!

 

Unpicking SEO: How to boost your SEO rankings

SEO is one of those buzz-words that floats around the online world, without much understanding behind it. Individuals claiming to be SEO experts will constantly inundate your inbox with offers to optimise your SEO and perform SEO checks – but what does it all mean? They all want to boost your SEO rankings and often at great cost.

The purpose of SEO is to make sure your website stands out for the powers of a search engine. Often what the search engine is looking for doesn’t even make complete sense to us, but we do it because it leads to good “SEO”. This guide to unpicking SEO is designed to simply help your website rank a little higher and perform a little better, without the need for outsourced experts and lengthy reviews.

Pick your Keywords and stick to them

When using WordPress, there are special plugins and accessories that have been created just to make your SEO life easier – use them. Yoast SEO is one of the best; rating your posts according to how well they have been written in light of your SEO targets. Yoast is a content creaters dream, engaging one simple tool that will change the way you write. It allows you to pick a keyword and it makes sure you stick to it.

By telling Yoast what the focus of your post is, in one word, the plugin will make sure everything you create is working to your advantage – from the post heading to the content body and image captions. Good SEO means tying everything together to one common focus, and Yoast makes absolutely sure that is what you do.

Customise the web address

How many times have you clicked through to a blog and wanted to send it to someone else, only to see that the link is a random string of numbers and characters that takes up half a text message? It’s annoying, unprofessional and renders your article potentially unshareable for the likes of LinkedIn and other social media.

Editing the web address is easy in WordPress, and by making sure that focus keyword we discussed is also in the web URL, your SEO will be even better – not to mention it will look better and allow readers to understand exactly what the post is about before they start to read it.

Divide your content into different categories

The best bloggers out there know how to divide their work into sub-divisions and categories; not only to make navigation easier for their readers, but also to improve SEO for your site. Search engines trawl through your content to assign an SEO rating – why not make it easy for them by dividing the content up and doing half the work for them?

Get rid of the junk

Bin any old, poor or duplicate content right away. If you don’t want to permanently delete it, then at least set the page to ‘no-index’ so that they cannot be found by the search engines, as these pages are likely harming your SEO and making search engines think your website is full of junk.

Make the images smaller

Large pictures can completely dwarf a great website, no matter how spectacular the content is. They damage your load time. A slow load time means a badly ranked site in the eyes of a search engine. They will subsequently be unlikely to position your site high up in their options for visitors. By reducing the size of your images, you will see a drastic change in the load time for your site. This will translate into better SEO ranking and more website visitors.

These changes are quick and easy fixes to help your SEO perform better and boost your SEO rankings. Everything you create no longer simply needs to satisfy your end reader. Search engines are your biggest judge, and if you don’t cater to their requirements, your website won’t even be found. Give yourself the best possible start by engaging these tips from the word go. Then sit back and watch the visitors flock to your website.

Want more tips? Click here.

The building blocks of a website

Building your own website has never been easier. With the tools now available, building a website today is easier than the building blocks we played with as children – with far fewer instruction manuals and trip hazards.

Whether it’s a small marketing site for your business, a blogging hub or an eCommerce online shop, we’ve compiled a list of the tips and tools you need to employ to safely build a website of your own.

Let’s start with the set up – what to do before the building begins.

The Foundation

First up you need to determine what route your website creation is going to take – on the assumption that starting from scratch is not the best way forward (unless of course, you are a technology whizz in which case this post probably isn’t for you!) The most obvious route is to start with a Content Management System or website building tool – populating templates with the relevant content and images of your choice.

By Content Management System (CMS) we tend to mean WordPress, so your choice here is between WordPress and an alternative website builder. WordPress is responsible for over 30% of all the websites currently available in the world, showcasing its popularity and ease of use. After all, if 30% of the website population can use it, I’m sure you can too. WordPress is ideal for everything from small blogs to large online publications and even online stores – all in a highly customisable and professional format.

If customisable and flexible isn’t what you’re looking for however, a website builder is the best option. These tend to follow similar designs and patterns and allow the user to input their relevant information easily and quickly. It’s simple to use and quick to customise, with no added dragging and dropping of different features and content blocks. Essentially you pick a template and you stick to it.

The Build

So, you’ve reached the build. The first thing you need to do is secure your hosting and a solid domain name. The host of your site is where all your online files will be stored so must be reliable with adequate space. The domain is what you will get your visitors to type into their browser to access your website. Typically, it’s easiest to purchase these as a package deal, as this saves technical admin further down the line, although you can get these separately if needs be.

To sign up for website hosting you need to select a plan through your chosen host site. These tend to start from a basic package to a more premium option, and which you opt for depends entirely on your requirements for the website you want to build. Ensure you read all the fine print before agreeing to any package. Once this is selected, you will be asked to enter a domain of your choice – if your first choice is taken, keep trying variations until you’re happy with the one that is also available.

Assessing the building site

Do research. What do your top competitor’s sites look like? Are they focussing on anything? How will you make your site stand out? What is the purpose of your website? Only when you know the answer to these questions can you start to build an idea of the visual aspect of your site and how it should appear to your visitors. This, in turn, will inform your template decision.

Once that’s decided, you need to create some kind of structure plan. Generally, these are not complicated – after all, we’re creatives, not techies. However, making sure you have an idea of which pages need to build will make your job easier down the line.

The Design

Everything available to you both on WordPress and a website builder has been created by a professional website designer. They’re user friendly, easy to personalise and all already available. You’d be a fool not to use them.

With WordPress, you need to first install the app on your host. Once this is done you can add a theme – this will inform the design of your entire site. Spend some time going through the available themes. When you finally find the right one, click ‘Install’ and then ‘Activate’ to set it on your own site. Once selected, the theme becomes customisable through the settings. This will allow you to add new pages, changes the colours and fonts, alter the display of the menu and many more options. You can also add plugins to increase your cybersecurity and SEO, as discussed in other blogs.

A website builder is far simpler to use, with a multitude of potential themes available for all manner of industries. The theme you select will become the template for your site. Basically, what you see in the theme selection box is very like how your final site will look. Though perhaps, with different colours. So, choose wisely and make sure you play around to work out the extent of the changes you can make.

Building a website is as easy as it has ever been, and with our simple instruction manual, you should be up and running in no time. The choice between WordPress and a website builder should be made after considering the time scales. Plus, the ongoing time it will take to manage and update regularly.