Categories
Tech

To use the www or not when selecting a domain name?

Why do some websites use www and does mine need to?

A question that arises a lot is whether to use the www or not in a website domain name. We also get asked what the implications of using www or not are for SEO. So, let’s look at what is important and the issues to be aware of to get the best outcome.

Understanding how search engines treat sites that use www or not

Search engines view sites that use www and those that don’t as different subdomains. This is the same for sites using HTTP or HTTPS. HTTPS is simply an indication that an SSL certificate exists.

Search engines also treat subdomains as completely separate properties. So, for example, www.foundonline.com.au and foundonline.com.au have little relationship to each other. Likewise, if a site uses HTTP or HTTPS they are not the same. i.e. http://foundonline.com.au shares no data with https://foundonline.com.au from a search engines point of view.

The most important thing is to ensure that there is only one active property online. You can do this by redirecting with a 301 redirect to the canonical version. i.e. Redirect from HTTP to HTTPS.

Should you use www or not?

The truth is, it doesn’t matter, so long as only one property is active.

So here is what matters: when displaying your URL in marketing material, you should aim to put the root domain without the HTTPS e.g. foundonline.com.au/about and the redirects should handle the rest, typically taking it to https://www.foundonline.com.au/about.

Additionally, SSL certificates are now free through LetsEncrypt. Most hosting providers also support the auto-renewal of certificates through them. So, there is no excuse to not be using HTTPS. This means you can pick either the www or non-www version so all traffic goes to one property only.

With the basic scenario out of the way, let’s have a look at some of the more interesting cases.

What about other site areas?

One technology (probably WordPress) typically manages a website. However, you may have a new area of the site where it just doesn’t provide the functionality you need. This could be a documentation area, projects portal, journals, maybe even a new blog engine.

Typically, it is fairly straightforward to set these up on a different sub-domain such as blog.foundonline.com.au or projects.foundonline.com.au. However, this is where the search engines will see them as separate properties. In this instance, you run the risk of diluting the ranking of your site.

Ideally, you want to get these working as a sub-folder on the main site e.g. /journals. Especially where the content and links are related to the main site content. The solution to this is to implement a reverse proxy.

What is a reverse proxy?

A reverse proxy is where the server receives a request to /docs and then proxies that request to the platform handling that part of the site.

reverse-proxy-diagram-for-managing-use-the-www-or-not-redirects
A reverse proxy handles the main domain but splits off the sub-folders to different servers that run different applications.

This way the customer (and search engines) will see the single top-level domain, but really there will be multiple servers and technology stacks delivering different parts of the website.

Admittedly, this is not trivial to set up. There can also be lots of technical implications that need to be worked through as a result. But you should be aware that it is possible and that it should be considered functionality as on a site.

If this is something that you are needing to do to maximise your search results, we recommend getting in touch with a qualified agency or hosting provider that can help you with this.

Get in touch with us for SEO matters

Found Online SEO agency Sydney builds search engine optimised websites that drive traffic and sales. If you still have questions about whether to use the www or not, get in touch. Or talk to us about our website design and web development services.

Contact us on 02 7906 8405 or at info@foundonline.com.au.

Categories
seo Tech

12 SEO mistakes stopping you from page one SERPs

SEO Mistakes to avoid at all costs

SEO mistakes could be harming your business without even knowing it.

With 90% of all purchases starting with an online search, being found in search results is critical to any business success.  However, 90% of all clicks happen on listings that return on page one, 90% on positions 1 and 2.   So there’s no doubt as to the importance of good SEO to generating company revenue.

But with ever-increasing businesses moving online, selling their goods and services to the same customers you’re targeting, the competition to claim the top spot in search engine results pages (SERPs) is heating up. 

Unfortunately, many businesses just can’t measure up when it comes to getting improved search rankings no matter their SEO efforts.  The reason normally boils down to 9 simple marketing mistakes that are commonly made.  These mistakes waste your time, money, and resource.  No matter how good you think your SEO strategies maybe if you don’t have the right foundation and keep making these mistakes, you’re going to fail.

Here are the top 9 SEO mistakes you need to avoid

12 SEO Mistakes to avoid

1. Failing to understand your audience and their buyer journey

Understanding who your audience is should be the first step in developing your SEO strategy. 

What is your audience searching for online?  Are they asking specific questions online that are going unanswered?  What problems do they have with current product and service offerings?  Without understanding these things, you will miss the best keyword opportunities that drive traffic, and you’ll fail to create relevant content.  

Buyer Journey is the process a buyer goes through on their path to purchase.  It includes four stages – unaware, pain/problem, solution, decision – in which the customer becomes aware of a problem or need state, the research various solutions to their problem, evaluate their options, and then decide which solution to purchase.

Buyer-journey-map-min
Buy Journey Map: Understanding your buyer journey is critical to SEO

Mapping a buyer journey is simply defining and mapping out the process that the buyer goes through on their path to purchase.  Sales, marketing and SEO efforts build an understanding of needs, problems and behaviour throughout the entire journey to create appropriate content for each stage.

2. Not Having a proper plan

An SEO strategy should include your keywords, content plans, social media activity and content, as well as how you will build backlinks, maximise your local SEO efforts and other media online you want to appear in.  In addition to this, who will be managing all of this, how will you generate quality content consistently and what is your budget?

First and foremost, in creating your SEO plan is understanding what you want to achieve.  What are your KPIs and how will you measure your return on investment against them?   This will help direct your SEO strategy and all your plans.  Once you have set your KPIs and you know your audience, conduct proper keyword research, and study your competitor’s activity.  This will help you identify the right way to stand out online.

Found Online offer results-driven SEO Strategy to help businesses win in SERPs. Get in touch to find out how we can support your digital marketing campaigns.

3. Holistic SEO mistakes

When decision-makers lack a clear understanding of our SEO works, they fail to understand that SEO is impacted by everything you do online.  Content, on-page SEO, technical SEO, backlinks, social media, local SEO and more, all impact your search visibility.  Each plays a vital role in how well your website ranks for various search queries as well as the performance of all other online profiles such as Google business listings, social media profiles and other online directories for example.

A business that develops a holistic SEO strategy that coordinates all online marketing efforts will appear higher in search and get more traffic, more leads, and more sales.

Found Online focuses on holistic SEO to get you higher in SERPs.  Get in touch to find out how we can support your digital marketing campaigns.

4. Ignoring Your Competitors

Why reinvent the wheel if someone has already worked out the best strategy to maximise their search results?  Obviously, we’re not saying to copy directly from them, you will need to differentiate your brand and positioning.  But by looking at what your competitors are doing online, you can learn from their success and from their mistakes.

Generate insights about your customers’ behaviour online by how they interact with your competitors.  What are the keywords that generate the most traffic, how have your competitors optimised for them and are there any gaps in meaningful keywords they’ve missed.

Review your competitor’s content to generate ideas on what to write about and what content to produce. There are many tools online to help you see which topics generate the most traffic.   You should also investigate how your competitors share their content online to drive reach and traffic.  Where are they sharing it, what platforms and how regularly are they posting their content. 

Your competitors can also help you build your approach to link building.  Backlinks to your competitors’ sites are easy to find with various backlink spying tools available to use free online.

5. Failing to differentiate / Pay too much attention to your competitors

Your competitors can give you good insights to help you build your SEO strategy and plans but if you want to beat the competition, you must do it better than them.  There may be things they aren’t doing well that would waste your budget and undermine your efforts.  Identify these and exclude them from your strategy and capitalise on missed opportunities.  Furthermore, it is critical that you can differentiate from your competitors in order to stand out.  

Businesses should be able to differentiate their products and services and brand positioning from competitors.  They can also differentiate with what content they create, and the topics covered, or the platforms leveraged to get content out there.   Whatever it is, to take advantage of new opportunities, reach more of your audience and maximise their ROI, businesses must do more or do it better to appear higher in search than competitors do.

6. Poor Content Relevance, consistency, and quality

Google likes informative, meaty, and unique content that connects users to business.  Most of all, your content needs to be relevant to your audience.

Google states that giving customers the information they’re looking for is the single most important thing you can do in their steps to a Google-friendly site.

The best way to do that is to understand what your customers are looking for online and what websites and information they interact with.  Refer to step one above.  You need to know who your audience is to create content for them.

Avoid wasting time and effort creating content that is irrelevant to your target industry and your target audience.  There are only so many hours in a day so ensure they are spent where it matters most.  Also, by being targeted in your approach, what your business and website are about will become clear to customers and search engines alike.

Find out about Found Online Content Writing and Content Creation Services.

7. Technical SEO mistakes

Technical SEO is the process of making your website more visible to search engines and helping them read and understand your website content.   This helps search engines to crawl, index and then serve your website for better search rankings.

Technical SEO focuses on things like structured data markup, meta tags, alt tags, URL structure, and robots.txt to name a few.   It is important to ensure each of these are properly optimised to help search engines read your website and understand what your content and your business are about.  

8. Link-Building Strategy

Link-Building is essential to SEO.  Backlinks help search engines find your website and to understand what your website is about.  By doing so, search engines can index your website and serve it in SERPs for relevant search queries.  Backlinks also build your domain authority by telling search engines that your content is worth linking to, this is a great way to get listed higher in search results.

It’s important to understand, however, that there are a lot of link building strategies that can hurt your business.  Unfortunately, there are still plenty of not so reputable businesses selling link building services like these.

Never purchase backlinks.  Rather, build them with quality content people want to link to.  Share your content to get it seen by more people to generate backlinks.  You can also request backlinks from relevant websites with high domain authority to relevant content on your website. 

Backlink building can be difficult, taking time, effort, and patience.  Understand more about how link building can support your SEO strategy in our article “Is Link Building Dead? Or should it be part of my SEO strategy?”

9. Poor website design and website performance

You want your customers to stick around once they have visited your website right?  Then ensure your user experience makes users do so.

Websites are the new face of the business, the silent salesman, and aligned with brand image.  As such, websites should be beautifully designedhttps://foundonline.com.au/content/ as well as informative and conversion rate optimised to encourage users to act – click, call, buy, hire, contact, etc.

More than that, your website needs to be fast to load and easy to use across all devices.  This is now a ranking factor that helps determine the position in SERPs.  As such, ensure your website is mobile responsive, easy to read and easy to navigate.  User’s experience should be a priority, in addition to the content, a website contains.  Keep an eye on your core web vitals via Google Search Console to prioritise website development and improvement work to improve your website usability. 

Website development most often requires a unique set of skills.  Work with website developers who know how to design and build websites for SEO.   See Found Online Website Development Services.

10. Local SEO mistakes and lack of local SEO

Local SEO is like normal SEO except that it optimises for local and “near me” search queries.

Search Engines provide personalised search results to customers based on the customers’ location when the search takes place.  Therefore, if your website is not optimized for Local SEO, you will not be found by local audiences.  This will make it hard for customers to find your physical location too.

Local SEO can even help you compete with big national brands and businesses with unlimited resources and spending power.  Proven Local SEO techniques like listing your website on Google My Business, creating locality-based content etc, will help you rank higher for local keywords and locality-based search. 

Find out about our local SEO services

11. Failing to properly resource your SEO efforts

Many businesses have internal marketing teams.  Unfortunately, they are often stretched with competing priorities or lack the right skill set to manage all elements of SEO.  Some or all SEO efforts can be easily outsourced which enables businesses to grow rapidly and adds flexibility to business making decisions.

SEO takes time and effort, as well as a unique skill set from content writing to website design and development, as well as all elements of good SEO – eg. Keyword research, technical SEO and link building.   By properly supporting your marketing teams efforts and allocating an appropriate budget to outsource key SEO functions to experts, it is impossible to fully optimise your search rankings.

The right SEO experts can help you develop an effective search strategy.  Outsourcing the most time-consuming activities like content writing will ensure consistency.  As will using professional developers for the more complex technical and coding needs for your website.  

12. Not tracking and learning from results

SEO is not a set and forget strategy.  Customers change, competitors hit back and the ever-evolving digital landscape means you have to stay ahead of the game to win with SEO.

Track your progress vs. KPIs and amend your strategy and SEO tactics accordingly. There are several tracking tools like Google Analytics and Search Console which are free to use and show the results of your SEO efforts. You will also want to keep an eye on your website load speeds.  You can do this via Lighthouse Page Speed testing which is part of Googles web developer tools.

There are many other keyword popularity, backlink checker and competitive spying tools out there to help you keep an eye on your results.  Or you could work with an agency like Found Online to track your performance and maximise your SEO strategy.

Have you made any of these SEO mistakes?

If you are failing to see page one results, get in touch with Found Online SEO agency. We take a holistic approach to our SEO Services. Offering 20 years of experience in SEO we know how to get you better search results.

Call us on 02 7906 8405 or email us at info@foundonline.com.au for a free website and SEO audit or to talk to us about how we can help your SEO.

Categories
seo Tech

Is Link Building Dead? Or should it be part of my SEO strategy?

Is link building dead? What is it and should it be part of my SEO strategy?

The relevance of link building is a much-debated topic online with many SEOs and marketers weighing in with their opinions. However, it’s pretty clear that building quality links to your website is still integral to your search strategy. The important thing to distinguish is what type of link building is being discussed.

Link building refers to various SEO practices of getting links to your website from third-party domains. These vary from buying backlinks to getting them naturally and asking for them from different websites online.

To be clear, link-building practices intended to trick or bypass search engine algorithms are well and truly dead. One of which is the process of buying backlinks. While purchasing backlinks and other “blackhat SEO” tactics may have worked in the past, that is no longer the case. Recent Google algorithm updates ensure dodgy link-building practices and other blackhat tactics are easily identified and penalised, thus impacting offending sites search visibility.

However, quality backlinks to your website have always been one of the most important rank factors for websites, and they still are. QUALITY is the key here and quality backlinks are good for SEO.

What is link building?

Link building is the process of getting other websites to add links (known as backlinks) on their pages to your website content.  By building backlinks to your website, you build credibility as well as new pathways to your site. This helps SEO efforts as it signals to Google that your website is worth linking to and, as such, worth listing high in search rankings.

Link building is still one of the most important ranking factors for search

You want a website that is worth linking to right?   As such, you want content that answers your target audiences’ questions, solves their problems, and, therefore is optimised for search queries.  

The best content normally wins in the case of generating genuine meaningful backlinks.

It is for this very reason that Google will rank your website higher in search results if you have a lot of backlinks to your website.  Backlinks work like votes for your website and its content.

There is, in fact, a direct correlation between websites that have quality backlinks to their site from other domains with good domain authority. 

organic search results by average linking domains

Source:  ahrefs.com Blog “How to Find Backlinks (that you can replicate)”, written by Joshua Hardwick, Updated: 9 October 2020.  Accessed 25 September 2021.  URL “https://ahrefs.com/blog/find-backlinks/

 If you have quality link building practice in place as part of your broader content planning and SEO strategy, you will rank higher in search engine results.

How linkbuilding strategies have changed

In the past websites would build links in several ways that were designed to trick search engines into ranking pages higher in search.  This included building links. Often the links would come from spam websites, or from very poor or thin content, that lacked relevance to the page it was linking . Often these sites and content were created purely for the purpose of selling said backlinks. Google refers to these types of backlinks as “unnatural links”.

Blackhat SEO tactics like this will hurt your search engine rankings.

Google aims to deliver the most relevant content to search queries (which use search terms and keywords) that will enhance the user experience.   This means removing spammy websites from search engine results.  Two recent Google core updates –  Panda & Penguin – target spam websites that have poor or thin content and/or those that have unnatural links to do exactly that.   

If Google detects spam websites linking to your site or unnatural links, it may issue you with a “manual action”. Manual actions will stop your website from being served in Google search results.   

However, when backlinks are content-based, relevant and from websites that have good domain authority (aren’t toxic or spammy), Google ranks the page higher in search results. 

See Google’s information regarding “manual actions” and test your site to see if it has any manual actions in your search console.

How does link building get better organic search rankings?

1. Backlinks give your website more exposure to Google crawlers.

Google only knows about a page and what content is on the page if the page has been “crawled”.  When Google crawls a page it determines where the page should be ranked in search queries based on the information on the page. 

Google crawlers find a page to crawl when a website owner submits the page (via their sitemap) to be crawled and indexed or if Google follows a link from an already known page to the new page.

Google relies on links from known sites to find pages on your website as well as to develop an understanding of what each page is about.  This in turn helps Google decide where to rank your website in search engine results pages (SERPS) for various queries.

Once Google discovers your page, it can then start to understand what your page is about.   That is, it can analyse the content and media included on the page, get an idea about the intentions of the page and its relevance to different search queries.  Google will then store the information it collected in their database, Google’s index.  Google then serves your website page to users for relevant search queries.

Therefore, the more quality links you have to your website, the better your search rankings.

2. Backlinks build credibility and domain authority

Backlinks to your website tell Google that you have content that is worth linking to.  It tells search algorithms that your content is unique and adds value to readers online.  Backlinks give your website and content authoritative strength. 

Google aims to provide users with timely and relevant content based on their search queries.  Your site ‘authority’ – how many backlinks from good reputable sites you have – indicates how well your website will rank in search results.   As such, backlinks can help get higher rankings in search results.

The key to remember here is that good backlinks to relevant content from reputable websites are what you are aiming for. Google can tell if it’s a toxic site linking to your website, indicating blackhat SEO tactics as mentioned above. 

3. Backlinks get your website out across the internet to be seen by more people

Link building is a great way to get your website in front of more users’ eyes.  It gets your website out there, far and wide across the internet and, in turn, should increase your website traffic.

The purpose of SEO is to drive traffic to your website.  But traffic to your website can also improve your search rankings, in turn, helping your SEO efforts.

So how do I generate quality backlinks?

The key here that we’ve mentioned several times is QUALITY backlinks help your website rankings. 

‘Earned’ links that are ‘do follow’ likes are invaluable to your SEO.

Earned links are links to content where you didn’t have to ask for the link. Rather, another blog owner or content publishes finds your content and links to it because of its quality and relevance. For example, if your content is used as an information source, or someone loves your products or business and so wants to tell people about it. 

But don’t wait around for your content to be found and linked online. You could be waiting some time. You will also be missing the additional website traffic that comes with good backlinks as you wait. 

Instead, implement link-building strategies and tactics to build more backlinks to your website sooner. But try these more acceptable tactics rather than buying links.

  • Share your content via social media to increase exposure. Read more about how Social Media helps SEO. Social media is a great way to get your content infront of more people online. This in turn increases your changes of getting backlinks.
  • Backlink outreach. Find blogs and websites with content that is relevant to yours or where yours can add value. Reach out to the website owners and suggest backlinks to your site wherever relevant. The key is to demonstrate how your content adds value to their content by improving understanding about the topic being discussed.
  • Post to guest blogs. Guest blogs often allow a backlink from the authors bio. Become a guest blogger and post original articles on sites relevant to your business.
  • Conduct a unique research project or survey and share the results. Survey results provide insight as well as credibility to content. This makes published results appealing to mention and link to.
  • Look for mentions about your business online. If there is no link to your website, request the website manage add one.

Why Found Online for SEO Services Sydney?

SEO is not an overnight process.  It requires a strategic approach to all the things a business does online. When done properly, this online activity should ultimately improve the website’s search rankings and traffic. 

Found Online can help you generate quality backlinks with our content marketing and backlink generation services.

Found Online are SEO experts and holistic SEO service providers. Our expertise covers on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO capabilities. This includes an in-house, Sydney-based team of content writers, website developers, and SEO experts.

If you want to see your website ranked higher in search engine results, give us a call at Found Online Sydney on 02 7906 8405 or email us at info@foundonline.com.au.  You can also send us an email inquiry via our website contact form.  

Categories
biz Tech

Tips for a better project outcome

Here are some tips that can help ease the workflow for a project, whilst avoiding any unnecessary lock-ins to your supplier.

E-mail Accounts

During the lifetime of the business, there will be staff changes as well as different suppliers. At various points they will need access to an e-mail address that belongs to your domain for things like “Click link to activate this account”. So save yourself some annoying phone calls of suppliers asking you to click on a link (that has inevitably expired) and try the following:

DNS (Domain Name System)

Arguably more important than your business registration. It turns human readable names e.g. foundonline.com.au into addresses e.g. 110.232.143.29 that computers can actually use to find relevant systems. It also holds information on where to find mail servers (Mail eXchanger records), state which servers are allowed to send mail on behalf of your domain, verifies ownership of your domain to a number of services (like Google Analytics) and can even hold information for your phone systems if you’re using VoIP.

Needless to say, if DNS goes down, you’re going to be having a bad day (and DNS DOES go down for trillion dollar companies that you may be relying on). It doesn’t matter if your website and mail servers are running fine, if other systems can’t look up the DNS info to find them, they may as well not exist at all.

There are 2 parts to DNS that you need to care about:

Registration

This is where you purchase the domain name from a registrar and associate it with a contact e-mail.

Hosting

Just like your website is hosted on a web server, you need a DNS server that then serves the information for your domain name to the world.  Many registrars will offer this as part of the domain registration process as an upsell, but you need to keep in mind that that may not be the best solution.

Some services like Cloudflare’s excellent content distribution network, which caches your website content all around the world to speed up your site, require that your DNS be hosted by them to work.  However, Cloudflare is practically useless for Australian websites as they have to route their traffic though Singapore on their free plans due to Telstra…. well Telstra being Telstra.

Project Files

In the course of creating code and digital assets for a project, developers and designers will usually generate the final assets from working files. So a photoshop file with separate layers of the elements will be flattened into an exported PNG image and likewise, code will be compiled, or combined and minified into a compressed output before it’s applied to the production website.

It becomes a lot harder, if not impossible, to edit the outputs directly when you want to make a change or an update.  Therefore you need to ensure that as part of the deliverables of the project, that the supplier provides all the necessary source assets and code, along with instructions that are necessary to generate the final output files needed for a working version of the project.

There will be some situations where it will not be possible for the agency to provide the source assets for a particular part of the project, for instance they have built a marketing tool or an e-commerce engine and the cost for this development has been borne by the agency themselves and amortised across multiple clients.  This is perfectly understandable as it is their intellectual property that they have built up and have the rights to, but you as a client need to understand that this locks you into relying upon them for updates in a timely manner and that a portion of your project may cease to function if you decide to move away from them at some point in the future.

Support and Updates

Everyone knows that the tech world is a constantly moving target (for better or worse), there are security updates at all levels of the tech stack of your project, there are more general tech shifts over time that result in better functionality or ease of use or speed of development.  You need to ensure that the project has budget allocated  for ongoing support and maintenance so that security patches are applied in a timely manner, thus reducing the likelihood of your site being hacked and starts serving ads that generate money for the hackers, or it installs a crypto miner on your server and you are suddenly faced with a large bill for the compute resources being consumed by it.

Support and updates are not only necessary for the technology either.  Usually, once a website project is handed over to you, there will be a need for training of staff into how to use it properly to make content updates and operate it in general.  There is no point in getting a great new website up and running if your staff making the updates are unaware of the way in which content needs to be written for effective SEO – it will usually end up in harming your overall rankings.

Backups

Unfortunately, we have heard and read of more than enough instances of companies being wiped out because a major system or their website has broken and they had no backups to revert to.  Or even worse, they had backups going, but didn’t test them on a regular basis, leading to them not working when the time actually came to needing them.  Always insist on backups and get the supplier to show proof of a restoration process working.