Categories
Website Design

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
Website Design

Website performance and why it matters to SEO

Website performance and SEO

Website performance is integral to your customer acquisition and retention strategy. A fast loading well-designed website will get you higher search rankings. A well-designed website will also improve user experience and drive more clicks, enquiries, bookings and buys.  That means more revenue for you.

Paying for SEO and not getting the results you expected?   

Things like page load speed and cumulative layout shift matter to your search rankings. However, many companies still treat these as separate from SEO. As do some SEO providers. 

We take a holistic approach to SEO.  We understand the relationship between all of your online communications efforts.  With experts in both SEO and website development, we can ensure you get the results you need.  

Why website performance matters;

 1. Website performance impacts conversion rates

You may have the best products at the best price or offer the best service there is. But if your website takes too long to load your customer’s won’t wait to find out about them. Even worse is if your customers can’t find you online in the first place.

A study by Aberdeen looked at behaviour online and the impact of slow page loads. It found that conversion rates drop 7% and page views 11% for every second over two seconds a page took to load.  According to Google Small Business Blog, for each additional second, it takes a mobile page to load, conversions can drop by up to 20%.

For a business that generates $10,000 a day, that results in around $2.5 million to $4.5 million in revenue annually. 

2. Website performance impacts SEO 

Core web vitals – Load speed and layout shift – are now key measures used by Google to determine site rankings on search engine page results (SERPS).  That means, if your site performance is suffering, so will your SEO, making it harder for your customers to find you online. 

This was a relatively recent algorithm change by Google.  However, prior to that and still, just as important, website performance impacts user experience and therefore user engagement with your site and conversion rates. 

When a customer engages with your content, staying on your site, Google determines this is because you have relevant content based on their search.  Where content isn’t relevant, Google will drop rankings.  So with that in mind, we need to consider what happens when your website performance isn’t up to scratch

The Aberdeen study demonstrates that improved load speed results in better conversions – for every second beyond the two-second mark that a site took to load, conversion rates drop 7% and page views drop by 11%.  Similarly, bounce rates increase as users can’t be bothered sticking around to wait for the page to load. 

With high rates of users bouncing out of your site, Google would attribute those high bounce rates and low engagement with poor keyword relevance.  As a result, Google would drop your search ranking accordingly. 

3. Brand Image and Reputation

Imagine if a tech giant had a poor-performing website.  Would you feel confident in their capability?  

Your website is the face of your business online.  It is often the first and last experience a user or customer will have with you.   Therefore the experience they have with your website will influence the way they view your products and your services.  

Poor design and user experience, long load times and frustrating navigation where you can’t find what you need, are all going to impact users’ impressions of your business.  On the flip side, a well-designed website that delivers the right message and brand image will impact the value users attribute to your products and/or services.

Better Performance Means Higher Conversions – More clicks, more sign-ups, enquiries, bookings, and buys.  

If you want to win in highly competitive spaces online and in local markets, a business needs to start looking beyond the classic SEO principles.   A holistic approach to digital, including website performance, user experience, and SEO, delivers better search rankings, more traffic, higher conversion rates, and more revenue.

Many businesses lack the internal resources necessary to properly optimise their website for search engines let alone the technical ability to improve their website performance for optimal results. That’s why so many oot to work with experienced agencies.

How Found Online SEO and website professionals can help you.

Found Online SEO agency Sydney can help improve your website performance. We take a holistic approach to your digital marketing.  From SEO to website design and conversion rate optimisation to everything in between and beyond, our goal is to do the things online that you need to do to get more revenue. 

We get businesses in highly competitive and local markets to the top of page one search results and then we help convert traffic to sales.   

We’re so confident in our ability to help drive your business goals online, that, unlike other SEO providers, we have no lock-in contracts.  We believe great service and great results will keep our clients coming back. 

Our Web Performance Services

  • Complete site audit with recommendations to improve website performance
  • Mobile responsive website monitoring, development, and optimisation
  • Media compression and optimisation 
  • Hosting with lightning-fast delivery and CDN management
  • Seamless website migrations to new domains and/or hosting providers
  • WordPress and Shopify Installation and plugin upgrades
  • WordPress and Shopify customisations
  • Programing logic review 
  • Website design and development

Found Online delivers superior website performance

Found Online has a team of website designers and developers that can help you build a beautiful website with superior performance. From website design to website development and hosting, we deliver websites that load fast and convert more visitors to sales.

We are an SEO agency in Sydney that delivers Holistic SEO services.

Get in touch with us today on 02 7906 8405 or send us a website enquiry.

Categories
Website Design

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.