Competing for Top Spots on Google SERPS in 2017

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As an experienced Canadian web hosting provider, we’re well aware that not ALL of our clients are in business – and more specifically in e-commerce businesses. There’s a good number of you who have your basic web hosting packages for personal interest or promotional websites, and for those folks knowing how to rank higher on Google search results won’t be as pressing a need.

For the rest of you who are fully into competing for higher search engine rankings, it’s a fact that Google is constantly altering and updating its algorithms. Let’s discuss approaches that are in line with the current search engine tunings coming from down there in Silicon Valley.

Those Ever-Changing SERP Algorithms

Many factors come into play as these aforementioned Google algorithm’s regularly evolve. Many of these transformations are in response to measurable changes among users’ habits (The increasing predominance of mobile web browsing, for instance). The way people consume search results and act on them plays a significant factor too, and Google monitors and analyzes every little detail extensively.

Here’s what you need to know about what determines online search results in 2017.

Featured snippets are now of increasing importance. Featured snippets can be more simply understood to be a direct answer, a summary of an answer to a query displayed on the top of the results page, often as a list of actionable bullet points or numbered steps. How they are advantageous is users get their questions answered directly on the results page, which is of course appealing because it means a straighter path to finding what they want and doesn’t involve any additional ‘clicks’. Google is showing these snippets in more than 32% of queries. (In 2015, the number was 28% and that’s expected to increase dramatically.)

How’s all of this relevant, you ask?

These featured snippets are extracted straight from the content of a website. One singular website that Google deems to have the best answer. If you want that website to be yours, you need to try to think about what questions your customers are asking and address those answers in as clearly and directly a manner as possible, and in the type of plain language that would make it easy for even the most unfamiliar individual to digest and comprehend.

Having these answers and text listed in bullet point form is often recommended, with the question on top. This increases the chances that Google will choose your site’s content to display in a featured snippet.

Searchers Entering Longer Queries Based on Specific Search Intentions

It’s natural that as users become more accustomed to looking for information on Google and other search engines, they are becoming more discerning with their searches. For example, instead of just looking for a “fishing reel,” a searcher today may well enter the search terms “large fishing reel for 2000 feet of line for bar fishing.” In response to the trend, Google is also becoming more adept at displaying results that match the specific intent of today’s searchers.

To successfully optimize your site, you want to be explicitly dialled in to your customers search targets. The more you understand their specific intent, the better you’ll do. Aim to target long tail keywords that match what you project to be your prospective customer’s search tendencies. These are keyword phrases that are at least 3-4 words long and really answer your customer’s needs in the most accurate way.

The Rapid Ascent of Mobile Web Browsing

Every year, a greater percentage of searches are taking place on mobile devices. Back in 2015, mobile search surpassed desktop search and the gap has only increased from there. Google therefore announced in November that they have “mobile-first” index on its way, where they will prioritize your mobile site over your desktop site when determining your rank. The long and short of that is that – for most business websites – optimizing your mobile web page will be more important.

Google is also on the lookout for accelerated mobile pages (“AMPs”) which load faster on mobile than regular pages. AMP creates mobile-simplified content for your site that shows up instantly on all mobile devices. Web pages with AMPs tend to rank higher on Google for relevant search terms.

Needless to say, you need a great mobile version of your website. That’s nothing new, and in truth you really should have one already. It’s not difficult to find a Canadian web hosting provider with a mobile website builder. Once you have yours, you can help make sure your blog posts load faster by turning on Google AMP.

Voice Search Gaining Serious Traction

Voice search is on the rise as ever-greater numbers of people conduct their searches by speaking with Siri, Alexa and Amazon Home. Sure, voice search still represents a relatively small volume of overall searches, but in the coming years we expect that its influence on SEO will expand considerably. Voice queries are often longer since people speak to these devices as they would to a person. In addition, users turn to Voice search when they want a quick, direct answer such as the weekend’s weather forecast, what was the score in the Leafs game, or where’s my nearest Pho restaurant?

When it comes to providing simple answers to simple questions Google will be providing that information directly in the SERP and that means the viewer is unlikely to need to reference secondary sites. To attract valuable traffic away from the SERP and to your website, you want to create what’s called complex content.

Complex content is content that’s not conducive to being answered in a small snippet of text at the top of a Google results’ page. When writing new content for your site, set yourself apart and create content that shows your expertise and creates value by going into greater detail without being long-winded or full of superfluous information. Go for depth and complexity instead of quick answers, but do so judiciously and have all of the content have discernible value for the reader

You can also try to attract clicks with website content that answers specific, niche questions, ones that Google wouldn’t be able to answer instantly right in its result page. Long story short, you will be able to attract clicks to your pages when you hone in on information that users won’t be able to get straight from Google.

Google’s Appetite Increasing

Google is a business and all successful do not rest on their laurels. These days, Google is sending more search traffic to ads or to websites that they own. They’re perfectly within their rights to give preference to the sites that can earn them clicks – and revenue! Research indicates a full 49% of Google search traffic is going to Google owned properties like YouTube and Google My Business.

If you want your business to show up on SERPs, promote yourself on Google-owned sites like YouTube and Google Maps. Create a YouTube channel and post related videos whenever you can. If you’re a local business, you MUST have a profile on Google My Business and make sure that users can find you using Google Maps.

There’s more to optimizing your website for Google search rankings in 2017, and we encourage you to do some research on your own. Considering the value your Internet Marketing has for the success of your business, it’s well worth it.

Weighing Cloud Analytics

Information technology leader is touching CLOUD ANALYTICS on a virtual interface. Information technology concept and business strategy metaphor for efficient cloud computing resource utilization.

Taking a critical look at big data gives companies valuable insights that allow them to make better-informed strategic decisions. Looking at these insights – and then making smart strategic moves based on your deductions – gives you the edge over your competitors and provides a more complete picture of your business. Undertaking big data analytics isn’t the simplest of processes though. You need the computing resources in place for it to be done effectively, and here at 4GoodHosting we like to share what we know as a Canadian web hosting provider who understands Internet marketing as well.

So, What Exactly is Cloud Analytics?

Cloud analytics is a cloud-based solution which enables businesses to carry out analyses and related intelligence procedures through integrated cloud models, whether that’s with hosted data warehouses, SaaS business intelligence (BI) or cloud-powered social media analytics. A whole range of analytical tools and techniques are put to work to help companies extract information from massive data and then present it in a way that is easily categorized, readily available via a web browser, and – most importantly – digestible and comprehensible for those who have interests in it.

A Unified Vision For The Business

Many companies face problems when different elements within the organization do not share the same perception of what is going well for the company – and what isn’t. Often, they are all working from their own data sets without a collectively agreed-upon ‘big picture.’

Cloud analytics makes it easier to identify and firmly define what that big picture should be.

One of the crucial advantages of using cloud analytics is its ability to consolidate big data from all sources and communication channels that a company employs. The capacity that cloud computing offers allows everything to feed in in a linear and timely manner: you can gather large-scale data from all your internal apps, devices, social networks and data subscriptions. Needless to say, that would be difficult to do in-house and on a single network.

Using a cloud-based data management platform lets you easily blend data from a range of sources, enabling it to be matched, merged and cleansed – with the collective volume of data being far more accurate results that enable you to have a unified vision of your business.

Increased Ease of Accessibility

The key to ensuring everyone sees – and comprehends – this unified vision lies in the ease of accessibility that cloud-based data management platforms provide. Compared to in-house applications which companies tend to be slow in adopting, cloud-based apps are much easier to use and can often be self-taught, reducing the need for staff training and instead utilizing the natural intuitiveness of the staff.

Further, employees don’t need to create one-off reports or log into separate systems to undertake analytics. That’s because the technology tends to be embraced more quickly throughout the company. This rapidity means cloud analytics become more accessible to everyone, and the fact they all quickly grasp and embrace it means it’s even more of an intelligent and productive choice.

Improved Collaboration

Many companies struggle to build a system that allows team members to collaborate effectively. A mix of in-house and external systems can be less than conducive to developing analytical models and sharing the results. As a result, development lacks pace, work is completed redundantly, and a good many people never get to contribute. This is particularly true for telecommute team members.

It’s entirely different with cloud-based data analytics. Teams can work together to curate data, create analytics designs and evaluate outcomes, no matter where they’re based. The fact that each member has access to real-time insights is of particular significance here. It’s a real benefit for operational teams who need those insights to make critical decisions in the interest of the success of the business.

Security

Cloud service providers take security very seriously. In fact, most public cloud providers have better security mechanisms in place and are much better at systemic security services than company managed, in-house systems.

In-house systems generally use a mix of older technologies and legacy apps that have more vulnerabilities than the state-of-the-art systems found in cloud data centres. Cloud systems also have less complex architecture, making them easier to monitor and defend.

The cloud also has an inherent ability to help companies meet recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives should a data disaster occur. Giant backup storage capacity and huge numbers of redundant failover servers make it a cinch for the Cloud to be able to do this, whereas for an independent it would be a staggering expense.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we are one of Canada’s premiere web hosting providers and have our thumb on the pulse of everything related to web hosting, including the newest technological advances that allow you to optimize your Internet marketing efforts and position yourself with maximum efficiency in the business world.

SSD Hosting for Data On-Demand Websites of All Sorts

four Hard disk drives, HDD and SSD on white

These days, there are all sorts of expansive blogs and online discussion forums for pretty much every subject imaginable. The forums in particular are great for talking extensively with similar enthusiasts and getting as much perspective as possible on the things you’re into, and there’s no better place to get recommendations for the best gear or whatever it is you’re looking to acquire.

Many of them working with Canadian web hosting providers build their platforms using the popular vBulletin software, including the new vBulletin 5. And yes, successful discussion forums can bring advertisers and thus profit for the webmasters.

Websites like these have heavy data demands with the nature of their size and user interactivity. In this business, the I and O in I/O requests stands for input and output, and how that relates to a website is that – when there’s many of them – it’s a lot to ask of the standard drives that will be made available with basic web hosting. SSD web hosting is a specialty here at 4GoodHosting, and we’ve got many customers enjoying the stability and security it provides for their websites.

Ideal for Database-Driven Applications

During peak viewing times, the amount of I/O requests can slow down the recall of information from your database. This is especially true for sites on traditional “spinning media” disk drives. The physical limitations of spinning hard disks and the mechanical head restricts the amount of information that can be requested at a given time.

SDD hard drives are excellent for database driven applications. A custom application or an e-commerce website needs to have a significant amount of database input and output and as the site gets more traffic the person’s hard drive will be getting much more I/O requests. The vast amount of I/O requests could over time slow down the information from a database. SSD Hosting proves to be much more sufficient because-because SDD hosting has no use for any moving objects or parts data transfer is only restricted by the speed of the network.

Want stats? SSDs were able to outmatch the hard disk drives when on the I/O transfer. SSDs were able to push out at least 95 percent more data than the hard disks they were tested against.

Eliminating Latency and Near-Zero Risk of Memory Loss

SSDs are not subject to two issues which standard hard drives are encumbered by. The most relevant of these is the rotational latency that is on the disk, and the seek time which it takes for the read/write head to locate the data that is presented on the disk can be an issue too. Generally, your standard hard disk drive takes 20 times longer to obtain data during an instance of a large amount of I/O requests.

SSD hard drives are excellent for data loss prevention as well. Most can use RAID cards with the help of battery-backed non-volatile caching, and that is most notably useful should a power loss endanger any unwritten data. With an SSD drive, it would simply be stored in the cache until the server comes back on. Any inbound data at that point would be both written and stored, and crisis averted.

Sound like just what you need for your increasingly-popular discussion forum or any other site where data is going to be in demand? Check out our packages with features here and let’s get you set up right!

Making your blog profitable, plus the best hosting for WordPress

Digital Online Social Media Blog Working Concept

If you’re enthusiastic and / or passionate about a subject matter – and that could be ANY subject matter – blogging about it is almost certainly going to be a personally rewarding experience. That’s particularly true when you receive interaction on your blog, and that’s most commonly in the form of comments and having others link to your blog. It’s a nice feeling to know your writing is being read, and that others are taking an interest in what you have to say.

For some, there comes a point when they sense that their blog is capable of so much more. It’s true that some blogs are bonafide money makers for their authors and it’s quite common for well-established bloggers to think ‘hey, why can’t I make my blog profitable?’

Well, you can! But you need to take a strategic approach to it and get the most ideal web hosting from a reputable Canadian web hosting provider.

Tips for Making Money From Your Blog

Increase website traffic

You not only want search engines to be your friend, you want them to become a powerful ally in making your blog more popular, and thus more profitable. The first most effective way to increase website traffic is to focus on increasing your social shares. The more people who share your content on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, the more people will be motivated to visit your blog / website. The best way to accomplish this is to write great headlines that are SEO optimized and persuasive in prompting people to click on your links. Also provide easy ways to share your blog posts.

Other ideas:

  • Use long-tail keywords and do extensive keyword research
  • Start writing posts for other blogs in your niche
  • Install the CommentLuv plug-in on your blog to make it easier and more inviting for feedback and discussion

Network and Reach Out To More People

Plain and simple, you grow your blog – and in the bigger picture your brand – by networking extensively. Reach out every influencer in your niche. Connect with them, build relationships and frequently share their stuff on social media networks. Be proactive in every way you can to foster good relationships with influencers and other bloggers. Not only is it effective, it’s actually really enjoyable to make connections with others who have similar interests and aims, plus a strong interest in the digital space!

Other ideas:

  • Attend webinars and join seminars
  • Start participating extensively in blogging forum discussions
  • Tweet! Comment and frequently retweet stuff to grab reader’s attention

Develop and Launch Your Own Products

This one is obviously a much more intensive step, but again it’s very worth the effort. Develop information products and marketing them allows you to develop what’s called a passive income stream. More like a steady trickle rather than an infrequent gush, if you will, and that’s actually really preferable in the long run.

Build a specific list of email subscribers who are interested in your products and who are ready to buy stuff from you, and take leads from the people who are already making money by selling information products. Give commissions to anyone who helps you sell these products.

Construct an Email List, and Grow It

Have a look at top bloggers and analyze their income reports to see that their major earnings come from by leveraging the power of their email list. Make sure to integrate your email list right from the beginning. One advisable step is to offer an incentive to boost your email sign ups and make sure to add value to the people by sending them useful newsletters often. Be wary of pitching your products too often – subscribers may end up unsubscribing from your email lists.

Other ideas:

  • Offer incentive to your visitors with a freebie. Freebies like eBooks, videos, infographics etc. can prompt people to sign up to your email lists.
  • Use content upgrades to attract the right people to your email list. Offer a freebie that is relevant to your blog post or turn your post into PDF and make it easy for download. This way you can effectively build your list.
  • Showcase testimonials – somebody had something good to say? Share it right up front

Most bloggers use WordPress to write and publish their blogs. WordPress web hosting is built specifically for WordPress. This type of hosting is often called Managed WordPress Hosting, with the entire infrastructure is designed to do one thing well—run WordPress!

All 4GoodHosting clients will have access to a WordPress blog through their CP (control panel) and we’d love to hear about the successes – personal, financial, or otherwise – you’ve had with your blog hosted by us.

Regulating, Optimizing, and Identifying with Intel’s Smartly Designed Data Center Manager

young handsome business man engeneer in datacenter server room

No one will be better informed than a Canadian web hosting service provider to detail the way today’s data centers can really ramp up operating costs. There’s a whole host of reasons for that, but nearly every one of them is contained in those centers’ digital architecture, and their sensors and instrumentation specifically. Making correct analyses of where inefficient operation is occurring is often beyond the means of even the most digitally savvy of us, but certainly not for the smart folks at Intel.

Intel’s Data Center Manager helps data center operators lower costs and extend infrastructure life spans by automating data collection and presenting insights into ideal operating conditions and configurations. It involves identify and monitoring as many individual data points, so when there’s a problematic inefficiency, users are able to know exactly where it is.

One of the common issues DCM data reveals is a need to increase the temperature in datacenters and thus minimize cooling costs. This shouldn’t come as a surprise entirely, given the ever-increasing workload these data centers face and the according way they will tend to run hot as a result. There are more data points than ever, and so by extracting that data and looking at it from a more objective perspective, you can be confident in choosing to turn up the temperature as a means of lowering your air conditioning costs.

From there, the DCM team can set threshold levels and implement algorithms to try to predict temperatures and to alert datacenter operators of potential problems.

Just one example of how Intel’s DCM is super effective in helping to manage and keep a Data Center cost controlled. Here’s more:

Languages to Communicate Across OEMs

All hardware manufacturers follow the Intelligent Platform Management Interface, or IPMI, specifications to report performance metrics independently of the hardware’s CPU, firmware, or operating system. Each brand customizes their IPMI feed slightly to differentiate their products, and that’s to be expected.

DCM provides a simplified data feed to infrastructure and application performance managers to interpret or to connect with a facilities management interface. The out-of-band solution has its own discovery mechanism to locate network devices and languages, and if a new language surfaces that’s unrecognizable, it’s added to the library. Intel reports that updating and maintaining this library is a priority.

Virtual Gateway with Remote Diagnostics and Troubleshooting

Off the success of DCM, Intel asked the development team if they could access any other useful information. By running a remote session, they found they could access logs and BIOS data to monitor system health metrics. DCM’s companion product is called Virtual Gateway (click here to see Intel’s product detailing) and it features a set of APIs that let datacenter operators tap into those resources with a keyboard-video-mouse (KVM) interface. Intel’s logic here is in the understanding that not many data center operators will want to add more hardware unless it’s absolutely necessary, and Virtual Gateway allows them to avoid that scenario.

Lastly, it’s good to know that all data center hardware built after 2007 will have at least some degree of compatibility with Intel’s Data Center Manager, and that includes many already-installed / long-serving components from are not made by Intel.

No matter what business you’re in, you want to keep operating costs reasonable and for those of us in the web hosting business this is an extremely valuable tool that allows us to pass on the benefits of efficient data center operation along to customers in the form of lower service rates. Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re always on the prowl for any such resource that allows us to do what we do even better day in and out and provide you with best web hosting services at the best prices!

What Exactly? The Ins and Outs of Subdomains

Domain

www.merriam-webster.com is pretty much the go-to online dictionary of choice these days, and it offers a full 10 different categorical definitions for the word domain, but most people will understand it to mean ‘space thats yours.’ The prefix ‘sub-‘ generally indicates a state of being beneath or under the suffix, whether literally or figuratively. Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re web hosting experts in Canada but we’re the furthest thing from that when it comes to dictionaries.

Just this once though we’ll take a dissection approach to the word subdomain, and talk briefly about how it relates to web hosting as a whole. If we’re taking the literal meaning of it based on what’s explained above, it means ‘under space’ and while that’s vague and indeterminate it’s still fairly applicable.

A subdomain is the part of the website address before the domain name. More in sticking with our definition here though, subdomains are known as ‘third level’ domains, or canonical names, and as such they’re ‘beneath’ a website’s standard URL that’s registered, recognized, and functional within web directories. To put it more simply and understandably, a website’s URL will begin with the very recognizable http: (hyper text transfer protocol) – but you’re probably more familiar with it as it’s subdomain – www.______. com / ca etc etc.

Let’s use Merriam-Webster again as our example here. Their URL is https://www.merriam-webster.com/ but you’ll know them and link them with subdomain shown up on the first line of this blog post. That’s a subdomain!

So why subdomains?

Subdomains are commonly used to categorize portions of the website, and they can be easily moved to another server if the category gets very popular.

Subdomains are also used by free web hosting providers to resell web space under their own domain name (e.g. http://membername.hostname.com). Each member will have their subdomain, but every one of them there will still share the domain name of the hosting provider.

Subdomain names are also practical to balance the web servers for a high traffic website. Multiple web servers are assigned different subdomains like www.sitename.com, www1.sitename.com, www2.sitename.com etc, though each of them contain the same application code. When the request comes from the browser, the load balancing software redirects it to one of these servers. DNS load balancing is a simple method of load balancing using subdomains pointing to different IP addresses.

Webmaster Considerations

First and foremost, subdomains makes the URLs shorter and easier on the eyes. It allows website owners to categorize the content of the website, and – most importantly – facilitates better search engine rankings as most engines treat the subdomain as a separate website address.

However, there are certain things to consider before setting up subdomains for your website.

One of particular note is that if you use cookies in your website. A cookie set from a subdomain cannot be read from the main domain, and vice versa because of the security association feature tied to the domain which set it. This is also true for session cookies. If the user is logged in on the main site, and then moves to a subdomain, the subdomain site will not be able to access the same session cookie, and will assign a new session – which then forces the user to log in again. Implementing URL rewrites instead of session cookies is the common solution here, but it’s something a webmaster needs to be aware of.

In addition, your website stats will often not include the statistics of the subdomains and you’ll have to set up separate statistics for your subdomains. Subdomains allow a website to be broken down into smaller pieces without losing the brand image associated with the domain name. The subdomains can be hosted on separate servers in order to reduce the burden on the main domain hosting server.

Many web hosting providers do not provide subdomains in their hosting packages and / or charge extra for subdomain setup and maintenance. It’s also common that if you have a subdomain and want to move your site, you have to choose a provider which supports subdomains.

So if you’re looking for Canadian web hosting with subdomains included, we’ve got that for you with our Business and Advanced web hosting packages, competitively priced and featuring all the rock-solid reliability that 4GoodHosting is known for.

The Need for Speedy Servers

Startup concept with rocket flying out of laptop screen on grey background. 3D Rendering

The very nature of the two terms ‘want’ and ‘need’ make very clear that there’s a big difference between the 2 of them. The majority of the time we will want something, but it’s hard to rationalize saying that we truly need it.

There are exceptions to this of course, and considering we’re going to be talking about speed here this week we’ll go with an automotive analogy. Many car enthusiasts – and guys in particular – would like to have a sports car with a powerful V8 engine under the hood and performance suspension tuning, but in reality their Toyota Corolla suffices for their day-to-day driving habits. Take a highway patrol officer, however, and having a vehicle that’s got plenty of acceleration and top-end speed at its disposal is every bit a necessity.

Nearly every Canadian web hosting provider is going to make a point of offering speedy web hosting servers available to their customers these days, and fact is that’s a reflection of a demand based much more in need than it is in want.

If your website serves as the primary contact point for e-commerce aims, then slow-loading websites and ones that are sluggish to respond may well be taking a big chunk out of your sales and revenue. Sales and conversions come from the combination of effective content with faster loading speed of your website, and you had better believe that prospective customers are as impatient as ever.
For years now, surveys have showed that loading speed of websites has a great impact on their traffic trends. So how is yours measuring up, and is it being hindered by slow servers?

Revenues taking a hit?

‘Bounce rates’ are a statistical reflection of visitors who choose to leave your site prematurely. A number of studies have proven that the average visitors will leave your website if it does not become accessible in 3 to 6 seconds. We could go into detail here, but really there’s no need – once they’ve bounced, they’re likely not coming back, much less making a purchase of any sort.
Here’s a relevant example. Shopzilla generated 12% more revenue by simply improving their website speed from 6 seconds to 1.2 seconds. That’s a significant jump, and shows that even a matter of seconds in website response time can make a big difference.

Similarly, other findings over the last few years seem to indicate that you can improve your conversion rate by up to 2% for every second you up your website speed. Of course, that will vary and be dependent based on the nature of your business and type of products, services – but the appeal of that statistic should be very genuine and something you want to keep in mind.

Ballpark Figures for ‘Fast Enough’

The ideal loading time of a website is under 3 seconds. If your website becomes visible in 5 seconds, you’re doing well. If it is under 10 seconds, it’s acceptable – at best. If your website exceeds 10 seconds, however, there’s no debating it’s going to be detrimental for you.
There are several performance metric tools available to report the performance of your website speed along with web page improvement suggestions. You can optimize the structure of your code to get faster responses, but for starters you need to be with a web host that has servers which pack the vroom-vroom you need.

Server speed may be an issue if your website is located on one of the more inexpensive shared hosting packages. The architecture of your web pages and the presence of more dynamic multimedia content (video etc) can be big factors in the need for more speed from servers. If you have a business website, mobile application or a professional service website, VPS (virtual private server) hosting is one option to get you the speed you need.

Dedicated servers also offer the benefit of:

  • Loading faster
  • Being able to handle traffic spikes
  • Offering better security

So we’ll conclude this week, by stating emphatically that here at 4GoodHosting we know that search engines out there incorporate page load timing in their search ranking factors and they, in part, give you back ranking points, traffic and sales. Our servers and solid-state drives are as fast as you’ll find – period – and we’re constantly testing them to make sure they stay that way.

The Importance of Link Building for SEO

We’re all familiar with what it means to ‘vouch’ for someone or something. That is, to say that you can attest to the quality or reliability of that individual or product. Many of those competing in the online world may not know the value of link building, however, but your Canadian web hosting provider will be explicitly aware of that value. Google of course is the world’s premier search engine, and it uses links to measure the authority of web pages. If a web page attracts links from other pages Google’s algorithm, the software it uses to rank pages and decide which page is number one for a search result increases the importance of a page – and thus how high it places in search engine results.

Search Engine Optimization consultant touching SEO button on whiteboard

So in a sense it’s just like a vouch for that page – you feel there’s value there, and you’re recommending visitors might want to consider visiting it via your page to gain more in the way of quality information on the subject.

So let’s now take a look at some of the more common link building techniques, and ones that will be much easier to incorporate into your webpages, blog, or other digital communications.

Forums – Link building techniques using forums typically involve creating a profile page and a signature link. Signature links allow links to be created at the bottom of posts or comments left in a forum. Signature links tend to be regarded as low quality though, and while they may send a measurable amount of traffic they likely won’t have any long lasting impact on the pages you link them to. These links are not merit based, and search engines – Google in particular – are getting better at ignoring these links and assigning them no value.

Link Farms – The link farm technique is a standard approach form SEO companies. A link farm can often have a vast number of websites and web pages within it, all under the control of the individual link builder. Building a link farm link allows them to offer a set number of links for a specific fee, and the extent to which this can be done is pretty much unlimited. Where link farming becomes problematic is when it’s discovered by the search engines. If that occurs – and it does much more frequently these days – the links within them will cease to have any positive impact on the sites they link to.

Directories – These are useful and can create links that are nearly guaranteed to provide some value in the sense of attracting traffic to your website. However, they are a form of spam and, as with other spam techniques, links from directories tend to not be merit based and will almost always carry next to no weight in terms of helping to increase your ranking. Notable exceptions here include the DMOZ directory and Yahoo, among others.

Hubs – These are pages created on services like Squidoo. Hub pages, or lenses as they are also referred to, are a great idea and allow people to create pages about a subject matter they are passionate about. The issue here is in the fact that spammers have also realized it’s an easy way to create pages for more illegitimate link building. As a result, using hubs as part of your link building for better SEO isn’t as highly recommended.

Blogs – Genuine blogs are a great source of landing spots for outbound links with your link building. But be wary of those that are known as SPLOGS, meaning spam blogs. They tend to be a favourite spot for link spammers. The most common technique for this spam approach is to leave a comment and associated link to their client’s website. Long story short, an outbound link of this variety will have little value other than a very small amount of web traffic, unless your comment happens to be on a high traffic popular blog. Most however tend to be deleted by the blog’s webmaster.

Social bookmarks – Once upon a time in the early days of Internet marketing, social bookmarking sites were a source of valuable links. Yet again, link spammers have spoiled that for everyone. Most of the credible bookmarking sites now categorize these links as nofollow links, so it’s best to look past them when weighing which ones might work well for you.

Be in touch with us here at 4GoodHosting to learn more about the most effective ways to improve website SEO, including ways to incorporate link building. We want to get ahead, and we imagine you do too. Let’s talk!

The Importance of Link Building for SEO

Businessman suggested effective 'SEO' optimisation approach. Hands presenting a 'SEO' flowchart.

We’re all familiar with what it means to ‘vouch’ for someone or something. That is, to say that you can attest to the quality or reliability of that individual or product. Many of those competing in the online world may not know the value of link building, however, but your Canadian web hosting provider will be explicitly aware of that value. Google of course is the world’s premier search engine, and it uses links to measure the authority of web pages. If a web page attracts links from other pages Google’s algorithm, the software it uses to rank pages and decide which page is number one for a search result increases the importance of a page – and thus how high it places in search engine results.

So in a sense it’s just like a vouch for that page – you feel there’s value there, and you’re recommending visitors might want to consider visiting it via your page to gain more in the way of quality information on the subject.

So let’s now take a look at some of the more common link building techniques, and ones that will be much easier to incorporate into your webpages, blog, or other digital communications.

Forums – Link building techniques using forums typically involve creating a profile page and a signature link. Signature links allow links to be created at the bottom of posts or comments left in a forum. Signature links tend to be regarded as low quality though, and while they may send a measurable amount of traffic they likely won’t have any long lasting impact on the pages you link them to. These links are not merit based, and search engines – Google in particular – are getting better at ignoring these links and assigning them no value.

Link Farms – The link farm technique is a standard approach form SEO companies. A link farm can often have a vast number of websites and web pages within it, all under the control of the individual link builder. Building a link farm link allows them to offer a set number of links for a specific fee, and the extent to which this can be done is pretty much unlimited. Where link farming becomes problematic is when it’s discovered by the search engines. If that occurs – and it does much more frequently these days – the links within them will cease to have any positive impact on the sites they link to.

Directories – These are useful and can create links that are nearly guaranteed to provide some value in the sense of attracting traffic to your website. However, they are a form of spam and, as with other spam techniques, links from directories tend to not be merit based and will almost always carry next to no weight in terms of helping to increase your ranking. Notable exceptions here include the DMOZ directory and Yahoo, among others.

Hubs – These are pages created on services like Squidoo. Hub pages, or lenses as they are also referred to, are a great idea and allow people to create pages about a subject matter they are passionate about. The issue here is in the fact that spammers have also realized it’s an easy way to create pages for more illegitimate link building. As a result, using hubs as part of your link building for better SEO isn’t as highly recommended.

Blogs – Genuine blogs are a great source of landing spots for outbound links with your link building. But be wary of those that are known as SPLOGS, meaning spam blogs. They tend to be a favourite spot for link spammers. The most common technique for this spam approach is to leave a comment and associated link to their client’s website. Long story short, an outbound link of this variety will have little value other than a very small amount of web traffic, unless your comment happens to be on a high traffic popular blog. Most however tend to be deleted by the blog’s webmaster.

Social bookmarks – Once upon a time in the early days of Internet marketing, social bookmarking sites were a source of valuable links. Yet again, link spammers have spoiled that for everyone. Most of the credible bookmarking sites now categorize these links as nofollow links, so it’s best to look past them when weighing which ones might work well for you.

Be in touch with us here at 4GoodHosting to learn more about the most effective ways to improve website SEO, including ways to incorporate link building. We want to get ahead, and we imagine you do too. Let’s talk!

For SEO Services please visit http://4goodhosting.com/seo-services.

Build it Better: Getting the Most Out of Your Website

It’s increasingly rare these days to find a business that doesn’t have their own website. As is the case with every one of them, there’s a whole lot of work that goes into a website – planning, designing, and the actual construction of the different HTML elements that together make up those web pages we’re happy to just visit and browse through as we like.

Be aware that there are choices you can make when putting your website together, however, that can have negative repercussions down the line and quite possibly sabotage the successes you envisioned for yourself when you decided to take your business onto the World Wide Web.

Start with the Right Conceptual Thinking

First off, all of the following are FALSE:

  1. I need a flashy website that looks ‘cool’

Believe us when we tell you that substance trumps flush in a big way when it comes to the entirety of your online presence. Stressing to your web designer that it’s all-important to have a ‘cutting edge’ site is creating the wrong perspective for what you want to be accomplishing here.

Keep in mind that this isn’t a competition about ‘looks’, it’s about effectively conveying to your customers THAT WHICH IS IMPORTANT TO THEM – which, in nearly every instance, is a quality product or service that’s priced reasonably and comes with positive reviews from buyers just like them. What your website looks like will pretty much be the last of their considerations.

  1. It’s always good to save few bucks by having my friend / relative / other design my website for a discount

For sure, hiring designers or developers with many years of experience and a proven portfolio of work can be expensive. The best professionals can and do charge what they do because – in addition to designing the website – they also often research, plan, and strategize the entire conversion process and site flow as well.

Needless to say, you stand to benefit IMMENSELY from this value-added part of their service, and these types of analytical approaches are very likely going to be beyond the ability of the guy or gal you know.

Hiring a qualified design pro can also mean that your project isn’t completed as quickly as you’d like. Without going on at length, we’ll just suffice to say that – again – any delay that’s related to making your website a more soundly constructed portal THAT WORKS TO SERVE YOUR MARKETING INTERESTS effectively is very much worth it in the long run.

Conversions, sales, followers, in-store visits (if you’ve got a brick n mortar) etc etc. – you want them, and working with a reputable and experienced web designer / developer is the straightest path to getting there.

  1. A simple ‘electronic brochure’ is really all I need from my website

Maybe so if you’re fine with just staying where you are in as far as the size and scope of your business (and its success). In all likelihood though, you’d like to see more out of your business and in this day and age the BEST way to build your business is to promote it effectively online. And if we were to tell you that there’s not too much involved in going from an electronic brochure to a fully-vamped website, why wouldn’t you choose the one that’s going to give your more sales / service opportunities and make your brand all the more visible?

Right then.

Taking the Right Approach

This starts with answering one direct question – what is it that you need your website to do? The answer can vary, but it’s safe enough to assume that anyone who’s in business will have ‘helping us sell more of our product(s)’ at or near the top of their list.

So, with that understood, your website MUST:

  • Attract the right customers

Determine what your customer demographic has for a ‘buyer profile’ – how do they buy, when do they buy, what types of advertising / marketing collaterals are they attracted to? If you can’t answer these questions yourself, it’s very wise to hire someone who can analyze these correctly for you

Once these questions are answered, your designer should be able to start making design choices that are in line with the findings. Your website’s primary focus must be on attracting the right prospective customers to your site, keeping them there, and converting many of those visits into conversions etc.

  • Be optimized for people and their searches through Google, Bing etc.

Are you familiar with the acronym SEO? You should be, and if not then – again – you REALLY need to hire a web copywriter to put together your site content. SEO is search engine optimization, and having quality SEO for your content means your site will be presented higher up in search results conducted by potential visitors / customers

  • Be sufficiently easy to use

A frustrated or flustered visitor is never a good thing, and 9 times out of 10 they become a contributor to your site’s bounce rate (also a big negative). Your website must be explicitly user friendly, where content is supported, messages are clearly communicated, calls-to-action are firmly identified, and visitors are guided – subtly – toward a conversion.

  • Help you stand out in the crowd

This one tends to be overlooked sometime, but it’s important to remember that there are likely hundreds, if not thousands, of websites out there that are similar to yours. You need to distinguish your site from them as best you can, ensuring that your visitors are likely to remember you, respect you, and – down the line – even refer you!

Some of this stuff can be very overly-conceptual for many folks, so if it’s above and beyond your comprehension then do trust your website to a digital marketing professional. You’ll be glad you did.

Determining the Best Website Strategy

Every page of every business website has some type of conversion objective, even if that objective is simply to redirect them to the page where you’re making your primary conversion objective accessible.

This last part if important to keep in mind, because it’s a fact that not every visitor to your website will enter it via the landing page. A clear, comprehensive website strategy outlines the paths to conversion from multiple entry points on the website. How they move from their entry points, and what type of information they request on their way to a) buying or b) bouncing is very relevant to take into consideration.

So, we’ll now introduce the 4 types of content found on effective websites;

‘Know’ content – lets them learn about you, your brand, and the products and services that you believe will be of value to them. Always be sure to show yourself to be an authority with your subject matter.

‘Like’ content – helps visitors see who you are, where you stand on certain issues related to your products / services, and what you have to say. It can offer quick looks into your personal life, your personality, and your opinions

‘Trust’ content – to attach credibility, reliability, and trust to you in the eyes of your visitors. Shows you to be an expert with a history of proven results, and conveys an understanding that there’s no risk to choosing you as a retailer or provider.

‘Conversion’ content – utilized to persuade visitors to take specific actions and convert new visitors into clients, customers, subscribers, or any other role in the promotion of your business online

Let’s Get Going

Now you’ll have a more broad-reaching conceptual approach. Remember – don’t rush headlong into anything, think things through and get second opinions along with revisiting your own.

When you understand your website’s function, eliminate distractions, establish multiple different paths to conversion, and apply the 4-type content process highlighted above, you’ll be on the right path for sure. Last but not least, keep in mind that all websites need web hosting, and quite often a web hosting service provider in Canada will offer Internet Marketing services that include optimizing your website. 4GoodHosting certainly does, and you’re encouraged to learn more at www.4goodhosting.com