Website Hosting and its importance for SEO

When a company launches a website, they spend weeks, months or even years planning how it will look, etc, but often give little thought to where it will be hosted. The foundation of anything is often even more important than what lies above, and a website is no exception. Looking at all of the available possibilities, and taking time to analyse possible website hosting solutions, can help your site not only have a trouble-free launch, but also be an important component in its future success.

1/ Use Self-source Hosting or Web Designer Hosting?

Often a web development company will offer hosting as part of the design process and, while it allows for easy integration, there can be pitfalls. Just because you use a web development company for initial design and launch, does not mean you will use them forever, and having your site hosted on their server can cause issues down the track should you change web design companies. Your web site does not have to be hosted on a particular server, so by sourcing hosting yourself, you retain autonomy of the site should the relationship sour, or you just want a change of web designers for any reason. In truth, your web developer will just be renting a server from a server farm, the same as you would be doing … so cut out the middle man and save any potential issues moving into the future.

2/ Server Speed & Stability

Not all hosting solutions are the same, and having a slow solution can severely hamper a site’s growth. When people source server hosting, they often look purely at price – which is a mistake. Not all solutions are the same, so each should be reviewed individually across various platforms. Most start-ups will look at shared server, which means you are sharing a server with other sites. Check how many sites you are sharing with? What is the average up-time of the server? Do some research into the proposed hosting solution in the form of looking for reviews etc … a bad solution will often leave a trail of disgruntled users – you just need to look for them.

Server speed and stability are attributes Google looks at when ranking sites. A poorly performing or slow site will provide a poor user experience and this affect your ranks as Google will favour sites with good user experiences.

3/ Location of Server.

This is often an over looked facet in server hosting selection, but one that can be very important. In theory you can host your site on any server in the world, but often using a server hosting in the region your website is targeting is the best option. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, speed and reliability. The closer the server is to your potential client base,the faster it will load, and the fewer hoops it needs to jump through to deliver the site to the end user … fewer hoops means less possibility of a break in the chain, causing your site  to load more slowly or not at all.

The second reason has to do with support. Websites are hosted on servers which, no matter how reliable, like all pieces of hardware can fail. Being able to contact your host during peak business hours, should the site go down, can save you lots in terms of lost revenue. Using our company as an example, we are an SEO agency based in Sydney, and while we offer our services worldwide, we still use a Sydney-based hosting company for quick support during business hours, should our site have any issues.

Getting the right foundation for your site is the first process to building a successful website but one that is often overlooked. Making the right decision early can save you a lot of time and money going forward and give your website the best launch pad for success.

SEO Secrets – Bounce Rates

Everyone wants their website to be successful, and most, after the initial design is chosen, look to outside marketing to make the site a success.  This can be in form of offsite SEO, direct marketing, traditional print media, etc – but even if those techniques successfully drive traffic, you should constantly review your onsite performance to make the most of it. Ensuring visitors interact with your site once they arrive not only makes good business sense, but also helps to push the site’s ranks higher and thus complement any offsite SEO efforts.

The first thing you should do once a site is launched is make use of Google’s free analytics plug-in so you can track your site’s performance and see how your visitors interact with your site. Simply search Google – “Google Analytics”, sign up your website, cut and paste the code, and it will give you access to your online data. Knowing how customers interact with your site allows you to get the greatest benefit from your visitors.

We often have clients approach us asking why their site is not ranking, with the typical comment “My site looks much better than my competitors’, but they always rank higher”. It can of course be for a number of reasons, but one thing Google does not take into account is how a site looks; it instead considers how a site performs. The way it does that is by viewing the data of visitors and how they interact with the site. Google assumes the more interaction, the more relevance a site has for that visitor, so that site ranks more highly. Google’s algorithm does this by reviewing the same data Google Analytics shows, so failure to track this data and then optimise the site accordingly to improve it means you are ignoring a critical part of improving your site’s performance.

As soon as you login, you will immediately see a summary of your site’s performance, demonstrating visitors per day and how they interact with your site.


Obviously, most website owners focus on visitor numbers, but the other data shown is just as important. There are strong indicators of site performance, with one of the most important being Bounce rate.

This statistic refers to how many visitors come to the page and then leave without exploring further. The higher the value of this number, the worse the performance of the website. For example, if your bounce rate is 60%, that means six out of ten visitors to your site did not find what they were looking for. Google will compare this statistic with other sites in the niche to help it determine your site’s worth for certain terms.

Even discounting Google’s use of this statistic, you obviously want to ensure this value is as low as possible to get the most value out of your website’s visitors. The bounce rate shown on the front page is a site average. Google Analytics offers ways of tracking visitor flow, allowing you to determine which pages are not performing, and which are – and using this data, you can fine tune your site to get the most out of your visitors.

A well rounded SEO program needs to look at many facets of a website’s performance; frequently, looking inward to a site’s performance and making small changes can yield big results, not only in ranks, but also more sales.  Your local SEO expert should be able to help you navigate your way through the Google Analytics maze to help you get the best result for your website.

SEO Secrets – Behavior Flow

This weeks SEO secrets blog, looks at behavior flow. Knowing how your website’s visitors use your website is often an over looked part of web design. Too often, I see clients come to us with higher visitor numbers and wanting more, but without optimising how the current user base is using the website. Making a few simple tweaks, and working out how your website is being used, is often a cost effective way to increase ROI (return on investment) in a short time frame.

One of the easiest ways to find out how your site is being used is also free: Google Analytics. When you log into Google analytics, it shows a summary of bounce rates, page views, etc; while this information is useful, you can garner much more information by delving into the many sub menus that are on offer. One of these is Behavioural Flow, which allows you to see how your pages are performing individually. This in turn lets you see what pages may need tweaking in design so that you can get the most out of your current visitor base.

For example, in the screen capture below we can see immediately that this site has a big discrepancy between landing pages bounce rates (or drop offs.).


You can see the discrepancy between the landing pages when it’s an internal page at 73.5%, versus the home page at 29%. If you can make changes to the internal pages so that the drop-off rate is reduced to 29%, you automatically get more client interaction from 3-4 more visitors out of every 10. This would mean more visitor interaction and more potential sales for limited extra cost. Simply by making the most out of you current visitor base, you could potentially double your sale without attracting any more visitors.

Better onsite statistics also help your site rank more highly in its target niche, as Google notices that your site has a lower bounce rate, indicating user satisfaction. So not only do you get more from your current client base, it is a great way to improve your site search engine rankings, thus giving you added benefits.

Designing and launching a website is just the first step in making your business and website successful. You must constantly monitor its performance to ensure you get the best results from it. Reviewing content and visitor interaction is an ongoing job, and is a vital component of any site search engine optimisation strategy.

SEO Secrets – Local SEO


WWW stands for the World Wide Web, but that doesn’t mean that if you are a supplier of local services you still cannot get great value from your website. The secret is to determine your proposed market, and, if it is supplying local services, optimise your web presence accordingly. It would be a waste of time and money getting a national presence when all of your clients are local. Save time and money and generate a targeted audience for your website by optimising it correctly.

1/ Finding the right keywords.

First step is to determine your keyword targets to ensure there is an audience for what you are targeting.  For example, let’s say you are a plumber based in Parramatta, which is a  suburb in Sydney’s west.  A client’s first thought would be to target keywords such as “Plumber” or “Plumber Sydney”, as search levels would be high for these keywords,  but competition levels would also be high and visitors generated not targeted.  Why try to attract visitors to your site who will never use your services, or whom you could not possibly supply services to due to their location?

Looking at location specific terms not only lessens keyword competition, but also increases the relevance of the traffic generated, meaning not only will you rank more quickly for them, but the traffic volume generated, while maybe lower in actual volume, has a much higher conversion rating. This ultimately means you are better off.

2/ Optimising the website content

Google’s main method of determining your website service area is by looking at the content. When targeting a specific area, ensure the content reflects that. Do not talk about Sydney plumbing, but focus on the area you are targeting. Individual pages for each location/suburb you service, with unique content, is  a fantastic way to get local focus as well as providing your site with a bigger website footprint.  Also ensure, if you are based locally, that your contact page reflects this with a local address and phone number.

3/ Google Local listing.

Google provides a free business listing that should be utilised. When using the search term “Plumber Parramatta”, as shown in the red box in the example below, you will see the business listing appearing on the front page, which comes from its Google business listings directory.

locallisting (2)



To be included in this listing, simply search “Google places for  business”, then click on the link, create an account, and follow the formalities. Not only does it place you in the free directory, with proper promotion by your local  SEO specialist, it gives you an opportunity to appear on the front page, and it also helps your website’s organic ranking, by localising your site to that area you wish to target.

4/ Make use of Local Directories and Review Sites

Ensure all your local listings in yellow pages, true local or whatever your local equivalents are; list not only your location but also your website. This again helps Google confirm your geographical location. Most of these sites (including Google local listing) have review functions. Ask your clients to add reviews to give listings more weight, which has the net effects that your site will receive more weight too.

This is obviously a very simple guide to local SEO, but by following these quick steps you are on the way to getting your local service-based web

Relaunch Your Website The Right Way

Your website has been live for over five years and has served you well: generating business, gathering new clients; but now you feel it’s time for a change. You have come to believe that it is outdated, or sales are not as strong as before, and your web development company has suggested it needs an update. Sound familiar?

Over the years, I have heard many a horror story of a once successful website, the owner then decides to change the look and feel of the site, only to see it drop off Google’s radar and hence compound the issues you were trying to correct in the first place. So before you take that big step to make changes, first determine if you need to do it and, if you do, make sure you do it the right way – so you keep your hard earned online gains and not lose them.

The first step is to determine why you need a redesign of your website. A couple of reasons are:

1/ Traffic numbers are down – while it can be easy to blame a dated website for this, be sure to investigate if there are any other possible reasons why traffic is down. Could the site be better optimised on its current platform with minimal changes to achieve the same result? Remember, an SEO-optimised site five years ago needs to be updated to allow for current algorithm changes etc, but this does not always mean you have to start from scratch. This can save time and money, as well as reducing any risks that a full website change involves.

2/ Web developer says site needs a revamp – it’s always nice to have a fresh website, however first ensure it is something that is actually required and not simply what your web developer wants. Get a second opinion from someone who has no vested interest in the site being re-designed, be it your customer base or an outside SEO expert. If people are accustomed to using your website in a certain way, changing things dramatically could alienate your user base if it is not needed.

If you still wish to launch a new website, make sure you have processes in place to ensure a smooth transition, and to minimise damage to your online rankings and traffic levels. If done properly, a new look for your website can help invigorate sales and increase rankings; if transitioned incorrectly, changes to your website can have disastrous effects, ruining years of hard work. To avoid this, follow a few simple rules:

1/ New site or new skin? – to give a site a fresh new look with minimal changes might mean simply applying a new skin, rather than fully redesigned website. The benefit is that the underlying site structure remains constant, so in turn remains indexed, and any links to those URLs are still valid. In addition, your current customer base is still familiar with the site and more likely to adapt to the change.

2/ Redirects – If the site must be fully overhauled you must plan for the change. When you change the URL structure of a site, it will affect rankings, as web pages that were indexed are suddenly not there. If they disappear, Google search bots will assume they no longer exist, and simply drop the ranking unless you tell them where the content has gone. Make sure all old URLs are redirected to the new relevant pages at launch, so you do not lose the current rankings those pages have.

3/ Get an outside expert opinion – Do not wait for the website to launch to get expert SEO advice, as the damage to rankings will be already done, and it’s easier to keep ranks than gain new ones. Employing an outside SEO expert from the commencement of the redesign means he or she can assess it and advise from an unbiased viewpoint as to what should and shouldn’t be done, and help avoid possible issues before they have unintended consequences for your new website.

So if you’re planning on launching a revamped website, take the time to talk to your local SEO specialist before, during and after the design process for the best results.