This year so far has been very busy for us. We’ve taken on a lot of new accounts and we’ve been keeping up with a small slice of more than 1,600 new changes in search. We’ve also been keeping our eye on Google’s impending implementation of a mobile first index. This post is all about what we are doing about these changes and the technical SEO side of things.
Website security has become a primary concern over the years. This year Google is nudging website owners to do something about it and we’ll touch down on this. We’re also going to talk about server performance and offer a single solution to both issues.
Everything Else We’ve Been Up To
A question that has been posed to us a lot lately is about how many clients we’re able to take on. Our initial plan was to hire a writer but that is no longer the case. We are capping off our services in the near future. There are six (6) slots available (as in 6 websites). After that, we will stop accepting new clients. This is a comfortable place for us and will leave us more time to dedicate our efforts to our existing clients. This will also allow us time to pursue our expansion of Okaloosa Online.
We have seen a lot of growth for clients that have been with us for more than a few months, and we encourage our newest clients to hang in there. We’re building equity in your SEO every day. We are always looking for ways to improve our results and this post is going to cover what we’ve been doing to do just that.
Technical SEO & Yoast
Yoast provides a plugin that we use to produce content that best informs readers and search engines like Bing and Google. It also provides a lot of extra tools that cover the technical aspects of SEO.
Load times are very important to search engines and one way to speed up a website is to cache files in the browser so that subsequent page loads don’t have to reload redundant files, saving both time and data. Google recommends browser caching and we used the htaccess editing capabilities of Yoast, configuring the htaccess file to cache the recommended files. Files from third-party sources and files that are dynamic by nature are not cached with this solution.
The most recommended caching plugins for WordPress typically write static HTML files to achieve this. While static HTML files are the fastest way to produce a web page, it also breaks dynamic elements like social media plugins. This is why we decided against a plugin solution to browser caching and believe we have a good balance.
Testimonials & Reviews = Noindex
We have recently begun adding reviews from around the web to the websites we manage. This is great for boasting about the quality of products and services which lead to conversions. However, quoting text from reviews must be word-for-word and thus cannot be optimized. We excluded these pages using the Yoast plugin configuration options to ensure the optimization of every aspect of each website and to prevent content that cannot be optimized from interfering with search results.
Technical SEO & Images
As part of our focus on image-based social networking and Google’s impending mobile index, we have taken painstaking amounts of time to improve image SEO by going through the media libraries of all of our clients and adding metadata to each individual image. This data goes with the image when someone shares it on social networks, most importantly Pinterest and Instagram. The information is also used by search engines and displayed when found in a search.
Image searches are on the rise and there are plenty of networks and services that are working hard to build on this technology. This is yet another reason we decided to stop and resolve the lack of image optimization for all of our clients.
Imagify For One Reason
Or two, depending on how you look at it. Imagify is a premium plugin that compresses images. This is done to reduce the size of image files, allowing the website to load faster. Optimizing an image is as easy as uploading it now. Previous to using this plugin, we were compressing these images one by one, taking hours to optimize images.
Technical SEO & URLs
Most of you know that each web page has a unique address that follows the logic of a file path. It’s also no secret in the SEO world that “human readable” URLs are better for SEO. We’ve always optimized the page and post URLs, but there is a portion of the URL string on WordPress websites that help organize posts by date or category.
We decided to change the configuration for websites that were using the date in post URLs to use the category in the URLs instead. This means existing backlinks to older posts will redirect to their new URL. Existing backlinks aren’t broken but Google doesn’t like redirects either. This has caused a temporary dip in rank for some clients. However, it’s only a temporary dip until Google indexes the new URLs. This is something we did to utilize every opportunity for SEO for the long game.
A very intentional decision has been made to limit the number of websites we manage. We are doing this because we are in a comfortable place that allows us to serve our clients extremely well. This means an increase in the time we can devote to each website. It also means improvements in our strategy, and implementing additional resources that will strengthen our results.
Technical SEO & Citation + Synup
Technical SEO basics for local businesses start with the citation. Each citation is actually an opportunity for exposure first, and useful for SEO second. Google and Bing use these alternate business listings to weigh the validity of business listings in their index.
We plan to begin using Synup to manage business listings on dozens of networks and services. This service will result in an additional $30 per month increase in our pricing. We are not adding cost for additional time spent to manage this platform. We are only passing along the actual cost to cover this tool that will improve citation, which is an important part of our technical SEO strategy.
Technical SEO, SSLs & Hosting Performance
Starting in October of 2017, Google intends to begin leaning on website owners to implement SSL certificates on their websites. SSLs start around $99 per year or more.
I have been considering the existing issues with Godaddy hosting performance. You know what I mean if you’ve received emails about resource limits. When I read the article about the SSL warning coming in October, it only made sense to start considering a way to tackle both of these issues in a cost-effective way.
We are planning to begin using a Virtual Private Server. In addition, we are planning to purchase enough SSL certificates to cover each of our clients. This is our proposed solution to the hosting performance issues and the upcoming SSL requirements from Google. After this transition, clients can stop paying Godaddy for hosting and will not need to purchase an SSL.
Price Changes Are Coming
We strive to provide cost effective SEO. However, Synup, a VPS, and SSLs come at a cost and we aren’t going to hold back. Starting in August of 2017, we will have only one monthly plan available. The only plan we are offering after July 2017 will cover everything we’re doing now, everything we’ve discussed for the future, and it will be for $175 per month, per website.
This cost will cover monthly Synup fees, website hosting, SSL certificate, credit for 400 words each month, on-call website changes, our on-call tech support, update and backup management, and everything else you’ve come to rely on us for.
We will be offering these services starting in August 2017 and billing accordingly. Clients are free to retain their hosting. We encourage clients that make such a decision to purchase a Prime Business Hosting plan and an SSL certificate.
Building Into The Future
We will continue to strive toward providing the most powerful and cost effective SEO service, learning, improving, and growing with the searchable web. The websites in our portfolio receive over 6,000 views per day, and we expect that to double once we have implemented everything we’ve covered in this blog post.
As always, please feel free to contact us at any time if you have any questions about this blog post or need assistance with any of your online assets.