Extensive changes have been made to the WoodsIT web hosting infrastructure, review the long list of changes ranging from a new faster server, exceptionally fast DNS servers and fastest caching available – with all changes made with increasing page speed in mind.
Welcome to the WoodsIT Client Newsletter, February 10, 2018.
Scroll down or click on the hyperlinked text to jump to content of interest;
- all websites have now been moved to the new faster server using new faster server software
- getting all websites are ready for the mobile first index and what has been done to improve website speed
- new search engine optimisation technology, schema, is currently being used by Google
- large amounts of traffic being reported from Google MyBusiness pages and links but misreported in Google Analytics
- Facebook feed changes drive home why capturing emails of your followers is so important
1. New faster server, networking infrastructure and server software
After a year of testing all reasonably priced web hosting options, all websites are now finally located in their new home and the new home is perfect!
The checklist that this new home had to pass was exhaustive and extensive;
- fastest network response times from Australia
- fastest domain name DNS response rate from Australia
- fastest SSL certificate load rate
- the fastest time to first byte (TTFT) from Australia
- latest and fastest HTTP protocol, https/2, installed
- latest and fastest PHP version 7 installed
- latest and fastest database, MariaDB, installed
Testing included all the big names in the shared web hosting world; such as SiteGround, WPEngine, Inmotion, iPage and GoDaddy. After finding none of the previously mentioned web host companies could meet the requirement the previous list I moved onto bare bones server (a virtual private server) hardware starting with local Australian company RansomIT.
Initial testing was good as I built the server to include all requirements such as latest HTTP protocol, PHP version 7 and MariaDB but I was not 100% happy. I started testing cloud providers such as Amazon Web Servers (AWS), Google Cloud, OnCloud and Vultr. AWS, Google and Vultr have servers located in Australia so a fast network response time was easily achieved.
During this testing, the same server software was installed on each provider. To ensure I was comparing apples to apples the exact the same website(s) was also installed. I found after a good few months of trial and error the Vultr server had the best performance.
Testing was undertaken using standard website testing tools such as Google PageSpeed insights, GTMatrix and WebPageTest.
The purpose-built Vultr cloud Virtual Private Server (VPS) meets all requirements;
- extremely fast network response, in some locations less than 15 milliseconds!
- upgrading to a premium DNS provider, DNS Made Easy ensured the fastest DNS resolution possible (I did test AWS Route66 here as well)
- compared to many of the shared web hosting providers, SSL certificate load time was cut down from over 160 milliseconds to 30 milliseconds or less
- testing using WebPageTest found the time to first byte (TTFB) cut down to less than 0.4 seconds
- using the fastest web server software, LiteSpeed, I ensured the latest and fastest HTTPS/2 protocol was installed and configured
- as I built the server myself, I installed the latest and fastest PHP version 7
- and again as I built the server myself I also installed the latest and fastest database management software, MariaDB
2. 100% mobile responsive, 100% mobile index ready, pages loading as fast as possible!
All websites built by me are 100% responsive and Google Mobile First Index ready. Google’s Mobile First Index means websites will be ranked using factors and page load speeds that are achieved over a 3G or 4G connection. Search result ranking on mobile will no longer be based on the desktop version of a website. Thankfully Google has been signalling this for some time and all websites built by me using WordPress are all 100% responsive (the layout and design changes automatically depending on if being viewed on a mobile, tablet or desktop computer) and Mobile Frist Index ready.
Page speed is a key ranking factor! Creating the fastest web server possible all started from the need for a super fast page loading speed. Page speed is a huge factor when it comes to desktop and more so with mobile (and the Mobile First Index). To this end, all client websites use the fastest possible templates, some faster than others, and combined server and plugin web page caching. The most advanced caching plugin is being used which not only saves pages so they load super fast, but it also pre-crawls all pages to make the cache and uses “instant click” (fantastic technology, website pages a loaded in the background automatically when a visitor hovers over the link).
These improvements mean both Google (as in Google search results) and Facebook will rank you higher, or in the case of Facebook, show your posts to more people, as they have both stated a slow website is a poor user experience and be treated as such in search results and showing users your content.
3. Google search optimisation is now all about Schema
Schema is specially crafted code that is loaded in your web page which only machines (such as GoogleBot) see. Using Schema means your web pages tell Google exactly what is on the page. Using Schema makes Google’s job easier and means Google can display your information easier and in more places.
Google uses your page Schema data for featured snippets, best answer, star ratings and reviews and website breadcrumb navigation in search results.
Schema is currently available for articles and news, local businesses, restaurants, events, courses, products, to name a few and is expanding all the time.
Being a WoodsIT web hosting client you have access to my developer licensed Schema Pro plugin which quickly and easily creates the required code after manual configuration of each page.
Watch out for Google expanding the use of where Schema data is going to be used to Google MyBusiness Knowledge Panel under the about tab. Although I have not seen this for Australian businesses, it has been launched in the USA and I would expect to see it here soon, why not be ready?
4. How to record traffic correctly coming from Google MyBusiness
It has been reported traffic from your Google MyBusiness listing is displayed incorrectly in Google Analytics as “direct traffic”. This is of course not ideal. The best way this traffic can be reported is organic (as in organic search engine traffic) and then from Google MyBusiness.
Correct structure is source gmb (short for Google MyBusiness) and medium being organic, my example is:
I have processed this long URL into a nice short URL using a plugin available to all WoodsIT hosted websites so that now looks like:
The above URL automatically redirects to my home page while recording the correct information in Google Analytics.
5. Changes to Facebook feed algorithm means your posts may no longer be been seen!
The cost to be seen on Facebook has become even costlier now. Facebook now only shows page posts to users if that posts already has good engagement, such as a post with many comments – likes and shares are no longer effective.
How do you feed this engagement, obviously start with a good post, but then when a comment is posted make sure a reply is made – that will drive the engagement now required.
I recommend you suggest to your page “likers” (people who like your page or already have) to select to see your posts first on their Facebook feed. This way all your posts will be seen be seen.
To do this, request your Facebook page followers to do the following:
1. Click “Follow” near the cover photo of a friend or Page
2. Hover over “Following” or “Liked” near their cover photo
3. Select “See First”
This is a major change and makes Facebook less effective as a tool to communicate with your people, customers and/or prospective clients. Changes like this show how important it is to always bring your social media users back to your website and capture their email addresses. Then you can message your subscribers directly and know your message has been delivered. As a WoodsIT client, your MailChimp account has been carefully configured to ensure your emails are delivered and not landing in spam folders.
While here, check out my recent post related to search engine optimisation from January 28, 2018, SEO backlink anchor text best practice – a proven strategy.
Aiming to publish more business-relevant information each month, so until next month,