Greetings from SharpNet Solutions – February 1, 2018 Newsletter

For our digital marketing newsletter this month, we’d like to discuss SSL hosting and its impacts on SEO.

For several years, Google has used the overall user experience of a website as a ranking factor. This includes website infrastructure elements such as page load speed, mobile responsiveness, secure hosting and user-friendliness. These issues can often be difficult to correct and highly technical in nature, posing many problems for SEO. Nonetheless, these changes are necessary in order to remain competitive in the digital world.

Secure (SSL) Hosting

We strongly encourage you to actively request that your clients move to secure SSL hosting. As of October 2017, Google has begun to bias SSL website over non-SSL websites. Furthermore, popular browsers including Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari have escalated their warnings to individuals when they visit a website that is not securely hosted. We recommend that you suggest to your client to contact their web host or web design company to implement SSL hosting. However, if their designer/host is unable or unwilling to comply, there are a few options to consider:

1) Move Web Hosting: If you have the ability to offer web hosting to your clients, this would be a great opportunity to gain the web hosting account. If you do not, SharpNET can take over hosting and implement SSL. However, we can only support hosting for WordPress websites or static sites like HMTL and PHP. SharpNET’s SSL hosting solution starts at $15/mo and includes the cost of the security certificate, which must be renewed annually.

2) Website Redesign: If the website cannot be easily moved, and if it is an inferior website, we recommend offering to redesign the client’s website. Updating their design and moving to SSL could lead to a significant increase in search engine rankings and sales conversions.

3) Warn the Client: If the client is unable to remedy their hosting situation, they should be informed that search-based rankings will be more difficult to capture in the future. There can still be great SEO success, but not as great as if the website was securely hosted.

Page Load Speed

The speed at which a website loads is a small ranking factor with Google for most websites, but it becomes a major factor for very slow websites. Some solutions for speeding up the load time include caching pages, reducing image and file size, and code minification. However, not all website platforms have the resources available to complete these actions. Additionally, a slow website can also be caused by a slow web host. A test can be run to determine website speed at https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/, which was developed by Google itself. If a client’s website is benchmarking slow (poor/red rating with Google), we recommend that you share that information with the client and request that their webmaster make an effort to speed up the website. If a webmaster is unable or unwilling to help, let SharpNET know and we’ll see if we can possibly help speed it up. If we can, there would be an additional fee to work on the website. We can also find out if it’s the web hosting causing issues, rather than the website itself. If it’s the hosting, we recommend moving to a faster web host. But don’t move hosting unless you’re certain that the new webhost will actually be quicker.

Other Factors: Website user friendliness, mobile friendliness, aesthetics
These issues generally cannot be corrected unless the website is redesigned. Redesigning an outdated website can help boost search engine ranking capability while also improving sales conversion rates. The client generally recoups their expense through a more productive website.

If you have questions about anything mentioned above, please feel free to reach out.