Your Australian Web Hosting SEO Checklist
With Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) being a critical factor for your website development, many overlook the impact your hosting environment can have in this area.
Being found in Google is critical for any business, so any advantage you can get over your competitors will always assist.
To assist you in your quest for better SEO we have come up with a simple SEO checklist that if followed will improve your SEO and give you the Google tick of approval.
1. Australian based web servers
Having your servers located within the same geographic area as your customers is one of the key indicators for SEO. This means that if you’re running an Australian business, you need to have your servers located here in Australia.
100% of Conetix’s servers are located here in Brisbane, QLD, Australia. This gives the lowest latency for network connections to all Australians.
There’s only a 6ms latency (yes, 6/1000th’s of a second!) from our servers to Sydney, compared to an average of 200ms to the west coast of the USA where many other cheap hosts have their servers. That’s over 30 times slower!
Not only do you get an improvement in speed but you also get the added benefit of data sovereignty.
Being a fully Australian Company Hosted in Australia on Australian based servers you have the added security and peace of mind knowing that your website information complies with Australian data sovereignty laws.
2. Fast Servers
Low latency is one thing and having your servers in Australia is a good start, but you need to have fast servers to ensure your website loads quickly.
Any advantage of hosting with an Australian host will be lost if the speed of the servers is less than optimal. Many cheaper hosts cram thousands of sites onto the same servers and then limit the performance of each so that they can all remain running.
At Conetix, we don’t oversell our servers and only run the latest, enterprise grade server equipment. Systems such as the latest Dell Poweredge servers fitted with the latest Intel Xeon Gold CPUs (not the cheaper variants many other hosts use) are the core of our platform.
Our virtualisation provider Virtuozzo (who is the world leader in hosting software) and combined with running on the latest Enterprise NVMe Solid State Drives (SSD’s) provides you with a highly optimised environment with the fastest possible platform for your website.
3. SSL Enabled
Unlike many of the ranking indicators which Google normally doesn’t talk about, having an SSL enabled site is one where they’ve been very open about.
While Google has initially said it will provide a small boost, their end goal is to ensure that all sites are 100% HTTPS based so this boost will continue to increase over time.
Having an SSL for your site previously was an additional expense for your website (upwards of $100/year), which is why many didn’t bother unless they absolutely required it. However, Conetix proudly offers the Let’s Encrypt platform for all of our servers to provide free SSL’s for all websites.
Not only this, but the process is literally as simple as 3 clicks! Older, paid systems required email verification and manual installation of the SSL certificate and this could take 1-2 weeks to complete depending on certificate type.
4. OCSP Stapling
Now you have secured your website using a SSL certificate there is one simple step to add that additional boost by turning on OCSP Stapling for your certificate.
Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP) stapling is the standard for checking the revocation status of a digital certificate that is assigned to a website or web service, in simple terms; is your website’s SSL certificate valid.
By turning on this feature you provide that slight improvement in website speed for your potential customers. With an improvement on website speed Google sees this as a ranking signal and also an added trust SEO signal.
If you want to know more about OCSP stapling here is an article on OCSP Stapling: Why should I enable it for my website?
5. HTTP/2 Enabled
By adding a SSL certificate to your website and securing all HTTP traffic to and from your website using HTTPS, you will now find that your web speed performance will be slightly affected.
This is because the connections take a bit longer to establish the encrypted connection.
This performance hit can be negated with HTTP/2. This is because HTTP/2 combine requests into one connection (known as multiplexing) and therefore means the initial negotiation only has to happen once. The even better news is it can actually give a site with a lot of resources a performance boost.
This connection can still handle multiple, concurrent requests so it will actually make it quicker than a more basic setup (where each individual request is processed from your browser to the server).
All of Conetix shared hosting and VPS’s are HTTP/2 enabled by default so you can take advantage of this additional performance boost and in turn improve the way Google sees your website.
If you are unsure if your website is running HTTP/2 you can test your site using these websites tools link HTTP2PRO. https://http2.pro/
6. Isolation and IP Reputation
– no noisy neighbour
Your ranking can be affected by other websites completely unrelated to yours if you’re on shared hosting or with a hosting company who has a poor reputation. Did you know that search engines know what other websites you’re hosted alongside?
What if your professional business website was associated with non-business related sites or websites which were known for spam? This could adversely affect your ranking without you even realising.
This also affects your email if you send email via your web hosting account too. Emails may be marked as spam by the receiving mail-server (ie your customers!) and even worse not delivered to the intended recipient.
To prevent this being an issue, Conetix takes two strong approaches. Firstly, we’re a business only web hosting company. Our sole focus is on professional entities only and because we don’t chase all of the market it means we only get the business focussed customers.
Secondly, our Professional hosting as well as all Managed WordPress and VPS plans provides you with your own dedicated IP address. This IP is 100% yours and not influenced nor affected by any other website or emails outside of your control.
7. Geographic based domain name
If your customer base is located in Australia it makes sense to use a geographic based domain name for our region.
A .com.au domain for a business when hosted within Australia works in your favour for both brand trust but most importantly the SEO gain being found local first.
Google’s goal as a search engine provider is to provide you with the most relevant result for your search and a major part of this is geolocation.
8. Use the latest version of PHP
When speed is second only to content in the eyes of Google, one of the simplest things you can do is make sure you run your website on the latest version of PHP.
What is PHP? PHP is the language that most web applications like WordPress use to run on modern servers. With 90% of new websites being built in WordPress and WordPress running around a third of all websites on the Internet the chances are that you are running WordPress and in turn running using PHP.
The even better news is that if you are running one of the other Content Management Systems (CMS) like Joomla! or Drupal you are also using PHP and can take advantage of this simple change in version and gain speed improvements for your website.
The latest stable and fully supported version of PHP as of June 30 2020 is 7.4.7. PHP 7.4 sees the introduction of new features that improves performance and security improvements.
All of Conetix shared hosting and VPS hosting has PHP 7.4 available for you to use. If you would like to know how to take advantage of PHP 7.4 contact our support team as they are here to assist (even if you are not on our platform).
Originally developed by Google, WebP is a new image format that improves the efficiency of image compression in order to greatly reduce the size of the images.
This means less bandwidth to load a website and therefore faster websites. With Google using speed of a website as a key SEO indicator and Google originally developing the WebP image format it makes sense that web developers use WebP in all of their development website builds.
In the latest Plesk Obsidian 18.0.27 release, all PHP versions now use the latest GD image library so that all of the Conetix Web Hosting systems (and others of course) now provide support to generate these images.
If you want to know more about WebP and the performance gains here is a full article on WebP: What is it and why should I use it?
10. Reputation and Trust
Reputation and Trust has a broad scope when it comes to web hosting. As previously outlined in Tip 6 with Isolation and own IP address this is just one part of your overall strategy required to gain trust with Google and your end users as well as maintain reputation with Google and your brand in the marketplace.
One of the most important ways of keeping reputation and trust is keeping your website up to date. Maintaining your website security by keeping your core, themes, plugins and extensions up to current release is key in keeping your valued reputation intact and builds trust over time.
As a web hosting company we can assist in a few ways. We can provide you with the right tools that make it simpler for you to manage and maintain your hosting or provide you with the right hosted paid solution.
If you don’t have the experience or the time to maintain and manage your website and you are not paying your developer to update and maintain, then you run a very risk of being compromised. It is only a matter of time.
Conetix provides the tools for you to self manage using Plesk WordPress Toolkit or the Joomla Toolkit to make it easier; alternatively you can leave it up to our expert team to do all the security updates on your behalf.
Our plans range from self managed to Managed with WordPress Smart Updates to Australia’s only real Fully Managed WordPress solution that is second to none.