When we talk to new customers about building a new website, the discussion is primarily centered around the look, feel, and content, as it should be. But if the site is going to be effective, there are some other important yet unseen aspects of the site that need to be there. As important as the foundation of a building.
Without these features, your website will certainly be at risk and you won’t be able to see how it performs, but it also may not perform as well as it should in order for it to be found and ranked well in Google’s results.
These services comprise most of the foundation that we build for all of our customers, and each aspect is in place by the time the site is ready for production.
If you are not familiar with Google Analytics, it is a tool that, when incorporated into your website, shows information regarding the visitors to your site, when they visited, what pages they saw, what part of the world they are from, etc. Google Analytics is not the only Analytics tool that you can use, but it is the most used tool of its kind in the world.
Knowing who is visiting your website and what they are looking at is a 2-edged sword. For example, find out that you get no visitors to your site vs. finding out that the site is very popular. Both cases can only be known if you have Analytics software integrated into your site.
Google Analytics can measure so many things, I will not try to enumerate them here. That said,
Notes on Analytics:
Google Search Console or Webmaster Tools
Once your website is established, search engines will visit your website all of the time, evaluate your site for purposes of ranking it in their results, and take a copy of what they find in your site (called indexing). That’s a good thing.
The Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) and Bing Webmaster Tools are the websites where the search engines will give you feedback on your site, showing you if they see any problems.
On these sites you can also:
- See some indication of what someone typed into the search bar before they came to your site. These results are largely blocked, but Google and Bing let some of the results through.
- Ask for the deletion of pages that you don’t want in the results. Both companies index your site, or record pages on your site, for their search results. If you have a page that you deleted or don’t want to show in the search result pages, you can request that a page be removed.
- Submit a list of all of the pages that you want included in the results. Both sites allow you to submit a sitemap of your site or a list of pages that should be indexed.
You must register your website and associate it with your email so that you can use these tools. If you don’t, you won’t be penalized, but you also won’t have any visibility into how the search engines see you. Kind of important, don’t you think?
Notes on Webmaster Tool sites:
- Google Search Console
- Bing Webmaster Tools
- Google’s instructions on how to create a sitemap.
There are lots of good options when it comes to hosting your website. If your site is small, there are lots of good, inexpensive places to host your site. Be careful though, because inexpensive usually means that they host many websites from many different companies on the same IP address as your website. In other words, a Webhost can do more harm than good.
How does this happen? If you have a lot of customers using the same IP address, any one of them could corrupt the IP address by causing it to be blacklisted in the Internet community. Corrupt means that it has either been compromised by a hacker and used to send spam or for some other nefarious purpose. Or the owners of the website may be sending out spam on their own.
These problems can be worsened when website owners do not maintain their websites.
Finally, we take for granted that a website is well connected to the rest of the Internet, well enough to handle peak periods for all of the customers on the server and in the data center. You can bet that isn’t true for all hosts. Buy carefully. Find someone that does business with the host and determine how much they “pack” the IP address.
Notes on Hosting:
- Back Office Geeks hosting services are selected based on client needs.
Websites are a vector for hackers, and the more resistance you can put up, the less attractive you will be to them.
These measures are well known. The strategy is to lock down as much as possible to eliminate easy holes and pay attention to any unexpected changes in your website.
- Some web hosts provide firewall services that allow you to close ports and lock out visitors from entire countries. You would do this if your organization only does business in one country or region that can be easily identified.
- If you have a WordPress site (or other CMS system), you can enable a plugin that will lock down other exploitable aspects of your site, such as the ability for an outsider to browse the file system of the site. These cost money but are well worth the cost because WordPress is the most popular and the most hacked of any website building tool.
- As we said earlier, you must also ensure that your versions of Linux or Windows on the server are patched or upgraded regularly. This creates the burden of testing if your site will “break” with the patch, but it is a necessary evil.
Notes on security:
- Related to security. Servers need to be maintained and patched on a regular basis.
If you are trying to rank in Google, then you may adopt a content strategy, publishing new and different content on a regular basis. In that case, you will periodically need to backup your website. Backups also protect you from hacks, allowing you to restore your website to a pre-hacked state.
Correctly done, you retain multiple copies of content so that, if your website acquires malicious content from a hacker, you can go back to a version that is not corrupt.
Notes on Backups:
- Your hosting provider may have a backup option for your website. Check your control panel.
- Usually, you can keep those backups in a number of inexpensive cloud repositories, like Amazon S3 or even OneDrive.
What to do next?
You need to ask your web design professional about these services before you sign off on a proposal. If they cannot speak to them or cannot provide them, give Back Office Geeks a call. We can provide the hosting services, and you can still do business with your designer.