In September, I published a list of the 10 longest domain names we had encountered.(The 10 longest domain names so far … can you beat them?) I didn’t explain how we found these names. Andy started a project some months ago to collect domain names and some other information related to this names.
When the prior list was published we had accumulated less than 800K names. Since that time the collection has doubled. The top 10 has changed a little, but only in the lower placings.
The outright leader at 68 characters unchanged. Equal second at 67 characters is now shared by 7 domains (3 newcomers). In equal ninth, there are 4 domains, all of which are newcomers.
Here’s the latest list:
It is with equal measures of embarrassment and national pride that I point out the continued “success” of several Australian domain names.
There is no specific ranking benefit for long keyword domain names and the complexities of showing them and explaining them make them very unusable. The earlier post didn’t mention the implications for the spoken versions of these names. Apple has named the voice interface to their systems including search as Siri. I have no knowledge of Siri’s capacities but my concern is the longer the name the more chance of problems interpreting the spoken word.
Photo Credit: Vix_B via Compfight cc
When you arrange hosting for your website one of the key questions to ask is … “where will my website be hosted?” This is critically important if your business relates to a geographic region, even a region as large as a country.
As part of our domain name gathering project (see earlier posts arising from this project - Does your website need the “www” to work? and The 10 longest domain names so far … can you beat them?) we have started to collect some data on the response times from servers in different parts of the world.
For anyone interested in some of the details we are using a PING command, which does not require website content to be returned, it measures the server response. This gives a reasonable approximation of the delay related to the distance to the server (assuming most servers are of comparable internal speed).
We were a little surprised to discover the typical PING time to Australian servers is less than 25 milliseconds. This compares to the typical PING time to US servers of 218 milliseconds. All the times were measured from a single origin point in Australia. This implies a US server has an overhead relative to an Australian server of 0.2 seconds for a visitor from Australia.
This our list of the best performing times from an Australian perspective.
NB: Times are in milliseconds.
We know page load speed plays a role in the way a user interacts with a website.This seems even more relevant as we get more impatient for information.
Google’s Matt Cutts has spoken about the impact of page speed on ranking (Google’s Matt Cutts: Page Speed Not More Important For Mobile Ranking). What is not clear is if Google can assess the impact of server response relative to the searcher. It’s not hard to imagine that this is an objective even if it has only limited application at present.
Also not clear is the impact in local search results. I may be an outlier on this view at present, but I suspect that Google will use the server location relative to the business location as a ranking factor. We know they already use things like
- the geographic location of the searcher relative to the business,
- location keywords in the search string to condition the search results, and
- the name, address and phone number provided on the website to set the businesses location.
Is it hard to image Google would ignore another readily available signal?
By the way, I think location factors are less about changing the ranking sequence, and more about about eliminating irrelevant websites.
Photo Credit: (Loli) via Compfight cc
Back in August this year, I wrote about a site that had “Put title here” on its “Ask Us” page. I’m pleased to report that problem has been resolved - just not in the way I was expecting.
Rather than add a more appropriate title tag to this particular page, the company has launched a completely revised website. “Yippee! Well done!” some might say. If that’s where the story ended, I too might be in that camp. Unfortunately no, but now I have a new story to tell.
The new site looks great. Congratulations to whoever designed this WordPress theme. There’s even evidence they’re embracing Social Media now. Lots of steps forward.
The negative … the page addresses on the new version of the website seem to bear no relation to the names from the original version. This means any value in the old pages is lost. The old addresses won’t take you to the equivalent content in the new site.
It’s possible, the old pages had little search engine value to salvage, but any attempt would be better than no attempt. This is particularly true if there are any external links pointing to pages other than the home page.
photo credit: waferboard via photopin cc [My suggested title: “Out of the frying pan ….”]
Searchers need to pay attention to their clicks
What follows is an actual email exchange I had with a client
Client: “Google searches - we have competitors coming up as paid ads before we do - can we come up first?”
Me: “Organic results will always appear after ads. It’s Google’s establishment and that’s the way they sets the rules. Some searches may not show ads but that’s the only time you won’t follow ads.
You can join AdWords and spend money for clicks but you have to keep paying to stay there. We can talk about that as an option if you want.”
Client: “Reason is we had a friend who searched for [client company name] at st marys and they went to the ad at top - to get [competitor name] physio - who then tried to say they were [client company name] and book in the patient.”
Me: “If the ad made some implied suggestion the company was [client company name] you could try complaining to Google about brand infringement.
I just tried a search for “[client company name] st marys”. The ad at the top of the results doesn’t include the word “[client company name]” so I don’t think there’s any attempt to steal your brand.
[client company name]’s coverage is pretty comprehensive. At some point the searcher has to shoulder some responsibility for looking at the name on which they click; the logo and text on the site on which they arrive; and the greeting they get when the phone is answered.
Hard for web technology to resolve any ethical issues or communications breakdown during the phone call.
The searcher had 3 opportunities to realise they weren’t contacting the “correct” company:
- the ad showed the competitor company’s name not the intended company name
- the competitor website had their brand in plain site and the designed looked nothing like my client’s website
- the phone would, almost certainly, be answered with a greeting identifying the competitors company name
Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems unreasonable to consider the competing company at fault here. What do you think?
Photo Credit: andrewbasterfield via Compfight cc
This photo documents another case of a poorly executed attempt to display a web address somewhere obvious other than on the ‘net. A passing grade for attempting but an epic fail on execution.
To read this address you would have to stand immediately behind the truck and probably no more than 2 metres away. Not a recommended strategy in this case for a number of reasons all of which fall in the “if you can’t see my mirrors I can’t see you” category. The risk of being reversed over or having the tailgate lowered on you is too great.
I haven’t seen the side of this truck. A massive version of the domain name may be plastered there but I suspect not. Besides, this rear view is the one many more people will have with sufficient time to read the details.
This image was captured with a iPhone 5c at 8 MP resolution from the passenger seat of a car immediately behind the truck. The text is barely discernible.This is valuable real estate. Use it wisely.
Just for good measure … the website didn’t load when I tested it. Not sure if there’s any significance in that.
Photo Credit: An Anonymous Source
Back in Nov 2010 I wrote an article “Every business needs a website”. I re-visited that idea in Oct 2012 with “Every business SHOULD have a website. Are there exceptions?”.
I still believe in the basic idea, perhaps even more so than I did when I wrote the previous posts.
If I discuss websites with sole traders that don’t yet have a website, I ask “why not?”. The typical responses include some of these justifications
- I’ve survived this long without one;
- I don’t understand it;
- it’s too expensive;
- I’m getting plenty of referral work; and
- I’ll be retiring soon so it seems pointless.
It’s hard to change the mind of someone who has closed their opinions on this sort of subject but I try. These are some of reponses ..
- the world is changing. What worked before won’t necessarily work in the future;
- ask me some questions;
- a simple website might be paid from the proceeds of one or two day’s work; and
- lucky you. But people are sharing their referrals online these days not over the back fence.
But I haven’t always had a good response for the last idea - imminent retirement.
For a sole trader, what does retirement mean for the business? Is it closed down and assets sold, is it just mothballed to await possible re-activation, is it sold as a going concern or is it handed down to the next generation?
It may not be obvious to everyone but a website, presence on social media channels, an active blog and general online reputation can be assets of a business. They may be hard for the accountant to value, but that doesn’t stop them from being assets.
What might improve the valuation? The list is long but here are some of the more obvious
- the age of the domain;
- clear positioning in a business category;
- consistent name, address and phone number across platforms;
- regular content updates;
- links from geographic and niche relevant websites;
- positive online reviews; and
- demonstrable website traffic
At some stage you need to talk to a financial adviser about an exit (from the business) strategy. Don’t forget to include the concept of online presence in the discussion. Even if the valuation of the website is a foreign concept to the adviser, the idea of asset improvement should not be.
The best time to establish your online presence is now, not on the eve of your retirement. That is too late. No time for it to appreciate.
Photo Credit: griffithchris via Compfight cc
Let me outline a recent horror story about a potential client for whom I was asked to provide an outline of possible services and associated costs.
The website had a reasonable design and construction, and was hosted in Australia … all good. Not really a lot of content but a workable amount. Then I noticed a resources page. Ouch. Links to companies overseas and in unrelated industries - not good. I looked at a few of those sites. Guess what? They had resources pages linking to lots of sites in unrelated industries and in lots of different locations. It was a labyrinth of incestuous links.The classic situation to fall foul of Google’s Penguin algorithm updates.
The more I researched the link structure the more concerned I became. I found poor content on “article” websites, some of which have been significantly impacted by Google’s Panda updates. I also found social pages, created to do nothing but repeat already over utilised content, with little added value. All as part of an attempt to appear social and linked and “valuable”. Google just ain’t buying it.
When I discussed the situation with the website owner, he indicated he was making regular payments to a company in Singapore to produce all this content and was wondering why it wasn’t producing the results he expected. I tried to explain how poor I thought the current tactics were and that not only did he need to stop the campaign, he actually needed to try to undo the damage.
This is a classic case of buying a service, with little understanding of best practices for the service to be delivered and as a result, paying a price (over and above the capital outlay) for a poor decision.
Unfortunately, there is no certification for those who offer SEO services. It has all the trademarks of a new frontier. Good guys and the other sort are hard to tell apart.
Photo Credit: aurélien. via Compfight cc
Back in September, I wrote about the longest domain names we had discovered so far (The 10 longest domain names so far … can you beat them?). I don’t have an update on the list but I do have some information about the maximum length of a domain name.
According to the Wikipedia article Domain name “the full domain name may not exceed a total length of 253 ASCII characters in its textual representation.” They do mention that for various reasons a lower limit may be imposed by various registrars. Regardless, this is way longer than the 68 character names listed in my earlier article.
Before anyone gets the idea that they should chase the record, let me suggest that this is not a good record to have - well at least not for a business domain name. Can you imagine trying to give someone your email address over the phone or how big your letterhead or business card would need to be to accommodate it? I can’t image how anyone could read it on the side of your fleet of very long vehicles showing the domain name.
The implications make my neurons get a little agitated.
Photo Credit: kevin dooley via Compfight cc
This is the content portion of a page on an accountant’s website (not my accountant - his website is worse but that’s another story) I discovered today.
What are the issues with this page?
- Ignoring the unproven claim that they are the Shire’s “Expert Accountant”, the title is too long and it is being used as a vehicle to stuff location keywords.
- The language is very odd ” … would like to welcome you to contact us ..”. Surely they mean invite not welcome, and “.. everyone, personal and business alike …”. You might reference personal and business tax but they don’t qualify “everyone”. Perhaps individuals and businesses would work better
- This post is listed under the title of recent articles. 2010 tax season surely finished for most individuals in the months after June 2010, and most businesses by early 2011. How does this qualify as recent or relevant in October 2013?
- Perhaps the most disappointing issue for me is the absence of any real content. This is no more than a poorly worded ad. What’s the value to the reader? Why choose this accountant and not the one down the road?
This page has not been reviewed for language or intent. Poorly conceived pages like this won’t engage customers or encourage them to respond to the weak call to action.
Have you reviewed your website lately to make sure you are presenting your best content to your readers?
I have a problem with this “opt out” confirmation from Facebook.
In case the image is unclear, it reads ….
Would you like to opt out of this email notification?
You will no longer receive the email type you clicked unsubscribe from.
Ignoring the questionable grammar of ending the sentence in a preposition, I have a problem with describing the communication from which I elected to unsubscribe as “the email type you clicked unsubscribe from”. What email type is that exactly?
Here’s the back story …
I create Facebook pages for some of my clients and become the first administrator for those pages. That means I receive lots of automated communication from Facebook about those accounts.
Facebook seem to periodically create new reasons to communicate with administrators and in their generosity, automatically enrol administrators to those channels.
I encourage all my clients with Facebook pages to create and perform the majority of the updates for their pages themselves. I also encourage them to post frequently. Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible.
Recently, Facebook sent a reminder that I hadn’t visited one of the pages I administer “in a while” and then suggested “some quick things [I] can do to build interest in [my] Page”. I’m not sure what Facebook’s definition of “in a while” might be, but in this particular case I had updated the “about section” 2 weeks prior when the business changed premises. This just happened to be one of the “quick things” they suggested (“Make sure all the basic parts of your Page are completed, including profile picture, cover photo, about section.”).
Unmoved by their generosity, and unwilling to be granted such largesse again in the future, I followed the unsubscribe option in the email to be presented with the screen above.
When I clicked the “confirm” button I was presented with this screen ..
Your settings have been updated.
You have opted out of receiving these notifications from Facebook.
From a personal perspective I find the absence of a description for this type of communication confusing. Is that intentional, meant to make me wonder what else I might be missing out on in this channel? Or is it Facebook doesn’t have a label they think their users would understand?
Professionally, I wonder if Facebok have made enough effort to convince me to stay. There’s no “sorry to see you go” message, or “did you really mean to opt out?” or “what to do if you change your mind” options. It’s as if Facebook receive so many unsubscribes they are resigned to their fate.
So are they doing this badly or is my love-hate relationship with Facebook showing? Perhaps it’s just my grumpy old man persona shining through. You be the judge.