Icebergs and Websites
Last month I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Newfoundland. One of the highlights of the trip was seeing a beautiful iceberg off the coast of Twillingate. This particular iceberg was estimated to be 150 feet high. Of course, that was only the part we could see. The part we couldn’t see, the part under the water, was estimated to be at least 450 feet.
Very nice, you say, but what does that have to do with websites.
Well, just like icebergs, websites have a lot going on that you don’t see.
When you view a website, you see a (hopefully) nicely designed layout, text, some images, website forms, etc. What you don’t see are the cogs in the background making everything work.
Let’s look at a few of these.
1. Search Engine Optimization
This involves everything from pages titles, to keywords, to how your content is laid out. Every part of your website needs to be analyzed to ensure the best placement possible in search engines. Although it is often looked at as a dark art, SEO is merely a series of processes that help search engines better understand the content and value of your website.
2. Image Optimization
Every image on your website should be optimized for file size as well as being properly named and having appropriate alt tags. Large image files can severely slow down your website. By compressing your images and reducing your file size before adding them to your website will help keep your page size small (and fast loading). Alt tags should always be used from a point of accessibility (they are used by screen readers for visually impaired users), but also from a point of Search Engine Optimization (search engines use them for indexing images properly). If you’re interested in learning more about alt tags, there’s a great article about them at moz.com.
3. SSL Certificates
These days there’s no excuse for not having an SSL certificate on your website. They are no longer the expensive brutes they used to be. On top of that, Google now penalizes websites that do not have SSL certificates installed (and correctly configured). If you do not have an SSL certificate installed, this should go at the top of your to-do list.
4. Solid Hosting
Secure, fast website hosting is a must for any serious business website. Cheap hosting just doesn’t cut it anymore. If your hosting is costing less than a couple of large coffee’s a month, the likelihood is that you are paying too little. Inexpensive hosting can lack the resources needed to load your website quickly and may not be secure. As a ballpark, the average website can be hosted very securely, with adequate resources, for $35.00 – $45.00 per month
5. Clean Code
Even if all of the above items are looked after, a badly coded website can cause issues. A poorly coded plugin, for instance, could crash your website, or worse, open it up to hackers. Any time additional functionality needs to be added to your website, it should be fully tested, preferably in a test environment, before introducing it into a live website.
These are just a few of the things that lay under the surface of any website. If you are unsure of how any of this works, or are concerned about the speed or security of your website, we’re here to help.