SEO and the cloud
This article first appeared May 13, 2011.
With the NBN rolling out we’re all (eventually) going to enjoy much faster internet connection speeds in the not too distant future.
That’s the theory anyway.
With faster internet speeds I think the uptake of cloud-based services will be exponential.
There’s been a lot of interest in the cloud and lots of people are talking about it. But for the sake of clarity I’ll try and summarise what it is.
The cloud is really an offsite data centre hosting hundreds, if not thousands of computers with a massive internet connection.
If you’re using a service like Google Docs, then you’re already using the cloud. You’ve got documents, spreadsheets and more all stored in Google’s cloud and you’re able to create, update and edit documents via an internet connection. Amazon has its own cloud, as does NEC, Microsoft, Apple and host of other large players who have pockets deep enough to invest in seriously large and robust infrastructure.
If you’re really interested and have a couple of hours to kill, why not read Wikipedia’s article about it here.
Google announced yesterday at its Google's I/O event in the US that it was launching web-centric PCs made by Samsung and Acer – dubbed "Chromebooks".
Google’s new Chromebook boots in seconds and stores and accesses all data from the cloud. Chromebooks don’t have a hard drive, save for a 16 gig flash drive presumably to get the thing to boot up. Having said all that, if you don’t have an internet connection handy it’ll be about as useful as a parachute in a sub.
Anyway, as usual I’m getting distracted from the topic of this post, but the point I’m trying to make is that the cloud is big and getting bigger.
Of course, another service which can be hosted in the cloud is webhosting, which gets me back to the point.
One of the things a search engine takes into consideration when deciding where to rank a website is the physical hosting location.
All things being equal, if you own a .com domain and your webhosting is in the United States, you’ll probably not rank as well here in Australia as you would in the United States.
Conversely, if you’re a .com and you’re hosted in Australia, you’ll have a better chance of ranking well locally.
The issue here is that if you move your hosting to the cloud, it’s a good idea to try and find out where the actual data centre is.
If you own a .com, .net, .org, etc then use Google Webmaster Tools to specify where you’re located. If you own a .com.au you don’t have to worry.
One of the advantages of hosting in the cloud is speed. Because cloud services are so ridiculously scalable, page load times are insanely fast. This can give you a competitive advantage in the ranking results. Remember, Google publically announced that it was factoring in page load speeds as part of its ranking algorithm when the Caffeine update rolled out last July.
Anyway, the key takeaways are these: if you’re going use cloud-based hosting, try and source a local cloud-based service. Make sure you use Google Webmaster Tools to geographically associate your domain with Australia if you own a generic (TLD) Top Level Domain such as a .com, .net, .biz, .org, etc.
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Chris Thomas heads up Reseo, a search engine optimisation company which specialises in creating and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.