5 tech questions for your next digital marketing meeting

April 20, 2017

5 tech questions for your next digital marketing meeting

Many digital agencies and marketing departments spend a significant amount of time and money designing well crafted websites with strategically planned content, but just how much thought is given to delivering this information? Will it be delivered quickly or even efficiently? Does it support your investment in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

Here are five technical questions to ask in your next digital marketing meeting.

​1) How Fast is the DNS (Domain Name Service)?

When a potential customer types in your domain name, a Domain Name Server (DNS) retrieves the website IP address associated with it. This is called the DNS 'lookup'. Your geographic location, combined with the performance, capability and proximity of your DNS impacts performance and time taken for information retrieval.

Slow retrieval time via an inefficient DNS can take up to 200 milliseconds. This may not sound very long, but research has shown a poor response time negatively impacts your customer experience and action, alongside achievement of good search ranking.
Google and Moz Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) research into user web searches and information retrieval via DNS response times, shows that delivering response times of under 500ms significantly improves your Google ranking and customer conversion rates. Google recommends response times of around 200ms to maximise your web preference and capitalise on improved search rankings. (https://developers.google.com/speed/docs/insights/Server#overview )

The DNS 'lookup' performance is a vital and integral element of overall server response time, which impacts your efficiency and effectiveness in achieving strong visibility and a good customer experience. Efficient response times Improve search preferences and results through DNS capability and performance.

​2) Do we use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)?

A CDN service stores a copy (known as cache) of your website, based in different server locations around the world. Access, via cached server locations, enables improved service and maximises speed of access.

As outlined in Question 1 - How fast is our DNS? The Response time of your web server significantly impacts your search ranking and customer conversion rates.

The use of caching is the next step for keeping response times below 500ms. The benefit of using caching on a CDN rather than relying on a caching ‘plugin’ is that the content can be served quickly, in a multitude of different locations, and is not dependant on the capability of your back-end server resources. This enables a more efficient response time and creates a competitive edge in an increasingly fast-moving digital environment.

3) In what country do we host the website?

If your digital marketing activities target a UK audience, why place your web hosting in America?

The CDN service discussed at Question 2. ‘Do we use a CDN?’ provides an insight into enabling rapid delivery of static content to visitors globally via CDN. However, consideration should also be given to supporting dynamic website functionality, which requires ‘real-time’ interaction, such as response to a ‘Question Form’ or ‘Shopping Cart’ functionality. Dynamic content relies on the back-end web server to do the ‘real-time’ processing and deliver meaningful, relevant content direct to your customer.

If your response time is dependent on remote web-hosting from a different country to your customers, you ignore the need for dynamic functionality and ‘real-time’ interaction.Good technical infrastructure involves a CDN service which improves location driven response times and search rankings, but should also be supported by web hosting which enables dynamic functionality.

​4) Does the web server have sufficient resources?

Dynamic content requires web hosting and technical resources to meet increasing digital ‘traffic’, web visitor information and interaction.

Demands on resources, such as processing power, alongside the capability of your Content Management System (CMS), fluctuate depending on visitor actions and numbers. Your Content Management Systems (CMS) uses related programs to generate and manage digital content for enterprise content management (ECM) and web content management (WCM). ECM enables integration of your organisation’s document management systems, while WCM involves the collaboration of web authoring and management. Requirements of your CMS will continually vary and you will need to ensure resources which can satisfy fluctuating levels of demand.

Don’t lose customers or Google ranking because the resources of your web server are insufficient, and could become compromised by the needs of other websites on the same server (shared hosting). Bison Grid always recommend that every website has its own cloud server so that it runs with dedicated resources which can be increased with ease.

The good news is that large-scale cloud infrastructure providers are making these servers ever more affordable, so please consider these before using bulk shared web hosting services.

​5) Are the web technologies up-to-date?

We appreciate that this is a somewhat more difficult question for consideration. However, the latest web server technologies do make a significant difference to the speed of your website.

We have suggested that using your own cloud server is advantageous, enabling dedicated resources, whilst providing choice for the technologies that run your website. Improved efficiency is illustrated through the example of many bulk web hosts still running old versions of PHP (technology used for WordPress website creation and management) as opposed to the benefits of using the latest version, PHP7, which provides significant performance benefits.

There are many websites still using Apache software for the delivery of web pages. To ensure that we provide a better service, we use a web technology called NGINX which is a software that significantly outperforms Apache in web page speed delivery and resource usage. NGINX is used by websites that require high performance, Such as; wordpress.org, reddit.com and dropbox.com. We would recommend you look at NGINX as a beneficial option.

Where’s the Proof?

So, where’s the proof that investment in enabling a better digital infrastructure will benefit you?

Not only is there a mountain of information online that supports how addressing these 5 key questions will benefit you, but a recently completed a project by Bison Grid tested the theory to provide hard evidence of the benefits.

Our recent client AIB Insurance was looking to improve their digital marketing efforts by increasing the indexing of their content. We moved their site to our high-performance DNS with a well-resourced dedicated server running NGINX. In addition, we setup a UK-based edge server (CDN) with SSL to reduce their server response time and elevate trust and confidence in performance, ability and security. The findings, from a SearchMetrics report, illustrated in the graph below show the significant uplift that was given to site visibility in June (06/02/2016), following the implementation of these changes.

digital marting meeting - aib

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