*We get a lot of questions from our customers about CloudFlare and how
we impact SEO. So when SEO.com signed up for
CloudFlare, I thought it would be a great opportunity to talk to an
expert to get the scoop on all things SEO. I was fortunate enough to
connect with Derek Perkins, Vice
President of Technology at SEO.com. With more than 12 years of industry
experience, Derek provided his insight on SEO in general, debunked some
of the myths out there, and gave us his take on what really works, and
what doesn’t, when it comes to SEO and your site.
CF – What are the top three tips you can offer for website owners
looking to improve their SEO?
DP – Step one – use WordPress and WordPress
SEO. For most website owners, a Content Management System is key. The
WordPress platform would be my first choice, you don’t have to deal with
structure of a WordPress site to make sure it’s easily searchable and
findable. WordPress ranks high, especially if you activate WordPress
SEO by Yoast. A combination of those
two alone put you a long way ahead of where smaller business are.
Correct structure is a good thing.
Step two – Focus on great content. Sporadic posting is never going to
yield a tangible output. The more Google changes their algorithms, the
more likely you will get ranked lower if you’re not posting often. Just
posting frequently however isn’t enough. Content has always risen to the
top of rankings, and as search engines mature, they are continuing to
increase the signal to noise ratio. Posting great content regularly is
the key to SEO success.
Step three – find good website hosting that will be elastic. Great
content that gets picked up on TechCrunch, Digg, Reddit – any viral site
– is going to see heavy spikes in traffic. If you’re on a cheap hosting
plan you often won’t be able to scale to meet demands.
Actually, one of the first things I do is recommend CloudFlare. I love
the CDN and scalability, it takes load off of the server so you don’t
have to worry so much about load spikes.
CF – What are some of the misperceptions with SEO?
DP – A big misperception about SEO is the idea that you have to somehow
change your writing or write things that are for search engines instead
of humans. That’s not the case. A lot of people also say you have to
have unnaturally high keyword density and that’s the only way you’re
going to rank. That’s not good, it’s harmful. Google sees that as if
you’re writing it specifically for SEO. Search engines try to read
content as if they were human. If the content doesn’t flow well or read
well for a human, chances are it’s not going to read well for a search
engine or spider.
SEO is all about having good content. Write content you and others would
like to read. It is more likely be shared socially, bringing more people
to your site, and more people will link back to your site, growing your
When people think of SEO they tend to focus on the 10 percent that’s the
little tweaks that SEO companies can do for you, whereas the bulk of the
value comes from writing good content.
CF – Web properties care a lot about SEO, what are some good resources
for site owners looking to better their SEO rank?
DP – There are a number of places on the web that have good SEO forums.
We have a link on our own
that links to a number of the best forums out there. Another great
resource is SEOmoz, it’s
a great place for website owners to start.
CF – What is one thing site owners should be doing to improve their
SEO, but probably aren’t?
DP – Number one thing that people don’t do – they don’t have any sort of
targets. Content is king, but a lot of it is knowing what specific
content is going to be most valuable to them. You can write about two
different things that are both interesting, exciting and relevant to
your audience, but one is relevant to maybe 10 searches a month, whereas
one is relevant to 10,000 searches a month. Having an idea of what pages
or blog posts or keywords you’re targeting with each will help you
tailor the content.
CF – What are some of the things site owners do that might negatively
DP – Picking the wrong page titles and/or having a malformed HTML
structure. There’s a lot of SEO weight on title and header tags, you
need to have your page title similar to whatever is in your H1 tag. A
lot of site owners out there don’t have header tags or have them set-up
correctly. Even if they have a good title, the title might not be in the
HTML header tag. The title and headers help both search engines and more
importantly humans identify the focus of the page.
CF – How has your industry changed in the last five years?
DP – I think SEO has a bit of a stigma because of old tactics that
people used to use. You used to be able to immediately rank for SEO by
using tricks like white text on a white background and various other
tactics to gain the system. Even just recently Google has released
things like Penguin, making it harder and harder to game the system. It
changes how SEO agencies function, shifting the focus from link building
to strategic content driven approaches. That has driven a proliferation
of socially shareable content like infographics.
CF – You’ve seen the Google vs Bing commercial search challenge. The
commercial claims people choose Bing 2 to 1 over Google. Do you think
that’s right? What are your thoughts?
DP – Personally, I occasionally use Bing, but I tend to go back to
Google. I took the test myself and Bing won 3 to 2, but I felt like the
stripped down result pages weren’t a perfect test.
CF – Google, Yahoo! and Bing are huge competitors in the search space.
What are your thoughts on each? Do any of them stand out as being front
runners in the near future?
DP – Bing has been gaining ground, Yahoo!’s results are powered by
Microsoft, so Bing and Yahoo! will both show same results. The big two
are definitely Google and Bing. You can’t ignore Bing when you’re
tracking rankings, but they are definitely playing second fiddle to
Google at this point.
For a long time Google has provided the best search rankings. Whether or
not Bing has closed the gap on search, they have an uphill battle.
People are used to Google, it’s becoming part of the English language. I
doubt that anyone outside of Microsoft headquarters has ever said “I
don’t know the answer, let me go Bing it.”
CloudFlare…in his own words
I’ve been using CloudFlare for over a year now. I had a personal website
calledsoccerreviews.com. I built it up to
have significant traffic and I was really having server load issues, in
addition to having been hacked twice. Because of that, security and
scalability was very important to me.
I tried CloudFlare on that site and I now have it on 30 other sites. I
have yet to have any of those sites compromised, which has been
Once I joined SEO.com, I put us on CloudFlare. One feature I really like
and speeds them up, and they aren’t all being downloaded separately,
decreasing download time.
As for the impact to SEO, bounce rate plays a very important role in how
Google does their rankings – they see that as a human factor in SEO. If
someone immediately jumps back to Google, it’s obviously not a good
human source. A fast site that’s always online is sure to help your
rankings with lower bounce rates, and having CloudFlare helps to make