SEO: Go BIG or go home!
Random side post: It matters!
I started this in the middle of a game development post, and it grew a bit. This post is (more or less) about SEO, but it crosses over.
One of my favourite quotes, which I have to constantly remind myself of, is: “You don’t see the world as it is, you see the world as you are.” It’s actually quite deep and goes back to ancient times, but the basic interpretation is the world (to you) is a reflection of your views and your interests. It has counterparts in philosophy, literature, psychology, etc (e.g. Pollyanna, rose-tinted glasses, schemas, ‘your world is not my world’). (It’s also a cause of most of the misery in this world, but that’s a different discussion).
In my case, being predominantly a grammarian web developer, on the autistic spectrum, with a form of OCD, I judge the world accordingly. It can be as exasperating for me as others, but it makes me good at what I do. You see ‘a web site’, I see its structure, layout, the white space, the grammar, the reading level, I look under the hood, examining the code, quite often. I used to run programs to see a site as it appears to ‘blind’ people, and colourblind people, (this was long before we had ARIA-labels etc, before accessibility for sites was a legal requirement). Besides being polite, and considerate, if you know how a blind person sees your site, you have a better understanding of how search engines see your site. Understanding this, understanding how Google bots work helps you engineer and develop better sites (etc).
It’s the little things that matter, even if they don’t; well, yes, they do.
Favicons matter, URLs matter,
(On top of a psychology degree, etc), I’m currently taking a Unity course (a couple actually) and on one of them, the site has no favicon. It matters, most people naturally have no idea what one is, but they can tell when one’s missing. Search engines like Google can tell when one is missing and downgrade your site for it. It’s also about branding, making a name, being recognised (in a good way). In the case of developers, YOU are the brand. Yes, your focus may be C#, or Adobe Illustrator, or the Unity engine, but missing out on this is sending out a message that “you can’t be bothered.”
For the case in mind, his C# code is fantastic, and he is a web developer too, so assumably understands the importance of favicon, yet it is missing. It did not, therefore, surprise when his website was buggy. He’s a great guy, very talented, but I still judge him by his site, and by his URLs, etc. I had this argument about 20 years back with a company selling web development courses. Their site was utter garbage, and I called them out for it. They called their solicitor, I corrected the grammar in the solicitor’s email, then told him the article was staying unchanged and for his client to fix their site. They didn’t change it, they went out of business within a year. Not because of my review, which was read by all of about three people (them, their solicitor and myself), but because they didn’t understand their business. It was a bandwagon, they wanted in on the ‘gravy train’, easy money, fast.
Unlike Jeff Bezo, unlike even myself, they did not grasp that the shop windows of yesteryear are the URLs of today. Imagine you are walking down the high street, looking for somewhere to eat and see two cafes side by side. One has old, peeling paintwork, dead flies in the window, and the doorway smells of urine, the other is clean, tidy, and offers the bread of freshly baked bread. You already know where this is leading. With the Internet, online shopping, Amazon, generation Z, even Covid-19, the world is changing. How we see the world is changing. When I was a kid we had only 3 TV channels, in black and white, on a small rented TV, and not even a landline. Not because we were so poor, but simply because that’s how it was. That world is gone. You have to get with the program!
As so it is with youtube. It’s not just backroom coders, it’s bluechip companies and household names!
Heinz. You’ve heard of them, right. One of the biggest food companies on the planet, obviously they understand this, obviously, they reserved youtube .com /heinz. Right? Well, good luck with that. I am not a streamer, I don’t talk, yet my youtube channel is still a memorable and context-appropriate youtube .com /ackadia.
Heinz are now (since the 2015 merger), KraftHeinz. MASSIVE company, spends countless millions annual on brand promotion – doesn’t bother to include a favicon on their company site.
I’m not picking on Heinz, but it’s a household name, so serves the purpose. I’m not in or into marketing, I don’t particularly like people, I rarely talk, but I understand branding. If you are creating a new brand, a new company, a new IP, then you do everything you can to research and protect that asset. It was true in the ’80s, before the Internet, and is far more important now. If a new social media platform pops up, you grab your name on it, just in case it’s the next Facebook.
(So, for me, Facebook /ackadia, Pinterest /ackadia, youtube /ackadia, Twitter /ackadia, Bebo /ackadia etc., going back through social media to the 90s). (Well, except Instagram, missed that one, but I don’t use phones, so, meh.)
So, global company, with an army of techies, PR, marketing gurus etc and:
youtube .com /heinz – doesn’t exist.
Twitter .com /Heinz – Nope, some German bloke called Heinz Wittenbrink got there first.
facebook .com /heinz Yay, they managed to get one!
instagram .com /heinz – Ok, they remembered that one. (Mutter, grumble.)
To make the point I simply searched for ‘no traffic’ on Youtube, expecting to find a SEO streamer telling you how to get traffic. Instead, aptly and ironically, I found a channel called ‘No Traffic’, their home page is youtube .com /channel /UC6X3OZYUBZ8Nv0UElY1FNjg/. It comes as little surprise that they only have 35 subscribers. If you are streaming to get traffic and your URL is something obscure like that, well, you need help!
The kicker? Apparently No Traffic is a big tech company into traffic management systems with an international client base. At least they had a favicon, I suppose.
As the Americans like to say, ‘Go big, or go home‘, an exhortation to go all-out, to put all of one’s effort into an enterprise.