When Juliette Sawyer, a professional photographer based in Doha, Qatar approached me earlier this year, she was looking to improve two specific issues: firstly, her web hosting at GoDaddy was under-performing to the point that when visitors from Qatar loaded her homepage, they couldn’t even view her online photographs at times; secondly, despite her growing reputation in Doha and long list of local clientele, her website was only ranking on page 2-3 of Google search results for queries such as “Qatar photographer” or “photographer in Qatar”, etc. She asked me if I could help.
After quickly concluding that her audience was indeed based (mainly) in Qatar, and measuring the loading speed of her GoDaddy hosting in Europe and the Near East, it was clear what Google was hungry for: a website that loaded faster not in Arizona, USA (where GoDaddy’s datacenter was) but that loaded faster in and around Qatar itself.
This is the stage at which many potential clients begin to backpedal: the moment at which I recommend a new server.
“You should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans.”
― Tom Robbins, Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas
Instead, Juliette immediately recognized the benefit of faster loading speed not just from an “SEO” point of view, but as a wise business owner who understood that faster loading speed = HAPPIER CUSTOMERS, and in turn, better sales and a more professional online reputation. Literally within a month of migrating to a new LittleBizzy server located in Europe, she began rising up the Google search results and, as it stands now, she is ranking on page #1 of Google for “Qatar photographer” queries, usually at result #5-7 overall (across the globe), from nothing more than a server upgrade.
Note: currently, Europe is still the best place to host websites that target markets in the Near East, Middle East, and South Asia (i.e. India) in my opinion. While cities like Dubai, Mumbai, and Tel Aviv are rapidly developing better internet infrastructure, they are years behind when it comes to the stability and inter-connectivity that Europe already has.
(Unlike past “SEO” trends, the post-2014 emphasis on loading speed and SSL certificates is NOT going away. As mobile devices continue to rapidly outnumber desktop computers, and privacy and encryption become more of a worry than ever, you can be sure that FAST and SECURE websites are now a NECESSITY to online success.)
Now, did Juliette also care enough to improve her website’s design, or to manage her Facebook page with killer marketing instincts? Yes, of course! But something that I’ve learned time and time again, from the top professionals in every field around the world, is that succeeding OFFLINE first is more important than succeeding ONLINE. Without an open mind, common business sense, and a focus on quality, consistency, and transparency, there is no way you can dominate Google these days.
Thankfully, Google’s algorithm engineers have finally perfected that logic.
P.S. next time you are in Qatar, be sure to check out Juliette’s absolutely stunning photography work!