23 Sep The Importance of Security & Owning Your Infrastructure
A dear client of ours Golf View Realty Property Management is in desperate need of a rental property software system that utilizes a secure widgetized web view integration. In property management, available properties are acquired via the property management company and managed through a backend such as (names will be changed to protect the solution provider) Acmeware, Acmefolio etc. These software providers do a great job of helping the property management company with all aspects of their day to day workflows.
One of the solutions they provide is the ability to render their rental properties for rent on their websites. Recently, Google has set the standard of websites to utilize SSL certificates which make the transmission of all data rendered on a web page encrypted. To do this, the website URL and all requests shift from http:// to https:// While this seems like an easy task, it can be a challenging one when there are multiple layers.
Third Party Websites
In the property management world, solution providers like Acmeware and Acmefolio name websites that are not managed by them “third-party websites” When a company owns their own website and web server they have free rein to do anything they wish with the website. They can be in full control of their online presence and make modifications to the thematic look & feel, functionalities, call-to-action elements, and most importantly, their search engine optimization (SEO).
When a company manages their own website they can control important factors that determine the overall success of the said company in the online world. They can optimize their content to rank well for related searches on Google and control what the users see, how they see it and how they can interact with it. They can also control their URL structure and make the site easily indexable by all search engines. These days, the value of a company is not only measured by its book of business, office, location, profit & loss, and employees but also its online infrastructure and how well it can generate leads and assist customers on a day-to-day basis. This is why it is so important to be in complete control of every aspect of your website all the time.
Managed Websites & Why They’re a bad idea
Solution providers like Acmeware & Acmefolio have turn-key website solutions for companies that don’t want to fuss with creating and managing their own online infrastructure. This means, your domain name, your listings, their server and content. On the surface, this is a convenient and viable solution to have a presence on the web but it is a dangerous one. Why? When you use a managed website solution by one of the major solution providers they allow you to use your own domain. They point that domain to a canned template on their web server. They allow you to modify limited on page content and they hook your listings into the web view system. Sounds perfect right?
Let’s dig in…
Websites rank well for specific searches because they generate a lot of important factors. Some of the major factors in determining a websites rank in search are backlink count & quality, links outbound, page rank (major) URL structure (major) and sitemap. Google also looks at hidden elements such as the server the website resides upon and how many other websites share that same server. They also look to see that content posted on a website is original and does not exist on other web pages. This is called canonicalization of content.
When you use a managed website solution you are giving up your rights to ownership of content. I say this because I want you to call your solution provider and tell them to send you a copy of your entire website and the database it utilizes. They will tell you this is not possible.
This means any SEO you generate with your solution providers website is temporary. How? What if they change the themes of all websites they manage into a look you do not like? How can you change it? What if they determine what pages you can have on your website? How can you change it? What if you want to add unlimited pages to your website? What if you want to launch multiple websites under your primary domain? What if they change the display of your listings? How can you change it? What if they alter the URL structure of your website? How can you change it? What if you want to install plugins to your website to do different functions?
The big question
What if you want to change solution providers? Your old website goes away along with all of your SEO, your link counts, your page URL index, your sitemap, everything changes. This means google places 404 errors (not found) on all of your old web pages that were in their index and generating page rank. Say goodbye to any SEO you were acquiring unless you quickly build 301 redirects to the new pages. What if your solution provider goes out of business? Your website goes down and you look like you are out of business.
Golf View Realty Property Management utilizes a completely independent online infrastructure. This means they own their website their content, their URL, their pages, their images, their videos and even the virtual private LAMP server the website runs upon. This means that nobody except for Golf View Realty Property Management can change or alter how they appear online. Not even their solution provider.
Full system-wide backups can be generated with one click and the entire website and listings can be deployed on any webserver within minutes making it hacker-proof. Best of all, when listings are searched on Google, the company website gets some SEO to render the listing as you can see from the examples below. This is because listings are manually added to the website as web pages and each listing is given it’s own unique SEO and search-friendly URL structure shown below.
The major problem with solution providers rental listing widget and system.
Solution providers give property management companies the ability to render their listings. The problem is, the property management company does not get to own any traffic sent to the listing page or gain any SEO benefit these listing pages create. The example below shows all that is wrong with these listings when they are clicked on via a widgetized listing placement.
As the webmaster of a successful property management company, we demand a plugin for WordPress provided by the solution partners that can be easily plugged into existing independent or “third-party websites” that will seamlessly render the properties in a property management company’s portfolio that does not break the https protocol and run responsively and securely.