I want you to go to the BOM Site and bask in its unapologetic beauty. I want you to minimise your window if you’re on your desktop and daze admiringly at its non-existent breakpoints. If you’re on your mobile phone I want you to pinch and squeeze as you attempt to navigate this informative monstrosity. I want you to try to find the weather across the Sunshine Coast or to ‘click-wander’ to the Gympie Radar and see if there’s a storm coming – I want to be there next to you as your anger steadily rises, as your fingers grow frustrated at their ill-equipped dexterity to click the right link. As your mind, in desperation, struggles to find the information it so desperately needs. “How long have I got until it pisses down rain? / Will it hail?/ Are we heading into another La Nina year?”.
Then as you reach the crescendo of your failure and your exasperation screams at you to rage quit – I want to be there next to you when you break down in a heap knowing, like a struggling addict, that you will be back to the BOM. That the site’s information is just so damn good, so accurate, their weather radars so damn interesting. That the BOM is so, so, so, SO damn useful and it doesn’t care about you. Not. One. Whit. Why would it?
This is satirical. The BOM site has probably never done this to a user before, but I stand by the title – ‘The BOM Site doesn’t care about Google and it’s beautiful…’
SSL more like LOL
Look at this site – https://www.bom.gov.au/
It doesn’t even have an SSL.
In 2018 Google cracked down on SSL and secure sites because protecting browsers through encryption was important and made for a safer internet. https://security.googleblog.com/2018/02/a-secure-web-is-here-to-stay.html.
SEO Content audit giants Dyno Mapper had this to say.
“HTTPS will add privacy and security to a website and SEO goals through verification of the website that it is the right one on the server, preventing tampering by third parties, making the website more secure for visitors, and encrypting all communication like URLs, which in turn protects things like credit card numbers and browsing history.”
HTTPS has for a while now been considered a ranking indicator across Google. HTTPS websites have a higher ranking advantage than HTTP links, therefore moving to HTTPS will help any website, regardless of whether secret materials (things like Credit Card details) are involved. https://security.googleblog.com/2014/08/https-as-ranking-signal_6.html
Rewind to 2018, Google had hundreds and thousands of website developers scrambling to get an SSL certificate up and running on their servers to ensure SEO standards could be best catered for. Do you know what the BOM did? Set up a redirect and then watched as it maintained its page 1 position 1 status with its HTTP website.
Page 1 Position 1 – Don’t believe it? Click here and weep
You can try that with most searches “weather + location” and our friend the BOM site will be there waiting front and centre grinning encouragingly at you like a Grandma at her grandchild’s first school play.
The BOM all but sneered at Google. The tech giant flexed its muscles and millions of sites around the world conformed – not the BOM! Not our precious weather site – like a bastion of rebellion or at least a fort of utter ignorance, it sighed and got back to making beautiful, read-worthy and useful information.
Like a monolith standing proud from a bygone era, the BOM stands immovable to the whims of Google and continues to THRIVE!
Mobile Responsive as a brick
Google crushed hard on mobile responsiveness a couple of years back, especially when it launched its Mobile-first indexing rule.
“Starting July 1, 2019, mobile-first indexing is enabled by default for all new websites (new to the web or previously unknown to Google Search)”
SEO giants like Moz etc quickly jumped on how sites, who wanted to stay relevant and rank well had to prioritise mobile experience. Site development and site design jumped on ‘mobile first’ and the term joined the prestigious dichotomy of ‘best SEO practices’. Stretching back to 2015 search specialists touted the word ‘mobilegeddon’ and the world suddenly reacted with breakpoints, bootstraps mobile CDN’s and more.
“Since April 2015, in what search-engine-optimizers have dubbed “Mobilegeddon”, Google officially started rewarding the search rank of mobile-friendly sites and penalizing sites that were not mobile-friendly.”
Get Gist – https://getgist.com/mobile-friendly-google/
Do you know what the BOM did? They made really useful information for free – that’s it.
The wave of panic from mobilegeddon crashed upon the BOM site like a harmless surge before retreating. The BOM site continued publishing useful information – unperturbed, oblivious, beautiful.
There are three Google Analytics codes
The BOM site still collects data via an old Universal Analytics (UA) account like bad neighbours collect old undriveable cars. It has, not one, not two, but three Google analytics tracking codes installed on the site – one of them is working the other two dangle there, flapping lifelessly in the breeze for any internet passer-by to not be tracked with. This serves as yet, another testament to their unparalleled apathy to Google and its performance statistics. You know, I don’t even think they check on their performance stats, they just work on their masterful, useful content and get on with life, secure that the sun will or won’t shine tomorrow (and they’ll know that best) and that visitors will come back.
Google wants you to run a fast site. Most users are on mobile these days so mobile responsive is a BIG thing but so is speed. Why? Because if you’re on your phone with a bad connection but NEED information fast, a site that delivers over a crappy 3G network will get priority – perfect sense. In our industry, we usually insist on at least an ‘average’ (above 50) mobile speed score before going live if not a ‘fast’ (above 80) – to test this we (and any agency worth their salt) uses Google’s Page Speed Insight tool.
The logic is flawless. A fast site, most likely viewed on mobile, will get an edge in rankings over a site that lags and is slow! Except if you’re the BOM! This beautiful lug, can’t even be site tested because it spits out a 403 error – which means…
“The HTTP 403 is an HTTP status code meaning access to the requested resource is forbidden. The server understood the request, but will not fulfil it.”Source Wikipedia
It’s such a beautiful sentiment, it’s almost antagonising Google.
Try it for yourself (authors note: This can be fixed so if it doesn’t work – let us know and we’ll be sorry…maybe…probably not).
Hahahahahahhahaha…. I had whole sentences for this part but, well… Hahahahahahaha. BOM is the Honey Badger of websites and we all know “Honey badger don’t care.”
The point is this, be USEFUL, be readworthy and informative then become fast. Provide browsers with the information they seek and you’ll win the internet.
At the risk of putting a few noses out, in our experience if you want greater traffic and more eyeballs on your website then be useful. Forget backlink strategies, collating aggregate listings keyword targeting etc. Just focus on what people want from you and your business. Do the other stuff – mobile-friendly, fast, slick UX, engage with your stats but don’t expect to win the day with it.
Websites that provide readworthy content and useful information delivered without guff are winning the SEO battle. Our good friend the Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule) is a pretty good measure. 80% of your SEO battle and most likely site sales, leads and traffic will come from ‘useful’ content, the other 20% is things like speed, mobile functionality and slick user experiences that browsers appreciate after Google has indexed.
“Marketing/Advertising and we’d say “SEO” is the price you pay for being unremarkable”
In summary, the BOM site isn’t a failure, despite missing several beats of the Google drum. It’s a success because it gives out useful, accurate information that people will come back to. I’m beginning to suspect that I may be in love with it.
Thanks for reading, if you want to know how to make and create useful information for your site AND tick all the other SEO boxes, you should reach out to us.
Post Script: In all Fairness…
The BOM site doesn’t spit any JS errors, which is really nice. It has, what I suspect, significant public backing (but still it has its fair share of competitors). It also has a pretty nice ‘BOM app’ http://www.bom.gov.au/app/ which I’m guessing solves a lot of the mobile site issues.