A lot has been written about how external factors affect your Google ranking, links to your website, comments elsewhere referring to you and so on. Much has been written about verified result-delivery campaigns in 3 months and how good content matters to Google. While all that is true, what is often overlooked are a few simply fixed technical issues. Here are a few factors that might cause Google to fall out of love with your website.
1. Slow websites – Google announced recently that they are actively penalising slow websites. Under 3 seconds is the considered the best time to aim for. You can check how fast your website loads with many online speed checkers, I personally use these three, all of which also offer comprehensive advice to help speed up your website.
2. Broken links – Broken links, both to other pages of your website, and to external website, are annoying. What’s not so well know is that they are also something Google takes into account. You should check your website on a regular basis, at least once a week, to make sure that none of the links have broken. Websites you link to may sometimes change their structure, or be closed down.
3. Empty Pages – or at least ones with little or very poor content. Google needs to know what your website is about in order to rank you in the search engines. Now, there is a trade off here, longer articles work better for Google, more text means they can work out better what your web page is about, but longer articles come with an attention deficit. Aim for around 300 words, more than that and you may loose your reader before they finish the article, and less than that means Google might not have enough to go on. Short sharp blog posts work well with readers, but may not be indexed so readily. If you have to have a longer article (this one is 765 words) break it down into bullet points, to keep peoples attention.
4. Image Sizing – You might think big images look good, but they are very rarely viewed at their best, and can really slow your website down. You should resize your images to the exact size they should be before you add them to your website, so your website doesn’t have to waste valuable time resizing them for visitors. If you don’t know how to do this, learn, or use a website management system that does it for you. An image bigger than 1024×768 is too big! There are very few exceptions to this rule. I have seen so many websites use images that have been far too large, and taken an age to load, only to be shown on the site at a vastly scaled down display size. The best systems will produce a thumbnail image to be used along with the full size image.
5. Bad or Missing Meta Data – Meta data is hidden away, most people wont ever see it, but it helps Google define your website. Although these days Google doesn’t use the “keywords” meta tag it still uses others tags, and you can set up tags nowadays that tell Google directly things like opening times, prices and so on. These are snippets of information that Google could easily miss if they are simply in the main text of your website. Your website developer should be able to help you with this, as it can be rather technical, and is beyond the scope of this article.
7. Out of Date or Hacked Websites – Not just the content, although it is important that your website has up to date information. Google love to see new articles or updated content. More importantly websites that use content management systems like wordpress or joomla need the system kept up to date, errors in the code that runs your website are frequently found and fixed. Sometimes these might just be display issues, but they can sometimes be exploited leading to your website being hacked. Google will immediately block your site if it contains malware, and a hacked site that is down for long will get penalised as well. Your website designer should offer you a service that ensures they keep your website up to date and current.
This post is from Peter Freeman of TempleDene Consultants. He has worked in the IT industry for over 25 years, he has been managing and developing website for over 15 years now and has specialised in ensuring websites are accessible for as many people as possible, taking care to make sure they are suitable for diverse groups such as the colour blind and the blind and partially sighted amongst others. You can find out a little more about him here. Readers of Family Friendly Working can claim a 5% discount by mentioning this article.