In the final part of our Google ranking signals blog series, we’re going to take a look at how some common technical SEO problems can impact on your visibility.
Late last year, Google broke the news that they will be starting mobile-first indexing. This means that they will predominantly be looking at the content, structure and usability or your site on mobile devices. While this hasn’t happened yet, now is the time to take a good look at the mobile version of your website or your responsive programming to make sure everything is up to scratch.
If your pages are not optimised for mobile devices, they are likely to be discarded from mobile search results completely. If you already have mobile pages or your website is responsive, then you should focus even more on improving it in 2017 than ever before.
Google has said that they’re obsessed with fast loading websites.
Page load time can have a big impact on user experience. Slower pages are likely to have higher bounce rates and lower average dwell time, as well reducing conversion rates.
So if Google cares about how fast your site loads and your website visitors care enough to abandon pages and even purchases, then it’s definitely something you should be taking a close look at.
A common cause of slow pages is an abundance of uncompressed content, such as scripts, images, or CSS files, as well as failure to implement simple caching tactics. Those with shared hosting may also see delays from overloaded servers. Finding out why Google thinks your website is too slow is easy with Page Speed Insights. Google will list exactly which files are too large or delivered in suboptimal fashion and provide guidance on how to fix it.
But putting everything right may take quite a bit of effort and some technical know-how. It’s worth getting an experienced developer to make technical updates to your site based on Google’s recommendations.
Poor page speed can have another indirect influence your search visibility, as Google and alike allocate a crawl budget to your website, meaning that fewer pages could be crawled if your site is slow to load.
Google hates duplicate content. Whether it’s content that has been published on another website or a technical factor created by your websites configuration, it’s a bad problem and can even get your site removed from the search index.
Crawl errors, robots, sitemap
More jargon you may be thinking! These small and seemingly insignificant aspects of your website set up can have a big impact on your search engine visibility. If your robots.txt file is set up incorrectly it could be telling search engines not to index your website in the first place. A sitemap helps search engines index your pages and the priority a page is given via the sitemap.xml file may also influence ranking. Crawl errors are things like missing or inappropriate meta data or broken links. If you’re not sure about how to understand whether you are providing the information that search engines need in order to properly crawl and list your pages then our technical SEO team can review your site and make recommendations.
The structure of your website can have a big impact on your visibility in search. The items in your main navigation should be the most important and internal links from within text and buttons should also point to important pages. If you have a site with a deep linking structure where pages link to other relevant pages that link to your most important pages, Google can see that these are the resources you are directing people to and place importance on them.
Broken links and poorly set up redirects can all be spotted by the Google algo and they’re paying attention. Your website visitors are bound to be annoyed when a link doesn’t work or takes them to a place they didn’t expect, remember, Google wants to provide the best results for search queries so they’re paying attention to what’s good for website visitors.
Orphan links are caused when you create a page but it is not linked from anywhere on your site. This can happen when you forget to link to it or a link is mistyped or replaced by another.
The best way to understand which of the many Google ranking signals are making the biggest impact in your niche is to try optimising for them and tracking progress.
While Google’s algorithms are complex, one overriding factor should be at the forefront of your mind when thinking about promoting and optimising your website for visibility.
Does this benefit web users?
Google wants to provide the most relevant, engaging and useful content they can, that’s how they’ll remain the biggest search engine on the planet! So, whatever you do online, make it the best quality resource it can be, be honest about what you’re providing and think about user expectations, experience and behaviour.
If it’s relevant, it’s most likely SEO future proof, so forget quick fixes and cheap links and buy into real PR and interest in what you’re offering.
Take a look at the other blogs in this series for SEO and ranking factors!