10 Things Google Hates About You(r Website)
With 10,000 ranking signals applied to your content, and that number set to increase, it's easy for your website to become lost somewhere deep in the dark depths of Google (AKA not first page of results). That's why it's vital for Google to get all the right signals from your website.
Thankfully at September 2017's Digital Gaggle, Jon Payne shared his top tips and advice on how to send better signals to Google and make your website more Google friendly, so when your boss/client says something like, 'we're at the bottom of the page on Google, and we need moving up', you won't look at them blankly, you'll be well away. If you finish reading this blog and decide you need more help with your SEO knowhow, you'll probably want to download this nifty guide...
The first priority Jon mentioned that can be easily improved is your content. Specifically looking at your language and how that relates to your customer.
Take Shakespeare for example. There's a reason it takes whole years of people's lives to study his plays. Why? Because, let's face it... no one really understands them do they? Has anyone ever come up to you and said 'what light through yonder window breaks?' Unlikely I would imagine. The point being, there is no point in writing in airy fairy language if that's not how your consumers speak. Using jargon that your customers don't understand makes it almost impossible to answer any potential questions your consumers may be asking. And no, it doesn't make you sound any smarter.
Not the reaction you want from potential customers when they read your over complicated language
This is another easy way you can begin to send Google the right signals. Imagine your images on your website being received like this: in little sacks on a truck travelling down the great big information super-highway that is the internet (hopefully the picture below helps with the visualisation). Doesn't exactly convey the downloading of images as a fast process, does it?!
So, what is one way to speed up this process? Yep, reduce the load size. You're getting this. Jon then went on to explain how whenever he carried out an audit for a client, one thing he nearly always noticed is that massive photos with as high a resolution as possible were used. Understandable, as you want the images to look beautiful... but unless you're looking to cover the front of Selfridges a HUGE image resolution just isn't necessary and all it does is weigh down that truck reducing it's travelling speed. And, as Google measures load time, there are key signals that might not be being picked up.
To give you an idea, Jon recommends 150dpi size for a photo used on a website. But if you do an image test with Google Page Speeds Insights, it will tell you which photos are too big and you can compress for better user experience. You can then reduce the photo size using a tool like Smush_it .
When Google scans your page in an attempt to match a search, it wants to be precise about it and find the one specific page with that info on. But, if you have a product description thrown into various different areas of your website then there becomes more than one potential place Google can detect the content. Remember, Google doesn't want to have to choose, it should be directed. Siteliner detects duplicated content and highlights it. With this information, take it to your web designer and get them to eliminate these.
Google likes a structure it can recognise. To put it into perspective of how easily recognisable it should be, think of a pyramid. Google knows that the URL should be at the point, the page titles on the next level down, the page headlines should be... you get the gist.
The way your web designer makes it however is often the opposite. With excessive coding, the result of building over the same old code framework they're been using for years, means that when Google eventually arrives at your website, not only is the process unnecessarily slow (remember the truck on the motorway?), it sees a disarray of unstructured and unorganised code. A good way of visualising this is a tip.
A good web developer will know that a website does not serve a one size fits all purpose.
The same principle can be applied with coding for your mobile site, Google's mobile friendly test is an effective way to check your mobile usability, though that's not a substitute for looking at it from a number of different phones yourself!
I.e the bit inbetween. Jon used the example of Linford Christie, the best British sprinter in history and when asked how he won gold in the 100m he simply replied with:
'you have to go on the B of Bang.'
The time to first byte of your website is crucial for ranking for generic search terms. Look at it like the handshake between your website and the person viewing it. 0,3 seconds or below is the target, any longer and ranking becomes increasingly difficult.
Another important aspect not to be overlooked in making your website more Google friendly is its link profile, which is other websites that link back to yours. This is what lets Google understand what neighbourhood you play your game in, the sort of people who like and trust your content. Majestic is a handy tool that allows you to see how trustworthy the people that link to you are, and whether they make sense and are in context with what you do.
More helpful stuff
- Screaming Frog will identify problems in the page structure. It will also look at your website and analyse the content and show you where you have duplication, where you have page titles, formed meta descriptions, images without alt text etc.
- Schema - This has been around since 2007. Don’t let your web designer forget to use it. It's a really helpful extension that helps you to categorise stuff e.g. prices, office address, products you sell, services you sell, opening hours, reviews etc.
- Byte check– This is the B of bang and it will tell you how quick your website goes. Tip = put your competitors’ website in to see how fast their site is.
Thanks to Jon for another highly informative, entertaining and humorous talk!