One key component of Search Engine Optimization has to do with your page load times – which is part of the overall user experience angle that Google is uber-focused on at this time. By making your pages load faster, you improve your visitor’s browsing experience, and Google wants to reward you for providing this valuable service.
Content optimization is a very large area to cover with one blog post so I’ll briefly touch on what it entails and follow up this post as a series.
It may be surprising to some, but Google actually cares about issues like how well you’re building links within your own site. Repeat after me, “It’s all about relevance“. If you can link one piece of your highly informative content about “Icebergs” to a larger relevant article about the “Sinking of the Titanic” (all within your own domain) – Google will reward your efforts. Their robots are able to form loose associations and get it right about 99% of the time. When they see that you’re providing multiple pieces of content on your domain that have been linked together correctly, they’re going to eventually give you some kind of credit for this and increase your website rankings. This preference on their part for selecting the most relevant websites using their algorithm – is the very reason so many people choose Google as their preferred search engine. People understand that a “Bing” or “Yahoo” search is not going to provide them with as much accuracy. It’s Google’s very stance on relevance that is driving an exodus from it’s competitors. Who wants their search results full of irrelevant articles or content? No one does.
Next up – Compression. By shrinking or compressing the images that are being served to your visitors, you will lessen the amount of time it takes for a web browser to load your webpages on your visitor’s computer screen. In addition to your images, there are also various free compression modules to also condense the actual HTML code (or PHP in many cases), again helping to shorten your page-load times. Every line of code on a webpage, adds to the page load time. Removing even a few lines of code using minification could be a 15KB savings for example, which you might then say doesn’t seem like much.. and you would be right.
However, think of the cumulative effect that this 15KB turns into when you’re repeating the process 100’s or 1000’s of times per day. You not only save bandwidth doing optimizations (which is ultimately saving money on website hosting fees), but you also save your visitors unnecessary headaches by reducing page load times. Because let’s face it, who wants to wait for one website to load when there can be as many as 20+ other relevant articles in any Google search. Your competitors are only one click of the “back” button away in the event that your website doesn’t load fast enough. Remember that. It’s often a thankless job making these changes, but I assure you people will notice the difference over time. Some websites inherently earn “loyalty points” with their visitors simply by serving their sites up quickly and may not even realize the effect it’s having.. Think of Craigslist, or eBay or Facebook. Do they have flashy, gimmicky user interfaces, or bulky websites that take a long time to load? No. Now let’s look back at MySpace. Well, let’s not and just use that for our cautionary tale against getting out of hand with too many design elements, and not enough focus on what matters – Good Content people!
Since the introduction of mobile websites, Google has asked that you pay close attention to your visitors experience on hand-held mobile devices. It’s certainly one thing to design a website for people who browse on their laptop’s and desktop’s, but it’s an entirely different ballgame when it comes to mobile-responsive websites. By not catering to this group, your rankings will absolutely be harmed in the process in 2018 and beyond.
More than half of all web traffic now originates from iPhones, iPads, and other mobile devices. Do you really want to neglect half of your visitors? I would hope not… Just understand that the more attention you pay to how your website appears & loads on multiple types of devices, the higher your website is going to rank in Google.
With some testing and a few improvements, Google, Yahoo, and Bing are going to start to see your website in whole different light. Designers nowadays use code to tell the web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge) which device our visitor is using, so that we are able to serve them a “View” which will fit their iPhone screen, or even that 77″ Smart TV in your living room.
Rather than setting our sizes with set static dimensions using Pixels (ie: 1920px x 1280px) for all visitors, it would be best to serve up modified heights and widths based on percentages (ie size that column to 80% instead of 1080 pixels). The advantage then is that we are making adaptive changes based on the size of the device that we’re serving our pages to.
If you still haven’t moved your website to a mobile friendly responsive design, you are way past due and I recommend you reach out immediately to see how we can accomplish this for your organization.