Web builds and SEO — What influences your Google ranking?
4th Aug 2021
Mention the words ‘search engine optimisation’ or worse yet that dreaded acronym ‘SEO’ to most people and their eyes will glaze over. It’s one of those techy dark arts which we concede probably is important, but few of us understand and most importantly, don’t want to hear about.
The sad reality of SEO is that while it is important, there has been much charlatanism in the industry. For many years now self-professed ‘SEO experts’ have charged brands large fees in return for quick fixes to improve their SEO, needless to say, these rarely make a big difference. As a result, lots of people feel like SEO is a bit of a con and have a rather jaded idea of the subject.
As Google has become more and more advanced as the result of things like machine learning, many of the old tricks don’t work anymore — things like keyword stuffing and artificial guest blogging are not likely to see you reach the first page of Google. Instead, you’re likely to be penalised. That’s not to say that content isn’t important. It’s just that most people fail to realise that your actual web build is a crucial component in deciding how well your website ranks.
So, if you’ve ticked all the boxes content-wise and are struggling to rank, consider if it might be your website that could be the problem. Here are just a few technical things that will influence how favourably search engines treat you.
Crawlability is the single most important facet of SEO. If Google’s spiders aren’t indexing your website’s pages, it won’t rank at all. A good developer will ensure that your new website is as crawlable as possible. This involves making sure that robot.txt files are properly used to direct search engines which pages they should review. Also, that robot meta tags aren’t preventing Google from adding crawled pages to its index and that your HTTP status code is correct.
Cybercrime is one of the fastest-growing criminal activities on the planet. With some experts predicting that damages caused by cybercrime in 2021 will total $6trillion. Google has taken it upon itself to encourage good data security by rewarding websites that meet its security standards with favourable rankings.
Aside from the above-mentioned SEO reward for ensuring your website is as secure as possible it’s also just a good idea. Millions of businesses fall victim to cyber-attacks each year, and there are now hefty fines for businesses that fail to adequately protect consumer data.
We’ve all heard the statistics that mobile traffic makes up more than 50% of all web traffic. Although people are more likely to be viewing a website on a mobile device, brands still often decide that mobile-friendliness is a secondary concern.
Ensuring you have a responsive web build (one that resizes to fit different types of screen) is therefore really important. Google prioritises mobile optimised sites in its ranking for searches from mobile devices, this means by not having a mobile optimised site you’re essentially cutting the number of hits you’re going to get in half.
While Google can be secretive as to what will affect page ranking, for over a decade they have been quite open about the fact that page load speed is one of the critical deciding factors used by its algorithm. Therefore, optimising your web build to be load as quickly as possible is a good idea. A good developer will eliminate unnecessary scripts, redirects and compress large files and scripts to get your site loading as fast as possible.
The longer a domain has existed in Google’s index the more it will favour it from an SEO perspective. It’s important to note here that we mean the age of the earliest Google index, not how long the domain has existed. In effect, a domain registered 20 years ago that has never actually been used is no better than one made today.
Some companies have spent large sums of money purchasing older domains, hoping to improve their chances of ranking on the first page. In our view doing this is a waste of money, but it is important to consider this bias towards older domains if you’re thinking about changing to a new domain. Unless the entire name of your brand has changed, it may be worth thinking twice before making a very minor update to your URL (changing one letter for example).
Flash is dead, its demise with much fanfare finally came about when adobe actively started asking users to uninstall the programme towards the end of 2020. With no support for the geriatric programme, Flash is nothing but a security risk. However, trawling the internet you will still on occasion find sites trying to run Flash script. If this sounds like your website you need to act now, as Google could be nerfing your SEO rank for still having Flash code on your website aside from the fact that it is also a huge security risk.