Search engine optimization is not for every website. Although search engine optimization can really improve the organic search results for some websites, there are a couple of considerations when search engine optimization should not be considered and maybe a full site redesign may be a better investment of money and time.
When not to do search engine optimization:
If your site is created in a template and the site layout becomes broken when new content is added.
Your site looks funny in browsers other than Chrome and Firefox.
You have a site designed using Flash or tables for your layout.
Your website looks dated or non-professional.
As search engine optimization is not inexpensive, in some cases the money that would have been spent on search engine optimization would be better spent on a new search engine friendly design with built-in optimization features.
In our new world where over 65% of all Google.com searches are done on smartphones, what happens to a website that is not mobile-friendly in regards to lead conversions, store sales, and organic placement?
The PPC Picture
Google has lots to say on this topic of mobile friendliness. For sites that are not mobile-friendly and the business owner is advertising in Google Ads, Google flags the account with messages such as this:
“Avoid losing customers on mobile devices by improving your mobile site. Recommended because 98.57% of your mobile clicks go to non-mobile-friendly pages on your site. 68.97% of clicks from all devices come from mobile. 98.57% 138 of 140 clicks go to pages that are not mobile-friendly.“
As Google Ads is incredibly focused on relevance and offering the best user experience, I expect in the future ads that are not showing mobile-friendly pages to start to receive very poor quality scores driving up the click cost and reducing exposure due to a low ad rank.
Google has been pretty forthcoming in regards to page speed as well. A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. For a store generating $60,000 in sales a month, that is a loss of $4,200 in monthly sales. In a year, that translates into $50,400. A non-mobile friendly site is not optimized for speedy download and may be virtually impossible to use on a smartphone driving away potential customers. Many will never come back to visit. This is a very serious impact for Google Ad activity.
For sites that do not have a mobile-friendly website, conversion numbers are dropping in Google Ads. Mobile activity is a very big part of the conversion path now for sales and leads.
For some websites that are not mobile-friendly using Duda Mobile to do a scripted redirect to a Duda Mobile mini site worked – but no longer. Google Ads is aggressively disapproving ads for our clients that are using this approach and we are now having to remove the code from those websites effectively making them now not mobile-friendly for organic or for pay per click activity.
The Organic Picture
For organic traffic, know that Google now spiders the mobile version of a website and this is the content that now determines your site’s organic ranking on Google.com for all devices, not just mobile.
Additionally, Marketing and Growth Hacking states “Based on the blogs Google is putting out, we can confidently assume companies who don’t optimize for mobile will see their rankings disappear. At the same time, companies who adopt and take advantage of mobile-friendly sites early-on have and will continue to see higher rankings.”
I agree that if you mean to be in business, grow sales, and compete effectively, your website and store must be mobile-friendly.
Plan ahead, bringing a new website online does mean that you will drop organic placement. It happens! Sometimes with redirects, after 4 to 6 weeks a website will pop back up in organic placement, but sometimes, the site stays down and does not regain the placement that the original site had.
It is a reality and one that you should honestly prepare for when you launch a new website. It may be smart to build your new website at a new domain, so you do not lose your organic placement of your old site. If that is not an approach you would like to take, know that you will drop and plan a pay per click budget to drive traffic to your new website and get started quickly with blogging and content creation to try to build inbound links and help your site regain position.
Many businesses will own multiple domains and it may make sense to use one of your domains and leave your legacy website alone. Especially if you have thousands of blog posts and thousands of inbound links.
If your site is relatively small and has under 150 inbound links, your placement is not so strong that you cannot overwrite the URLs on your site and damage your organic placement.
Be careful and thoughtful about the changes you want to make beforehand so you are prepared in case your site does fall significantly in the organic results.
Don’t damage your existing SEO when you launch a new website. Once you have changed page URLs, all inbound links pointing to your website (that helped you garner your old website’s placement) will be broken and the SEO juice gone.
I recommend taking time to do an .htaccess file redirect in the root of your server; list your old URLs and then redirect to the new page that is the best match. If you have a very large blog, consider leaving the old blog up and then starting a new blog site on the server, having multiple incidents of WordPress so you do not lose thousands on inbound links if you have been a very active blogger.
This is of particular importance when you are moving from a PHP or HTML site to WordPress as the format of your website links will be different.
For many well-placed websites, setting up a new domain and leaving the old site untouched may be the best solution. In fact, if the old site is well placed organically you can point your pages to your new website (not with a domain forward, but rather with links in the footer and content). This may pass some of your SEO capital to your new site to help it get established.
When you want a new site and build one, but do not come up with a plan to address your historical inbound links, you break what you had and literally have to start all over again building SEO placement. Don’t damage your existing SEO out of ignorance.
Overwriting your existing website with new URLs without a well-thought out process can really damage your online placement and may be very hard to recover from, so move thoughtfully and carefully.
I will open with a quick case study to illustrate my point on how important page speed is to Google. We did a SEO site evaluation for a client on his new website. The site looked nice and appeared very professional, but on running the site through the Google Page Speed Tool, the desktop score came back with a 24 out of a score of 100 and the mobile score came back with a score of 51 out of 100. Google rated both of these scores in the “red” zone.
Why is being in the yellow zone (70’s) or green zone (90’s) important?
Google AdWords uses scanning tools and will actively disapprove ads where they consider the page speed experience low. I have seen advertisers with red page speeds have ads disapproved. The only way to improve your page speed is a site redesign or difficult overhaul of an existing site. Google evaluates the domain, not just the landing page. So, Google AdWords considers a quick loading site an important Quality Score indicator.
Google has just released notice that in July 2018 they will be using website page speed as a ranking indicator for their organic index. As the Google organic index is now based solely on the mobile version of your website since early last year and Google no longer has a desktop index AND a mobile index, page speed of your mobile site is even more important to garnering organic placement.
This particular issue of page speed and the use of the mobile index to rank sites is also why AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages, a Google initiative to speed up the Web, is so very important to embrace on any new website design.
In conclusion, page speed is crucial for organic performance for websites and one of the most important factors you should consider as you choose your WordPress theme or website backbone.
Check back next week for more information on website redesigns selections.
Many business owners of websites older than five years are thinking of updating their websites this year. A frequent question we get at McCord Web Services is “Is WordPress right for me?” For some businesses WordPress may be a good fit, but it is important to understand that you do have options to a WordPress website.
In this series on WordPress or PHP, we will be looking at the pros and cons as well as benefits and challenges.
If you are considering a WordPress website please review my checklist below before you make a final selection and get your site into production. I encourage you to have a frank talk with your potential website designer and nail down some of these issues before you go to contract or fund the project with a deposit.
If you are going to use a pre-designed theme, all theme designers will have a “live preview”. Ask for that link and input the URL in Google’s page speed tester. https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ Better yet, let your web designer know that you will not want to use any WordPress themes that do not score in the “green” zone on the Google Page Speed Tester.
Assure that your site designer knows that you will want to use AMP plugins to render your WordPress website to be AMP friendly. If the designer has used that theme before, ask to see the AMP page of a site. The page you see in your browser and smartphone should not have navigation links and elements with the content pushed to the bottom. It should have a narrow banner and content. If you see a lot of navigation links, it means that the theme’s navigation is not compatible with the AMP plugins. If your site designer cannot provide a page for you to use, consider buying the theme in question, having them do the installation, install the AMP plugin for your evaluation before you go further. Do not do site build-out until you verify that this is not an issue with your theme. It is by far better to write off the cost of the theme (typically under $100) and choose a new theme to get the AMP compatibility you really need.
Review with your web designer the type of theme they will be using. It is easy for another webmaster to come in and put in blog content. Will blog post pages have builder fields and have to be customized at installation or will the blog content entry fields be typical as in WordPress Twenty Seventeen or Twenty Eighteen. Does the blog require a featured image and what are the size dimensions of the featured image? For many sites using featured images an image of 1920 by 1080 is required. This requires the blog post installer to buy a special larger image and then resize it to fit. This is an added expense that you should know about before you purchase your theme or go into production as you will incur additional costs.
Let the website designer know you are serious about security. All testing logins and user names and passwords at set up should be complicated and never use admin or default settings. After launch WordFence Premium can be added for additional security and firewall protection, but don’t allow your site to be hacked while in the design phase through lax security.
In our next blog post on Wednesday, we will discuss why there has to be such a focus on page speed for your new website.