By: Geri Jensen
I recently attended the Publintelligence Conference in San Francisco, Calif., on the Future of Organic Search and want to share what I learned from the Google Webmaster Team about website security and search guidelines to steer users to your website. Change is coming fast, be prepared.
Your web pages should be content-rich, secure and optimized, making it ripe for search to provide relevant and fast search results leading to your website. Factors affecting search results:
1. Google is cracking down on insecure sites—make sure your website uses SSL/ https or it will be left in the dust
Starting in October 2017, Google Chrome will begin to identify a site as non-secure if it has any type of form, including a contact or search form and is not https. If you don’t have a SSL certificate that’s up –to-date for your site, act now to correct this. This type of security notice could have a devastating effect on your customers/readers. In 2018, Google will warn users to leave any site that does not have https. Firefox has already begun to do this.
Many sites use SSL/https for the ecommerce section, but Google insists your entire website be secure by using https. Closely check all links on your site, including the internal ones. For now, your website will be listed with an “i” information icon in the Chrome browser if not deemed secure. Users can click on the “i” icon and it will show your site’s security status. It will be listed as not secure even if you have only one non-https link on the page, which could be a link for text, images and videos.
To check your site, open it in Chrome and look on the browser bar in front of your web address to see if it is listed as “secure” or has an “i” for more information.
2. Make your website mobile-friendly and implement Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
The Google Webmaster Team emphasized that AMP speeds up page-loading time on mobile devices. You can add AMP to your website manually; instructions are available at the AMPProject.org. Your web platform may provide a plugin or extension for AMP. Google has entered into a partnership with WordPress and has helped develop a WordPress plugin for AMP. Other web platforms in partnership with the AMP Project.org are Canvas, Drupal, Fastcommerce, Hatena, Marfeel and Squarespace. To validate AMP pages, use the AMP tool to check your website.
3. Google will soon begin to index mobile first
Currently, Google’s priority is to index web pages designed for the desktop first. Due to the increased use of mobile devices, the company will be index for mobile first in the near future. This further indicates the importance that your blog, store or website be mobile-ready and responsive on all devices.
4. Use structured data on your website
Google Search uses structured data (rich snippets), which are a standardized format to better understand website content. For example, structured data identifies that a web page contains a recipe because it specifies a list of ingredients, cooking time and temperature. For articles, there is a title and summary. For products, the product name, price, availability and other relevant information is identified.
Google uses Rich Cards based on rich snippets in search results; these “boxes” found at the top of Google’s search result pages include products, recipes and answers to questions.
Most recently, Google began using structured data with image search to identify the source. For example, an image of an item for sale is marked as “product” and links to the retailer. Google follows the structured data standards for rich snippets listed by http://schema.org. You can use the standardized Google Structured Data Tool to see if structured data is working on your website. Schema.org provides information and tutorials about how to add structured data to your website.
5. Page speed is essential
Fast page-loading time will continue to increase in importance and affect your search-engine ranking. The current average score for page speed is 75/100 as measured by Google’s Developer tool for page speed, Insights. The Google webmaster team identified this as too slow and is encouraging webmasters to work to speed up page load times.
6. Ensure your website has technically-valid code
The Pubintelligence conference was organized in conjunction with Ezoic, a certified Google partner. Ezoic recommends following these procedures to rank high in Google:
• User Engagement (low bounce rate)
• Duration of time on website
• Number of pages visited
Using Google Analytics to track the above listed items helps make sure your website is correctly optimized. Be proactive on making these security and search changes in Fall 2017 so you’ll be ready on Jan. 1, 2018 to be ahead of the game. Let the search begin.