Here are some of the steps to follow:
1)In a web browser, do a Google search for the page you want to find (you can paste the URL into Google). In the Google SERP, click the green down arrow to the right of the site’s URL and then click Cached.
2)In Chrome, copy the URL path you wish to check. Then type into the address bar cache:www.url-you-wish-to-check.com e.g. cache:https://www.facebook.com
If a 404 page is returned from the cache command, it means the page has not been cached and it’s not in Google’s index. If you see a version of the page, this is what is used in the index and the date and time of when it was last cached will be displayed. This means that when you make changes to the content of web pages, it can take time for Google to update its index.
You’ll remember earlier that technical optimization or technical SEO is primarily about making your website free of errors, easy to crawl and easy to index. Compared to on-page optimization and off-page optimization, technical optimization plays a smaller role in keyword rankings but we will now look at three technical factors that matter:
- Site speed: it was quite rare back at the time, but back in 2010, Google officially announced a ranking factor for SEO. It was for Site Speed and it was rare because ranking factors were mainly kept a secret. Although, as it is only a slight ranking factor, improving site speed is more likely to be noticeable in your bottom line in helping improve conversions and sales, rather than SEO. That said, if web pages are noticeably slow, this could have a significantly negative effect on both conversions and SEO.
- Mobile-friendliness: with the use of mobile overtaking the desktop, this ranking factor has become more important than ever.
- HTTPs: this means making your pages more secure.
We will now look at each of these factors in more detail.
Albeit a slight ranking factor, site speed offers additional benefits for conversions/sales, rather than SEO alone. Independent studies by Kiss Metrics and Google suggest a page should load in 2 seconds or less.
If a page takes much longer than two seconds it has a bad impact on the user experience and could leave the user frustrated and not want to continue using the website. In a later slide, we’ll look at Pingdom which helps diagnose areas of a web page that can be improved for speed such as making larger images smaller, compressing text and files, and minimizing the total number of requests being made.
Often a technical person or web developer is required to make improvements on site speed.
Google offer a tool called PageSpeed Insights that grades a web page in how well optimized it is for page speed on both desktop and mobile. It also gives suggestions in areas where improvements can be made.
Google also offers a dedicated mobile page speed testing tool: Think With Google. This goes more in-depth and may indicate that mobile site speed may become a more important ranking factor in the future. Google mentions that “70% of cellular network connections globally will occur at 3G or slower speeds through 2020”, so it’s key to get a fast-loading site under such conditions, so bear that in mind for your current and future web builds.
Pingdom is an independent tool that also grades how well a web page is optimized for site speed. It has the added benefit of providing a page speed loading time.
Google’s Maile Ohye, states that “2 seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half-second. Half a second is fast, to put it in layman’s terms, it’s close to a blink, while two seconds is shorter than one breath”.
Bear in mind, that while this advice is still relevant, it was provided in 2010 but the general consensus is that these are still sensible targets to aim for, especially with the rise in mobiles and tablets that often rely on phone data signals.
Google announced mobile-friendliness as a significant ranking factor back in 2015. Although feedback from the SEO industry suggested its initial impact was relatively small, the announcement suggests it will become a stronger ranking factor in the future. This is enhanced further by Google’s plans to prioritize its index for mobile over desktop in the future.
Responsive web design is the most common way of making a website mobile-friendly. It works by making your web pages look good on all devices (desktops, tablets, and phones). Responsive web design uses HTML and CSS to resize, shrink or enlarge content to make it look good on any screen.
If you wish to test whether a website is mobile-friendly, the best way is through the Mobile Usability report in Google Search Console.
Here you will be able to check if it is and if not, what areas and pages need improving. This requires a verification process to see the data. If you do not have such access or wish to quickly check one URL at a time, you can use Google’s mobile-friendly test tool which will provide similar information but on one URL at a time.
- Google announced HTTPs as a ranking factor back in 2014 albeit, a very slight ranking factor.
- HTTPs were primarily used to protect pages that collected information like contact us or a shopping cart page. Recently, there has been a shift where ALL pages have HTTPs as this gives all pages a slight ranking boost.
- Implementing HTTPs from HTTP requires careful redirect planning
- Moving to HTTPs requires an SSL certificate
Adding HTTPs to your site makes your web pages more secure. To do this you need to include an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate which traditionally is something you need to buy, although in recent years you can do it for free e.g. through Let’s Encrypt.
When adding HTTPs (from HTTP), you are changing the URL that search engines need to index. It is critically important that you redirect the old HTTP URL to the new HTTPs URL and this should be done through a 301 redirect.
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PS: I know you might agree with some of the points that I have raised in this article. You might not agree with some of the issues raised. Let me know your views about the topic discussed. We will appreciate it if you could drop your comment. Thanks in anticipation.
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