At TMSA’s 2018 Logistics Marketing and Sales Conference, Chris Peer, President & CEO of Digital Marketing Agency, SyncShow delivered a highly-relevant presentation entitled “10 Reasons Google Hates Your Transportation Website.”
I can safely say that Chris’s tips apply to every site and every industry under Google’s sun today. As a classic cobbler’s son who’s prone to “set it and forget it” behavior with my own website, I certainly received a wake-up call.
First off: why Google and not Yahoo or Bing or anything else? Well, Google dominates—except in China where Baidu rules. (Maybe that will be the topic of a future SyncShow presentation, “Why Baidu thinks your site is bad.”)
Here’s my take on the 10 reasons Chris Peer of SyncShow gave:
- Your site is too slow. He gave an example of how devastating this can be to your hits: a 9-second load time translates to 29% less visitors. How do you know how long it takes your site to load? Try this: https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com. The fixes: image optimization, check your server or your content delivery network, and lastly, reduce your redirects.
- Your website isn’t optimized for mobile. Lots of companies do this as an afterthought, but mobile usage surpassed desktop usage of the internet three years ago. (Sidenote: the transportation industry has not passed the 50% mark…yet.) What does optimizing for mobile mean besides automatically sizing for smartphones? Fat finger design, no pop-ups, no Flash. (Glad to see the site I recently wrote for NYSHEX passes the test. Take a look on your smartphone.)
- Link issues are making Google ding you. In short, good inbound links from reputable sites increase your ranking while bad inbound links from spam-filled, disreputable sites cause Google to penalize you. Chris’s tip for increasing high-quality links is to make sure the trade associations you belong to are linking to your website. He also gave some tips for “disavowing” poor inbound links so Google knows you aren’t associated with them. You can find them here.
- Your content is thin. Surprisingly in the stripped-down copy days of today, Google wants 700 words or more per page. Yes, you read that right: more copy, not less.
- You have duplicate content. (i.e. don’t plagiarize yourself or others.) The fix: rewrite your site content to make it more useful and unique. Google doesn’t like similar content, and it can outright de-index you if you steal text from other sites.
- Your content is not optimized. Your content quality determines how Google grades you. So start with an accurate title tag telling what your page is about. Make sure your headers contain your keywords. After all your headers are optimized, look at your body copy and do the same. Don’t stop there: every area on every page can be optimized, so optimize your alt tags on every image as well
- Your site isn’t engaging visitors. (i.e. your bounce rate is high.) The fix: change your focus to providing valuable content and giving visitors what they’re looking for. Specifically, think video (great for visitors, not so great for search value) and scrutinize your calls-to-action to ensure they’re action items.
- You have poor site structure. This often occurs when websites evolve over time as businesses grow and new pages get bolted on. As a result, the navigation of the site – and the organization of the site as a whole, doesn’t follow a logical path. That confuses both users and Google. You need to have a structure that’s easy to navigate with pages organized by topic. Visitors should be able to get to any page on the site in two clicks.
- You have “orphaned” pages. (i.e. pages that can’t be found through navigation.) I’ve seen this happen with companies who routinely create landing pages for promotions. Orphaned pages are a no-no because Google doesn’t know how to rank them. The fix: include them in your sitemap at the code level. (Chris suggests having someone submit them.) So what do you do if you want to keep your top navigation clean and user-focused, but have a ton of other pages on your site? Check out how we positioned the navigation for NYSHEX’s subordinate pages in the footer where they’re easy to find, but don’t crowd the main navigation which only lists the pages we most-wanted to direct visitors to. See it here.
- Your site isn’t secure. These days, every site and every page (even “orphaned” pages) needs SSL certification. The good news: you can purchase and install it in 15 minutes.BONUS TIPS FROM CHRIS
- Make google love your site by driving social traffic to your site. Put a snippet on LinkedIn that links to your site. Make Google love your site by driving social traffic to your site. Put a snippet on LinkedIn that links to your site. And post your videos on YouTube, the 2ndbiggest search engine. (And be sure and have your videos transcribed and posted on your site so you can get the search value.)
- Lastly, ensure every page on your site has a strategy for what you want visitors to do and learn.
Chris said a lot more in his great talk. For any details that I might have missed, read his comprehensive presentation here:
Then round out your reading with my 3-part series on creating a customer-centric website.
Are you looking at a website refresh or rewrite this summer? I’d love to help. Email me to set up a short call.