In their guidance for webmasters, Google gives 5 basic questions that you should ask yourself about your website.
- Is my website showing up on Google?
- Do I serve high-quality content to users?
- Is my local business showing up on Google?
- Is my content fast and easy to access on all devices?
- Is my website secure?
In this article I’ll be looking at the fourth point here:
Is my content fast and easy to access on all devices?
As we spend more of our time online, there are few things more frustrating than a slow-loading website. There are many reasons why a website loads slowly, ranging from low quality hosting, poorly written code, overly complicated bells and whistles, and unoptimized images, to name but a few.
Google is pretty strict in its assessment of website speed and accessibility across different devices, so it really pays to ensure you deliver your site as efficiently as possible.
I won’t dwell too much on hosting, since that’s an easy fix – choose a good hosting company! As with most things, you get what you pay for, so if you opt for budget hosting, you are unlikely to get anything that really delivers a professional product. If you buy cheap wine, you might occasionally get a really bargain but generally you end up wishing you’d spent a little more! And so it is with hosting.
Poorly written code is another issue that can seriously hamper your website’s speed so select your web developer carefully, and choose one that has produced proven high-quality sites that load fast and work snappily.
Fancy effects on your website might impress your audience at first glance, but often these come at the expense of speed on the site. Fancy effects generally require lots of code to make them work, and all that code has to load and execute, which takes time and uses up your computer’s resources, slowing things down further. So treat animations and special affects with care, and remember that less is generally more – a nice animation on your site can be lovely the first time your visitors see it but become a real irritation on repeat visits. Those users may not stick around for long.
Many of Amazing Internet’s clients are photographers, and there has been a big increase in the use of images on website of all types over the past few years, so this has become a particularly important issue for us. As internet connections have got faster, so designers have become blasé about using large images. This isn’t necessarily a problem if those images are optimised well. Optimising in this case means achieving the best balance between quality and file size. Most Amazing Internet sites have image optimisation built in, but if you’re using a different system, it’s worth using a tool like the “Save for Web” feature in Photoshop, or a similar tool where you can play around with the image compression to get the lowest file size before you get any noticeable loss in image quality.
Is your site mobile friendly?
Gone are the days when you could design a site for viewing on a desktop screen and know that it’s going to look good for 99.9% of people. These days, screens are all shapes and sizes, going from huge flat screens down to mobile phones. This is a challenge for web design because not only has the design got to adapt nicely to give a pleasing experience on all sized screens, it’s also got to be fully usable too. For instance you can’t have clickable items too close together on a mobile phone screen because it’s hard to tap the right thing.
Ecommerce sites often have a real issue with mobile functionality. They tend to have more complicated layouts and need to fit more information onto the screen. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve actually given up trying to use even big brand sites on mobile because of the usability shortfalls. It’s just a design issue, but it needs to be taken into account given that over 50% of web traffic is performed on mobile devices.
Speed of use is a particular issue for mobile users because internet access is generally slower than that available to laptops or desktops. So you want to make sure that the site isn’t trying to serve the same large images that it might do for a desktop user with a large screen. That’s all part of the web developer’s job of course, but you should ensure that your web developer is building your site accordingly.
As you’d expect, Google take ALL of this into account when ranking your site in its search results, hence it being one of their five basic questions for any website owner.
I hope you found this information useful. If you have any questions about your own SEO or need help with your website, don’t hesitate to get in touch.