Summer is slowly drawing to a close, which means it’s now time to turn your attention to the next big events that are coming up! You might think it’s too early to be thinking about Christmas, but we don’t. Now is the right time to be getting your website ready for the big influx of Christmas shoppers.
2018 was an another significant year for search, and there is a lot we can learn from the various developments and updates that Google implemented. We’ve taken these learnings and turned them into Google’s Christmas wish list. Make sure you implement these points as soon as you can to ensure your users can get their Christmas shopping done in time. Remember, happy users equals a happy Google. The last thing you want in the holiday season is your website crashing - think about how many people do their shopping online nowadays.
So what’s at the top of Google’s Christmas list? In Google’s Search Engine Optimization starter guide, you find the heading “Help Google (and users) understand your content”. This is the most important goal for your SEO work, because if your content is understandable for Google, it has potential to achieve better rankings. Through better rankings, it can reach more users, who appreciate an understandable and easy-to-use website. Google can recognize good content through user signals, for example how long the user spends on the page - so usability is another pretty important topic on the wish list.
Here, we have listed the most important aspects of website optimization, so you can go through one by one and make sure you’re giving Google a great Christmas present.
The structure and function of a website are the deciding factors when it comes to Google crawling your site, and how users can find their way around. The site history also determines how secure your site is, which can also influence rankings.
The URL structure is at the top of the list. A logical structure with a maximum of three directory levels ensures that the Googlebot can easily reach all directory depths during its visit. For your users, being able to quickly access any URL with a maximum of three to four clicks is also useful - this means they can reach their destination more quickly.
A sensible URL structure also means avoiding URLs that are too long. Google is able to crawl URLs with more than 1,000 characters, but for your users, short and concise URLs are better. For example, it's easier to share them on social networks, and they should be able to recognize from the URL where they are on the page, and what to expect after clicking on the URL. The URL is also displayed in the search snippets of the SERPs. If the URLs aren’t clear, or appear dubious, users might be less inclined to click on it.
With Ryte, you can use Website Success to find the length of your URLs. Click on URL structure - URL length to get an overview of your URL lengths.
Figure 1: Check URL length with Ryte
Google made SSL encryption a ranking factor in 2014. However, this year, Google has made further improvements in website security. Since July 2018, websites without SSL encryption have been displayed as "unsecure" in the Google SERPs via the Chrome web browser. These are two very good reasons to make your website safer. SSL encryption will definitely be on Google's Christmas wish list.
Google will certainly have internal linking on its Christmas list. Internal linking shows the Googlebot perfectly where the thematic focus of your page is, and how the link power is distributed. The internal linking functions similarly to the roots of a tree. The internal links distribute the incoming link force evenly over the entire page.
You should pay attention to the following factors with the internal linking:
With Ryte Website Success, you can quickly analyze your used link texts with only one report. Click on "Links" "Overview", and then "Anchor Texts".
Figure 2: Check your anchor texts with Ryte
Page speed has been a ranking factor for Google since 2010, and it has played an even more important role since January 2018. Since then, Google has also been using PageSpeed as a ranking factor for mobile websites.
Of course, it isn’t surprising that page speed is so important - after all, users generally love fast websites, especially fast mobile websites, as a Google study has shown. PageSpeed is therefore not only important for your rankings, but also for the usability of your website.
The faster your site loads, the longer visitors stay on it, and the higher the chance of a conversion. Page speed can therefore have a positive impact on sales for online shops.
You can use these tools for a quick test of your page speed.
|Tool||What can this tool do?||Link|
|Google Impact Calculator||
Based on your page speed, the tool can show you the potential losses you can achieve with your current page speed, taking into account the mobile phone standard used.
|Google PageSpeed Insights||
This free Google tool determines the loading speed of your website on a scale from 1 to 100 and shows you optimization potential.
In Website Success, you will find the loading times report. Diagrams marked in green show fast URLs, while slow pages are marked in red.
This tool is well suited for comparing speeds of two websites.
This tool is well suited for comparing speeds of two websites.
Is this too much information? Don’t worry! Check out this extensive guide for page speed optimization.
Of course, Google's Christmas wish list will include the big topic "Mobile". Since the first "Mobile Friendly Update" in April 2015, the importance of mobile friendliness has been increasing - since then, mobile friendliness has been a ranking factor for websites.
This year, mobile became even more significant. Since March 2018, Google has been using mobile first indexing, and now prefers the mobile version of a website for indexing. Just four months later, Google rolled out the Mobile Speed Update, which made page speed a ranking factor.
So what does Google want (and not only for Christmas)? Mobile-optimized websites, because these ensure a positive user experience.
If you have not yet dealt with mobile optimization, here are the main elements:
With our free e-book, you’re perfectly set up for optimizing your website for mobile use!
Another way to make your website fit for mobiles is AMP. "Accelerated Mobile Pages" can be implemented easily. Have a read of our AMP guide to find out how to implement them.
If you’ve already started working through the points on Google’s Christmas list, you have time to try out some new things before Christmas. We have an idea: Rich Snippets. Google can handle structured data better than ever before, and uses it to enrich its search results. The best known rich snippets are the rating stars for products in the SERPs.
To create Google Rich Snippets, you have to mark your elements with markup. There are various methods available to you for this: JSON-LD, RDFa or Microdata.
How best to prepare your website for Rich Snippets is described in this XXL Snippet-Guide. You can find a guide for JSON-LD here.
When you create structured data with your website, you help search engines process content even better. Structured data is not only suitable for rich snippets, but can also be used for voice search via smartphones or products such as Google Home. With structured data you are definitely on the safe side for this year's Google wish list.
The points we have compiled for you here are of course not only relevant for Christmas - these aspects are important all year round. As so many businesses see their revenue increase over the Christmas period, it’s extra important that your website is in working order during this time. Structured, fast, secure and mobile-friendly websites keep your users and Google happy every day. And that's why you should always keep this "list" in mind in all your efforts, all year around, not just for Christmas.
Do you want to make Google and your users happy in time for Christmas?
Published on 09/05/2018 by Philipp Roos.
Philipp is an extended member of the Ryte family and supports Ryte with the latest SEO know-how and digital marketing news.
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