Nearing the end of 2016, Google started letting webmasters know about impending changes to their search engine ranking system that would have impact on how sites would be viewed in 2017. To continue to rank well in 2017, websites will need to hit certain additional criteria. In this article, I discuss these key new changes that will impact your website’s organic SEO rankings in the Google Search Engine.
The first item on their list is that of making sure that your site has a published SSL certificate in place. Now, as far as Google search rankings go, you will begin to be penalized if you do not have an SSL certificate in place on your site.
One of the first moves in this regard already now in place, is that if you do not have an SSL certificate on your site, the Google Chrome browser will insert and exclamation mark “!” on the URL line to let a potential page viewer be aware that the site has not been secured. Clicking on the exclamation mark brings up the details of the security infraction. This new item is now already in place on the browser with the January 2017 Chrome “56” browser update.
SSL certificates are not a major expense these days and you can get them put in place for as low as about $26 per year if you are not running an e-commerce site and about $70 or so if you are. Google is very interested in customers being protected as they go to websites directed by Google and they want to ensure that customer data entered on these sites is encrypted and a person’s information is kept safe. In this regard, they will therefore be penalizing “organic search-wise” those websites that have not put an SSL certificate in place. So, if being found by Google organically is important to you, this is a step you will need to take with your site.
Next on their agenda is popup adds on webpages, particularly on mobile devices. Google customers find adds that popup on webpages they visit to be very obtrusive and annoying and Google has been listening to their complaints. Google has found that popup adds often can cover an entire screen on a mobile device and can even be hard to get rid of. So now as Googlebot crawls your webpages and in particular, your mobile webpages, be aware that they will be looking on popup adds with disfavor and your page will be penalized if popup adds are found.
Google’s move here is because they are wanting to deliver quality content to their search and “AdWords” customers on behalf of their advertisers. They are on the hunt for quality content pages to serve up – not “Fluff” pages whose primary purpose is to popup an add to sell something. Advertising on the web is going to start to change because of this new search engine ranking requirement so if you are wanting to be found and you currently run popups on your pages, you will be wanting to start doing some rework on these pages. Do standard advertising through anchor text links and hyperlinked images on pages instead – Google will reward you for it instead of penalizing you.
The next change required for 2017 is going to see a lot of people scrambling to improve their website design architectures. Almost half of all Internet access these days is done by mobile devices including tablets.
In a recent study completed by a Google subsidiary company, it was found that the average load time for a webpage on a mobile device is still sitting at about 19 seconds to load. This same study indicates that mobile device users on the other hand only have an attention span for page loading of about 3 seconds. After 3 seconds, over 53% of users abort which means that slow-loading mobile pages that Google currently sends customers to via their search engine and on behalf of their AdWords advertisers, are not getting loaded.
So things are changing. Google now has setup a totally separate search engine “page indexing” database in their system for mobile webpages. The loading sweet-spot for a page is 2-4 seconds and if your mobile page takes longer to load than this as it is getting crawled by Googlebot, Google will make note of it and your page will no longer be showing up in their search results for users until you can get this fixed.
With over 50% of all website interactions now coming from mobile, this has the potential of cutting your total website visitors by almost half once your pages have been flagged by Googlebot as being slow loading – not that mobile was working for you anyway with approximately 53% of people clicking off before your page ever got loaded in the first place.
In fact, many WordPress theme providers are now scrambling to build and market as add-ons to existing WordPress customers “Mobile-Friendly” website components. The jury is still out on these however as to whether or not they will be able to get down to the 2-4 second page loading time “sweet-spot” requirements now being required by Google.
To hit loading times that are consistently this fast, will pretty much require the construction of “natively coded, responsive” webpages that do not use widgets of any sort. And even the time take to convert the content of an existing fat page into a fast loading, content filled mobile page takes time that may still keep your page out of the fast loading category.
In summary, the Google search engine these days is looking for professionally built, natively coded webpages to serve up solid content to its customers on mobile devices. To be successful with a website organically in the future as a result, will require for many online entrepreneurs, a need to rebuild existing websites.