Google Scares Webmasters - A Wolf in Sheeps Clothing

Strange & aggressive headline, I know. But, read on before passing ‘judgement’…

Recognize that while there are many factors that Google (and other search engines) include for optimal performing websites and find-ability online, there is ONE THING that you may have missed in all the public news from the search & social giant. And, especially because of all the ‘noise’ recently.

Everybody is talking about, and discussing the impact of the various Panda updates this year, even the Caffeine infrastructure update last year – and the very recent “freshness” algo changes.

Allegedly, this recent November change impacts 35% of searches (websites).  Fresher sites will be listed first. Side Note: This was already ‘going on’, so it’s more like a 17.5%, but that’s another story.

From big to small businesses — webmasters, site owners and executive staff are shaking their heads and worrying about the impact to their businesses and livelihoods. Every time these updates happen, I keep checking to see if it’s a 9.0 earthquake equivalent, or a 2.5% temblor. Most of the time, it’s already expected.

Either way, a small business should recognize what’s most important… and stop worrying.

I was speaking with a friend in the online business about this. Clearly, having the insider information helps, but nobody except Google (and only a few at that) keep this information available. Any new changes, stories, announcements are a combination of Public Relations Management, Product Management, Investor Management, Customer/Crisis Management and Marketing Management.

At the end of the day, Google is interested in relevancy for their users… (ahem!) – no, they will do what they want to keep shareholders and owners happy… that means REVENUE & PROFITS. There are many hypocritical actions, and some that make no sense at all. But, that’s not a post for today.

(Your concern should be to build a strong business that would continue growing even if no Google existed. Ask yourself: “would my business die if there was no Google tomorrow?”)

OK, here’s what you would normally do to serve the search engines: provide good content for your audience, make sure the website and its pages are easily spidered and stored (indexed) with unique content. Ensure that your code/HTML is tagged correctly with TITLE tag, DESCRIPTION tag and others. Blend your keywords appropriately and naturally throughout the body copy and build quality links (ask: do I provide value that people would want to link to?).

And yes, do smart keyword research and competitive analysis before you start with copy, and consider hiring help to SEO copywrite it. Have a great offer, and build traffic and conversion metrics over time from your analytics and ongoing testing. Overall, do anything you can to support you differentiating USP/UVP (unique selling or value proposition).

So, when everything is done right and in a timely/regular fashion, users will love it – and Google/search will follow. Simple.

But – you must consider ONE MISSED THING to have optimal experience: it’s SPEED. This is now an indicator for search success, and most webmasters skip or don’t know about its importance. Here are key considerations to take in.

Just 1 second separates business results in the context of:

  • Success vs. failure
  • Winning vs. losing
  • Conversion vs. Abandonment
  • More page views vs. Less page views
  • User satisfaction vs. User frustration

A 500 millisecond delay caused 20% decrease in traffic on Google.

A 100 millisecond delay on Amazon caused caused 1% drop in revenue.

A 400 millisecond delay on Yahoo caused a 5-9% drop in traffic.

Winners and losers are separated by milliseconds.

Now, if you consider this to not be important, you’d be wrong. And, Google uses page speed load times as a ranking factor.

You should consider it a business/user success factor, and the search engines will follow.

Now, do you agree that this is an under-used or under-emphasized issue? If so, get to work, and test your page with:

Consider optimizing/shrinking images. works really well, and of course using Photoshop scripts for scanning and shrinking images.


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Entrepreneur Magazine says Jon Rognerud is one of the most sought-after Digital Marketing Experts. His clients extend from high-end brands and middle-tier businesses in both B2B and B2C. His SEO website optimization book, "The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website" from Entrepreneur Press is in bookstores now.