Maintaining a Google-friendly website

Having a website which ranks well on Google entails regular site maintenance.

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines state that links should work, images should load and content should be added and updated over time.  These factors affect ‘page quality’ which is an important indicator to Google when ranking a website. Sounds simple enough, but it’s surprising how out of date a site can get if you don’t keep an eye on it.

The size of the maintenance task depends upon the size and complexity of your website. For most, it’s a question of knowing what elements to monitor and putting in place a system to identify and correct any issues and for this it’s worth getting to grips with Search Console and Google Analytics.

Of course, Google shouldn’t be the only thing which prompts a proper site maintenance programme. An e-commerce business will feel the effect of poor maintenance in their pocket, as users will quickly click off a site which is slow to load or which doesn’t display well on a mobile or tablet.

Larger organisations face different challenges. Whether or not their website is a direct sales channel, a lack of maintenance may lead to competitors gaining higher rankings on Google and a greater ‘mind share’ for particular products and services. Plus, there’s the likelihood of reputational damage because users have higher expectations of the sort of content they expect to see.

Interestingly, not all pages are measured equally by Google’s algorithms. Google sets the bar higher for shopping pages or those relating to finance, law or medicine – so called ‘your money or your life’ (YMYL) pages.

‘We have very high Page Quality rating standards for YMYL pages because low quality YMYL pages could potentially negatively impact users’ happiness, health or wealth.”


Implications for Content

Content certainly is an important factor behind Google’s consideration of Page Quality rating.

Google says that high quality pages contain a ‘satisfying’ amount of high quality main content (main content is any part of the page that helps it to achieve its purpose). This means the pages should be expert, authoritative and trustworthy.

Expect to have to invest time and effort into getting your main content right.

“For all types of web pages, creating high quality main content takes a significant amount of at least one of the following: time, effort, expertise and talent/skill.”

Google’s standards for what is considered high quality main content ‘depend on the purpose of the page and the type of content. The highest rating may be justified for pages with a satisfying or comprehensive amount of very high quality main content’.  When planning your content, think: expertise, authority and trust (E-A-T).

Implications for Web Design

The functional page design should complement the content – well-organised with an effective use of space, ensuring the main content is visible when a user opens the page.

In addition, web design must keep pace of browser updates and, now that more than 50% of searches are done on a mobile device, it’s more important than ever that websites display properly on a smartphone or tablet.

Ongoing maintenance

All this points to the need to undertake basic maintenance of your website on a regular basis.

Managing and maintaining a healthy website need not be an onerous task. If you have any queries or would like support in maintaining your website for better Google rankings, please get in touch.

We would always advise, however, that it’s worth taking a fresh look at each of your pages and audit whether they’re giving the visitor the information they need. Add or remove information, if appropriate, and check your text, images or other media content to make sure there are no broken links.

  • Set in place a system whereby you can:
  • Monitor and identify Google crawl errors.
  • Pursue any disavow/Google penalty issues.
  • Optimise redirect solutions (eg. for out-of-stock items).
  • Manage and maintain internal and external links.

If you have any queries of would like support in maintaining your website for better Google rankings, please get in touch on 01606 610808 or view our SEO and digital marketing services to find out more.