Did you know that as of December 2015 there were 3.26 billion internet users? (1) That’s over 40% of the world’s population logging on. For the first time in history, people are going to a single source to shop, learn, entertain themselves and connect to others. It has never been more important to get found online, and it’s no secret that Google is king when it comes to driving traffic to your website. By now you’ve all heard about how important search engine optimization is for your website. However, as Nancy mentioned in Part I, there could be features of your website that are being ignored by Google.
Google and other search engines try to give their users the best and most relevant experience based on search terms. Mobile connected devices are estimated to generate 68% of all traffic by 2017. (2) Due to this surge in traffic, Google no longer sees a mobile experience as a benefit for your website, but a necessity. If your site is neither mobile nor responsive, your search engine results ranking will quickly drop. Click here to see if your website is mobile friendly. As the old (not so old) saying goes, the best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google’s search results – because no one ever goes there. There are 2.9 billion Google searches every day. (3) Make sure your site is being found on page one of the results or it might not be found at all.
Checking to see if your website meets mobile standards is easy. Making sure your website hasn’t been hacked is a little more involved. Hackers are clever and can access your website files in a variety of ways. Generic passwords for your content management system, inappropriate file permissions on your server, and using generic website templates leave your website exposed and vulnerable to hackers. Unfortunately, we run into a few compromised websites every year when meeting with potential clients. Most often, the spam resulting from a website hacker is hidden and the website owners are not aware it exists. Not only will infected pages and files on your website dramatically hurt your Google search rankings, but your site runs the risk of getting blacklisted.
If your website is compromised by spam, chances are slim that users will ever get to it. Here is what to expect if your website gets blacklisted or is considered compromised by Google:
- There will be a hack notice in the Google search results page. Under your website link there will be a line that reads, “This site may be hacked.” Strike one.
- If users happen to continue after the first message and click on your link anyway, they will see a warning screen from the website browser warning them to go back. Strike two.
- If the compromised content is not removed or resolved, your website will eventually be removed from search engine results. Strike three.
Although Google offers tools and processes to recover your website and good standing, it is estimated that a website loses up to 95% of its organic traffic when blacklisted. Don’t let it get blacklisted.
As Nancy mentioned in Part I, this all sounds scary and impossible to keep up with, but there are always experts eager to help. Don’t let her fool you, she really does a good job of keeping up with technology and doesn’t give herself enough credit. Her best tool? Not being afraid to ask questions. If she’s ever curious about a new technology or trend, she is quick to ask about it. So do the same and reach out if you are thinking about upgrading or getting over-due maintenance to your website.
Reference (1): Cisco’s Visual Networking Index Forecast Projects Nearly Half the World’s Population Will Be Connected to the Internet by 2017
Reference (2): Understand Google Website Blacklists
Reference (3): Google Still Doing At Least 1 Trillion Searches Per Year