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October 6, 2010

Google’s Need For Speed Means You Need to Check Your Website

Not too long ago Google released a new search tool “Google Instant.” Google Instant tries to speed searches by anticipating what you are going to type next based on what you have searched in the past. When you start typing Google offers you a selection of results and you can watch the results change with each letter typed. Google claims that it will save 3.5 Billion global seconds a day! I don’t know about you but I feel better knowing that I won’t be searching for the same thing fifteen years from now.

Putting aside the privacy issues and the file Google has on each and every one of us, let’s look at how this will affect your website and your search placement. In that same Google interview they stated they will pursue all options to shorten search times. At the top of the list was site load times and robot read times.

We already know there are rules to govern the code to content ratio, keyword density and placement, and content quality but this rule goes right to the foundation of every website. This rule speaks right to the background code, which by the way, has changed a lot over the years. Under this new rule the load and read speeds of your website will have a direct affect on your ranking.

How do you know if your website needs to be updated?

1- Web code standards and browser capabilities have advanced a lot in a short time. If your site is pushing five years since the last tune up, it is time to look.

2 – Was the original site written with outdated or obsolete WYSIWYG software? These are notorious for adding tons of erroneous code (Google already penalizes for this).

3- Copy placement. Search bots only read so many words in to a website. It is important that these be the important words. We call that “strategic copy placement.”

4- On-page optimization. Is your website easy for Google to find and more importantly, understand where you want to be listed? Older sites have little or no optimization at all. This is especially true with WYSIWYG and templates.

How do you fix this problem? Sorry, there is no short answer. The best thing to do is find an experienced website designer and get an evaluation. Not an artist turned developer but a good design / code / search optimization team. I have argued this point many times in the past and won’t go into here. But, other than the graphic design there are two other components to a website. These two parts together are the most important components. First, the way the site is written and second is the search optimization, which includes current market research.

What the code should look like, again that is too deep to cover here. We coined a phrase a couple of years ago “search engine positive code”. This is how your website is presented to the search engines. You need to give it to them the way they want it. This is now critical to website placement and that is important in this competitive environment.

Once you have the evaluation tackle it one step at a time. You can re-do the code with minor changes to the design. Another option is to just re-do the index page. The occasional overhaul is part of the normal evolution of maintaining a website. Technology changes and you have to also, you can bet that your competition will.

Chris has been owner and head designer since he started LBS back 1979. His marketing experience crosses all media and Chris is settled firmly into web design and marketing. With his first website going up in 1997 Chris has himself as one of the leading Web Design Studios in Western North Carolina. Based in Asheville Lone Bird Studio has a proven record of results and satisfied clients. Check him out at