Is Your Website Rude?

Ever try out a new restaurant and enjoy the food but decide not to go back again because of the service?  Rude service, slow service, and incompetent service costs business owners regardless of whether the business is a restaurant or an on-line store.  Some businesses that enjoy huge demand use bad service as a way of keeping the demand even with what they can supply.  Hopefully you’re not in this category.  Remember, demand can be fickle.  Even the Soup Nazi of Seinfeld fame, whose brusque behavior with his customers was legendary, ended up closing his doors.  Rude behavior isn’t just limited to brick and mortar businesses, it also exists on-line as well.  Google is cracking down on rude websites and penalizing them with lower search engine rankings.  Let’s look at a couple of behaviors that are being targeted.

Is Your Website Rude to the Search Engines or Your Customers?

Don’t let your website get away with being rude to search engines or your customers.

Slow Website Penalty

Don’t you just hate waiting for a webpage to finish loading?  Apparently, so does everyone else.  Google is now looking at how long a webpage takes to load as a factor in its quality score for your website.  Websites with low quality scores rank lower on the search engine results.  To optimize your website for the search engines (SEO) and improve your search engine rank, you’ll need to ensure that your website isn’t loosing quality points for loading slowly.

How fast should your site load?  The correct answer is, it depends, but generally you want to be as fast as or faster than the competition.  Just like trying to outrun a hungry bear in the woods – you don’t have to be the fastest runner, you just don’t want to be the slowest in the group.  For more information you can study the Response Times Research.  In general, if your site loads in less than 4-5 seconds, you’re ok.  If it takes longer, you should look at optimizing your page load time (the time it takes for everything on your webpage to completely load in the browser).

Bait and Switch Penalty

Nobody likes getting brought in for one thing and then switched to another.  This is just as unacceptable on-line as it is off-line.  There are a couple of ways that this happens on websites.

When the problem is due to ignorance of proper SEO best practices, what usually happens is that the same META tags are used on all pages regardless of the content that actually appears on the page.  This is like telling the search engines the page is about one thing when it is actually about something else.  This is a big no-no.  If you find this done on your website it is time to find somebody different to handle your SEO work.

The other way that this occurs usually involves deliberate trickery, and the search engines are constantly improving their ability to spot bad behavior.  Additionally, it is easy for a competitor to tip off Google about bad behavior.

Out to Lunch Penalty

Ever drop by a store and find a sign on the door letting you know that the place is closed for a few minutes while the shop keeper runs an errand?  The virtual equivalent of that disappointing experience is what happens when a website is down temporarily.  Unless you have monitoring in place on your website, you can’t really be sure that you don’t have a problem in this area.  SiteUptime offers both free and paid monitoring of your website to ensure that you are notified if your site becomes unreachable.  If you discover that your site is frequently “out to lunch,” then you should start looking for a new web host.  (I highly recommend Stormer for web hosting.  The quality of service and support is unparalleled.)

Moved – No Forwarding Address Penalty

You know how when you move, there is a form that you can fill out to let the post office know where they should forward your mail?  There is something similar when you move pages on your website and change the web addresses and file names.  This is done using the HTTP Status Code 301 Permanent Redirect.  This is also known as the SEO friendly redirect.  It ensures that when you move things around on your website, that people following links to old pages on your website are redirected automatically to the new and appropriate page.

Just like employees behaving rudely will cause your customers to look elsewhere in a brick and mortar store, the same holds true on-line.  If your website isn’t behaving properly, the search engines will notice and penalize your site, and the competition is always just a click away.  How well is your website performing in these four key areas?  If you need help making sure your site is in tip top shape and behaving properly, we’re just a call or click away. 

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