You may be aware that Google changes its search listing algorithms 500-600 times a year. What you may not know, however, is that Google makes other changes that also affect your search listings, regardless of where your website ranks. For example, Google might be displaying warning notices in its search results about your website due to recent changes. Is your site affected?
Let’s take a look at three changes made by Google this past summer to see if you need to make any updates to your website.
Do not redirect mobile users to your home page.
One frustrating usability issue is when someone conducting a search on their mobile device clicks on a page and is redirected to the home page of the mobile website, rather than the page that they thought they were getting. Google calls these “faulty redirects,” and I personally loathe them.
For these kinds of faulty redirects, Google now posts notifications with the website’s search listing on mobile devices that users may be redirected to the home page. For anyone who was looking for a specific page on a website, this could be enough to encourage them to look elsewhere.
To avoid this, make sure that your website is either responsive (meaning it’s the same website that you use on a desktop, and it responds to mobile screen sizes) or has a mobile version that refers users to the corresponding page on the mobile site. If you’re unsure about this, talk to your web developer.
Consider how you use Flash.
Certain technologies, such as Adobe’s Flash, are not universal. Once popular, these technologies are no longer supported across all devices, particularly smartphones and tablets. Google, in an effort to assist people searching with their mobile devices, displays a notification with websites using Flash, warning users that the website may not work. While users still have the ability to click to the website, it may prompt others to find another site.
While you may have good reasons for using Flash, you may want to consider removing or reducing its presence on your site, particularly for the mobile or responsive version of your website.
Don’t worry about authorship credit.
For a few years, you could add a code behind the scenes on your website to signal to Google that you were the author of your blog posts and articles. With a Google+ account, this allowed your name and photo to be displayed in Google’s search results. Now, however, Google is no longer recognizing the “rel=author” tag, mainly because few people used it, and it didn’t seem to affect click-throughs. If your website uses these tags, you no longer need to.
Update your site.
The next time you’re working on your website, it would be a great time to check on your use of Flash and how links are directed on mobile websites. You don’t want to lose potential visitors because of notices from Google. And you can relax now about authorship credit. Keeping your site updated is a good way to ensure better search results and an easier experience for your users.