So…You’ve optimized your site, you have a solid backlink profile, you are adding fresh and useful content, and folks are active and engaged with your Social Media. But, for some reason, you just can’t seem to get to the first page of the search results.
Maybe the problem isn’t your SEO.
If your rankings have plateaued and you are out of ideas, you may want to take a look at your downtime and page load times.
How Downtime Can Affect Rankings
The search engines understand that downtime happens. If they try to catelogue your site when it is down, it may affect your rankings temporarily; but generally they will return to normal the next time they successfully ping your site.
However, if it happens too often or your site is down for many days at a time, it could do some serious damage to your rankings. In addition to making it impossible for the search engines to index your site, frequent downtime can dramatically affect your bounce rates, which are an important ranking factor.
If you suspect that downtime is negatively affecting your SERP’s, use a website monitor like SiteUptime to check.
How Site Load Times Can Affect Rankings
Slow page load times can affect your rankings even more than downtime. Back in 2010, Google started incorporating load times directly into their algorithm. Load times greater than 3 seconds can have a huge impact on your position in the search results.
If your site is taking too long to load, you may want to try one or more of the following:
- Remove unnecessary code and scripts
- Consolodate stylesheets
- Optimize your images and use CSS instead of images when possible
- Streamline your design
- Install a caching plugin
- Use external stylesheets instead of adding the styles directly into your code
- Reduce the number of plugins on your site
How Your Web Host Can Affect Rankings
If you have done everything you can to reduce your load times, but your site is still loading slowly, it may be your web host. Both downtime and slow site load times can be caused by poor hosting on under powered, overcrowded servers.
Outdated software and poor security put your site at risk for hacks and malware that could hurt your standing with the search engines and, more importantly, your visitors. If your site is plagued with these issues, it might be time to switch hosts.
Finding a new host doesn’t have to be a nightmare though. You can definitely search online, but we suggest talking with other website owners about which hosts they have used. That way, you can get inside info on the pros and cons.
If you still aren’t sure, we would recommend our host, SimpleHost. We have been with them for over a decade, and they have a 6 month free trial so you can try them out without risk.
Not Sure If This Is The Problem?
Even if you have the right tools, it can still be difficult to determine if downtime and load times are the issue.
If your rankings just aren’t moving or you just need someone to look at your site and make recommendations, we’d be happy to take a look. Contact our lead analyst for a free consultation.
Senior SEO Consultant, NNM
1-800-737-5820 ext 22