10 Reasons Google Hates Your Website - And What You Can Do About It

By Chris Peer, Owner & CEO of SyncShow. Peer presented "10 Reasons Google Hates Your Transportation & Logistics Website - And What You Can Do About It" at the 2018 Logistics Marketing & Sales Conference.

Your website has the potential to be the most important member of your logistics sales team. But just like your sales team members, your website must constantly stay at the top of its game if it's going to generate the kind of leads needed to meet your business goals. 

One of the most important things your website can do to achieve its full potential is get on Google’s good side. Chances are, it currently isn’t. 

With Google dominating search (more than 80% of all searches in the U.S. are done via Google), it pays—literally—to get on the good side of Google’s organic algorithm.

Too many transportation and logistics companies launch a website and expect it to show up on the first page of Google right away. While a strong website can do wonders for your bottom line, it isn’t a magic wand. It’s a sales and marketing tool that needs to be maintained regularly.

The primary goal of Google—and other search engines—is to give users the best experience possible. Google does this by constantly innovating and improving. In an average year, Google makes roughly 500 changes to its algorithm—the formula used to determine how, where, when and why pages should rank for any given search query. 

So what worked for successful rankings last year may not work this year. As your sales processes evolve to keep up with customer needs and market factors, so too does Google. And Google likes websites that keep up with its pace. 

Here are 10 common issues we see on transportation and logistics company websites  that could be dramatically hurting how these companies perform in Google searches.

1. Your Website is too Slow

When you conduct an online search and click a link to a website, do you get frustrated if the site takes too long to load? Chances are you’re looking for that back button to find another option before the site finishes loading. 

According to Google, the ideal load time for any website should be within three seconds. This isn’t a mere suggestion. Google favors faster sites and will reward them with a higher ranking in search results. So if your competitors have sites that are faster than yours, they’re likely ranking for phrases better than you and beating you when it comes to finding valuable business opportunities online. 

How to Solve for a Slow Site:
First, run a test on your site to get your total load time as gauged by Google. You can do this at testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.comor developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

If your site load is longer than five seconds, you have a problem. Common culprits include large image sizes, a slow server or too many HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) requests. Have the person or company that manages your website reduce image sizes and reduce the number of HTTP requests whenever possible. Also be sure to invest in a robust and professional web host—you usually get what you pay for in hosting companies. 

2. Your Website isn't Mobile-Friendly

Why does mobile matter so much? People still search on desktops, right? Right. But the number of people searching on mobile is increasing dramatically. 2014 marked the first year where more searches were done globally on a mobile device than on a desktop—the United States hit that milestone as a country in 2015.

The future of search is mobile and Google recognizes that. In order to align its product functionality with the demands of the changing market, Google announced in 2017 that it would begin ranking websites in search results based on the quality of their mobile presence.

No matter how great you think your website looks on a standard 22-inch desktop screen, or how high-quality you think your content is, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, your traffic will suffer.

How to Solve for a Site That Isn’t Mobile-Friendly:
Unfortunately, this fix isn’t easy. If your site doesn't function well on mobile and desktop, you probably need an entirely new website. If your website is on the older side, its templates are most likely not built to handle drastic changes in screen size. The best solution for this is the creation of a website built on a mobile-responsive template.

3. Nobody Links to Your Site

Think of links from third-party sites back to your website as votes in a transportation and logistics industry popularity contest. The more high-quality, related links your site receives, the more Google sees your site as an important authority in the transportation and logistics space. 

As a reward, Google will rank your site for search terms related to the logistics industry over sites with less incoming links. Conversely, if your competition is getting more high-quality incoming links than you, they’re more likely to outrank you.

There's a more sinister side to links as well. The expression “you are who you hang out with” applies in the digital world too. If a number of spammy, poor-quality sites link to you, their low quality can spread to your site. As a result, Google might think your site is low quality and penalize you for it. If spammy sites are linking to you, your site traffic could be taking a serious beating without you even knowing it.

Google is fairly forthcoming on this point:

“Links help our crawlers find your site and can give your site greater visibility in our search results. ...Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote by page A for page B. Votes cast by pages that are themselves ‘important’ weigh more heavily and help to make other pages ‘important.'” – Google

How to Solve for a Site With Poor Inbound Links:
Regular link assessments should be part of your overall website management strategy. This will ensure sites linking to your site are high-quality and trustworthy in the eyes of Google. Also consider relevancy—are the sites linking to you relevant to the transportation and logistics industry in some way?

Unfortunately, you can’t physically remove a link from someone else’s site, but you can tell Google you want nothing to do with a link using Google's disavow tool. Generally, this tool isn’t needed unless the link is egregious in its spammy content. 

A better strategy than removing connections to bad links is to build connections with good links. There are many ways to do this. Think about the industry associations or organizations you’re part of. Are you listed on their websites? You should be. Even better, they should be linking back to your website. If you aren’t listed, a simple request is all it takes. The same goes for business partnerships, sponsorships and other activities your business is involved with. Make sure you’re linking to them and they’re linking back to you. 

You also need to have content on your website that your potential customers care about. Use high-quality content to make others wantto link to you.

4. Your Content is Too "Thin"

“Thin” content refers to written content on a page that either has very little in the way of actual word count and/or provides little to no value to a reader.

At its core, Google wants to return content its users find valuable. A site or site pages that don't have well-crafted content can appear to have “thin” content according to Google. It’s important to have well-written, purpose-driven content on a site, as opposed to filler copy meant only to capture keywords or just fill space. 

How to Solve for a Site With Thin Content:
Every page on your website should serve a specific purpose for your users. A simple way to audit your site for thin content is to ask yourself: “Would my users be upset if this page didn’t exist?”If the answer is “no,” then remove the page.

If you answer “yes,” then ask yourself a follow-up question: “Would my readers find value in this content?”If the answer is “no,” then rewrite it to fit the user’s need.

If you have multiple pages covering the same topic in the same way for the same type of user, consider consolidating the content into fewer pages.

5. Duplicate Content

Google likes unique, well-written content, and it wants to know who wrote it first—Google can’t stand plagiarism, and neither should you. Don’t plagiarize other websites, or even yourself, especially if your goal is to try to use duplicate content to rank pages higher in search.

Duplicate content issues can surface even if you have good intentions.  

Often, site owners take shortcuts to repurpose content on many pages while hurrying to get a new website up. This results in multiple pages that have the same content. There’s no official rule that states how and when a page will trigger Google’s penalty, but in general, you should craft content that's specific to every page, and not simply duplicate content to save time—you may end up spending more time in the future trying to fix the issues that the shortcut caused in the first place.

How to Solve for a Site With Duplicate Content Issues:
First and foremost, don’t write content that needs to be repeated throughout your site. If content cannot be rewritten to be unique, then ask yourself if that content serves a purpose in the first place—if it doesn’t, then remove it. If you absolutely have to keep the content, then consider using canonical tagging, which is a way to tell Google that you’re aware there’s duplicate content on your site and that Google should only consider it once when it’s being indexed.

6. Your Content isn't Optimized for the Right Keywords

Pull up any page on your website and ask yourself this question: “Are there key phrases on this page that my potential customers would type into a Google Search bar to help answer a question or solve a problem?” If the answer is “no,” then your page might not contain the right keywords.

Inserting phrases or “keywords” relevant to the wants and needs of your customers is what most people consider when thinking about “search engine optimization”—and not having optimized pages is a very common reason why sites don't rank well in search results. 

How to Solve for a Site with Poorly Optimized Content:
Before you start adding keywords to your page content, you need to identify relevant keywords specific to your business offerings. I don’t have to tell you that the transportation and logistics industry is extremely vast and complex, and that services within this industry span a wide spectrum. Try to use longer keyword phrases that include your company’s unique value proposition and service offerings. Those phrases will be easier to rank for than broad phrases like “logistics services.”  

7. Poor User Engagement

Google knows every action a user that engages with your site takes. The search giant tracks how many people click on your site when it shows up in a search result, how much time a user spends on your site and how many pages a user reads—to name a few of the most basic actions tracked. If users come to your site and leave right away, it’s a strong indicator to Google that your site content isn’t giving people what they expect. As a result, Google won’t rank your site.

In short, what users do on your website affects how well your site performs in search results.

How to Solve for Poor User Engagement:
Give users the content they expect to find based on their Google search, then provide them with easy ways to interact with your content and logically navigate to other pages of your site. In other words, keep people engaged by telling interesting stories and communicating compelling concepts and then give them actionable steps.Make sure to link pages to related content, insert video testimonials showing satisfied customers, use high-quality images and include enticing calls-to-action, like “learn more, sign up and buy now.” 

8. Poor Site Structure

Site structure is the way in which your website is organized—it's sometimes referred to as site hierarchy or information architecture. So why does site structure matter to Google?  

Think of your site structure as a physical filing cabinet that houses every page on your website. Like a filing cabinet, if your documents aren’t organized in an orderly fashion, you won’t be able to find specific documents quickly and easily. 

The same goes for a site structure that doesn’t follow a preset path or plan. Both users and Google will quickly get confused. And confused search engines and users will immediately abandon your site to look for a better-organized structure that makes navigation easy and relatable. 

How to Solve for Poor Site Structure:
Planning is important to a well-structured site. Too often a site starts with an organized structure, but as time goes by and the business evolves, new pages get added in a piecemeal fashion. The site quickly becomes a hodgepodge of disconnected pages and sections. Make sure you start with a growth-driven site structure and be sure to group topic-related pages into folder groups. Pages closer to the homepage should target a wider audience, with subpages diving deeper into specifics.

9. Orphaned Pages

An orphaned page is a page or section of your site that doesn't link to the rest of your website. Google finds pages on your site by following the links within it. If a page is completely cut off from the main site, there’s no way for Google to visit that page and identify that it exists. Because of this, it'll never rank in a Google search no matter how optimized it is.

How to Solve for Orphaned Pages:
Once you identify an orphaned page, consider these options:

  • Build a link from the established pages on your website to the standalone page
  • Include the page in your sitemap
  • Let Google know the page exists by submitting it to Google directly via Search Console

10. Your Site isn't Secure

Today, online security is a big issue and Google is taking every measure to ensure compliance. Google has been upfront about its stance on site security, explicitly stating it’s using HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) as a ranking signal. This means sites with properly installed SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates will be given preference in ranking over related, unsecured websites.

Site owners should invest in an SSL to encrypt site content and provide a safer user experience—regardless whether a site collects sensitive information, like email addresses, phone numbers or credit cards. Having a secure website helps visitors feel safe during their visits. And a visitor who feels safe online will spend more time searching.  

How to Solve for an Unsecure Website:
Purchase an SSL; it's what provides the encryption for your website. SSLs can be purchased through your domain provider or on the open market.

Once your SSL is purchased and your site is secure, the HTTP will become HTTPS. Google considers HTTP and HTTPS to be completely different versions of your site. Ensure Google indexes the proper version of your site by properly generating and submitting a sitemap that references the secure version of your URLs and installing 301 redirects on any unsecured pages to the secure version. Additionally, utilize Google Search Console to choose the preferred, secure version of your site when Google indexes your site for search.

For additional insights on how to make your transportation and logistics website more effective, contact SyncShow today. Call 440.356.1903 and ask for Chris Peer.

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