results. The SEO gurus have reached no consensus on the amount of ads leading to a penalty from Google, so use your common sense. Ensure advertisements don’t overshadow your content and occupy the majority of screen real estate.
Improve the overall ‘operability’ of your site.
Does your site have slow web hosting, or a bunch of broken links and images? Simple technical oversights like these contribute to a poor user experience. Make sure your site is with a reliable web hosting company and doesn’t go down in peak traffic. Even better, make sure your site is hosted on a server in your local city, and this will make it faster for local users.
Next up, chase up any 404-errors with your web developer. 404 errors are errors indicating users are clicking on links in your site and being sent to an empty page. It contributes to a poor user experience, in Google’s eyes, when we have broken links on a site sending users to error pages. Fortunately, these errors are easy fixed
You can find 404 errors on your site by logging into your Google Webmaster Tools account, clicking on your site, then clicking on ‘Crawl’ and ‘Crawl Errors’. Here you will find a list of 404 errors. If you click on the error and then click ‘Linked From’ you can find the pages with the broken links. Fix these yourself, or discuss with your web developer. You can usually clear a website of 404 errors quite quickly. Google Webmaster Tools
If you want external tools to speed up improving your site’s usability, I have found these two resources helpful: BrowserStack. Free to try, plans start at $29 per month
BrowserStack allows you to test your site on over +700 different browsers at once. You can preview how your site works on tablets, mobile devices, and all the different browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and so on. It’s helpful for making sure it displays correctly across many different devices. Try My UI. Free to try, additional test results start at $35.
Try My UI provides videos, audio narration, surveys of users going through your site, and reports on any difficulties they uncover. Usability tests are good for larger projects requiring objective feedback from normal users. The first test result is free, making Try My UI a good usability test provider to start with.
Readability—SEO for the future.
One of the strongest ranking factors has been flying under the radar, overlooked by many SEO professionals in their optimization checklists, leaving a golden opportunity for those that know about it. I’m talking about readability.
Google have been outspoken about readability as an important consideration for webmasters. Google’s SEO spam king himself, Matt Cutts, has gone on to say that poorly researched and misspelled content will rank poorly, and clarity should be your focus. And by readability, this means not just avoiding spelling mistakes, but making your content readable for the widest possible audience, with simple language and sentence structures.
Flesch readability has since surfaced in the Searchmetrics’ Google ranking factors report, showing a high correlation between high ranking sites and easy to read content. The Searchmetrics rankings report discovered that sites appearing in the top-10 showing an average Flesch reading score of 76.00—content that is fairly easy to read for 13-15 year old students and up.