GNAX Hosting – So Far So Good
Last week I moved my domain graphicline.co.za to GNAX VPS hosting. I’ve watched Google page load times get shockingly poor the past four months. Nothing I’ve done on-site to improve performance has made any difference. I’d already tried several caching systems and offloaded some files to a CDN and other fast servers – with no improvement.
Eventually, after trying everything else, the only conclusion I could draw was the long path bottleneck between Google’s Mountain View servers and the data centre servers hosting my domain was the main culprit in the time it took for Big G to load pages.
Average page loads for 2 of the sites (WordPress) on the domain had gone from under 2.5 seconds in May to over 4 seconds in August and over 5 by September, while the main site (Drupal) was approaching 4 seconds from under 2 in May. Minimum page load speed had got to nearly 4 seconds for one site by September.
Cache Pre-load Improves Google Page Load
Using a cache pre-load system can improve Google crawl page load speed substantially as clearly shown in the infographic below. Google considers page load in it’s SERP algorithm as an indicator of site quality: Where two similar ranked sites exist, the site with faster load speed will usually get better SERP than a slower site. With this in mind surely it’s a good idea to make the effort to improve page load speed as much as possible.
Page load speed can be improved in a number of ways; moving the site to a better hosting service, optimising the site technically, including getting rid of unnecessary plugins, keeping image size as small as possible, and using an effective caching system are some of the things we can do.
No matter how well all the other technical aspects are improved, caching the site, and especially pre-loading the cache, will make a big difference to page load speed.
Googlebot Error with WPOnlineStore Plugin
Googlebot triggers a PHP Fatal Error ‘function.require‘ error causing the bot to receive a “500″ internal server error when trying to crawl the pages created by the WordPress WPOnlineStore plugin. In my previous post I mentioned this ongoing problem. Today I can provide some additional information.
The problem is not unique to my shop site; initial searches of the internet found only a few references to this problem. for the past two days the hosting company server engineers have been looking into the problem, unfortunately without any success. After disabling Apache mod_secure settings, which appeared to be causing the error, Googlebot still triggered this error. As previously mentioned in Googlebot has Problems with WPOnlineStore, it is only Googlebot – and there lies the first clue.
Googlebot has Problems with WPOnlineStore
There’s a few problems Googlebot (Google’s search engine spider) has with sites using the WPOnlineStore osCommerce plugin for WordPress. These problems result in WPOnlineStore website catalogue listings ranking badly in Google SERP, or not being indexed at all.
One of these only affects a few sites, the another is common to all standard self hosted WordPress sites using the WPOnlineStore plugin for e-commerce websites. Both these problems are extremely serious, but neither is a fault or bug in the plugin. The third problem Google has with WPOnlineStore e-commerce sites is the store XML sitemap – there isn’t one!
What Results to Expect from $1000 Google Adwords
A client asked me the other day “which is better – a direct adword spend of $1000 per month with Google, or share in a collaborative campaign for a similar monthly fee, where total spend is 100 times that”. I had to ask for time to carefully consider this request and my response.
Both Options have Merit
My instinct tells me that for many businesses a direct campaign with a budget of that amount will normally be better. But a total budget of $100k /month sounds very inviting. My first response must be; investigate how the collaborative campaign funds are used relative to your business.
If the advertiser (the client) has a good idea of the key terms he wants to use for the Adword campaign, and only needs results from a small possible selection – let’s say 10 terms – 10 ads, then the money may be better used in a private campaign.
However, if he wants to cover as many options as possible, then the group scheme may be better.
Google SERP Not Showing Rich Snippets
After adding Rich Snippets Google does not show these in SERP. There are several reasons Google does not show rich snippet content in their search results. Rich snippets include Authorship Markup and Article Ratings e.g. GD Star Ratings for WordPress.
Google does not guarantee your rich snippets will be used in search results. The rich snippet program is intended to give searchers an indication they will find relevant, quality and original content on the page marked up with rich snippet content.
Rich Snippets Take Time to Include in Results Pages
Google takes some time before rich snippet content is displayed in SERP; up to around three months. Be patient. Make sure everything else is in order, and wait for results. While waiting concentrate on making sure the content of the site is suitable and fresh, and regular new articles are published.