I have recently come to the conclusion that Google really really likes well designed websites. We have a client at work who’s webiste we market online. Over the last couple of weeks we made a variety of changes to the website code. Our aim was to analyse the site, identify elements in the code that could be holding the site back in the search engine results, and rectify the problems.
We began by cleaning up the coding on the website. A couple of years of subtle changes, tweaks, script changes etc had taken its toll, and due to laziness or bad workmanship, the code was splattered with snippets of left over code.
We cleaned up the code, removed all unnecessary coding, made sure the site validated as valid xhtml and css on W3C and streamlined the site. We wanted to also reduce the number of http requests to the server, so we combined images and used hotspots on the images to link to pages. The load time difference after changing the images was not noticable, and the file sizes were similar, but the http requests was cut in half.
We created a favicon image for the site, our reasoning was that we didnt want any errors when loading the site, and Google has the option of showing search results witht the icons of the sites displayed.
We optimized all the remaining images on the website, making them faster to load, and streamlined the text, optimizing it for the target key phrase.
The good news is that in a two week period, the site jumped from page 3 position 6 on Google, to Page 1 position 10. Obviously the ranking is changing all the time, as Google re-crawls each page in the top pages and re-shuffles the sites, but hopefully the site will carry on up the charts.
The main changes to the site allowed it to load in half the original time, with fewer requests, and more valid and streamlined code. Score!