Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Google Webmaster Crawl Errors - A Solution

Google may be known for being secretive about many things, but they have blessed us with a glimpse of what they see under the hood of our precious websites. It behooves every webmaster on the planet to make use of Google's free Webmaster Tools, a collection of data and actually testing tools you can use to improve the way Google sees your site which in the end will help your ranking in their search engine.

One of the biggest issues webmasters face are crawl errors. This is any error Google's "bot" or "spider" may find on your website - generally resulting in a "page not found" error - called a 404 error.

If you design using Wordpress, one of the most useful tools to get your Google Webmaster crawl errors clear or not found is a plugin called Permalink Finder. What Permalink Finder does is accepts the URL the bot says it is searching for and if it is not found on your website it provides the closest match based on the words in the URL.

Did I lose you?

In the image above, note how the bot wanted to crawl:

BUT, that page no longer exists because I removed the date in the URL's about a year ago. Yet, the bot is still looking for it. This is because somewhere somebody has a link to that old URL, and the bot crawls it.

The Permalink Finder handles this nicely by using the words in the URL, "playa tortugas beach cancun" and finds the current match. Look at the image below. You can click on the image to get the original size:

Above we see the correct URL and the bot goes along its merry way - no errors!

I was working on page speed recently and disabled this plugin on and you can see the results!

As you can see, the errors spiked until I turned the plugin back on. This will dramatically help you with crawl errors in Google Webmaster Tools.

My suggestion is to set the plugin to recognize and work with at least two words in the URL. Anything less will produce errors.

Let me know if you have questions about how this can help you.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Does Speeding Up Your Website Help in Google Search Rankings?

Where shall we start?

You're here because you're not ranking well in Google search. Maybe you think Panda or Penguin was unfair and you got penalized for something that wasn't even your own doing. Actually, you don't know. I, too, was perplexed, but the problem for one of my main sites, Three Best which is a travel sorta site about the beaches of the world, has been sinking since 2010.

Admittedly, I let the site go for such a long time because I was concentrating on other projects. But it's a cool site and deserves attention. So recently I have been working on it and I want you to see my findings which will possibly help you.

This post is all about figuring out if page speed actually does help you rank higher in Google search. So, let's start with that and we'll tackle the other findings in other posts.

Use this site to see how fast your page loads: 

Critical stuff: Well, it's all critical, but your Time to First Byte should be quick. This is the time that a browser makes a request to the server and actually gets a byte of data back. Round-trip sorta thing. And then everything after that should be quick as well.

As you can see, I've worked on getting this down to a 3.3 second page load. For a site with as many pictures and dynamic loads as this, using Wordpress, the load time is pretty good. And yes, I use a CDN (content delivery network - which means placing your files in the "cloud" and having them served efficiently to the closest datacenter to the "cloud" servers.

But it hasn't always been this fast.

Look at this graph from my Google Webmaster Tools for

There were many times that pages on my site took 14 seconds to load!!

Still, I don't believe this is what pulled my site down into oblivion. For now, I'm kinda thinking the competition, sites like and other sites that actually show a resort or hotel have taken a lot of my positions in Google search.

I really don't know. I'm guessing. Some pages are filled with assorted nonsense for key phrases that I used to rank number one for. But others are saying this, too. You have to provide what Google feels is a good experience for the end user.

So far I have noticed a very small increase in the SERPs for my site, and I'll keep monitoring, but I really believe that there are two other things: some bad backlinking and maybe Google doesn't think the site does a good job of responding to what people really are looking for. There are ways to improve that, and I'll cover them in a future post. Thanks for reading. 

UPDATE: So far, after three weeks of Super Fast Pages... ZERO improvement in ranking. See my update here: