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Author: Ron Graham

Ministry Reports

Webservant’s Notes 2015
—Google Algorithm Upgrades and SEO Measures

The information below is mainly a record for your webservant. The page covers some technical matters not relevant to quarterly reports.

Optimizing for Google

Whilst we have ensured that Yahoo and Bing have indexed the site properly, my main attention has been with Google. Google has been extremely helpful with its indexing, reporting, and advice. The result is a marked increase in traffic to the site.

Previous Google Algorithm Upgrades

Prior to 2015, the simplybible.com website weathered Google’s algorithm updates. For example there was Panda in February 2011, designed to keep poor quality sites from ranking. There was Penguin in April 2012, which tried to combat spamming and link manipulation. In September 2013, Hummingbird moved Google into understanding the meaning of phrases and natural language rather than operating on individual keywords. Then came Pigeon in July 2014, which helped to prioritize results according to the user’s location. These and some more minor algorithms were upgraded at times. All these neither harmed nor helped simplybible.com to any great extent.

The Mobile Friendly Upgrade

By contrast, in April 2015, Google made a major change that lifted the profile of simplybible.com so that pageviews nearly doubled. For all of 2015 we had more than 1.2 million pageviews. This Google upgrade was intended to favour mobile friendly sites. The simplybible.com website always was amenable to narrow screens because that was one of the original design goals. This gave the website a good footing on which to become mobile friendly.

Prior to 2015, we had worked on improving that feature, using css3 media queries. We divided the style sheet into six cascading sections. The first section provided initial styles suitable for wide screens. The following sections each specified a progressively smaller maximum width. In each section styles were adjusted, if necessary, to optimize display for the specified width.

All we needed to do then was tweak those adjustments and insert a viewport meta tag into the header of each page. we also changed the DOCTYPE from XHTML strict to html5. These changes to document header were mostly an automated process.

In 2015 individual pages were gradually improved where, in the mobile view, something remained too wide, or links were too close together. So we achieved a fully mobile friendly site.

During 2015, there was a rapid takeup by mobile phone and tablet users. The policy now is to favour mobile display where there is a compromise needed between mobile and other devices such as pc and notebook. Of course mostly it's possible to make things good on all devices.

Search Engine Optimization

There are a number of things that help to get a simplybible.com page among the first ten items listed by Google. Here are the main ideals...

The 2016 Upgrade

In the year 2016, a soft upgrade of simplybible.com is intended. Rather than drastic changes, pages will be improved in many small ways, using (A) the guidelines above, (B) the list of projects on the Tally page, and (C) a simple critical view of pages to spot errors and design faults.

Of course not every one of simplybible.com’s hundreds of pages can be listed in Google’s top ten! However it is a goal to identify pages with that potential, and to try to make them into landing pages. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

The main goal for any page on simplybible.com is to provide a well structured, informative, and quality experience for the visitor.

That concludes the 2015 report for simplybible.com regarding the influence of Google algorithm upgrades, and our ongoing search engine optimization strategies.

  Ron Graham

1Note:— Update 2018, blocking script. As of May 2018, on all pages, the call to the main javascript that runs the page has been moved out of the head and down near page end. The page content loads first and is no longer being blocked or delayed by the system script.

2Note:— Update 2018, All filenames extended. As of May 2018, all filenames for Bible study pages have been extended with an explanatory phrase.

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