Why Speed MattersSpeed matters first because it is one aspect of an efficient, high-functioning website. But site speed also matters because people’s attention spans are getting increasingly shorter. Data shows that almost half of all internet users expect website pages to load in less than two seconds. If your site takes longer than three seconds to load, 40% of users will move on. And speed matters to Google. If people are leaving because your site is too slow, then you will have a high bounce rate. A high bounce rate tells Google that your site is low quality, and your ranking will suffer. For these reasons, web developer Robert Mening says that increasing site speed is “an essential skill for any website owner.” He provides an extensive list of strategies for speeding up WordPress (WP) websites in particular.
Evaluate Your SiteFirst, you should objectively test the speed of your site. To do so, you can use GTmetrix or Pingdom, both of which provide a detailed analysis of what (if anything) is causing your site to lag. These tools measure if your site is too slow and you can also use them to continually monitor its performance. Remember that your goal should be for your pages to load in under two seconds. Faster than that is even better.
Have a Good FoundationMake sure that you have a good hosting provider. Most likely your best bet is to opt for a virtual private server (VPS). Shared hosting will slow you down too much, and a dedicated server probably has more power than you need and is too expensive. You should also consider managed WordPress hosting created especially for WP sites. With managed hosting, you won’t have to be responsible for the technical aspects of your site. Keep this same mentality when selecting your theme. Choose one that only has what you need, keeping it as lightweight as possible. One strategy is to opt for a minimal theme and then add plug-ins to add additional functionality. You might also consider utilizing a content delivery network (CDN). The closer a server is to a user, the faster the loading time will be. A CDN takes your static files and distributes them on various servers across the world so that your site is closer to people than it would have been otherwise. There are even solutions that will allow you to host parts of your site through a CDN. Some CDN resources you can check out are:
- Amazon Cloudfront
- Jetpack (a plugin)
- WOT Cache
Updates and MaintenanceIt should go without saying that you should keep all of the elements of your site as up to date as possible. This includes everything from HTML and PHP to your theme and plug-ins. Your hosting provider is responsible for your site’s primary updates, but you should still keep any eye on them. The more up to date your technology is, the more secure your site will be and the more efficiently it will run. Use tools such as WP-Optimize and WP-Sweep to clean up your database as it gets bloated with data you aren’t actually using. You should eliminate anything you aren’t using (plug-ins, widgets, etc.).
Other Tactics for Decreasing Loading TimeSpeeding up your site is about enabling it to do as little as possible. With this principle in mind, consider doing the following:
- Don’t host videos on your site—auto-embed them
- Compress your images and your website files
- Reduce server requests (e.g., limit how many posts you show on each page, break comments and posts into pages, implement lazy loading for images)
- Allow caching
- Concatenate files (i.e., combine them into one larger file)
- Minify files
- Limit what you can (such as post revisions, buttons, and widgets)
- Deactivate pingbacks and trackbacks
- Include an expires header in your static resources (this determines the length of time a visitor’s browser caches content)
- Optimize CSS delivery
- Prioritize above the fold content
- Install WOT Cache for an overall WordPress Cache Plugin solution
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)It’s old news that people are using mobile more and more for all of their online activities. Not only does your site need to load quickly but it also needs to load quickly on smartphones. Because of the widespread use of mobile, Google has released Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which is “a whole new way of creating web pages and effectively changes the mobile web.” AMP is an open-source software designed to boost loading speeds on mobile devices. Even before AMP, Google took steps to favor mobile-friendly sites. So the better your site’s mobile friendliness, the better its ranking. You can learn more about AMP here.
Everyone Benefits from Fast Loading SpeedNo matter what area of life we’re talking about, people appreciate having experiences that are orderly, seamless, and fast. Optimizing your site for speed will set you ahead of the majority of websites on the internet. The result will be that you lose fewer visitors and increase your revenue. Image source: pixabay.com
You probably know you shouldn’t expect to improve your site’s rankings overnight. But if you’re going to spend time and money on something, it’s reasonable to expect to see a profit at some point. If you never see any improvement from your SEO campaign, then you are doing something wrong. Here are seven problems that might be stopping you from increasing your site’s rankings.
1. Quitting Because It’s Taking Too LongEven if you know your results won’t be instantaneous, you still might be expecting to see them too soon. When some people don’t see any improvement within a few months, they decide their SEO efforts aren’t working and give up. This is a mistake.
How Long Does SEO Take?Skyler Malley of Firestarter SEO in Denver points out that certain variables will impact how long it takes for you to be successful with your SEO campaign. You might see the fruit of your labors very quickly, but they also might take a while to develop. No matter what, Malley says that “the progress you see in the early stages should pale in comparison to the results you see at the end of the first year.”
2. Abusing KeywordsKeywords are essential for you to be successful at SEO, but don’t overuse them. You don’t want to pack a bunch of keywords into your content so that you can rank higher. Keyword stuffing will not serve your readers, and you risk getting on the wrong side of Google by doing so.
3. Not Accounting for Site HistoryYou need to recognize that if your domain or website has been penalized, then your job is that much harder. That’s not to say you won’t be able to get your site to rank. It just means that your job is more difficult. The same is true if you bought your site from a previous owner. Whoever owned the domain before you had a different purpose for it and had different contact info. It will take you time to build your own history. Of course, it will also take you some time to build your history if your domain is completely new.
4. Neglecting DirectoriesOne directory you need to claim right away if you have not yet done so is Google My Business. Google My Business is an opportunity to be listed for free on a site with a high level of traffic and authority. Despite what some think, other online directories are valuable for helping your search engine ranking. The key is to get your business listed on quality directories, not spammy ones. List your business in as many solid online directories as possible. Make sure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across all your listings.
5. Misusing BacklinksBacklinks are indispensable to SEO. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, they’re also a great way to get your site penalized. Do not include backlinks that are forced, irrelevant, or not educational to your followers. The key with backlinks is to make sure they are relevant to your content and fit naturally within it. They should be instructional and clearly support the purpose of your posts. If they have these qualities and come from authoritative sites, your own site will greatly benefit.
Moz has a few suggestions for getting backlinks without incurring Google’s wrath. You can ask people you know to link back to your blog, so long as they do so in a way that is natural and helpful to users. Look for instances online where people have mentioned your business without linking to you. Then ask them to link to your business. It’s a good idea to search for mentions on a monthly basis.
Something else you can do is use Google’s Search Console to find times when people have attempted to link to you, but the links are broken. Consider doing an event or a promo, especially one that benefits people. Then ask a journalist to write about and link to you. Check out HARO, a platform that helps journalists who need to write a story discover businesses who could help them out. If your company provides a service relevant to a story you find through HARO, you can connect with that reporter and get a link to your site.
6. Creating Poor ContentYou do need to optimize your content for SEO, but you also need to create content that is high quality and educational. Creating strong content takes a lot of work, but doing so is important to increasing your traffic. Good content benefits your audience and builds your authority. The more niche your content is, the better your traffic will be.
It’s obviously best if you can choose evergreen topics. But besides having something great to say and saying it well, there are other ways to capture people’s attention. Make sure your titles are eye-catching and that your blog is well designed. Also make sure you’re regularly offering visual content, such as infographics and videos, which get a lot of engagement.
7. Thinking You Can Control EverythingAs we said earlier, succeeding at SEO is not a formulaic process. Because certain aspects are out of your control, your results will have a degree of unpredictability. For example, the industry you’ve chosen impacts the level of competition you face. And the level of competition you face affects how hard it will be for you to rank for certain keywords. Some businesses will have a much easier time ranking than you will simply because you happen to be in a more challenging industry.
Guidelines, Not a FormulaHow long does it take for SEO to start working? That depends, but you should see results within a year if you implement the strategies outlined above. Don’t neglect these crucial steps for increasing your traffic and promoting your business online.
I love this industry because digital marketing is always changing and there are always new tools to check! New tools open up new opportunities, offer new insights and inspire new tactics.
Here are six tools I intend to give a thorough look in 2018.
What are yours?
Topvisor is a newer tool in my marketing arsenal but it’s quickly becoming my favorite tool! I love their keyword research and grouping features and use them every time I plan a content strategy for a new client. It also has a nice rank tracking feature that updates me on all changes that need attanetion.
2. Netpeak Spider
One of the most indepth and flexible web crawlers out there, Netpeak Spider provides smooth experience and lots of features. It automatically checks 50+ parameters and detects more than 60 SEO errors (including http status errors, canonical issues, Robots.txt issues, meta tag issues and more).
It has 5 crawling modes (site-wide, directory, URL list, XML Sitemap and even from Google SERP). Each of them allows to perform certain SEO tasks, for example, by crawling an XML sitemap, you can detect 21 XML sitemap issues in 17 parameters and send the corrected sitemap files to the search engines.
It even has the ability to calculate your site internal PageRank giving your ideas if important pages of your site are not getting enough power internally.
3. Buffer for video
There’s nothing new about Buffer. It’s been around for quite some time now! So why am I including it in this list? Because Buffer never stops and their most recently added feature is a proof!
Buffer for video is the first product to allow native video scheduling to all the big social media networks. So: upload once, share everywhere.
Not in the video game yet? This stats should change your mind:
- 82% of Twitter users watch video content on Twitter
- The number of videos in Facebook feeds has grown by 360%
- In the U.S., people are posting 94% more videos to Facebook
- 50% of Americans who use Facebook daily watch at least 1 video every day
I am sure many of you are aware of Slack but few people know that it’s not merely about chatting and collaborating. With the ability to add bots, Slack has become one of the most diverse multi-purpose platforms.
The two cool bots to add:
- Notify: Brings your brand mentions to your Slack feed. It serves as more of an ambient notification feed for these alerts and may inspire more team conversation than individual emails.
- Statsbot: Brings Google Analytics stats to your Slack feed. Ask the bot about your stats and see the graphs and numbers right in the message thread.
It is no secret that I am not a big fan of Mail Chimp. I find their system overly bulky, difficult to use, and their policies are so unclear you can violate them by accident. I have tried a number of alternatives, but none of them were the simple, effective drip email platform I wanted. Until I found Drip.
It is a cool system that lets you create an easy sales funnel, in a visual way. While I don’t do direct sales, I have found the same principle applies to content promotion. My email campaigns have become much more effective thanks to this little gem.
Drip workflows seem amazingly easy and fun to set up. Here are options for automation systems and this one seems like a great one to add to the list.
Ptengine is a great heatmap application, you can find out at exactly what point customers are choosing to leave your site. Isolating that point is crucial, so you can make the necessary changes to push them to the final step.
Unlike many other heatmap tools, this one provides much more insight than just a visualization. See referral information, track social media campaigns and engagement (page views, visit duration and conversions).
And which tools are you planning to try in 2018?