Web Development

Speed is Everything [Summary of Search]

Page loading speed has great importance with Google these days. From mobile visitors to Googlebots, every visitor will appreciate a speedy experience. Here are some ideas to keep in mind:

1. Rise of mobile

The importance of mobile can be seen in Google’s announcements the last few years. Mobile users are more impatient than ever, and Google provided stats last week regarding just how impatient mobile users are:

– The average mobile page takes 22 seconds to load, but 53% of users leave after 3 seconds!

– Even mobile landing pages in AdWords were found to take 10 seconds loading time.

There are many easy changes available for sites to make, as the answer isn’t always in purchasing a faster web server. Google’s own analysis found that simply compressing images and text can be a “game changer”—30% of pages could save more than 250KB that way.

2. Ranking factor

A few years back, Google made page speed a small ranking factor – or at least they were finally explicit about it being a ranking factor. Since page speed issues aren’t given the exposure of crawl errors and other items in Google Search Console, it can be easy to put them on the “long list” of items to fix. Its addition as a ranking factor is a great signal that this needs to be prioritized.

3. Bounce rate

Nice try, loading up your site with images that take forever to load. Unfortunately, that doesn’t increase the duration of site visits. It just makes people angry. According to Google’s analysis, every second of loading time, from 1 to 7 seconds, increases the chance of a bounce by 113%! Many SEOs believe that “engagement metrics” such as bounce rate could also be a ranking factor. And it makes sense: When Google sees a rise in organic bounce rate, they know human visitors are judging the content. How could Google not take this data into account?

4. Crawl rate

In one recent test, increasing page speed across a site dramatically increased the site’s crawl budget. Slower sites can be overwhelmed by crawl activity. But if you ever feel the need to put a crawl delay in your robots.txt, take that as a warning sign. After all, even reasonably fast sites can often need more crawl budget.

Tools and Fixes

Luckily there are remedies. Some can be quite easy, such as adding compression to your web server. Others might require a trip to Photoshop for your site’s images. However, some items will not be worth fixing. Try to concentrate on the easiest tasks first. Run an analysis of your site through these two tools and see what you need to fix:

Google’s newest tool:

Test how mobile-friendly your site is.

GTmetrix.com features include a “waterfall” showing which page items load at which stage, history, monitoring, and more.

Good luck and enjoy optimizing the speed of your site!

Do Minisites still work? [Summary of Search]

Minisites used to be a good technique, but is getting harder to make them work. Here are 3 challenges for the “Minisite Approach”:minisite

  1. Google doesn’t value new websites.
  2. Google doesn’t value 2-3 page websites.

It’s rare for small sites to have the depth of content that Google values. If this site cannot go into depth on a topic, it might not be seen as valuable – to Google bot, or to human visitors. You can overcome that with link authority, but it’s tough.

  1. Google doesn’t have a powerful “exact match bonus.”

Google used to give easy rankings to “exact match domains,” but lessened that 2-3 years ago. If someone was typing “iPhone ringtones” into Google, it was simple for iphoneringtones.com to rank at the top. In the newer version of Google’s algorithm, exact match domains do not necessarily mean top rankings for little effort – although it is still helpful:

  1. Keywords will be bolded in the URL in some search engines. That can be very tempting to prospective visitors.
  2. Inbound links that use the domain as anchor text will experience a bonus for that keyword targeting. Anchor text is still powerful in Google’s algorithm.

Here are some tips to make the most of your Minisite:

– The content must be unique

Minisites are often created to be a tangential offering of a brand, but shouldn’t just be a copy/paste of the existing content from a site. Instead, the content should be created especially for the Minisite, with some thought given for how this audience might be unique.

– The URLs need to not look spammy to your audience. So many keyword rich URLs can look that way these days. Test with PPC and see if your prospects want to click. No more than a single dash in the URL, only use .com, and two word phrases. For example, this is not a clickable URL:


But this is:


– The keyword phrase should have good search volume.

Keyword phrases that do not show search volume in Google’s Keyword Planner may not be worth investing in. One of the main advantages of a minisite on a custom domain is the “exact match domain” that should exactly match your prospects’ query. Without search volume, that’s one less compelling reason to do a minisite.

– Don’t rely on type in traffic. Prospects using Internet explorer when it was the dominant browser would type in “sales management” and be taken to salesmanagement.com. A few years ago, 12% of search traffic could arrive like that. Chrome is now dominant and it searches Google for what you type in. So that type in traffic isn’t as prevalent as it was.

– Buy keyword focused domains if there is good search volume. Test them with PPC (for both click through rate and conversion), and then build out larger sites of 20 pages, blog weekly on the site, have videos, get some good links etc.

But this technique is not the easy road it once was. There are many fewer shortcuts in today’s Google.


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9 ways to get the sitelinks you want (and deserve!) [Summary of Search]

Organic sitelinks are the sub-links that appear under your homepage URL in search queries specific to your company.

Matt Cutts explaining how sitelinks are generated:

A typical company listing has 4-6 sitelinks meant to help users navigate your site directly from the search engine results page, rather than having to click your primary URL to navigate. Some URLs may have up to 12 sitelinks below the primary search result!

Organic sitelinks are great for users (and for you!)

There are many key benefits to organic sitelinks:

  • Users can quickly and easily gain access to a better-suited landing page than the homepage. This quick navigation option is great for the user and it reduces your organic bounce rate too.
  • Sitelinks provide a large presence on the search results pages. PPC Hero did some research into sitelinks, and found that, why they’re not clicked as often as the primary link, they do provide additional CTR and conversions. Read more the PPC Hero study. Showing 64% increases in PPC ad Click-Through-Rate with sitelinks
  • Having numerous – and well-crafted – sitelinks helps to make your brand look more popular. Big brand tends to have more, and better, sitelinks.


9 tips to get the sitelinks you want (and deserve!)

Typical sitelinks include a Contact Us page, plus other pages that look important to Google.

However, Google often misunderstands what the key pages are on your site! That’s why it’s crucial that companies watch over and adjust their sitelinks.

While you can’t specify sitelinks directly to Google, and they don’t disclose exactly how they choose organic sitelinks, there are key tactics you can use to get the sitelinks you want (and deserve!):

  1. Be #1! You will typically only get sitelinks for branded searches, such as for your company name. Sometimes the #1 result will get sitelinks as well, but it’s typically branded queries.

  1. Submit a sitemap.xml in Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools). This appears to be a necessary step before sitelinks are “granted” by Google.

Demote undesirable sitelinks in Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) if you find that any are showing up.

To demote a sitelink URL:

  • On the Search Console homepage, click the site you want.
  • Under Search Appearance, click Sitelinks.
  • In the For this search result box, complete the URL for which you don’t want a specific sitelink URL to appear.
  • In the Demote this sitelink URL box, complete the URL of the sitelink you want to demote.
  • You can demote up to 100 URLs, and demotions are effective for 90 days from your last visit to the demotion page (no need to resubmit – just revisit the page).
  1. Look at what you’re linking to sitewide (stop linking or do nofollow), especially in your main navigation elements.

  2. Googlebot seems to like lists of links, including H2 tags with links to sections or pages and bulleted lists of links. Learn more here: http://www.seerinteractive.com/blog/get-organic-google-sitelinks-long-form-content/

  3. Use rel=nofollow. Sometimes, privacy policies show up as sitelinks because they have a link on every page of the site. Use a rel=nofollow on pages that Google is incorrectly choosing as sitelinks.

  4. Optimize your pages. Ideally, your best pages should already be optimized, but make sure titles and meta-descriptions are in order.

  5. Inbound links look at where other sites are linking to (change your redirects or outreach to other sites and ask them to update their links).

  6. Googlebot prefers popular pages, including landing pages with volume in analytics.

Organic sitelink takeaways

While there is no direct formula for sitelinks, these tips can help you better communicate to Googlebot what you would like to show up for your brand.

Since search results are often very personalized and based on Google’s algorithm, it may be that certain sitelinks appear for some users, but not for others.

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