Web Marketing

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!

Penguin 4 has Arrived: What We Know [Summary of Search]

It’s been 2 years since the last Penguin Penalty update. The Penguin Penalties were known to destroy site traffic by placing sites – that were formerly on page 1
– onto page 4 or even page 9. Organic traffic would decrease sometimes to less than 10% of previous levels, and devastate revenue.

Penguin is such a serious update for any site relying on organic traffic, that new insights are being gained daily. This update is a little bit different than previous Penguin updates. They appear to get increasinglpaper-182220_960_720_phixry more harsh.

1. Google still cares tremendously about links

We’ve been expecting Google to use social media at some point for authority, but instead they keep using links as a powerful part of their algorithm. Looking at the amount of processing power, education, penalties and heat they have taken… well, we can assume links will be with us for a long time. And Google cares more about authority than popularity, freshness, content, spelling, valid html, or any of the other hundreds of factors they may (or may not) take into account.

2.  It’s now “realtime”

As Google discovers links to your site, they will be judged as good, bad or somewhere in-between. Rankings will fluctuate accordingly. This system is long overdue: Previous penguin updates have meant years of waiting to see if link removal, disavowal, site pruning, 301 redirecting, gaining high authority links, and other strategies would be enough. It was a horribly unfair system for most small businesses, as years of lost traffic was particularly painful.

3. Realtime can mean weeks

Few have done the math and research in this quora thread, but that sounds like it will be a few weeks.

4. Penguin penalties will now be on the page level, not site level

Penguin used to penalize an entire site, impacting rankings for all keywords and on all pages. This was horribly unfair and we saw several clients over the years being penalized after an intruder built pages (and bad links to those pages). Months and years after the intrusion, site keyword rankings (and traffic!) suffered greatly.

5. Bad links no longer penalize – they just don’t count

This is a return to the “old days”, simpler times when webmasters didn’t have to continually audit who was linking to them. One of the worst parts of previous penguin updates was the way that low quality links provided a “double whammy” to rankings: They stopped boosting rankings, and also penalized the site.

6. Disavow files are still recommended

Google still recommends the disavow file is used. It helps Google identify low quality sites, as well as offering protection against a “manual penalty”, where a human at Google has specifically penalized your site. In that case a disavow file can show that you are trying to distance your site from it’s bad links.

Every day brings more insight into how Penguin 4.0 is impacting rankings and traffic. We’ll keep you updated!

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:

http://solve-your-sales-problems.biz

But this is:

http://salesmanship.com

– 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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