Thursday, December 8, 2022

16 Website SEO Musts for a Higher Search Ranking


Search engines strive to create the best user experience possible, providing the most relevant, useful information based on the user’s search terms. If they didn’t, users would no longer rely on them for information.

This is good news: the more relevant, informative and useful user experience you create, the better the chances that search engines will serve your pages. By practicing good search engine optimization (SEO) habits, you can continually work to increase your search engine results page (SERPs) position. Here are some top SEO practices for SERP success.


On page (your website) SEO practices:

1. Relevant keywords: Using a keyword tool can help determine which words will help attract the most visitors based on popular search terms. Pick the most relevant, popular keywords for your business and try to rank for different keywords on your web page.

2. Short, catchy and original title tags: Title tags describe what your website is all about while attracting the user’s attention enough to (hopefully) click through to your pages. Limit the title tag description to 55 characters so it will display well on SERPs. Keep title tags descriptive yet short and sweet to help crawlers and users determine the relevancy of your page.

3. Keywords at the beginning of page title tags: Google puts more weight on the start of the title tag, so try to keep the keywords at the beginning.

4. Keyword focused meta descriptions: The meta description appears under the title tag on SERPs and gives users a chance to learn more about your company before clicking into your site. Aim for a meta-description length of 150-160 characters.

5. Proper sitemap: Make sure your website’s structure is up-to-date and easy to navigate. The better the site structure, the easier search engine crawlers can find and index pages. Aim for a three-click rule—customers should find what they need on your site in three clicks.

6. Properly structured, SEO-friendly URLs: URLs help crawlers to figure out page topic and relevancy. Creating short URLs with your keyword in it, using “-” instead of “_” between words as well as static words (rather than numbers) will help users and crawlers read URLs faster and easier. Also, try to use sub-directory root domains instead of sub-domains.

7. Link internally with anchor text: Linking internally to your other web pages adds keyword-rich internal links to every page. Internal linking helps search engines crawl and index your site, provides readers with more reading options and improves ranking for some of your keywords.

8. Outbound links: Referencing and linking to reputable (authoritative) sources shows you are a helpful internet information steward that is willing to share pagerank. On the internet, helpful sharing is caring.

9. Website’s loading speed: Search engines do not like slow pages as they know that users will not wait long for a website to load. Strive for lickity-split load times.

10. Really helpful content: Create relevant content on your pages that is easy to read, unique, helpful, fresh and grammatically flawless. Your content should be so helpful and relevant that your target audience will want to stay on your page and others will want to link to it.


Off page SEO practices:

1. Search engine submission: It can take a while for search engines to find and crawl your site. You can help to speed up the process by submitting your website to popular search engines.

2. Local directory submission: Submitting your business listing information to top or niche directories creates more places where users can find you and crawlers can confirm your business information. Be sure to submit NAP (name, address, phone number). And, if possible, website and category. A high percentage of searches are by keyword rather than business name, so strive to use category information wherever possible.

3. Social media marketing: Be present on all relevant social channels and manage your online reputation. Strive to get likes, shares and links by being 80% helpful and 20% promotional.

4. Video marketing: Help users find out about your business by sharing your relevant and helpful videos on sites such as Youtube, Vimeo, etc.

5. Backlink outreach: Earn backlinks by conducting content PR to get others to read your pages and possibly link to you. The more quality backlinks your web page has, the more authority it has, and the more search engines will deem the page as relevant and useful.

6. Forums and communities: Answering questions in forums and communities can help to build your reputation as an industry expert. This can provide a possible opportunity to include your website or blog link if it is relevant to the answer.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

What is Programmatic Advertising?


The advertising world is full of jargon, and new phrases are always popping up. One you may have heard in the past couple of years is “programmatic advertising.” So what is it, and why does it sound so technical? Take my hand and come with me to the world of advertising, where we’ll venture further in to discover the kingdom of programmatic advertising.

If you’re a complete newcomer to the advertising world, let me set the scene for you. The way ads make it from your business to a little 300×250 box on your screen is that a media buyer from an advertising agency bought that space at that time for that specific ad. The way the media buyer decides on that specific part of space-time to buy for the ad is much more complex, involving the consideration of price rates, target audience demographics, formats and more. If some of you thought “is there an easier way?,” you’re not alone. The advertising world wondered the same thing, and programmatic advertising was developed as the answer.


The programmatic advertising kingdom & RTB

Programmatic advertising is when software is used to purchase digital ad space instead of humans. Move aside human media buyers, robots are taking over! Swapping out humans for machines is a win-win for advertisers. Creating ads and choosing the right space takes a lot of manual labour. The complex considerations that went into each bid and purchase of ad space can now be done in milliseconds by efficient, calculating machines. The bidding of ad space can be automated, and by telling your programmatic software exactly what kind of audience you’re trying to reach, the ads can now be targeted more efficiently than ever. Welcome to the programmatic advertising kingdom.

RTB: real time bidding

Before we dive too deep, let’s take a quick detour into RTB forest, where ad spaces grow on trees for the robots to harvest. The phrase RTB (real time bidding) is often used interchangeably with programmatic advertising, but RTB is actually only one part of the process, and the skeleton on which programmatic ad buying is built. Ad space is bought and sold in a digital auction, where the winning bidder gets to display their ad in that space. This happens in real time (hence real time bidding), and it’s what programmatic advertising software uses to purchase ad space. To clarify, RTB is the auction, and programmatic advertising is the full automatization of the bid, purchase and ad displaying process. Okay, let’s get back on track to programmatic!

In the programmatic advertising kingdom, it’s the machines that do the work, and the advertisers who rule from campaign castle. It’s the human advertising professionals who are the kings and queens, ruling from campaign castle, and they set the laws of the land. The advertisers determine the rules and scope of the campaigns, while the programmatic software handles all the menial tasks. They will set the prices and strategies, carefully select the channels on which to promote, develop meaningful campaigns, and more. No technophobia necessary, humans are still deeply involved in the process.


Why programmatic advertising?

Here’s the rundown of why programmatic advertising is the best kingdom to be a part of in the world of advertising:

Efficiency

We all know humans, right? No matter how many great qualities they have, there’s always a degree of unreliability and room for fault. Robots don’t get sick, don’t need vacation time and can’t break the rules. While I’d much rather have a human coworker and friend than a robot, when it comes to buying and selling ad space, these things matters. Programmatic advertising removes slow-computing humans from the equation, making the ad buying process hundreds of times faster, and less likely to involve error. Plus, the programmatic advertising software can make tiny, instant adjustments to campaign variables that humans may not consider, or have the time to change.

Optimization

Robots are far better data analyzers than humans, and programmatic software can adjust dozens of variables within your campaign outlines to optimize the campaign and get your desired ROI. The human side of marketing can set budget, goals, network reach and more, and the programmatic software will run with it to get the best bang for your marketing buck. Say hello to delivering hyper-relevant, cross-channel experiences that increase brand awareness, reduce churn and convert users at break-neck speeds.

Cost

Why hire an expensive, potentially unreliable human to buy and sell ad space when you can get a machine to do it better, and for less? Adopting programmatic advertising will result in a tangible cut of media buying costs, as well as let you budget out your (less-tangible) brain power more efficiently. Not to mention, with a machine at the helm, your campaigns will achieve better ROI than would be possible with campaigns run by their human counterparts.

Campaign Quality

With the tedious tasks handled by programmatic software, your marketing team has the time and energy required to develop strategic tactics, and plan sophisticated, effective marketing campaigns. Each of these complex campaign plans will be carried out by the programmatic software that has the ability to rapidly change tiny variables to get you the best bang for your campaign buck. After each campaign run with programmatic advertising, you’ll also receive detailed, data-filled reports so you can better plan your next campaign.


Who needs programmatic advertising?

We all know that you don’t bring a human to a robot fight. In the digital ad buying world, it’s machines vs machine, and ad space is bought and sold faster than you can blink an eye. Programmatic ad buying can offer hyper-relevant, hyper-targeted display ads to the audience you want to reach. If you want to run display ads online, you’ll want to use programmatic ad buying. Besides, human interaction is so 20th century.


Programmatic advertising is big, and it’s not something that will disappear in the next few years. According to a study from eMarketer, US programmatic digital display ad spending will reach $22.10 billion in 2016. The kingdom is expanding, and overtaking new advertising territory every day. Digiday even called programmatic “the future of ad buying,” so maybe a world of robots and humans living in harmony is more plausible than Terminator had us believe.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Understanding and Optimizing Your Website Speed

 

What is Page Speed?

Page speed is the amount of time it takes for the content on a website’s page to fully load. In a world where people have come to expect instantaneous results, faster is better.

In fact, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds, according to surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com.

But how long do most websites take to load?

The standards many have been using for page load time come from a study conducted by Geoff Kenyon where he compares website speed against the rest of the web:

  • if your site loads in 5 seconds, it is faster than approximately 25% of the web
  • if your site loads in 2.9 seconds, it is faster than approximately 50% of the web
  • if your site loads in 1.7 seconds, it is faster than approximately 75% of the web
  • if your site loads in 0.8 seconds, it is faster than approximately 94% of the web

So how can you determine how your website stacks up?


How to Determine Your Page Speed and Score

Here’s how to measure how your website stacks up:

  1. Hop into your website’s Google Analytics Site Speed reports. This will give you an idea of how your site has performed over various time periods and the load speed of each of your pages.
  2. Enter your site’s URL into Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool. This will give you a report card on your website’s speed performance on mobile devices and desktop. The report comes with some recommended actions you can take to improve your site’s speed.
  3. Check Pingdom’s website speed test to find out the speed, rank and percent faster than the average of Pingdom’s tested websites
  4. GTMetrix will provide a comprehensive look at your site’s speed optimization status.

Note: Don’t puzzle yourself when you see different speed timing in Pingdom and Gtmetrix. As Pingdom will show you load time (The time it takes to show the first result of your website—that’s what google counts and you should too) and GTmetrix will show you full load time (The time it takes to show full page with it’s full functionality running).

For further understanding, it’s always good to see the speed waterfall from both tools.


Why Does Page Speed Matter?

Bridging the gap between user expectations (2 seconds) and average website load time (5 seconds) is the goal of page speed optimization and the tactics we’ll outline later. But why exactly does page speed matter? It comes down to 3 main interconnected reasons:

1. Speed Kills UX

User experience is probably the most important reason you should care about website speed, so we’ll start here.

People don’t have the patience for slow loading websites anymore. In the beginning, just connecting to the internet required a tolerance that just doesn’t exist anymore.

Today, people are constantly online and you’ve got 3 seconds maximum to display your page or they’re gone. More than 3 seconds creates a poor user experience and the bar is only going to get higher in the future.

2. Speed Kills SEO

User experience is actually the driving force behind the SEO implications of site speed. While Google has been slow to officially reveal whether slow websites would receive ranking demotions, it appears that those days are coming. You need to make sure your website is ready.

3. Speed Kills Conversions

Your site speed’s effect on conversions is what should really catch your attention. How can you move people through your funnel if each step takes forever? Your super-fans will do it, but those new, hesitant people who are prone to buyers-remorse will bounce.


8 Tactics to Make Your Website Load Faster

Speeding up your site is not necessarily going to be a snap. If you have a small, light site you may just need to try a couple of tactics on this list.

However, large, older sites with a lot of code and content may require some persistence and the implementation of several tactics on the following list.

Here’s where to start:

1. Leverage browser caching:

When you visit sites, your browser often caches pages on the site to speed up load time.

Browser caching stores webpage resource files on a local computer when a user visits a webpage, so leveraging browser caching is when you instruct browsers how their resources should be dealt with.

Things can slow down when the response from your server does not include caching headers or if resources are specified to be cached for only a short time.

Leveraging caching will load your pages much faster for repeat visitors and so will other pages that share those same resources.

Here’s how to do it

2. Optimize images:

If images load faster, your site loads faster, period. Google notes that “…images often account for most of the downloaded bytes on a page. As a result, optimizing images can often yield some of the largest byte savings and performance improvements.”

This means that you can get some big improvements when the images on your pages can be optimized to reduce their file size without significantly impacting their visual quality.

Here’s how to do it

3. Minify HTML, CSS & JavaScript:

Minifying removes any unnecessary characters that are not required for the code to execute.

Sources of redundant data that you can remove includes code comments and formatting, removing unused code, using shorter variable and function names, and more.

Here’s how to do it

4. Enable gzip compression:

Gzip compression drastically reduces the size of files sent from your server when someone visits your website. This will speed things up considerably.

According to GTMetrix,

“The reason gzip works so well in a web environment is because CSS files and HTML files use a lot of repeated text and have loads of whitespace. Since gzip compresses common strings, this can reduce the size of pages and style sheets by up to 70%!”

Here’s how to do it

5. Reduce server response time:

Server response time is the amount of time it takes for a web server to respond to a request from a browser. This is a key issue to address because if your server response time is slow your pages will display slow, no matter how optimized your pages are for speed.

Google says you should reduce your server response time under 200ms. So how do you make this happen?

Here’s how to do it

6. Avoid landing page redirects:

Your site can really slow down when you have more than one redirect from the given URL to the final landing page. This sets off a redirect loop that takes time to process.

Here are a few examples of redirects that can slow things down:

example.com → m.example.com/home – multi-roundtrip penalty for mobile users.
example.com → www.example.com → m.example.com – very slow mobile experience.

Here’s how to do it

7. Prioritize visible content:

This is the exact message you’ll get from Google’s PageSpeed tool when additional network round trips are required to render the above the fold content of the page.

This “above the fold” content is what you see on a desktop or device when you visit a page. So prioritizing visible content is the recommendation that you prioritize things so that essential elements on your page load first (and quickly) for users and that you defer secondary page elements like social sharing plugins, analytics javascript, etc.

Here’s how to do it

8. Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content:

JavaScript and CSS resources often prevent your page from displaying until they’re fully loaded. This is often a good idea, since the premature display of your above the fold content can look pretty grotesque.

However, this is a common message you’ll get from Google about site speed, and addressing it can really take your page speed up a few notches.

Here’s how to do it

Note: This is the hardest thing to fix for most people. There are WordPress plugins that just do it but they can make your site look like Frankenstein on every load.

Want lightning-fast, Google Cloud-hosted WordPress sites? Contact us today!