"There is nothing permanent except change"- Heraclitus. The Greek philosophers comment some 2500 years ago is still applicable today to the fast-changing world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). With advances in new technologies, use of latest devices, and rapid changes in search engine algorithms, the SEO industry is constantly being redefined. Businesses must keep up with new SEO tactics as part of their digital marketing strategy to ensure the brand’s visibility to its intended audience. With search engines getting smarter, 2016, so far, has been less about black hat practices to optimize websites for search engines and more about making sites suitable for people across a variety of platforms. Whether mobile or desktop, on-page or off-page, being aware of the current trends shaping the future of SEO will help businesses take a considered and structured approach to it.
5 SEO Trends You Cannot Ignore In 2016
It’s been an exciting year so far and we don’t expect things to slow down as we move into the last quarter of the year. With advances in mobile websites, the massive increase in social sharing, the release of some pretty cool geo-specific Google tools and more, here are some of the SEO trends that have shaped the search landscape in 2016,
1. Mobile-Optimization Is An Absolute Must
In the US, the volume for mobile search surpassed desktop search in the middle of last year, making mobile traffic a far more important factor for SEO. With the Mobilegeddon update of the Google search engine algorithm, it pays to have a mobile-friendly design in 2016–particularly when it comes to SEO! People today use multiple and diverse devices to access the net, so businesses have to design mobile-optimized sites for smartphones, tablets, laptops, smart watches, etc. A mobile-friendly approach leads to an improved user experience and it also gives your site a higher score–boosting its Google rankings. With desktop computing predicted to fade into obscurity over the next few years, Google has already clarified that a desktop-specific site isn’t necessary anymore. Moreover, their recent shift from the usual seven-packs to the local three-packs in the desktop search results for local businesses shows their commitment to a mobile experience across different devices.
All webmasters can easily make their site responsive when coding it from scratch, or by using a responsive framework/theme. The main design features of a fully mobile-friendly site are that the content should not be wider than the screen viewport; the text should be formatted in such a way that it is readable; the links should be spaced out well and the mobile viewport should be set. Here are some tools available to check the mobile-friendliness of your site or blog.
This year deep links pointing to specific pages of a mobile app carry more value in terms of SEO than ever before. Therefore it is important to ensure that Google understands the content within a mobile app and to leverage the app correctly in marketing strategies. Even if your business does not have an app, you should look at getting your business listed on as many other apps as possible.
2. Faster Loading Time, Higher Ranking
Not only are sites with a slow loading time annoying for visitors, they also have an adverse effect on SEO rankings on Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Studies have shown that people generally click out of a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load. The pages on the top ranked sites are usually fully loaded within 1.1 seconds. Your site should ideally load between these two limits.
3. Social Media Signals To Boost Ranking Positions
With the increase in indexation of posts, hashtags, tweets, and profiles on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, the signals coming from these sites have become influential in the search engine algorithm of Google and other search engines. From an SEO perspective the line between the ‘web’ and ‘social platforms’ is gradually blurring, so much so that social posts now carry a value similar to a web page in improving the ranking position of your site. Ever since Google signed an agreement with Twitter, official Twitter profiles are shown in top three results automatically. Twitter also provides data to Bing and Yahoo’s search service. On social media, there are more chances of people reading and sharing your posts, which can result in more inbound links and mentions–all of which directly impact rankings. Sometimes social media posts can even rank higher on the SERPs than the site itself, with company pages appearing on top of the search results for a given brand keyword.
For your SEO strategy to hit the roof, your business has to have an official page on all important social networks, with clear information details on your website, working hours, contact number, call-to-action, and more. In order to produce SEO friendly social media posts, it is important to focus on relevant content, build natural links, and use promotional campaigns wisely. After all, the more social media buttons offered to visitors, the more click-through rates you will receive.
4. Intention Is Significant In Your Keywords
You no longer need to pack headlines with keywords to drive traffic to your site. While finding the right keywords to match your audience searches is still important in SEO, there is need to upgrade the process. New search engines have become more intuitive in providing relevant results based on the users browsing pattern and interactions with the website. For a definitive search result, search engines like Google and Yahoo are determining user intention instead of depending on what is typed into the search bar, to save time and effort on behalf of the user when browsing the internet.
More than getting the click, search engines are looking at the post-click activity and whether your site is satisfying user intent. Besides classic tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, there are unique tools like Moz’s Keyword Explorer and Answer The Public to help you maximize your keyword campaign.
5. Stress On Local SEO
Ever since Google’s Pigeon update in 2014, local search engine optimization has become important for every small and medium-sized business that desires to rank well in search results. This has not changed in 2016. Both desktop and mobile searches generally have a local intent. More than just finding directions and guidelines, local SEO also helps to make sites more user-friendly and naturally improves its position on SERP. The user’s geographic location, data from sites with updated geolocation, and search history all are determining factors in the type of results that people see when performing a search. Local SEO has naturally grown in importance along with the rise of individualized search results.
To ensure that your local business remains relevant locally, be sure to create a Google Business Page along with your business description and list your name, address, phone number, and include links to your information. You can also maintain business profiles on review sites such as Yahoo Local and Yelp. The more inbound links you can get from local news sites or community sites, the better it is for your local SEO.
Stay On Top
In the beginning of the year some pundits had written off SEO as dead but they have been proved wrong. Sites implementing traditional old-school SEO tricks and unethical practices are being duly punished through low search ranking and the only way ahead seems to be by implementing a SEO strategy, combining different approaches with the singular aim of providing value to users. For successful marketing, the focus is not just on digital presence and web-related activities for branding but on diversified content and usability on different mobile devices. Stay on top of the ‘position’ game by utilizing the latest SEO trends to give your audience a great experience.
Search Engine Optimization can help capture the mindshare of potential customers and give your business the much needed visibility, traffic, and credibility necessary for success in today’s competitive digital landscape. In SEO, keywords are indexed by the search engine to work as a bridge between your brand and your target audience. When prospects perform search for words or phrases, if your site is well- optimized, your pages will show up higher in the search results. Has your business been looking to improve its rank in Google, only to come up short? Maybe you are making the common mistake of going after popular keywords that are too competitive. Whether running an online shop, creating content for a blog, or searching topics for the company’s website, webmasters and bloggers spend hours looking for the right keywords as part of their SEO strategy to get more business traffic and find targeted customers.
Having a thorough understanding of which keywords are relevant enough to perform for your site is the cornerstone of SEO. The concept of long-tail keywords has made a stunning comeback in search marketing due to recent alterations in Google Panda and Penguin algorithms. While it is tempting to target core keywords with huge traffic numbers for a slice of the volume, you should also account for the fierce competition which makes it extremely difficult to generate any traffic. Moreover, latest search trends seem to indicate that more searchers are typing in long-tail search phrases in the search bar instead of simple words to find what they’re looking for. Therefore it is imperative to integrate relevant, rankable long-tail keywords along with high-volume keywords into your marketing campaign. Long-tail keywords can identify less competitive markets to narrow your focus thus enabling your content to rank higher in front of the right people.
What Are Long-Tail Keywords?
Long-tail keywords are longer (containing 3 or more words) and are more specific keywords/key phrases than the more popular and commonly searched ‘head’ keywords. It generally has a generic head term that is searchable on its own, combined with something highly specific. Long-tail keywords are generally made up of a few relevant phrases about the services of products you offer and they are more accurately focused on the searcher’s intent. These long-tail keywords make up a wide and less competitive spectrum and though they may get less search traffic, they have a higher conversion value because of their specific focus. In other words, they help you reach a more targeted prospect that may be further down the sales funnel than someone using generic head keywords. Now that informative content has become more important in achieving good search engine rank and quality traffic, webmasters are keen to get more organic visits by targeting long-tail keywords.
To understand long-tail keywords, let’s take an example of the keyword “cars”. This is a very popular general search term but it is also a highly competitive keyword for Pay Per Click ads and also for higher rankings in search results. Performing a Google search will show that the top slots for this term go to sites like Autotrader and Cars.com. It may prove too difficult for a smaller site or blog with limited budget to out rank them. So what should be your next step, if you cannot surpass the top rank for the head term “cars”? You can make a combination of words by tails to the existing keyword in order to narrow down your competition. For example, “new and used cars for sale,” “used midsize SUVs”, “best used midsize SUVs for sale in New York, NY.” Adding these extra words around your head term will allow you to rank higher and find a more targeted prospect.
Why Should You Use Long-Tail Keywords?
The big brands have optimized the short-tail keywords and there is almost no chance of being able to compete there. It may be a blessing in disguise because if you concentrate on unique long-tail keywords specific to your business then you can ace the organic search market results.
1. Long-Tail Keywords Result In More Targeted Visits
The users typing in long-tail keywords to search for something more specific can be considered more targeted. Long-tail keywords can be used to not just funnel in targeted traffic, but also to catch customers at a more latter stage in the purchasing process, where they already know exactly what they are looking for. A long-tail keyword phrase filters options for these targeted searchers. When using ‘buying’ or ‘action’ long-tail keywords, people are more likely to perform an action or convert. For instance if you are in the mortgage space the keyword ‘mortgage’ is going to very competitive in both search volume and PPC costs. If the keyword ‘mortgage’ is too expensive to target, then you can look at the subset of mortgage niche terms, such as ‘mortgage for bad credit’ or ‘second home mortgage,’ as long-tail keywords to optimize for. These long-tail keywords can be combined to bring in visitors who are not just looking for general information but are also focused on specific needs. With properly researched long-tail keywords you can get to the top of the SEO game and build huge search volume of highly targeted traffic.
2. Much Less Competition For Long-Tail Keywords
Search marketers often concentrate on keyword volume without paying much heed to keyword competition. The focus should rather be on winning targeted traffic and ranking higher in the search engine results page, with less competitive keywords. There is intense competition for high volume keywords so it is very difficult to win one of the top positions. Instead, well researched, low volume, and focused long-tail keyword phrases provide a better opportunity to rank higher in the SERPs and can also help bring quality traffic from the search results to your site.
3. Higher Conversions With Long-Tail Keywords
The ultimate benefit of using long-tail keywords is attracting quality visitors. This is especially vital when running a PPC campaign with high per click values because you are not just looking for the volume of traffic but for conversions. Long-tail keywords generally have better conversion rates because they are specifically targeted at visitors looking to take action. Whereas short keywords or head keywords generally target a section of the entire internet, long-tail keywords help you get a significant stake in a niche area, resulting in more profits.
4. Build Website Authority With Long-Tail Keywords
With the recent changes in Google algorithm, using long-tail keywords to rank higher in search engine results has become a vital strategy in gaining validity for your brand. The more indexed pages in Google and first page placements you get for any important keyword, the better your chances are at gaining website authority and trust. While this is not the only factor in establishing your authority online, good SEO and more first place placements can give you a leg up in that direction.
5. Relevant Long-Tail Keywords
The volume for long-tail keywords may be low and there may be value to be found in less competition but it is also important to select relevant long-tail keywords. To help you identify such phrases, keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Long-Tail Pro or SEMrush may be of assistance to you. You can even find keyword phrases from your own website’s logs to expand your site and also to create content around the least competitive, relevant keywords that align well. You can also improve your opportunity to rank higher for those long-tail keywords by properly tagging your headers, pictures, and your content so that search engines can easily identify your content as relevant.
Get Started Today
The future of online searches is really unpredictable but people will always prefer something similar to human communication when performing searches, than traditionally searching core keywords. You can start to gain rankings and traffic by building a strong website that consistently incorporates top quality content for long-tail keywords. It may take a little extra time and effort to discover long-tail keywords that work for your brand but if you manage to identify and optimize them for search engines it will definitely bring you a steady stream of targeted traffic. This long lasting and positive impact is reason enough to start optimizing your content for long-tail keyword phrases right away!
Spam mail, including unsolicited commercial email and unwanted bulk email, is an endemic problem that plagues our inboxes daily. This menace costs businesses billions of dollars worth of lost working time, resources, and expenditure on anti-spam measures. Each day most of us receive more spam than real email. These unwanted emails offer dubious products, doubtful financial services, promotions for prescription drugs, and invitations to pornographic websites. Despite advances in tools to protect against spam, the truth is, you just cannot escape it — and it hurts. Spam wastes resources, takes up bandwidth, increases frivolous internet traffic, and burns legitimate marketers because people tend to dismiss genuine emails when overwhelmed with spam.
Why Are You Getting So Much Spam?
To stop spam dead in its tracks, it is vital to understand how spammers target an email address to send unsolicited mail. There are two ways spammers find valid email addresses that they then turn into a spam list.
- Dictionary Harvest Attack: Spammers send mail to general mailbox names such as email@example.com. This technique can be nullified by using unique email account names instead of general accounts. Replace firstname.lastname@example.org with email@example.com
- Email Harvesting: This technique is the preferred method for identifying valid and responsive email addresses. Spammers can harvest email addresses by stealing them from websites using “spambots” to automatically crawl web pages looking for forms, comments, user logins, and valid email addresses and add them to their mailing lists. Spam lists of active emails are then traded in bulk to make the email address available to more spammers over time, resulting in thousands of spam messages.
Email harvesting is devastating and you can end up receiving large amounts of spam if you are placed on these lists. Though the law specifically states that you have to opt-in to mailing lists and also be able to unsubscribe from the list, spammers ignore the law with impudence.
Most websites have their email advertised on the contact page for their clients, customers, or visitors to get in touch easily. Chances are if you have your email written plainly out there, or you are using a ’mailto’ link then you are probably getting a constant barrage of voluminous, offensive, and unsolicited emails. Spammers are becoming more creative in designing new ways of finding vulnerabilities in traditional anti-spam methods; therefore, webmasters must be constantly improving the anti-spam tactics for their own websites.
Avoiding Spam When Posting an Email Address
How can you stop these annoying automated spambots from compromising your website and sending email spam to the website owner? There are a number of tips and tricks you can effectively use to prevent spambots from putting your email address on spammers’ lists, while still giving your visitors ways to easily get in touch with you.
Address munging is the practice of disguising an email address to prevent it from being automatically collected by unsolicited bulk email providers.
Use Plain Text
To prevent spambots from harvesting addresses on your web pages, you can hide them. The common practice is to place your email address on a page by using a link for people to click on. While it is easy for your users, spambots can still see emails hidden behind an html link. Spambots generally look for patterns of text to identify them as an email address. Email addresses always contain an @ so spambots scan the page to find the @ symbol. An effective technique for disguising your email address from spambots is by eliminating the @ symbol from addresses and substituting it with words. For example-
youremail AT example DOT com
Admittedly, this is not how most web users are used to seeing email addresses and it may prove inconvenient for some users who may not recognize it as a valid email address. However, employing this technique will keep the pesky spam crawlers away, and most human visitors will easily be able to replace the words with the correct symbols and contact you.
Use ASCII Character Codes
It is also possible to completely disguise an email address with its corresponding ASCII codes. Human users will be able to see the addresses without any apparent munging. So for example, to represent the @ symbol, you can use the machine language for representing characters on a web page @ (ampersand number-sign six four semi-colon).
To any human visitor the following formatted addresses will all appear the same, if they are included in the HTML of your site because their browsers automatically translate the character code; however, most spambots will not be able to recognize the codes. That said, some address-harvesting spambots can already read ASCII character codes.
Post Your Email Address As An Image
You can hide your email address in an image by using popular graphics imaging programs to encode your email address as a GIF, PNG, JPEG, or other standard web format. You can also post your email as an image using free online Email-Address-to-Image converters. Forego the “mailto” link on the image. Spambots are not likely to be capable of optical character recognition needed to process the contents of images. The downside is that users still need to retype the email address in order to send you a message and visually impaired visitors may not be able to access your address.
Identifying and Blocking Spambots
Spambots can modify their behavior to fight off munging techniques. The next likely defense is to identify visitors that are likely to be spambots and deny them access to your page or simply not make your email address visible to them at all.
Add A Contact Form
Users on text-based browsers like Lynx will not be able to see your email addresses. It’s a good idea to have an alternate means for users to be able to get in touch with you. A “contact us” form allows users to email you through the website. A well-constructed contact form does not publish your email address to the public and all communication made through contact forms are sent indirectly to you through your content management system. Adding a contact form keeps spammers away but unfortunately spambots may still be able to send you email this way. You can secure your web forms by using validation methods to prevent spambots from filling out forms. The best method is using CAPTCHA links on your webforms and using hidden Honeypots to check if you are a real human and to filter out automated bots from extracting your address to add to their list.
Check The Referer String
The referer string provides an indication as to how your visitors linked over to your website. Generally, spambots do not set the referer string, or they have it set to some third-party’s URL, so you can spot robots by looking for referer strings that come from a remote website in order to limit their access to any email addresses on your page.
Set Up A Robots TXT File
Site owners can set out instructions using a robots.txt file to restrict robots from accessing your website. In order to determine the robots to block, you should do some research on the robots likely to invade your site. If there is not enough reliable information about a robot or its function seems questionable, simply block it by using the robots.txt file. You can control how your site is crawled with the robots.txt file using the ‘User-agent’ rule to set who the rule applies to. You can also use ‘Disallow’ to specify the files or folders that are not allowed to be crawled.
In case a robot is found not obeying the robots.txt file you can use mod_rewrite to block bots from finding your email. You can check with the server administrator of your primary hosting company to find out if you have mod_rewrite installed and the permissions to edit the .htaccess file. If you do not have this permission you will not be able to use mod_rewrite.
A Little Effort Goes A Long Way
Most spam prevention techniques are about staying ahead of the curve. While they may not be able to completely protect your email address from spammers, they will certainly reduce the offenses. Keep your primary address off public websites and post alternative addresses that you do not mind being compromised. Cleaning up spam promptly will discourage spammers, who will move on to easier targets. Most importantly, always stay up to date with the latest methods of fighting spam.
All experienced web surfers have heard of spam. Not the canned, pre-cooked meat product but the time wasting junk messages that end up stealing links, eating up network bandwidth, and wasting your time. Website owners and web administrators alike are well aware of malicious web robots that crawl the web, filling out forms with their junk postings or leaving annoying spam comments on the site, thereby also impacting your site’s SEO. There are innovative ways to design efficient sign-up and log-in forms to fight off these pesky spam bots and one such tool is CAPTCHA.
What Is CAPTCHA?
A CAPTCHA is an acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. It is a verification process to distinguish if a user is human or a computer. The most common type of CAPTCHA requires the user to enter a code correctly from an image of obscured letters or number sequence displayed in a box. CAPTCHAs are highly effective in stopping automated bots from spamming and abusing a site’s resources, as well as deterring brute-force attacks, because the task of reading the images correctly is easy for humans but proves difficult for computers. When spam bots fail at this challenge they are unable to submit the form. CAPTCHA was first used by Alta Vista to prevent automated search submissions but now it is used to prevent spam from automated form submissions that jam your site with junk messages, spam user accounts, and this process can even identify security holes that can be exploited on your site.
While using CAPTCHA does ensure that only real live humans fill out your web forms, verification systems that are prohibitive often become an obstacle for users browsing your site, which can hurt conversion rates. However, when the CAPTCHA system is used properly and for the customer’s protection, sites of all sizes stand to benefit from it.
How Can CAPTCHA Be Used?
Use a CAPTCHA to help reduce spam, increase security and prevent hacking.
To reduce spam, use a CAPTCHA submission form at the end of your contact page/form. It will block most of the junk emails that would otherwise wind up in your Inbox, wasting your resources and time. Most website administrators find it frustrating to deal with spam comments. While there are plugins that can capture spam comments from bots and send them to the spam folder in your dashboard, they can’t stop these comments from being submitted all together. CAPTCHAs help in blocking a large portion of spam comments from even being submitted.
A website is the digital presence of a company, brand, or person and protecting it from any security risks is essential in preventing loss of reputation for the brand. The simple CAPTCHA has proven to be an effective way of preventing automated attacks. For instance, you can make modifications to the login page on your site by adding a custom CAPTCHA field in your login form for security reasons.
CAPTCHA also helps prevent brute force attacks that try to steal customer data. CAPTCHA prevents any automated mechanisms from trying to crack into a customer-focused site to get access to their sensitive data. The notifications you receive from failed CAPTCHA entries should be examined for security issues, as an increase in CAPTCHA code failures from unknown areas may be a sign that your site is a target for improper advances. You must increase security protocols for the safety of your website and the protection of your customers.
Where Do I Need To Use CAPTCHA?
CAPTCHA protection can be added to your web site in these areas:
- Naked forms for processing user-submitted data through contact forms, e-mail forms, comment forms, and registration forms
- New user sign up forms.
- Surveys or polls.
- Account change or password request pages.
- Pages that accept file uploads or downloads by users.
- For all user-submitted data.
The Best CAPTCHA Codes
The best CAPTCHA code for your website helps protect the users’ private information by using sets of numbers or letters that could be case sensitive. The visual sequence is generally obscured in some way, or set against some complex background, to make it more difficult for bots to pick out the letters. But the CAPTCHA code should not be too long or too difficult for users to read as it will end up frustrating the users on your site, resulting in a poor user experience. Overuse of the CAPTCHA windows may force users to give up on your site. So carefully place CAPTCHA codes only in the areas of the site where it is most needed. The best CAPTCHA’s allow users to request a new code if the one given cannot be read. Include audio options and an enhanced version of the code for as alternative ways for the user to identify the CAPTCHA.
There have been different types of CAPTCHAs designed over the years in order to block spam.
It is a code system used by Google with two words or numbers for users to decipher. It is used by Google to assist with automatic digitization of books and recognition of street signs. The reCAPTCHA widget can be added to your website to prevent spam and to make sure that the visitors signing up are actually human.
No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA
The update to reCAPTCHA minimizes the attempts made by a user, by limiting the number of times that a CAPTCHA gets displayed to the user. This analyzes browser behavior of the user and his engagement with the CAPTCHA to either present a difficult CAPTCHA if the system detects a bot or else display a simple checkbox to be ticked.
BotDetect is a traditional CAPTCHA code with different kinds of letter and number sequence images. It offers a number of different languages and CMSes on its site, such as PHP, ASP, Java, and WordPress.
Put It To Use
Code snippets are given by the service provider for whichever CAPTCHA you decide to use on your website. You can drop the code snippets on those forms where the CAPTCHA window is supposed to appear. Spam is an annoying problem for all websites and CAPTCHA forms along with other popular spam blocking plugins can help in eliminating the spam mongers. Go ahead and CAPTCHA the spam bot battlefield!
Patience may be a virtue but it is in short supply for many people when things take longer than expected. Most businesses use the Queuing Theory to ensure that customers get prompt service and don’t have to wait too long. Ensuring speedy service is especially applicable when browsing or shopping online. We live in an instant gratification society, in part as a result of the Internet offering an immediate answer to almost every question, right at our fingertips. Many users are increasingly impatient when surfing online and many report a decreased attention span. If a site takes too long to load, users quickly click away. But did you know that If your site does not load in 2 seconds, users will turn to your competitor’s site? Even a second’s delay in each page load matters. As amazing as it may seem, studies have found that there is a whopping 20% drop out rate among visitors for every single second of delay. This, in the long run, can translate to loss of potential customers and significant negative revenue impact.
Google Factors Site Speed into Search Rankings
Site Speed Improves User Experience
Site speed also improves the navigation experience for visitors and increases the likelihood of conversions. Studies have found that the majority of web users expect a website to load in under two seconds and during peak traffic times, 75% consumers are likely to jump ship to competitor sites instead of waiting for slow loading page. A case study by Radware found that 51% of online shoppers in the U.S will not complete a purchase if the site is too slow. It is no surprise then that even a one second delay costs a business 7% of sales. A fast page allows for quick navigation and enhances the chance of visitors easily finding the products or content they are looking for; thus improving many success metrics like conversion rates and earnings.
How Can You Improve Your Page Speed?
1. Load background images through external CSS
You can use CSS sprites to convert multiple images into a big image to help your site load faster by reducing the need for synchronized connections. Browsers download background images at the end, so it is possible to represent images as part of the background through external CSS stylesheets. This helps the text in a site to load instantly allowing users to roam the page, while the image downloads.
2. Caching system
Your website will load much faster if you cache your pages and reduce the server load. The request will be served instantly from earlier saved page on your webhost.
3. Optimize your images
Images account for over half of your web pages’ total content, so they need to be optimized for faster load times. Decreasing the size of your images will definitely reduce the time taken for the site to fully load. Remember to use JPGs for photos and Gif’s for images with flat color and ‘save for web’ to compress the image size—both of which increase page loading time without any noticeable difference in quality.
5. Use fast and reliable web hosting servers
A good web host is a prerequisite for a fast site. When your server is slow and your website takes minutes to load, it adds up to a bad user experience and your website will be doing more harm than good to your business image. When the technical set-up of your site is optimized as best as it can be but you still have a slower than average page loading speed, you should investigate your web host.
Hosting Server and Website Speed
Businesses should aim to deliver a satisfying user experience not just for high-speed network connections but also for the average user of the Internet. If you want a solid performance in terms of speed and uptime from your web host, then consider the following factors before choosing a hosting provider.
Infrastructure – Look up the network infrastructure of your service provider for delivering good speed. The network must have low latency and direct connectivity to global data centers.
Server hardware – Ask questions about server specs of your hosting provider, as the website performance can gain massively from a powerful server configured with a strong CPU.
Cloud Infrastructure – The processing capacity of cloud infrastructure ensures that your web host can keep the web traffic from building up and slowing your site’s page speed down.
The Bottom Line
When you get right down to it, investing in a reliable hosting server will help ensure that your site loads fast and your downtime is minimal. It is advisable to choose a hosting package that is adequate for the size of your business and that your hosting is compatible with the web-technology you are using.
Ask your web hosting company to move your site to another server if you are on a slow shared server, as it is not uncommon for other sites to be using up more resources, especially when you are sharing server resources with hundreds of other sites. Additionally, your web host should have multiple connections to the Internet information highway, to be able to reroute you to a less crowded connection. If needed, you can consider moving your site to a less busy server, or even a dedicated server for faster page load speeds. If you have to keep up with memory requirements, projected traffic growth or cope with peak user load then you have to invest in increasing your web hosting server size.
In the end, you have a lot of control of your web page load speed, so do make sure that you give yourself every advantage to attain a high-conversion, high-traffic website that delivers the business results you are seeking.
This blog title has buzz words all over it. “Analytics”, “best practices”, “double your ROI”. If these don’t grab your attention then perhaps you’re not focusing on something that your competitors are valuing as very important. Something that could very well help boost your business into the next level of success. Measuring return on investment (ROI) has been around for years; however, thanks to Google, it’s now easier than ever—when you’re using the right analytics at the right time. We’d like to share with you a few analytics best practices that can help catapult your business.
Google Analytics (GA) is a free tool that Google has made available to individuals and businesses hoping to better understand the results of their marketing efforts. It is a comprehensive tool that helps SEO professionals, Marketers, Business Owners and companies understand how people are interacting with their website and marketing initiatives.
Google Analytics has evolved over time to meet the needs of digital marketers. The advantage digital marketing brings over traditional marketing is the ability to track and measure ROI more accurately. Empowering the digital marketers with this ability, Google Analytics has evolved from being a web analytics platform which measures website visitors in to a platform that tracks end to end digital marketing activities. Off the shelf Google Analytics cannot help you in mining all the useful data and making data driven decisions. You need to customize Google Analytics to make it work for you and your business objectives and KPIs.
7 Best Practices You Must Be Aware Of:
We could write a book on analytics, but to focus on increasing your marketing ROI, here are 5 best practices to follow:
- Campaign Tagging: While this is a commonly misunderstood feature, it is one of the most important customizations to implement if you’re trying to increase your marketing ROI. When done correctly tagging allows you to track the effectiveness of all your marketing efforts by overwriting the cookie data with your own tags. It is actually not set up inside Google Analytics but it is captured and reported in the tool to assign traffic to a specific source or marketing campaign you are running.
- Dashboards: A best practice to set up right off the bat is to customize your Google Analytics dashboard to show the key metrics that you’re most interested in tracking. This helps save a lot of time. Rather than scraping through the data available in the Google Analytics platform, you can filter the data points that you want to monitor frequently and can access them easily.
- Data Import: Data Import allows you to combine GA data with non-GA data, such as CRM data. For example, if your CRM has gender of signed-in users you could combine this with your analytics data to see Pageviews by gender. This information will show you if more women are looking at products and services consumed by men; allowing you to better target your online marketing.
- Custom Reports: A custom report is a report that you create. You pick the dimensions and metrics and decide how they should be displayed. This best practice will help you gain deeper insight into your data when basic reporting just isn’t enough. Through custom reports you can learn exactly where your customers are coming from or which of your marketing efforts are leading to the most customers. This knowledge will help you know where to focus your marketing dollars for the biggest return.
- Custom Segmentation: How better to get to know your target market than by isolating and examining subsets of your data? Segments let you do just that so you can examine and respond to the trends in your business. You could be wasting money marketing a product to a particular audience that doesn’t purchase that product in the same volume as they normally had. Armed with this information, you can shift your marketing dollars accordingly.
- Custom Dimensions and Metrics: Custom Dimensions and metrics are used in Google Analytics to track the website data which is not automatically tracked by GA. These data points can be captured when a visitor starts a sessions, clicks on any of the pages etc. This customization would mean making changes to your tracking code on the website. This would help in tracking any business specific goals.
- Calculated Metrics: Calculated Metrics help you define personalized metrics from the existing metrics within the Google Analytics platform to better align with your business needs. It helps track metrics such as revenue per customer, transactions per user, products per transaction etc. to track the performance of marketing campaigns against your marketing objectives.
Let’s Get Started!
Google Analytics is a huge beast. If you don’t approach it with a focused, goal oriented strategy it will eat you alive and you’ll never get into the data that will truly help you increase your marketing ROI. Implementing these 7 recommended best practices will be a great start. Strategic development is critical to your ultimate marketing and sales success. At GlobalDirective, our team of analysts and marketing experts will help you get more out of your marketing budget by developing the in-depth marketing strategy and analytics your business needs. For more on how GlobalDirective can help you with Google Analytics reach out to us today.
Everyone wants to improve keyword ranking for their website and business. Whether large or small, being above the fold – or at least on page one – is coveted by businesses of all sizes. Typically, businesses consider tactics such as content marketing, link earning, and social media to help them achieve their SEO goals.
It is true that these marketing tactics are important; however, in the chase for great results, many companies often overlook the architecture and technical aspects of a website as a tool for attaining high rankings and improving relevant traffic to the website.
Did you know the type, quality, and reliability of your website impacts your visibility on Google? Not to mention that where the website is hosted and the quality of the servers you site resides on s to your search ranking success. That’s why it is essential for webmasters to integrate technical and non-technical aspects such as website design, on-site and on-page technical optimization, link building, content creation, and more for organic search success.
The choice of a web hosting provider, your web hosting plan and the server your site runs on further impacts SEO strategies. Get to know how your web hosting plan defines your SEO success.
1. Website Page Loading Speed
Your customers and web visitors expect your web pages to load fast (2 seconds or less). If they take longer than that, consumers are quick to navigate to another site or abandon their purchase. Not only does a slow load time impact consumer satisfaction, but Google also positions sites with slow page load times lower in search rankings.
The speed of your site is dependent on a number of factors; one of the most crucial among them is the hosting provider. You definitely want to avoid unreliable web hosts with poor performing servers and out of date hardware and software, as this will definitely slow your site down. Or even worse, render your website unusable if the entire website crashes often.
2. Website Security
Websites hosted on servers that are not adequately protected from attacks will suffer in search engine rankings. There are ‘spiders’ crawling on the lookout for unsecure servers and if they find any malicious script at your site or bad links pointing to your website pages, your rankings may suffer.
Google has also added HTTPS as a ranking factor in order to promote the implementation of SSL certificates on websites so as to improve users’ safety. A good web hosting provider can assist you in getting a SSL certificate to assure Google and visitors of the security of your website.
3. Technical Issues
Technical issues with web hosting providers or your server that result in website downtime can impact your search results. Google continuously accesses your site to identify new content for indexing, and if it finds the site unavailable or struggling to load, then it may decrease your ranking. Google wants to offer the best user experience possible, so it will rate other sites with no loading issues as better and more reliable website than your site.
What Can You Do About It?
Choosing a reliable and proven web hosting provider is the foundation for any online business or any business that has a significant requirement for an online presence. Look at the plans offered by your provider. Basic plans may be the right fit for starters with less traffic but when your brand starts expanding its presence on the web, you will need to be prepared for large number of visitors. Choose a web host with scalability and an impeccable reputation for a stable foundation on which to streamline your web site and online marketing efforts.
Contrary to the common misconception, building a highly converting website is not a single time exercise. It is not an event. Based on empirical evidence provided by web analytics platforms such as Google Analytics and proven concepts such as the goal of achieving high conversions that requires a layout defined in terms of content, images with a particular website layout to achieve those higher conversions. However, when dealing with prospect-to-client conversions, there is always room for growth and improvement. This continual process of making systematic changes to the website for improving the website performance and increasing the conversions is called ‘conversion optimization.’
Website conversion optimization is backed by the data insights rather than guesses or intuition. Conversion optimization is generally carried out using A/B Testing and/or Multivariate Testing.
A/B Testing or split testing is the most commonly used method of testing and an easy way to test a landing page. It is used to test two variations of the same page. It can be used to test a small, single variation as the color of a button on the webpage or larger tests, such as different layouts of the webpage.
A variation of this is the A/B/n testing in which one or more variations can be tested against the original, existing version. The traffic is randomly and equally distributed among the variations to analyze how users interact with the webpage. The desired actions or the conversion rates are then measured across these variations to find the one that performs the best. The winner is determined based on the statistical significance of the results. So, the winner is determined based on both the conversion rates and the number of observations or the users who visited the webpage.
Multivariate Testing is conducted to identify how combinations of different elements within a webpage work the best. For example, you can test the placement and size of the image, different content types, colors etc., all at the same time. The total number of variation of a page will be equal to the number of variations of Element 1 X the number of variations of the Element 2 X the number of variations of the Element 3 and so on. If you are testing 4 variations of home page image and 5 variations of the content that will go along with the image, you will have 4*5=20 combinations that will be tested. The traffic will be equally distributed among these twenty variations to come up with the specific combination of elements that works best.
A/B Testing or Multivariate Testing?
A/B testing is generally used while making broad, large changes to the webpage. Multivariate Testing is generally used when few key elements or sections of the page are being tested. Also, your choice will be highly dependent on the website traffic you receive because you will have to receive enough traffic to each variation to statistically determine a winner. In order to get meaningful results quickly, you will have to choose pages that have high traffic. And, when considering multivariate testing versus A/B testing, in order to obtain statistically significant results, you would need higher traffic to run multivariate tests compared to A/B tests. Finally, consider sequencing A/B Testing and Multivariate Testing, since they complement each other. While you can assess the impact of major changes using A/B Testing, Multivariate Testing can help you in refining the internal elements thereafter.
Website Conversion Optimization can have a huge impact on your bottom line. It helps you improve results from your marketing efforts, lower customer acquisition costs, maximize ROI and most importantly, drive increased conversion through the sales funnel. You will not only drive a higher number of customers taking the first step in your funnel, but you will also see improvement in every step, which will lead to an outsized percentage increase in the final conversions.
WordPress is the most popular and easy to use content management systems (CMS) utilized by millions of entrepreneurs, businesses and webmasters across the globe. Because WordPress is a free open source platform, it allows developers to contribute themes and plugins that extend the design and functionality of your website. The best part for many businesses is these added features come without the need to know how to code. Developers have generated thousands of useful free WordPress plugins in addition to premium plugins that carry a price tag. This article will guide you in making the best plugin choices for your website.
1. W3 Total Cache
Your site’s speed plays an important role in search engine rankings. W3 Total Cache helps you optimize your WordPress site for speed and performance. It allows you to easily setup page and browser caching, compress pages for quicker downloads, and setup a content delivery network for your static files.
2. Hello Bar
HelloBar is one of the more popular lead generation tools available. It allows you to add eye-catching notification bars to the top of a webpage which can be used for driving traffic to a designated landing page. Any WordPress blogger can easily integrate HelloBar onto a blog with this simple WordPress plugin.
Say goodbye to content spam. Akismet is a content spam filtering service that is able to identify anything that appears to be spam and automatically moves the content to WordPress installation’s spam folder. You can look in your dashboard to check Aksimet Stats for a breakdown of your spam, missed spam, real comments, and false positives that have been mistaken for spam by Akismet that you can flag as genuine.
4. WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin
Yoast SEO is an absolute must to boost any WordPress site’s search engine optimization; enabling more potential customers to find you. This plugin allows you to manage page titles, add meta descriptions, homepage descriptions, sitemaps or keyword stuffing. There is also a premium version with many additional, helpful add-ons.
5. Gravity Forms
Gravity Forms is the most beginner and developer friendly contact form plugin for WordPress. It can be used to add almost any kind of online form to your WordPress website. It comes with powerful add-ons which allow you to create online survey, user submitted posts, web directory, or almost anything where a user input is required.
6. Broken Link Checker
Broken Link Checker is a great plugin that can help improve the user experience on your website. Why? Because clinking on links that don’t work can be frustrating and often times a visitor will just leave the website. This plugin will check your content for broken links and missing images and notify you.
7. Google XML Sitemaps for videos
Google XML sitemaps is the best plugin to help you in submitting a XML sitemap of blogs containing video to search engines so that the search engines can easily recognize and index them. Your Video Sitemap will include web pages which embed videos from YouTube or which links to videos on YouTube. If a YouTube video that you have in your blog has been removed from YouTube, the record in the Sitemap file will be ignored by Googlebot.
8. Floating Social
Social media share buttons are a must have for every site, but they can significantly impact your site’s speed. The floating social bar was created to maximize your social media visibility without impacting your site speed.Floating social bar is a light-weight WordPress plugin that adds a horizontal floating share bar to your blog posts, pages, and other post types. The floating ability allows this eye-catching social media bar to get you maximum shares.
Enabling comments on your blog is one great way to engage with your readers. Disqus makes commenting easier and more interactive, while connecting websites and commenters across a thriving discussion community.
10. Sucuri Security
Everyone wants to keep their WordPress site protected and secure from hackers. Sucuri Security is a useful web based security toolset plugin for security integrity monitoring, activity monitoring, malware, malicious coding scanning, or bug detection, blacklist monitoring, security hardening, and security notifications. This plugin is the best way to ensure your site is secure, especially if you are running an online retail store or if you store sensitive customer information. Sucuri Security works in the background to actively monitor your site for potential threats and warns you immediately to take post-hack security actions.
The List Doesn’t End There
There are many more useful WordPress plugins such as WordPress Importer and Next Gen Gallery. The one caveat is more is not always better. Sometimes plugins can conflict with each other or your theme, and the possibility of this happening increases with the amount of plugins you use. Your best bet is to use only the plugins you need. The good news is, if you do find that a plugin conflicts, there is probably a similar plugin that works perfectly with your set up. This flexibility is one of the features that makes WordPress and its plugins such a popular platform.
WordPress is one of the most common content management systems (CMSs) available to individuals and businesses, but as with any solution, tweaks and optimization may be required to make it a perfect fit.
Brandon Sharp, a solutions specialist for web hosting provider Lunarpages, says that the worst thing you can do with a WordPress site is “install it and forget it.”
“A website is just like a car. It needs routine maintenance to ensure that it is going to run and function properly for years to come,” says Sharp. “What happens if you don’t change the oil in your car? The car breaks down, and you have a huge repair bill. Make sure that your WordPress core, themes and plug-ins are up to date.”
After all, if organizations don’t maintain and nurture their websites, how can they expect the sites to take care of their customers?
Here are a few best practices that will help keep your WordPress install humming along.
Limit the Number of Plug-Ins
First and foremost, reduce the number of plug-ins to a simple core set. While it’s easy to get addicted to the functionality that they provide, plug-ins consume resources and memory on the server that runs your WordPress site. “If your WordPress site is hosted in a shared environment, you have limited use of the resources. You’ll want to make sure that your site is able to load in a reasonable amount of time so that visitors do not abandon your home page,” says Sharp.
Optimize Your Home Page
If your website is a digital storefront, you want to ensure that the front door — the home page — opens quickly to allow customers in. WordPress offers the option to quantify the number of stories that appear on the home page, and you may want to consider posting abstracts of articles rather than the entire text. Sharp recommends sticking to five or six of the most relevant or new items.
Install a Caching Plug-In
Caching the content on your site is one of the best things you can do to optimize site performance. Caching saves an instance of your article locally on the server. This allows WordPress to load content more quickly because it doesn’t have to read the content from the WordPress database. Sharp has a video tutorial that walks you through the process of implementing WP Super Cache. Another popular caching plug-in is W3 Total Cache.
Keep WordPress Updated
WordPress frequently publishes updates to introduce new site optimization and security fixes. You should log in regularly to the administrative console within your WordPress install and check for these. When they do appear, run them! As a bonus, WordPress will alert you if any third-party items are incompatible with the update.
Sharp recommends installing both Akismet as well as a CAPTCHA plug-in to reduce the amount of spam that appears in your comments. Using CAPTCHA for your comments “prevents hackers and bots from trying to gain access and wreak havoc on your blog,” he says.
Prioritize Backups and Database Optimizations
Always ensure that you have a regular backup routine in place for the physical files on the server and the database powering the site. Database backups can be automated using a variety of available plug-ins, many of which also offer optimization for routine maintenance of the WordPress database. Once you have a local copy of the database stored within your file structure on the server, back those database and PHP files up regularly to an offsite location.
Monitor Third-Party Scripts and Images
Hosting Considerations with WordPress
When considering a web host for your WordPress install, there are a few technical considerations to keep in mind:
- How much memory, CPU and disk space will be allocated to your WordPress installation?
- Is the hosting provider oversubscribing the number of sites on a server (meaning, are they jam-packing a server with too many sites)? If you are using a shared server, all sites will be competing for memory and CPU, which means that a “noisy neighbor” may affect your site’s performance.
- How much control do you have over the server your WordPress site is running on?
- Should you move from a shared server to a virtual private server (VPS) or a dedicated physical or cloud server? While it may be more costly, you will definitely have better processing power and more memory at your disposal if you do.
Take Your Time
While the web is a medium that allows for instant publishing, Sharp says it’s important not to rush — especially if you are installing WordPress for the first time.
“Take your time on installation and configuration,” he says. “A poorly installed or configured site leads to many issues down the road.”