Tag Archive for: zenden design

Does Website Speed Impact Search Ranking

If you’ve just recently started up a website or even a partner site, and you’re not getting the kind of traffic you want, you may find yourself wondering “does website speed impact search ranking?” Search engines like Bing and Google have a checklist of things that they look for and evaluate when organizing the most relevant results, which is what determines the search ranking, and therefore the order of the websites listed after a search is performed. If you would like to stay at the top of searches, it’s important you know about how website speed can impact search ranking- and what to do about it.

Website Speed and You

Put simply, website speed (or more accurately, page loading speed) refers to the time it takes for a webpage to load. The speed at which the pages of a website load can be affected by a number of factors, including, but not limited to the level of content, the form the content takes, and the processing power behind the website itself. Typically, it is measured in one of two ways- either by the time it takes a single page to load fully, or the time it takes for the browser to receive the first byte of data from the server.

website speed

Website Speed and Search Ranking

Website speed does impact search ranking; reports indicate that both Google and Bing (and a lot of other search engines) include website speed via a number of criteria, as one of the factors influencing search rating. Knowing this, it’s important to optimize your website to increase page loading speed in order to rank as high as possible. If you are unaware of where your website stands in terms of speed, there are a number of tests to determine how efficient your website is. Put simply, faster is better. Always.

Are there any Drawbacks to a Slow Website?

As technology advances, and more and more information can be shared via Internet connection, access to this network is expected as a convenience- especially in terms of mobile culture. In fact, while the page loading speeds of both desktop and mobile devices are both important, the mobile loading speed is the more important criterion of the two.

What Does This Mean for Businesses and Potential Customers?

Why does this matter from a business end? Snap decisions. Impulse buys. When people are using mobile devices, they are looking for convenience, are likely on the move- which means they are interested in making a decision, but they need a little more knowledge to make that decision. And when people are looking for answers, they want to be able to make an informed decision quickly. Regardless of the information available on a website, if it takes an abnormally long time (more than two seconds, typically) for that information to load, a potential visitor will likely lose patience. When it comes to relaying information, speed is king. A slow website will cost you business, directly through customers who ‘walk away’, and indirectly through a lower position on search rankings.

How to Improve Website Speed (and Positively Impact Search Ranking)

There are a number of things that you can do to improve the speed of your website. In general, you want to ensure that all of the content on each page is completely relevant, without being frivolous and over the top. Everything in its place. Everything serving a purpose. Once you’ve determined what content you absolutely need, it’s time to optimize that content. For starters, it helps to streamline your code, making it as efficient as possible by removing unnecessary characters. From there, you can enable file compression on certain code files over 150 bytes. You’ll also want to cut down on needless redirects between domains within your website- take the most direct route possible when transferring from one page to another.

In the same vein, it makes sense to trim down on pages you don’t need for the website. From a server standpoint, it makes sense to optimize by adding more memory and better software, things which will better allow your server (and thus your webpage) to handle larger levels of traffic.

The End Result

In summation, website speed (page loading speed) will most definitely negatively impact search ranking. Fewer customers will see your site and therefore it will be less popular; search engines will see how slow it is, as well as how infrequently it is visited, and rank it lower- it’s a vicious cycle.
To avoid this, it’s crucial to maintain a good website speed as part of the SEO process. First, determine your website’s speed via testing; from there, troubleshoot potential causes, including bottlenecks and redundancies, that can impact search ranking. Afterwards, be sure to maximize your website’s efficiency streamlining your code and your systems and filtering out anything that is unnecessary.

10 Tips To Optimize Mobile Site Speed

Will you lose customers while your mobile pages slowly load, or will you gain loyal followers as you optimize mobile site speed? The choice is yours, but Google plans to add mobile website speed to SERP ranking, so wise businesses are moving to optimize mobile site speed now. The majority of consumers are mobile and they expect mobile sites to be quickly accessible, some experts say within one second. Follow these steps to appease the need for speed (and overall responsive web design).

Minimize to optimize mobile site speed

1. Minimize image size

Images take longer to load than text, so make sure your image size matches the available space. Reduce the image resolution as much as you can without sacrificing quality. Crop images for a perfect fit, and compress them with a jpeg type file.

2. Minify resources

To minify, you delete or compress unneeded resources while maintaining processing efficiency. This refers to code and formatting in the form of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Google Developers recommend a range of tools and server modules to address minification and help you optimize mobile site speed.

3. Reduce blocking JavaScript and CSS

The initial render should only use JavaScript and CSS files necessary for loading above the fold content, and defer the ones that block or reroute content. This allows viewers to immediately see the top part of your page while the rest of your page loads. Avoid or inline external files that send requests out to the network, as they eat up valuable time.

4. Slash and delay above the fold content

As mentioned above, initial content will load faster when there is less data involved. Consider saving images and other time grabbers for below the fold positions. Structure your website to load main content before widgets and sidebars to optimize mobile site speed.

5. Compress files

Smaller files mean faster network transfers, which will speed up loading times. Gzip can be enabled in the web server configuration, and accounts for up to 90% file size reduction. This leads to a quicker first render, and your viewers will use less data too.

6. Trim or omit video

Videos take up the most room on a website, and are the biggest culprits when pages load slowly. If video is not integral to your site, eliminate it completely. Other options include loading it in the background, or only running it on your desktop site. Some mobile sites use a call to action button that either links to a video hosting site like YouTube, or routes the video file to the user’s email address.

7. Remove redirects

Redirects require extra processing and delay page loading. An example is when a mobile viewer is sent to your desktop landing page and then redirected to your mobile landing page. Hosting your mobile and desktop sites in the same location is one way to address this. Many websites prefer using a responsive design that responds and changes to any size device screen to optimize mobile site speed.

Modification for optimization

8. Choose plugins wisely

Plugins can cause your mobile site to lag or crash, as well as induce security concerns. Not all plugins are well conceived, so select carefully. Take time to research and make sure the plugins you pick are up-to-date, have a lot of positive customer reviews, and have a high number of downloads (thousands are better than hundreds). Run tests to determine if a plugin affects your site speed, and weigh the pros and cons.

9. Enhance browser caching

Mobile caches cannot hold large amounts of content, and this slows down mobile site loading speed. All resources for your site should have a caching policy in place. This allows reusing of previous responses whenever possible, cutting down on retrieval time to optimize mobile site speed.

10. Utilize a CDN

A content delivery network (CDN) disperses the weight of your website across a network of servers around the world. Users receive your content from the server that is located closest to them. The shorter the distance between user and server, the faster your content loads.

Put your mobile site to the test

In addition to these steps, Google’s TestMySite online tool checks the mobile-friendliness, mobile speed and desktop speed of any website. The results include a number grade up to 100 for each of the three categories, and a list of fixes to optimize mobile site speed in that specific area. You can also request to receive the report via email.

Optimize Mobile Site Speed

Mobitest is another online tool for finding the speed of your site, and tests strictly for mobile. You can choose between several devices to test on: iPhone 5s, Galaxy S5 or iPad Air. Load time, page size, waterfall chart and screenshot are displayed on the results page.

GTMetrix tests the speed of your site on either Firefox (desktop) or a Galaxy Nexus (mobile). After registering, you can generate a performance report with percentages and letter grades for pagespeed score and YSlow score, as well as results for page load time and number of requests. GTMetrix also breaks down your performance scores into subcategories with suggestions for correcting low scores.

The average person uses a mobile device more than 150 times a day, and as mobile’s popularity continues to grow, so does the need to optimize mobile site speed. Reducing or eliminating some features, changing others, and periodically testing and updating your mobile site will keep it optimized. More than a “mobile friendly” site, you’ll have a mobile site built for speed.

“Tag, you’re it”: what heading tags are and how they impact SEO

The importance and compared merits of heading tag in website pages and posts has been (and still is) generously commented and there seems to be little argument about it: heading tags are necessary to boost SEO and improve user experience.

Heading is code name for structure

Heading tags (or title tags) are designed to add two elements to content: hierarchy and rhythm, and one major component to search engine parsing: identity.
Imagine a block of text on any topic that would be presented in form of a big clump, possibly with paragraphs, but without visual effects to outline its essence.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.48.13 PM

The result is a rather uninviting, uninteresting and inefficient post. Very few would be intrigued enough to read it. There is no clear display of what it is all about, the question it raises or the answer it provides.

The purpose of heading tags from a strictly redactional point of view is to be visually enticing and deliver a sort of summary of the content itself. In other words, they constitute the skeleton of web content from the spine (main heading) to limbs (subheadings) to fingers and toes (lower subheadings).

Heading tags respect the chain of command

Typically, the hierarchy in headers is <H1>, <H2>, <H3> with instances of <H4> to <H6>, though those are rarely used in blogging (more commonly found in web page design to create “sections”).
From 1 to 6, the heading tags wouldn’t dream of pretending to be what they are not.

Heading and subheadings are not designed to just format the text. In fact, they are not format elements per se. The font size, color and style are merely set to make them stand out and highlight their respective role. As a good practice, no tagging should be inserted in the body itself.

heading tags

“Tag, you’re it”: how heading tags impact SEO: <H1> – The main topic. What we will talk about, hence its prominence (that’s a boss).
Heading is code name for structure: <H2>

Subheading that announces we enter into the topic more specifically and develop the characteristics of H1 honcho (Heading Tags) to H2 (structure).

How heading tags impact SEO

The notation <H> title/subtitle </H> acts like an ID tag for search engines when algorithms parse content and eventually decide how to rank the web page. Not that this aspect only decides whether your landing page will do well or not, but the correlation between heading tags and content is unmistakable.

Headers are unlikely to secure you the top position just because you use them. What they say (or don’t say) and how they are used throughout a site has its importance.
The consensus is there should be only one <H1> per page, and that it should mention your focus keyword. In the case of articles, SEO professionals recommend to place that same keyword in at least one <H2> (and of course, it will be dispersed in the text so a “match” will naturally happen between titles and content).

What they don’t recommend, however, is to replicate heading tags in a page or through the site. They should be unique. Nor should you hammer your keywords in the hope you’ll win the race (the opposite is likely to happen). Lastly, unless ranking is not your concern, keep the subject line short (heading tags should never become entire paragraphs), to the point and relevant.

In many instances, site owners have no idea of the importance of heading tags, but chances are their web developer knew a thing or two about it. For others, tools in web creation and blogging allow to select a line and make it a header without knowledge of coding. Even if Google and Yahoo and Bing allege they don’t require heading tags to be able to find your site and display it in results, the digital marketers think and know otherwise. And all SEO concerns aside, we have to admit that structured content looks good and reads better.

Best Keyword Research Tools for PPC and SEO

Keyword research tools are to SEO professionals what a scalpel is to a surgeon. An extension of themselves, an obsession that wakes them up at night. What keyword will improve their website ranking, trigger the click on the ad attached to that word or group of words. Finding relevant keywords is crucial to online businesses, whether they need customers, subscribers or viewers. Time being, as we know, money, any tool that makes the research part easier is a must have.

The award for best of keyword research tools goes to SemRush

SemRush is an easy to use online resource for keyword research and analysis that provides  comprehensive features. In fact, this solution lets you do, know and see everything imaginable pertaining to keyword performance and relevancy.

The search tool on specific keywords produces a quick overview of volume of queries, result pages, CPC and competition. That only is very valuable to measure the pertinence of your keywords for SEO purposes and what to expect if you launch PPC campaigns.

Research ToolsYour content is only as good as how well it matches users queries. SemRush goes on to list search phrases associated to keywords. From an SEO point of view, the number of matches, the keyword difficulty (how hard it would be to rank well on that particular keyword) and how tough the competition is are essential information.
The feature Ads history is a powerful keyword search tool functionality.. You can see what your competition is doing on a given query from estimated amount spent to date specific data. Should you see a slot that seems crowded, you can refine or adjust your keyword strategy and optimize budget distribution.

But SemRush is not great just to stay ahead of your competition. In one place, you can manage all your domains and track the performance of your SEO and PPC strategy. It is the swiss army knife of keyword research tools.

First runner up: Moz

Research Tools
Moz is well know in the digital marketing world and with good reasons. They are all about the metrics. Their solution is fairly exhaustive in what SEO and PPC gurus need, especially when it comes to keyword research tool.

In a matter of seconds, Moz delivers insights on keyword rankings for you and your competitors with filtering options so you get only the info that matters to you: time frame, search engine, type, label and even how it performs on mobile.
The Analyze Keyword feature provides details on keyword difficulty and performance, again comparing you and your competition. Eventually, Moz keyword research tool presents an SERP basic report, suggesting what sites may be easier to compete with. And because productivity depends on staying organized, it offers the possibility to keep track of your keywords. With one click, you can access metrics about your list.
The Moz keyword research tool is user friendly and comprehensively covers what you need to know before you make a decision. Especially when you examine the data provided by the landing pages report. This feature is calculating an estimated volume of organic traffic for a keyword. A very handy trick to circumvent the “not provided” results from Google analytics.

Second runner up: Keyword Tool

As runner ups go, this keyword research tool does not wear a tiara but is sufficient if you don’t need to manage multiple sites. The concept is to provide long tail keywords based on actual user queries. Using the Google suggested autocomplete search frame, you can get a list of what users really key in.

Research Tools

The Pro Plus version ($88/month) gives you access to the basic and relevant information you need, such as search volume, CPC on Adwords, competition along with twice as many results.

While it doesn’t let you execute and manage SEO and PPC campaigns all in one place, Keyword Tool is interesting because it’s fast, it puts focus on long tail keywords (that are often difficult to use but efficient) and it is accurate.

Rumor has it that Google Keyword Planner hides keywords to favor advertisers, this keyword research tool solves the problem and saves you a lot of time.
Keyword research tools that are effective for SEO and PPC professional marketers, or for online business owners are dime a dozen. Not all are created equal, not all provide useful information (though most do) but the 3 presented here cover your tracks. Finding the best keyword research tool is only possible by testing several and pick the one(s) that best fit your objectives and needs.

How to boost SEO with Google Adwords?

The question whether one can boost SEO with Google Adwords has been asked many times and is much debated. Most digital marketers tend to keep them separate in the campaign strategies, yet the goals are the same: traffic and conversion.

The main objective of SEO is to increase an online business’ visibility and place well on the search results (ideally, on the first page). A lot of SEO professionals point out that Google Adwords performance doesn’t matter in ranking. While that may be true, the data provided by analyzing paid campaigns offer valuable insights on what and what doesn’t work (keywords, copy and visuals, segments, impressions,…). Drawing conclusions from those reports can greatly help refine (or redefine) the SEO tactics.

While paying puts a site on top of a search page, SEO aims at putting it in the #1 position organically. Ultimately, what incites visitors to click the ad (and down the road, convert) is a clue SEO pros can pick up and use to benefit natural ranking.

Use keyword Data to boost SEO with Google Adwords

Keywords search volume1

Google Adwords has a lot to say about keywords. As it happens, keywords are the focal point of the SEO world.
Even before you have to spend budget on a campaign, Google Adwords gives you the opportunity to refine your target and improve your results with the keyword planner. That’s close enough to SEO principles. It can even be used to complement the use of other keyword tools you may use.
Keywords and groups of keywords also tell you how to target an audience more precisely. “SEO” for example, is popular but so broad it doesn’t tell you what the user was searching (or hoping to find). “SEO Tips”, on the other hand, puts you on the map with an answer to a specific query, if SEO tips are what you provide.
The number of impressions (how often your ad is shown) is another goldmine of information that can boost your SEO. Any ad that generated a high number of displays can potentially tell you what specific query term is responsible and how to transform it into a keyword in your content, especially if the Google Adwords display generated a lot of clicks (and conversions). In case the conversions were low compared to the number of impressions, you learned that something is not working. The search did not result in an action because your content did not provide a solution. You can then get your SEO toolbox out and fix it.

Measure your Adwords campaigns performances

It is never said enough, analytics are the most powerful tools to continually improve. As an online business, chances are you work on SEO but also run Adwords campaigns, at least until the efforts you put into Search Engine Optimization pay off.

If you spend some time studying the connection between click-through-rates and keywords (in fact, search term that can become your weapon keyword), examine the conversion values and understand what terms landed a visitor on a page, you will discover how you can boost SEO with Google Adwords.
For any campaign that performs well, don’t neglect to observe the connection between visual and content. Headlines, copy and layout may be indicators of what makes a browser click. Those deductions can easily be implemented in your SEO.

Boost SEO by running a Google Adwords campaign

Your everyday concern in SEO is to choose the right keywords (among many other aspects), those that not only get traffic to your website, but also convert. You cannot rely on what you think they may be. Naturally, you have SEO tools to help measure the strength of a keyword or a group.

But getting the validation from the audience itself is not only saving you time, it is ultimately saving you money.

Rather than spend months testing content and decoding response (or lack thereof), constantly checking if you moved up a rank and adjusting if you didn’t, set aside an SEO Adwords budget. It sounds counterintuitive, but it makes perfect sense, especially if you feel that certain themes may work for you, but aren’t quite perfect yet.

For a short period of time, you can run Google Adwords with your actual keywords (not search terms over which you have no control) and analyze the results. Within a few days, you are able to determine if it’s worth keeping with an SEO course of action or not. If, for example, you are in the business of selling red cashmere sweaters, “cashmere sweaters” in all your content takes you nowhere. “Red sweaters”, or “red cashmere sweaters”, however, will definitely target an audience searching for that product. You can try different combinations for weeks, or effortlessly run an ad that will validate your focus, and provide customers specifics at the same time.
There is a myriad ways you can boost SEO with Google Adwords, contrary to popular belief. While this is not the best (and not always the most cost effective) way to approach organic SEO, leveraging the data and metrics provided by ads is a tool worth adding to your SEO belt.

Causes and fixes for 406 Error – Not acceptable

The response “ 406 Error –  Not acceptable ” is not as common as a “404-Page not found” but does happen occasionally and should be fixed.

solve 406 Error

What causes a 406 Error

When you click a page link or access a website, your browser sends a request to the host server. In other words Chrome (for example) requests information (access) from example.com. When sending this request, the browser also informs the server what formats it accepts in return by including an “Accept Header”.

If we were writing in plain language, it would be something like: “Hello, my name is browser. I would like to know more about your page. Please send info in return. I accept such and such formats”.
If the returned response is “406 Error– Not acceptable”, it means the browser does not support a format sent by the server or the request is in violation of some settings.

Accept Headers commonly behind 406 Error

Accept-Charset and Accept-Language

Character set is the method by which tables convert code into readable characters. It mainly covers languages and symbols.

At the beginnings of time, the commonly used table was ASCII. However, ASCII doesn’t include characters used in many countries. The need to decode such characters required the switch to a broader table. Standard is now ISO-8859 to support international symbols and alphabets, though the list includes many more.

406 Error

Accept-Encoding

The Accept-Encoding header lists the HTTP compression methods the user agent accepts. A 406 Error – Not Acceptable will return if the file format is not supported by the server. Accept encoding headers commonly used include gzip, deflate, compress..

HTTP compression is necessary to compact files so they travel between server and browser without drastic loss of speed.

Accept-Ranges

A request can specify that only data within a certain range of bytes be included in the response. In that case only a portion of what is available will be delivered back.
It can also happen that a server has set security parameters that a request violates, Mod_security, a firewall program running on Apache server.

Fixing 406 Error – Not Acceptable

When a 406 Error occurs, the first sources to investigate are the Accept-Headers by either accessing the source code or requesting the developer to check them.

With the web being truly worldwide and giving access to the most obscure information (while still interesting and needed by the searcher), you need to make sure you are set to be visible. If you think the headers are responsible for such error, scan your coding and make sure you are set for acceptable mimes.
In case the response violates security settings, they can be disabled (though they may have been implemented for a reason). It is recommended to check with the provider to avoid conflicts.

If the response 406 Error- Not Acceptable occurred while working on WordPress, you can get information on fixes through this support forum.

406 Error – Not Acceptable doesn’t happen often, mostly because any type of character or data is accepted by browsers nowadays. However, it can pop up, in which case the query is left unsatisfied and you count one less visitor that day.

How to Identify ‘Not Provided’ Keywords in Google Analytics

In the SEO world where keywords play an important role, not being able to identify ‘not provided’ keywords in Google Analytics (the search terms that brought visitors to a site) is comparable to sailing through heavy fog. The imposed blindness weakens our performance and productivity. In the absence of actionable data, what can we do to gain some insight on what works? There are a handful of methods that help us get the information we need.

What are ‘Not Set’ Keywords in Google Analytics

not provided Google Analytics

Back in 2011, Google implemented a way to hide search terms issued from a secure connection linked to a Google account (Gmail, YouTube, Analytics, and a few more) in its Analytics reports. The move was officially motivated by privacy concerns: any query keyed in using the secure protocol “https://” would not reveal the keywords in Google Analytics Reports. In other words, it became impossible to identify true organic traffic to a website. (Since then, some browsers have defaulted to this standard).

keywords Google Analytics

The exception to the rule is that keywords associated with paid Google ads are exempt from the lockdown.

Between a secure search connection and a website Google filters the search terms: PPC associated keywords pass through and show up in your data; independent search terms do not.

As a result, you are getting traffic on your pages (and possibly conversions and sales), but you don’t know what visitors searched for to land there, making it difficult to know your audience and implement action plans and targeting campaigns or improve your SEO.

Methods to Identify ‘Not Provided’ Keywords in Google Analytics

Create a Custom Report for Landing Pages
Creating a report that filters ‘not provided’ keywords per URL can help weed through the unknown, at least for new visits.

• From a profile in Google Analytics account, select Filters
• Select ‘+ New Filter’
• Add (advanced) Filter to Profile

Google Analytics optimization

The output will list all pages that were visited while the search terms are unavailable.

If you are confident the pages carry relevant keywords, you will have a better idea of their performance based on number of visits.

If you are running PPC campaign, you can correlate the ranking with ‘not provided’ keyword analyze the trends.

Use Google Webmaster Tools Reports

Another way to identify ‘not provided’ keywords is to use the queries report from Webmaster Tools. It displays the Google search queries that generated the most impressions for your URLs. All you need is to set up Webmaster Tools data sharing.
Analyze the traffic sources to understand where the searches are coming from. The queries report allows you to identify the most popular keywords and provide new keywords to consider. With this data, you can isolate the pages that have a good position but low click-through, and focus on improving content.
The inconvenient of this method is it works for one website at a time. If you manage several sites, you have to manually change the association between Webmaster and Google Analytics each time.

Google Analytics keyword analyze

Use Adwords reports to identify ‘not provided’ keywords

Paid search is not subject to the privacy filter, so this is a good place to go fish.

The Adwords keyword report gives the whole data of traffic sources  in “Matched Search Queries”.

If Adwords is part of your campaigns, comparing page data between paid and organic searches is useful.
Where it gets interesting is to analyze your competitors’ performance in the Google Adwords Auction Insights Report.

This reveals great information on keywords that hit, along with a glimpse of your competition’s strategies: if a keyword consistently makes it to the top, it could mean they are focusing on it…for a (good) reason.

When Google pulled the plug and created the ‘not provided’ keywords creature, they sparked a fierce controversy. Solutions to identify organic search or circumvent the absence of data exist but are far from providing satisfactory results (not to mention the amount of work it represents to get information that was available before). Third party developers are working around the clock to bring back sanity to the SEO world.