website speed

Understanding and Optimising Your Website's Page Speed

Page Speed Explained

Page speed is the amount of time it takes for your website’s content to completely load. This greatly impacts your SEO. In this day and age, or the computer age, people expect instantaneous results.

Obviously, faster is better.

In fact, nearly half of web surfers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less and tend to abandon a site that hasn’t loaded within 3 seconds.

The real question is, how long do most websites take to load?

According to a study conducted by Geoff Kenyon :

  • 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?

Determine Your Website’s Page Speed

This is done in 4 quick and easy steps :

  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 optimisation 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 results 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 a full page with its full functionality running).

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

Why Page Speed Is Essential

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. A Slow Website Ruins User Experience

User experience is the number one reason you should care about your website’s speed.

Nowadays, people are impatient, always in a rush and if you haven’t managed to display your page in 3 seconds or less, they’re gone. Back in the day, just connecting to the internet required a tolerance that just doesn’t exist anymore. That bar is unfortunately only going to get higher in the future.

2. It destroys SEO

User experience is 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. Slow 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.

How to Improve Your Website’s Speed

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. The Power of Browser Caching:

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

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.


2. Optimising Images to Optimise your Website:

If images load faster, your site loads faster, it’s that simple.

According to Google, “Images often account for most of the downloaded bytes on a page. As a result, optimising 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 optimised to reduce their file size without significantly impacting their visual quality.


3. Remember to Remove All Unnecessary Characters

Minification, or eliminating all unnecessary characters that are not required for the code to execute, without changing their functionality, is a must.


4. Implement GZIP Compression:

Simply put, when a user visits your website, a call is made to your server to deliver the requested files.

The bigger these files are, the longer it's going to take for them to get to your browser.

GZIP compression drastically reduces the size of files sent from your server when someone visits your website: CSS and HTML files use a lot of repeated text and have a lot of whitespaces. GZIP compression can decrease the size of your pages by 70%.


5. Decrease your Server’s Response time:

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 optimised your pages are for speed.


6. Try to Avoid Landing Pages :

A landing page redirects the user to another website in order to make them convert. However, your website can really slow down when you have more than one redirect. This sets off a redirect loop that takes time to process.


7. Prioritise Essential Elements:

Visible content is the portion of a webpage that users see on their screen before they scroll. This means that the essential elements on your page load first. It is also referred to as "above the fold".

This is the message that you will get from Google’s Page Speed Tool.


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


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 or book a consultation now to find out how we can help your business grow!


Blogging for Fun and Profit: How to Build Your Business Blogging Skills

Your business has decided to take the leap into the social universe, the blogosphere. Blogging can and definitely will benefit your business. However, the world of blogging may still feel like uncharted waters and you must be asking yourself “What should my blog be about? How many posts should I publish, and how often? Who am I targeting? etc”.

We are here to help you in your journey to becoming a pro blogger with tips on creating timely content that meet the needs of your readers.

The basics

A good blog starts with a good plan, and that planning stage is where you first answer the most important questions, the three W’s: What you write about, Who you write for and Why you’re writing in the first place.

  • Personas: Who is going to be interested in what you have to say? How do your products or services benefit them? Targeting your content to a specific readership makes it more likely to be seen and shared.
  • Keywords relevant to your personas: What terms will they use when they’re searching for solutions? Knowing your keywords and putting them into use can optimize your blog to be found, guide your writing process and keep your copy consistent.
  • Set your dates: How often will you write? The more frequent and up-to-date your content, the more you’ll have to offer to your readers, and the more Google’s page rankings will look favourably on your website.
  • Short and long term goals: Are you looking to grow your email list and cultivate new leads, or are you focused on making your brand’s voice trusted and authoritative in your field? Whatever your goals, ensure that you have reliable metrics for measuring your progress.

Define your categories

It may be easy to simply write a product feature or fluff up a sales pitch, but it’s important to remember that the point of your articles is to provide value to your audience, not to sell to them. Take a look at your buyer personas’s needs and assemble them into categories. These categories and their corresponding personas will focus your writing and guide you.

You can now begin addressing some general topics.

Another great source of blogging inspiration is your existing customer base. Think about the type of questions from customers that you answer on a regular basis. Many of these represent common problems that can easily be turned into blog posts. For every one customer who comes in with a common question, just imagine how many there are tapping their query into Google in search of an answer!

Content over everything

What sets your blog apart from your competitors is original content. Posting regularly is one thing, but your blog will be as dry as a bone without engaging, diverse content to support that copy:

  • Statistics

Provide relevant and substantiated statistics in the form of graphs and infographics—these add credibility to your posts and can provide shock value when used properly.

The number of bloggers is increasing by the day and is expected to reach 31.7 million by 2020. So use your best writer to make sure you have a powerful, gripping, compelling and even viral blog.

  • Visual communication

Use visuals to break up the text. The text of headers and subheaders can often be incorporated into a relevant image that draws the reader’s attention and invites them to read further. It can also break up the monotony of plain text.

According to Jeff Bullas, using images in your blog posts gets them 94% more views.

This includes screenshots and photos. They are mostly used to demonstrate your solution in action. Remember that you’re here to provide value, not to sell. Getting to the end of a blog and feeling like you just read a really long ad means that you’re not going to come back for anything informative or authoritative. The more your readers can learn from your post, the more likely they are to return to your blog when they have another question that needs answering.

Tell a story

Compel your readers.

The narrative is a powerful tool and has been used in sales and marketing for a long time. Same goes for your blogs. Storytelling is a tool that will engage your audience and make them more receptive. It puts them within a familiar and memorable framework and shows how your business fits into their lives.

Start with choosing a narrative voice. Anecdotes and stories about your business can draw readers in and demonstrate your unique way of overcoming challenges in ways that others can learn from and put into practice.

A second-person voice (like the one used in this blog) allows readers to visualize themselves acting out your solutions as your offer them, while a third-person voice is suited to communicating stories about how your business has been part of another customer’s success.

Sharing is Caring

Share your new blog and your business’ social media on other marketing channels to gain readers other than Googlers and regular visitors to your site. The more readers that come to see your business as a trusted source of information, the better!

Your blogs should also link to one another. Where there’s an overlap in information or your blog posts address similar issues, have them link to each other! An engaged reader will always be ready to find out more!

Finish strong

Last but not least, bring things home with a call to action. Have you ever gotten to the end of an interesting article, how-to or blog post and been filled with the inspiration to immediately test what you’ve learned? While the point of your blog isn’t to sell, it’s important to give your readers something to engage with that allows them to take action and apply their new knowledge. Whether it’s more content, a link to a product or promotion or a contact form, your readers will have a way to act on their inspiration, and you will have a way to track engagement and turn readers into leads.

Our in house editorial experts know all about content marketing and to find out how it can help grow your business, book a consultation now.


Tips to Make Your Website Useful

Back in the day, simply seeing a business online, in any fashion, was enough. Nowadays, today’s audiences simply want to get where they are going and the expectations for a website are higher than ever.

We’re going to teach you how to meet those expectations with 3 simple tips and make sure that you are providing your customers with the information they require in the best way possible, to help you make conversions either on your site or in person.

1. Business Contact Info

This is the most important information you can have on your website, and make sure it’s accurate! Seems simple enough, yet many well-intentioned websites make this information difficult to find. Studies show that people will tend to look at the top left corner of your website first, like they’re reading a book. This is where the most important information should be, your contact info—don’t make customers scour the page looking for a way to find your business.

There is a lot of data you can include in the contact information section. The trick is finding the balance of information overload vs. unnecessary vagueness. There are three things you need to specifically include:

  • Opening and Operating Hours

People seeking this information are likely close to buying, so having your hours of operation listed accurately and in a fashion that’s easy to read is a huge priority. Here are two examples to showcase how your hours should be listed online:

Example 1:

We are open Mondays – 8:00 am-5:00 pm, Tuesdays – 8:00 am-5:00 pm, Wednesdays – 8:00 am-7:00 pm, Thursdays – 8:00 am-5:00 pm, Fridays – 8:00 am-7:00 pm, Saturdays 12:00 pm-5:00 pm and the service shop is also open until 7:00 pm.

Example 2:

Mon 8 – 5
Tues 8 – 5
Wed 8 – 7
Thurs 8 – 5
Fri 8 – 7
Sat 12 – 5
Sun Closed

Mon-Sat: 12 – 7

Which one did you find easier to read?

We know, the second one. That’s understandable. The second example is a lot easier and clearer to read and find the information you need. The first one easily tires your eyes, it just doesn’t look nice, it’s hard to look at specific days, and you don’t know if the service shop is just open on Saturdays, or if it’s always open until 7:00 pm every evening.

The most important part is to make sure the hours are accurate. Even if it takes an extra line to better explain a confusing set of hours, customers greatly appreciate knowing when they can expect your business to be open.

  • Address

Unless you’re an online retailer, your address is an essential part of your contact listing. And just like hours of operation, there are a variety of ways to share your location.

Here is how we recommend it: provide enough information so that Google maps can locate the business. For people in major cities, often times just your street address is sufficient. But if your business is a little tricky to find, consider linking to a map application, or have the map directly on the website. If you’re going that direction, make sure to use an accredited map engine like Google Maps, instead of a hand-drawn creation. People tend to be a lot more familiar with popular map formats and might get confused at the sight of your artwork.

  • Mobile and Office Number

This is the number where customers can most easily reach you. Businesses with multiple departments equipped with individual phone lines might want to stick those on a “Contact Us” page. There’s no sense in cluttering your home page with 30 different phone numbers. Businesses should have one phone number on the homepage display to be a catch-all for any inquiries. Don’t forget an area code for those out-of-town customers. Make it easy for on-the-go customers to hit a button and have their mobile device ring the business instantly.

2. The Story Behind Your Business

You likely have a lot to say about your business so the real challenge here is a distillation of your story. Think of the company from the customer’s perspective, ask yourself “What makes you unique? Why are you better than their competitors? What do you do for customers?”. These questions will likely shed light on the most important information to share, at least at the top of the page.

Once you’ve got your most important information cased, consider designing a way for interested customers to learn even more about the business. There you can dive deeper into your history, philosophy, and share any achievements or media coverage your business has had in its past.

3. Business Description

This is where functionality needs to be the highest priority. Customers are looking for confirmation that your business is what they are looking for at the moment they are searching. This information has to be concise, easy to find and extremely helpful. It’s challenging to know the exact right strategy for your business but a tactic we recommend is taking a look at your closest competitors for insight.

Look at those websites and assume the perspective of their customer. If you like something about the way their website works, make a note. If you find something super inconvenient or confusing, again, make a note. Have these notes inform your approach.

And last but not least...

A lot of people think a website should be an online version of your business. In reality, this is virtually impossible. A website is more like a messenger for your business. It’s a tool for relaying information about the business to potential customers. If your messenger is long-winded, confusing and tries to use flashy bright colours to grab attention, the customer is not going to be engaged. If your messenger relays all the information in a simple, concise and memorable way, customers will be much more likely to engage. It is quite likely a website is the first impression the customer might have of your business—remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression.

A useful website is nothing without a high search ranking, here are our SEO must-dos for a higher search ranking. To find out more about SEO and how it can help grow your business, book a consultation now.

Website SEO Must-Dos for a Higher Search Ranking

If you’re looking to create the best user experience possible, search engines are the way to go. Users rely on search engines because they provide the most relevant, clear and useful information based on the user’s search terms. The users also feel in control. According to Pew Search Centre, at any given day, 56% of internet users use search engines. And 87% of them say they have successful search experiences. In fact, the better user experience you create, the better the chances that that search engine will reveal your pages and your search ranking is higher. By practicing good search engine optimisation (SEO) habits, you can gradually work to increase your Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) position.

Here are our top SEO practices to ensure SERP success.

1. Relevant Keywords or Key phrases:
Pick the most relevant words that best describe your business or services. To save time, you can use a Keyword Research Tool that can help you determine which words will help attract the most visitors based on popular search terms. These tools will give you lots of different keyword ideas you can choose from.

2. Catchy Title Tags:
Title tags are displayed on the search engine results pages. Their role is to describe what your website is all about, so they should be accurate and concise. If you want to be displayed well on the search engine results pages (SERPs), you should limit the title tag description to 55 characters. Keep title tags descriptive yet short to help crawlers and users determine the relevancy of your page. They are what the user first sees and what attracts their attention, pushing them to click, or not, through to your pages.

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

4. A Killer Meta Description:
The meta description appears under the title tag on SERPs and gives users a chance to briefly learn about your company before clicking into your site. It is the search snippet that convinces users to click. Your meta description should be descriptive and appealing but not too long, aim for a meta-description length of 150-160 characters.

5. Good Quality Sitemap:
In short, sitemaps are used to simplify the navigation of a website. They are composed of the website’s structure, with the links to all the important sections and subsections. 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. As always, in this digital age, you can use a sitemap creator to generate a map in a few minutes.

6. SEO-friendly URL Structure:
URLs, or web addresses, are one of the most basic but important elements of both SEO and User Experience. They help search engine bots but also human users figure out page topic and relevancy.

These are the main rules to creating the best URLs for maximum SEO :

  • Top Level Domain : using “.com” instead of “.biz” or “.pro”
  • Keep your URLs short (3 to 5 words) and include your keyword in it
  • Seperate the words in your URL using “-” instead of “_”
  • Use static (lowercase letter) words rather than numbers
  • HTTPS! Online security is a big deal nowadays

7. Outbound Links Improve Your Blog’s Ranking :
Outbound links are links on your site that redirect you onto another website. Most, if not all, websites have outbound links. In SEO, understanding and using outbound links is one step forward for your on-site optimisation. Regularly referencing and linking reputable and reliable sources shows that you’re a helpful internet information steward who is willing to share pagerank. On the internet, helpful sharing is caring.

8. Speed Up Your Website:
Search engines do not like slow pages as they know that users will not wait long for a website to load. 47% of visitors expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% of visitors will leave your website if the loading process takes more than 3 seconds. To help you analyse your website's load speed, you can conduct a free website loading test. This test can help you make your site faster by identifying what about your webpage is fast, slow or too big.

9. Social Media:
Try to be as active as possible on all relevant social media platforms. Social media marketing plays a big role when trying to manage your online reputation. Strive to get the most likes, shares and links.

10. Video:
Users can find your business more easily if you share relevant and helpful videos on sites such as Youtube, Vimeo, DailyMotion etc.

11. Link Outreach and Get Backlinks:
Earn backlinks (incoming links to your webpage) by conducting PR content to get others to read your pages and 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.

12. Forums and FAQs:
Answering questions in forums, communities and FAQs, if done properly, can help to build your reputation as an industry expert. It relieves some of the burden on customer service, improves SEO and site navigation. It can also a possible opportunity to include your website or blog link if it is relevant to the answer.

Afterwards, it is crucial to perform a local SEO audit for your business. Find out more about Local SEO and how it can help grow your business, book a consultation now.


Common Local SEO Mistakes That Are Negatively Affecting Your Business

SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, improves your website’s ranking and by doing so can increase traffic to your site. Optimising your SEO strategy is an extremely important part of your web content and any business or digital marketer needs to know the common mistakes and tactics to go around them.

If you want your business to have a good online reputation and your website to create a lot of new leads, attention needs to be given to SEO. And it is especially important for small local businesses to optimise for SEO! Unfortunately, a local SEO strategy isn’t simply creating a website and hoping clients can find it. It isn’t that complicated, but it is quite a time commitment, and you need to know what you’re doing.

Certainly, it is important to know the ways to enhance your SEO but it is just as important to be aware of all the most common mistakes that are made in order to avoid them. A bad SEO strategy could strongly damage your ranking and your business’s presence in search engines.

Here are a few common mistakes:

1. Forgetting your Google My Business Profile

Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps and your business absolutely requires it. When people Google generic businesses like ‘clothing store’ or ‘bakery’ near them, the results that appear at the top of the page in list and map format come from Google My Business. If you want yours to be on the list, you need to set up this profile.

This strategy is a quick and easy win that you can do today. When you set up your Google My Business page, it’s important to fill it out with as much information as possible, and don’t forget to verify your listing; having a great GMB listing represents a significant opportunity for local businesses.

2. Inaccurate Or Missing Listings

NAP, which means Name, Address, and Phone number, is crucial to get right online.

On every source that your business is listed on, the NAP information needs to be the exact same everywhere. Consistency is key. If it’s not listed, you should consider adding it as soon as possible, and if it’s incorrect or outdated, it should be updated right away because potential customers may attempt to reach out to your business, and if they can’t reach you due to wrong information listed, you’ve lost a client.

3. Low Quality Content

If you want to have a good SEO strategy, it’s essential to have original, high-quality content that is consistently reviewed and updated. A weak, repetitive or out-of-date content will have a negative impact on your SEO.

Here is a list of tools to help you better your content:

  • Study demic - Make sure to get copywriting guides so you can improve your writing
  • Academised – Use online editing tool that will improve the quality of your content and allow you to post more regularly.
  • Grammarly – Check your grammar and make sure no mistakes or typos are sneaking in there.
  • Paper Fellows – Use online proofreading tools, to help you create and edit documents.
  • Via writing – Get help coming up with original content ideas, generating keywords, SEO-friendly titles, descriptions and more.
  • Big Assignments – Use formatting tools.

The first thing your potential customer will see on your website is your landing page. If it’s out of date, full of mistakes or irrelevant information, then you’ll not only lose a customer but the quick bounce will negatively affect your rating.

Little tip: Using videos on landing pages can increase conversions by 86%!

4. Irrelevant or Missing Backlinks

A very common mistake is forgetting or disregarding backlinks. This can negatively affect your site and business.

Backlinks are links on another website that direct back to your site and having real and secure backlinks is an important step for SEO because a lot of search engines will give more credit to websites that have a good number of quality backlinks. These backlinks can be quite hard to line up for some businesses.

To make it easier, it is worth investing the time and making connections with other businesses that can help. Don’t forget to look for local business listings that work with your area of expertise, or local sites in your region that would accept a guest posting as a trade for a backlink. You can also speak to your suppliers and distributors for a backlink on their websites, and reach out to local media to be used as a source for their stories.

5. Insufficient Local Reviews

Don’t dismiss the importance of reviews on your website. The more good quality reviews you have, the higher your site will rank on searches. Consider developing a system to make sure that you receive a constant stream of reviews that you can publish.

According to Todd Wallace, a well-known digital marketer: “contact customers you’ve had in the past and clients and ask if they can leave a review, send an email to your current client base requesting the same, or post on social media asking for feedback. You should also ask customers to review your business immediately after a visit as a regular follow up.”

In fact, 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars!

6. Low-Quality Website

The quality and usefulness of your website is one of the factors that Google considers when defining high quality SEO. It’s simple, if a site is of low quality, it won’t get ranked by Google.

They have built-in indicators of poor quality sites like high bounce rates, low conversions, bad design, irrelevant landing pages. Customers who have a good experience on your site will spend longer on it and this will rank your business higher in search engines. And don’t forget mobile optimisation to ensure that visitors who access your website from their phones have an experience optimised for the device. Your focus as a business owner or manager should be growing and improving your business, and not wasting your time optimizing for SEO! With the assistance of SEO experts, develop a good SEO strategy so you don’t need to worry about it as much and focus on what matters.

By avoiding these common mistakes you’ll be able to see your SEO strategy pay off.

Find out more about Local SEO and how it can help grow your business, book a consultation now.