Mobile Search

Improving load times for WordPress websites: Research and recommendations

Load Screen for Slow Sites Google recently announced plans to start “shaming” slow websites by labeling them as slow in their Chrome browser, using either a “badge” or a load screen that specifically warns the visitor that the site loads slowly. Even if, like me, you don’t like Chrome and don’t use it as a default browser, this is something all website owners need to be concerned about: According to W3Counter’s browser stats for July 2019, over 55% of web traffic comes from the Chrome browser. In effect, this means that it’s even more imperative for you to ensure that your website loads as quickly as possible. Seeing that loading screen, especially for mobile users, is very likely to mean they’ll click away and you have just lost a potential customer. With this in mind, I undertook my own research into the available WordPress strategies for minimizing load times. I looked primarily at options commonly highlighted by utilities like Google Page Speed Insights, WebPage Test, GTmetrix, and Pingdom: defer loading scripts that aren’t immediately needed as the page loads, minimize image sizes, and various WordPress caching plugins. As I tried the various (free) plugins available at WordPress.org, I retested each of three different sites of varying complexity, including one ecommerce site, using the speed tests listed above. Here’s what I learned which allowed me to bring these sites into the 95-100% range for Desktop and the 57-70% range for Mobile (mostly using 3G or 4G connections): Disabling unused or rarely used plugins does not help in these speed tests. The various scripts and CSS used by the plugin are still loaded by WordPress and included in the speed tests. If you don’t need it, deactivate and then uninstall the plugin completely. For general caching, what produced the best result for

Going Online to Win in Canadian Business

Businesses in Canada, especially small local businesses in Canada, cannot hope to compete today unless they have a strong online presence. Read on for advice from Google Canada. Future proofing your business: Why digital is the way to win in Canada Think With Google June 2019 By 2023, Canadian digital commerce will grow by 30%.1 That’s a $60-billion market. The opportunity is there for the taking — and there’s room for all retailers to thrive whether they’re traditional, pure play, or brand-focused. When it comes to online shopping, Canadian consumers are, in fact, already leaders in many ways. According to new research by Google and Deloitte on the eCommerce landscape, 77% of Canadians go online to discover the things they want to buy, compared to 72% of Americans.2 And 82% of Canadians research and purchase online, which is on par with the U.S. at 85%.3 Plus, Canadian consumers want to buy Canadian products. Are you making it easier for them to purchase yours? There’s a great divide out there between the retailers who can quickly adapt to and thrive in this environment, and those who can’t. But the good news is, your business has more opportunity to build on than ever before. Sources: 1 eMarketer, May 2019, Retail Ecommerce Sales, Canada 2019 – 2023 2 Deloitte/Google, “”Future proofing your business: Why digital is the way to win in Canada”, Canada and USA, March 2019 – April 2019, n = 1009 Canadian Shopper 18+ and n = 1000 US Shoppers 18+ 3 Deloitte/Google, “”Future proofing your business: Why digital is the way to win in Canada”, Canada and USA, March 2019 – April 2019, n = 1009 Canadian Shopper 18+ and n = 1000 US Shoppers 18+ 4 Download Google/Deloitte Whitepaper, June 26, 2019 (PDF)   Read more…

Website Performance and Site Speed Tests Revisited

In a previous post from April 2018, Testing WordPress Performance and Site Speed, I discussed an article describing five online tools for testing the page load speeds for your website. Google PageSpeed Insights Pingdom GTmetrix WebPagetest YSlow Browser Plugin Most of these simply test a webpage from the URL submitted and report relative site speed of that page (it’s not always clear relative to what exactly – presumably all other webpages that tool has tested) and then make suggestions on how you can improve the performance of that page. Pingdom allows you to select from one of three locations to use to test your page load speed. WebPagetest expands on this by offering a choice of several locations around the world and in addition allows you to check your page speed with a choice of browsers and devices. More recently, I learned about a new online tool which is similar to those discussed above but with several significant improvements: Website Speed Test | Dotcom-Tools. Dotcom-Tools adds the following features to those offered by their competitors: Tests browser-based load time of all page elements Detects slow or missing elements Tests from your selection of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or  various mobile web browsers Provides a complete waterfall report with  charts and graphs Displays results from nearly two dozen global locations all in the same report Conducts tests from each location twice, with the second visit cached to allow you to estimate the effectiveness of the various caching systems used by your page These tests are all absolutely free with no sign-up required. Dotcom Web Site Monitoring also offers a selection of various paid plans as well. In addition to the features of the free service described above, the Pro plans offer Website Performance Monitoring starting at $7.99 USD per month for

Social Media Outperforms Google for Small Business

Google still dominates the search market but for small business social media, especially Facebook, may be the best marketing tool. How social networks usurp Google’s local search dominance by Wesley Young, Search Engine Land June 18, 2018 Google may dominate most results, but not local search: How Facebook and other social networks take a significant share of local search away from Google. Google claimed that at the end of 2013, it had 540 million monthly active Google+ users. According to SmartInights, quoting data from StaticBrain (paywall), in 2017, it was estimated that only 4-6 million were active. Compare that to almost 1.5 billion daily active Facebook users. In other words, Google’s social media presence is less than 0.4 percent of Facebook’s. Why social will win local search market share A Local Search Association study conducted by Burke in 2016 showed that word of mouth or referrals from friends and family was tied with company websites for second place among resources that consumers used to look up or learn about local products and services…. According to Nielsen’s 2015 Global Trust in Advertising study, consumers trusted recommendations from friends far more than any other source…. In the US, 82 percent of respondents trusted recommendations from people they know. For comparison, 66 percent trusted online consumer opinions (reviews), 61 percent trusted branded websites, 49 percent search ads, 47 percent video ads and 39 percent mobile ads. …. Is it more likely for Google to attract social users or for Facebook to adopt search and commerce into its platform? Based on results to date, Google hasn’t been successful in several attempts at social media. Yet Facebook has incorporated maps, reviews, recommendations and search functions into its platform. Edge: Facebook. And it seems that the changes are having their desired effect. A recent study by

Facebook Users Visit Local Business Pages Weekly

Here is another study showing the importance of both smart phones and social media in how the potential customers of local small business research and conclude the purchase of products and services. If you don’t have a responsive internet presence coupled with social media marketing, consumers won’t find you. But they will find your competitors! Nearly 2 in 3 Facebook Users Visit Local Business or Event Pages Weekly by Courtney Dobson, LSA Insider May 29, 2018 A recent Facebook study of over 6,000 local businesses and over 10,000 people around the world found that 2 in 3 people on Facebook visit the page of a local business or event at least once a week. The study defined local businesses as, “one that isn’t part of a chain, franchise or non-profit and isn’t purely online, but has fewer than five store locations in a single market.” Additionally, while ecommerce is seeing growth, in-store experiences offer a personal appeal that is unparalleled to digital experiences. In fact, 87% said trust and security was the main motivator for local-based purchases, and 40% said that the store offers a more personal customer experience. When looking further into the motivations for in-store vs. online, people prioritize things like conveniences, ease and cost savings. According to the survey, the top three reasons people shop in-store are goods being immediately available, goods that are close by and not having to pay for shipping costs. On the other hand, the top reasons for shopping online included not having to leave the house, not being limited to shopping during store hours and comparing costs easily. Mobile-first shoppers, however, pave the way for opportunity, as they seek to interact with and learn more about a business and its offerings. Eighty percent of people surveyed said they use their smartphones to

Testing WordPress Performance and Site Speed

5 Tools to Test WordPress Performance and Site Speed WPExplorer January 10, 2018 The following tools will give you a complete picture of your website’s performance. You can use a single tool, or use them all in conjunction to cross-reference website data. 1. Google PageSpeed Insights PageSpeed Insights is a brainchild of Google. This nifty web app measures your site’s performance across multiple devices, including desktop and mobile browsers. This is useful if your visitors are accessing your site from a variety of screen sizes and devices. 2. Pingdom Pingdom is a free tool that gives you full-site performance information including load time, page size, as well as a detailed analysis of each page on your website. Best of all, this app saves your performance history, so you can track if your efforts to improve loading times are working. 3. GTmetrix The report that GTmetrix generates will show you a complete history of the website’s loading speeds, as well as a detailed report that suggests ways to improve the performance of your website. Beyond the initial page analysis tools, this web tool also has a video playback feature that enables you to see where the loading speed bottlenecks occur. 4. WebPagetest WebPagetest gives you your site’s loading speed and a grade breakdown of your site’s performance. It’s unique in that it allows you to select a country to view your report from, so you can see how your site performs across the world. This is useful if you have a large overseas user base. 5. YSlow Browser Plugin YSlow is a browser plugin that lets you track the performance of any site you’re currently visiting. It doesn’t give you the actual load time, but it does break down over 20 different performance cues. This can help you compare other competitors site’s within your niche to see

Google: Getting your site ready for mobile-first indexing

Getting your site ready for mobile-first indexing Google Blog December 18, 2017 Currently our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is vastly different from the mobile version. Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for…. Sites that make use of responsive web design and correctly implement dynamic serving (that include all of the desktop content and markup) generally don’t have to do anything. Here are some extra tips that help ensure a site is ready for mobile-first indexing: Make sure the mobile version of the site also has the important, high-quality content. This includes text, images (with alt-attributes), and videos – in the usual crawlable and indexable formats. Structured data is important for indexing and search features that users love: it should be both on the mobile and desktop version of the site. Ensure URLs within the structured data are updated to the mobile version on the mobile pages. Metadata should be present on both versions of the site. It provides hints about the content on a page for indexing and serving. For example, make sure that titles and meta descriptions are equivalent across both versions of all pages on the site. No changes are necessary for interlinking with separate mobile URLs (m.-dot sites). For sites using separate mobile URLs, keep the existing link rel=canonical and link rel=alternate elements between these versions. Check hreflang links on separate mobile URLs. When using link rel=hreflang elements for internationalization, link between mobile and desktop URLs separately. Your mobile URLs’ hreflang should point to the other language/region versions on other mobile URLs, and

Local Search: Blogging will Help Your Small Business

Keep it Local: How and Why Simple Blogging will Help Your Small Business by Scott W Johnson, NoobPreneur.com October 28, 2017 Step One: The Exact Same Listing, Every Time Before you go and spend tons of money hiring people to do all sorts of search engine marketing, the very first thing you should do is to claim your operation on Google, Yelp, & Hotfrog. Don’t fret if your operation is home based, just follow their rules. Use the exact same way of writing your companies name and address for each and every internet listing moving forward. In other words, do not change up the name of your company from Johns Plumbing to John’s Plumbing; those types of slight differences can wreak havoc. Step Two: The Local Contact Page and Contact Form If you already have a company name and website established you are in lucks way. Make sure your website clearly states your contact information that exactly matches the address of the Google Local listing – on your Contact page. Preferably your website will also have a ‘contact me form’ which will easily allow potential clients to reach out to you for a request for service…. keep the contact form as simple as possible. Step Three: Blog about Business, Blog about Local The first blog post that many people write can seem extremely scary, get over it. Just write it. Your first blog piece should shoot to be over 600 words and contain information about what you do and where you do it. Depending on exactly what you do, people may or may not care about the quality of the writing. … Now you will want to repeat this exercise each and every week for about six months, changing up topics and locales, the more specific the problems of the

Get ready now for Google’s Mobile First Index

Google’s Mobile First Index is not expected to go live until some time next year (2018). But that doesn’t mean you should wait until 2018 to make sure your site conforms to the mobile search criteria. Prepare now and you’ll get the “ready now” bonus when Google starts crawling sites for inclusion in the new index. Google Will Roll Out Mobile-First Index to Individual Sites That Are Ready by Matt Southern, Search Engine Journal July 3, 2017 When Google rolls out its mobile-first index, it will begin by indexing individual sites that are ready for it. This was confirmed by John Mueller in a recent Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout. Mueller went on to say sites may or may not be informed the mobile-first switch has changed for them. This presents a challenge when it comes to tracking analytics and ranking positions. On the positive side, with Google rolling out the mobile-first index on a per-site basis, those that are prepared have a good chance of being indexed before others. Those that aren’t ready for the mobile-first switch will have to wait a bit longer to be indexed, Mueller says. This can be seen a positive thing for both searchers and site owners. Searchers will see only the most mobile-friendly sites, as intended, while site owners who have put in work preparing for the mobile-first index will be rewarded with priority indexing. Read more… Check here if to see your site is mobile-friendly.

Customers avoid businesses with poor mobile websites

  From a recent post by LSA Insider, 57% Unlikely to Buy Online from Biz with Poor Mobile Experience: Studies continue to show that poor mobile experiences result in businesses and brands being overlooked by customers. According to a new study, 57% of consumers said they were not likely to buy online from a non-mobile friendly local business site. This applies equally to national brands as well. While the finding is logical as it relates to ecommerce, it’s a stand-in for a broader proposition: not delivering good digital/online experiences will result in a loss of good will and purchases of local consumers. For small business owners, this underscores the fact that you not only need to be online to be found by potential customers or clients, but that your website needs to be responsive, i.e., fully accessible and user-friendly when viewed with a tablet or smart phone. Indeed, with the increasing emphasis on mobile-friendly websites by Google and other search engines, customers trying to find products or services may not even see your business in search listings if it’s not responsive. Contact us today for a quote on an affordable website for YOUR small business.
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