When it comes to the performance of your website, page speed is vital.
Your web pages must load quickly and seamlessly in order to lower your bounce rate and boost visitor engagement.
In this article, we'll explain why it's important, and show you how to measure it.
According to Google research, every second counts when it comes to page loading speed. Increasing loading times from one to three seconds increases the likelihood of a bounce (the visitor leaving immediately) by 32%.
A shocking 90% of visitors will leave a site if it takes longer than five seconds to load.
The speed of a website has a significant impact on user experience, SEO, and conversion rates. Improving website performance is critical for attracting visitors and keeping them engaged. Here are some steps that you can take with your developer to make your website load faster:
Run a Website Performance Test
Website speed tests determine how well a website performs. Testing a website can help developers identify some or all of the areas that are slowing down website performance. And, identify areas for improvement.
There are numerous high-quality site speed tests for measuring performance, many of which are free, such as Pingdom.com.
Google also provides “PageSpeed" Insights for more in-depth performance testing. Google Chrome "DevTools" can also assist developers in evaluating the performance of their website.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
CDNs increase website speed by caching content in multiple locations around the world. CDN caching servers are usually closer to end users than the host, or origin server. Content requests are routed to a CDN server rather than the hosting server. This may be thousands of miles away and spread across multiple networks from the user. Using a CDN can significantly reduce page load times.
Website Image Optimization
Images account for a large portion of Internet traffic, and they frequently take the longest to load on a website. This is because mage files are larger in size than HTML and CSS files. Image optimization and can reduce image load time. Image optimization typically entails lowering the resolution, compressing the files, and shrinking their dimensions. Many image optimizers and image compressors are freely available online.
Lower the number of HTTP requests
Most webpages will need multiple HTTP requests from browsers for various assets on the page. These include things such as images, scripts, and CSS files. Indeed, many webpages will necessitate dozens of these requests. Each request necessitates a round trip to and from the server hosting the resource, which can increase the overall load time of a webpage. Furthermore, because the resources are loaded from multiple providers, a problem with one of the hosts may impact the webpage's ability to load quickly, or at all.
Because of these potential issues, the total number of assets that must be loaded by each page should be kept to a minimum. A speed test should also help identify which HTTP requests are taking the longest. For example, if images are slowing down a page's load time, developers can look for a faster image hosting solution (such as a CDN).
Cache Your Website Pages
Caching is one of the most effective methods for speeding up your website. Caching saves copies of your website's files, reducing the amount of work required by the server to generate and serve a web page to a visitor's browser.
By requiring the server to use fewer resources to load a page, caching your web pages can help reduce Time to First Byte (TTFB).
There are several methods for caching your web pages. This can be done at the server level, which means your host will handle it for you.
Another option is to use a caching plugin, such as W3 Total Cache, a free WordPress plugin that makes caching web pages simple. After you've installed and activated it, go to General Settings > Page Cache and check the Enable box.
Reduce The Use Of External Scripts
Any scripted webpage elements loaded from elsewhere, such as external commenting systems, CTA buttons, or lead-generation popups, must be loaded each time a page is loaded. Depending on the size of the script, this can cause a webpage to slow down or not load all at once (this is known as 'content jumping' or 'layout shifting,' and it can be especially aggravating for mobile users).
Avoid Using Redirects When Possible
A redirect occurs when visitors to one website are forwarded to another. Redirects increase page load time by a few fractions of a second, or even whole seconds in some cases. Every second counts when developing a website that is optimized for performance. Redirects are sometimes unavoidable, but they should be avoided if possible.
Remember that every second your website takes to load increases the likelihood that your visitors will leave. If your website is running slow, how long can you keep running your business while losing leads? Is it time to speed things up?
When it comes to running a business in your local area, search engine optimization (SEO) is essential. If you aren’t sitting pretty in the top rankings on page one, it makes potential customers wonder one thing – how good are you REALLY?
With that in mind, if your business doesn’t have the search engine rankings you need, you might want to consider using some of these local SEO tweaks to give your rankings a boost.
Create more internal website links to boost local SEO
The first place we recommend you start for improved local SEO is more internal links. Internal links are links that take the user from one page of your website to the next. So, if you own a website where you provide various handyman services, such as drywall installation, tile laying plastering and painting, or you would find ways to link to each of your services across various pages.
Example: Applying plaster takes patience and experience. If you rush the process, you will likely end up with sub-par results. So if you don’t have the extra time needed then Painting the area will be your best option.
Internal links should be built around relevant keywords used across your website. It is a great way to ensure traffic is more evenly distributed across each page, improving your overall traffic level.
Local SEO is linked to local questions found on Google
Another key to local SEO is to make sure you have the answers to the common questions locals have. If you do a search for the product/service(s) your business offers, you will most likely find a list of commonly asked questions on Google. These questions are a great place to start to ensure you have answers to these common questions on your website. There’s 2 ways you can accomplish this.
Create an FAQ page that lists all these commonly asked questions in one place, with your answers to each question below but the best way to handle this is to…
Create a blog around these questions. For example, if you run a car detailing service, and one of your most frequently asked might be…. “Is it better to clean with steam or soap & water?” So now you have an opportunity to go into more detail about why it’s better to clean with steam VS soap and water and all the benefits your car will receive because of it.
Boost your local SEO with local directory listings
From Google My Business to business directories in your local region, you should be creating as many of these little profiles as you can. Also referred to as citations. Yelp.com, YellowPages.com, BBB.org, Manta.com, Angi.com, are all examples of business directories also called citations. Each one creates another link back to your website. Which is exactly what you want – Useful external links coming from relevant sources.
At the same time, though, these websites provide you a directory listing that helps people to find your business. So not only can you get a local SEO benefit, you will also get traffic coming directly from these sites.
Local directories are useful, but make sure you’ve got a Google My Business page. It’s the “Grand Pumba” of all citations. Technically it’s now referred to as your Google Business Profile, but it is the same thing – and it is free to create, so why not benefit from the potential it provides?
Turn your current content into new opportunities
If one of your main problems is coming up with new content and ideas all the time, that’s totally relatable. One great way to get the most out of your content is to repurpose what you already have. By taking a blog post and turning it into social media snippets, or an explainer video, you can stretch the content you already have and maximize its impact.
Do not ignore your user experience (UX) rating
In 2021, Google released a new search engine update that focuses on the quality of the user experience. Specifically, how fast is your website loading? How stable is your website – does it crash often? And how responsive is your website? Does it work well on all devices and browsers?
Working with your web developer to improve these elements of your layout, design, and back-end should be a priority. Google and other search engines will value your website higher if it meets its higher UX rating. Make this a local SEO priority!
Make the most of Google Discover
One of the best local SEO tweaks we can suggest you try out would be to use Google Discover. This is an AI-managed news aggregator that is created by Google. Essentially, it looks to pair people up with content and platforms the AI feels are relevant based on their previous activities.
Getting people to like your content on social media and on your website – such as leaving comments, sharing links, etc. – can ensure you are more likely to appear in this powerful news aggregator. You’ll need to create high-quality content that encourages engagement, this is a high bar to reach for.
Take your old content and improve it
As time goes on, it is inevitable that new information is discovered and your expertise in your business niche will grow. Is it time to go back to your older content and refresh it? Are there new details you could add now that were not available back when you first wrote that content?
Going back and updating old content is a great way to refresh the traffic volume and squeeze more juice out of what you have already done.
Okay listen, it’s a busy world. If you don't have time to implement all of the SEO tips listed above, that's fine. Start with one or two that seem to be the easiest and begin there. Businesses who succeed at SEO are the ones who take action, so anything is better than nothing. Once you see your rankings increase you’ll know it’s worth the effort!
Can Reviews Affect Your SEO Rankings? You already know that local SEO is the name of the game. It’s essential to send Google signals – through keyword use and other SEO techniques – that your business is local. You also want them to know who it serves and where it is.
What you might not know is this:
Your online reviews play a direct role in your business making the cut to appear in the Google local three-pack.
In case you don’t know, that’s the collection of businesses that appear at the top of Google’s SERP when someone searches a keyword. It turns out that one of the keys to landing a coveted spot in the three-pack is getting good reviews. Here’s what you need to know.
The Proof That Reviews Matter
How can we tell that reviews make a difference in SEO rankings? Google’s algorithm is proprietary and the known ranking factors (keywords, links, and Google Rankbrain, to name a few) don’t include reviews.
Local SEO experts have been saying this for a years, but it’s actually fairly easy to see that reviews are important. Google any local business category and you will get a list of results with a three-pack at the top. When you look at the businesses that made it into the three-pack, you’ll most likely see the following:
Star ratings pulled directly from online reviews of the business
Keywords in those reviews
For example, if you searched for the keyword “Spokane hair salon,” you would see reviews that related to that keyword. That’s all the proof we need to know that reviews make a difference in determining which businesses appear at the top of the SERP.
It’s also worth noting that the Local SEO Guide found that local reviews were the second most influential factor in determining search rank in their 2017 Local SEO Ranking Factors study. The influence in this study appeared to be limited to reviews that specifically included the keyword searched. Customers, however, are likely to use the most commonly searched terms naturally.
In addition, LSI keywords that are related to the search term may also play a role. Try Googling your top keyword and looking at what’s highlighted in the reviews in the three-pack. You may notice that reviews that use semantically-related words show up even if they don’t use the precise term you searched.
The Reasons Google Likes Reviews for SEO Rankings
There are some concrete reasons that Google thinks reviews matter. They’re directly related to the ways that Google’s algorithm has evolved. In the early days of the internet, it was possible to get a page to rank highly on any search engine by stuffing it with keywords.
That changed because it omitted any concern for the experience of a user who clicked through to a site. After all, if you could click on a site because it ranked for a keyword only to find that it was useless to your needs, you wouldn’t revisit it. You might even resent the search engine that directed you to it in the first place.
With that in mind, here are:
The Top Three Reasons Google Likes Reviews for SEO Rankings
It trusts outside sources more than it trusts you (at least when it comes to the relevance of your site.) This first reason is related to the ongoing importance that Google places on authority backlinks. It stands to reason that it would accept mentions and references from other sources as proof that your site is relevant to certain keywords and topics.
Google uses written content as a way of determining authenticity. When customers write reviews, they describe your business. They may even include information that’s not on your website. Even if you don’t list reviews on your site, these things can help flesh out the information on your site and give Google more context for its interpretation of your site.
Click-through rates also influence Google’s ranking algorithm. That might seem obvious, but what you need to know is that a business with lots of good reviews is, inevitably, going to get more clicks and traffic than a business with a few mediocre reviews. It’s in your best interest to encourage reviews if you want to boost your Google rank.
These three things explain why reviews matter to Google. The key takeaways here is that Google takes outside resources into account to help it determine the authenticity and usefulness of your website. Users “vote” for your site by writing reviews and describing your site. Just as web users trust peer reviews to help them make buying decisions, Google trusts them to help it make recommendations of which sites are most likely to be useful for the keyword searched.
How to Make the Most of Your Reviews
Here are some quick tips to help you make the most of your reviews:
Claim your listings on all relevant review sites. This includes Yelp and Google My Business, as well as local review sites. You want to make sure that you use keywords in your listing, link to your site, and include relevant information that will help people find you.
Link to your review pages directly from your website so customers can leave reviews if they want to.
Put a reminder about reviews on your receipts or comment cards. Remember that dissatisfied customers are often motivated to leave reviews, but happy customers will do so if you make it easy for them.
Send a note to your email list with a link to your review sites and ask them to leave a review.
Reply promptly to negative reviews to try to resolve them and get the reviewer to update their review.
These things will help you dial up the impact of your reviews and help you get into the coveted local three-pack for your most important keywords.
You know that, and now you can do something about it. Organic traffic is increasingly difficult to come by but encouraging and highlighting your reviews can help you get the biggest possible bang for your marketing bucks.
To learn more about how we can help generate more reviews that will positively impact your SEO rankings, fill out the form below and we will reach back out to you.
As a small business owner, you know that effective online marketing plays a significant role in the success of your company. The competition for internet users’ attention is fierce, and if you want to make your company stand out from the competition, you have to stretch your marketing budget as far as you can. You might not have the money to take out Google ads or even to pay for Facebook advertising, but that doesn’t mean that you have to accept lackluster marketing results. Content marketing is a major piece of any online marketing strategy.
“Content isn’t just words on a page, it’s everything you put out there on the web to engage your audience.”
Content marketing is the key to help your company succeed. When you make the effort to create unique and valuable content to share online, you can let what you create speak for you without having to spend a lot of money. The kind of content you create, as well as how and when you share it, are both important when it comes to spreading the word about your company. With that in mind, let’s look at 6 content marketing strategies that you can use to help increase traffic to your website and grow your business.
1. Concentrate your content creation efforts on evergreen content. Evergreen content is content that isn’t likely to feel dated anytime soon. For example, a blog post about a current event would not be considered evergreen; a post that defined some industry terms and jargon would be considered evergreen.
The key is to find topics that will interest your current and future customers for some time to come. Some examples might include how-to guides, tutorials, frequently asked questions, and posts addressing problems that are common to your customers. For example, if you own an apparel store, a post about dressing different body types could have a long life online because it will always be of concern to the people who shop at your store. You can and should re-post evergreen content periodically, and make updates as needed.
2. Concentrate your SEO efforts on getting high-quality backlinks and using local keywords. If you know anything at all about search engine optimization (SEO), you know that it’s a broad topic and one that is constantly changing. In the early days of the internet, all a webmaster had to do was stuff websites with keywords to get a high rank on Google. Today, search algorithms are very sophisticated. Keyword density is only one small piece of the puzzle.
Ranking for top keywords will be difficult, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think about keywords. For local companies, the best option is to focus on long-tail keywords with a geographical component. Instead of aiming at a keyword like “video games,” you might decide to try to rank for “buy video games in Forest Grove.” It’s a longer keyword, but one that local customers are likely to use when looking for a local retailer. The same is true of backlinks. The number of backlinks you get is less important than the quality of your backlinks.
There are certainly sources where you can buy back links, but that’s considered a “black hat” SEO practice and is just as likely to earn you a penalty from Google as it is to bring traffic to your website. Instead, look for guest blogging opportunities on websites that are relevant to your business. Also try to get your site listed in industry directories.
3. Use social media wisely. A lot of small companies make the mistake of looking at Facebook (or Twitter or Instagram) as a way to advertise themselves. The problem with that it is that it completely leaves out the social aspects of social media. The people who follow you on social media are not doing so because they want to be at the receiving end of an endless stream of promotional messages. They do it because they want to be entertained, engaged, and informed. This is one of the most misunderstood content marketing methods.
” At least 80% of your social media content should be aimed at providing value to your followers.” That means that for every five things you post, four of them should be entertaining, relevant, and devoid of any overt sales pitches. The other one can be a direct marketing appeal, but even then, you should make sure to include something of value for your followers.
JVI Mobile uses the LENS method for social media posts. Listening (L) posts are designed to begin a conversation and create engagement (like, comment and share). Educating (E) posts are facts, trivia, do-you-know, or how-to posts designed to teach the reader. Networking (N) posts are written to share other people’s content while tagging them and building online relationships. Selling (S) posts are where you promote your products and/or services and should be used the least (20% of the time). Using the LENS method, you will develop a clear, 20/20 vision for your social media presence.
4. Encourage readers and followers to share your content. The whole point of content marketing is to bring new visitors to your website and ultimately, to your business. For that reason, it isn’t enough simply to create compelling content; you must also make that content interesting enough to share, and provide people with the means of sharing it.
To make it interesting, write a great headline – many people who write online say that they spend as much time on their headlines as they do on the rest of their content combined – that includes numbers or compelling words like tips, tricks, ways, ideas, lessons, or facts.
It’s also important to keep your headline short. No more than 65 words so that the whole title can be viewed on a list of Google search results. In terms of making it shareable, you should embed social sharing buttons on your website and blog, and actively encourage your followers to share your content. You won’t want to do it on every post, but on something that you think is especially likely to attract new customers, come right out and ask people to share what you’ve created.
5. Find ways to make your content visually compelling. The average internet user is exposed to hundreds of pieces of content per day. You can make yours stand out by adding compelling images – originals are best, since many stock photos are generic and not very exciting – infographics, or videos are even better. An infographic can be an especially good way to share a large volume of information or data. It’s easier to read and absorb than an article would be, and infographics are highly shareable, and videos are naturally more engaging for visitors than reading a lot of text.
6. Submit a Press Release. Don’t underestimate a well written PR, it’s like a news nugget that online search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing love as well as it attracts local press. It’s an easy way to boost your online visibility, and marketing your business at the same time. Once you’ve submitted your PR online – contact your local news media and ask if they would publish it too – you may be surprised!
Whether you do it yourself through directories like PR Web or PR Newswire or hire marketing agency to create and submit it on your behalf, press releases are a great content marketing strategy for any local business.
If you use these six strategies, your content will always be compelling, entertaining, and valuable to your followers. The more value you provide, the more likely it is that one-time customers will become repeat customers and that new visitors to your website will end up buying from you.
Does your business appear on Google’s first page when potential customers search for your chosen keywords? If you’re not at the top – or near the top – it can be frustrating. There is plenty of evidence to show that very few users venture beyond the first page of results when they do a Google search. In fact, they’re more likely to refine their search than to move on to the next page.
Fortunately, there are quite a few things you can do to help your website rank on the first page in 2016. Here are the top five.
#1: Google’s first page is more about authority than keywords
It’s still important to use keywords in your webcontent, but the days when high keyword density was the key to ranking on Google are long gone. In fact, your keyword placement is not nearly as important as the overall authority of your site. Google’s algorithms are very sophisticated, and they no longer rely on keywords in a title or H1 tag to determine if a page is worth visiting. Rather, they focus on contextual meaning and look for expected words to rank pages.
For example, it used to be that if you wanted to rank for a keyword such as “Best Legal Services” you’d have to use that keyword three or four times in strategic places to have a chance of ranking. Now, if you talk about competent legal representation, Google can tell that your page is relevant to the keyword even if you don’t use it more than a couple of times in your article.
#2: Pay attention to bounce rates and the time spent on your page
Another surprising SEO development for 2016 has to do with an evaluation of whether your page is providing visitors with what they need. In addition to crawling your page for keywords and context, Google also pays attention to what people do after they leave your page as a way of determining if your page is an authoritative one or a waste of time.
For example, if a visitor searches one of your keywords and clicks on your page, Google looks at how long they stay. A visit of several minutes might indicate that a user is engaged with the content on your page and has found what they want. However, if they spend several minutes on your site, return to their list of search results via the dreaded back button, and click on another site instead, it’s a good sign that your site did not offer what they needed.
If you have a high bounce rate, a good way to improve your search ranking in 2016 is to make sure that your site provides the answers to the questions implied by your chosen keywords.
#3: Optimize your website for mobile users
In 2015, mobile searches on Google outpaced computer searches – and that trend is likely to continue. Google has placed a great deal of importance on mobile search as evidenced by their Mobilegeddon mobile-friendly update in early 2015. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, now is the time to get on board.
Fortunately, most businesses can switch to mobile-friendly or (ideally) mobile-adaptive sites with little trouble. Sometimes it’s as simple as switching the template you use for your site. For example, if you have a WordPress site, they have a huge library of templates available, many of which are mobile-adaptive. You may have to do some fine-tuning of your site to make a new template work, but it’s worth the work to get it done.
The beauty of mobile-adaptive sites is that they work by configuring to the specific mobile device being used. Mobile customers tend to be an impatient bunch, and they are unlikely to wait for a slow-loading page or scroll horizontally to read your content. If you take the time to optimize your site for mobile users, it can do more than anything else to improve your search ranking in 2016.
#4: Stay away from content that’s too short
It wasn’t that long ago that blog posts of 250 to 500 words were considered the norm. Short and snappy was the rule of the day, and the assumption that people wanted short content led to a glut of short articles that were light on value and meaning.
That has all changed. Truthfully, the trend toward lengthy web content has been happening for a while, but this year it has really become the rule rather than the exception. Research shows that web users are far more likely to engage with content that’s in the 1,000-1,500 word range than with short articles. Why? Because they want valuable information, and – with rare exception – it’s hard to convey that in just a few hundred words. Of course, you can offer a top 10 list that’s only 500 words long, but you’re not going to be able to explain why items are on the list as well as you would if you wrote a longer article or blog post.
The reason that Google is placing so much emphasis on length is that they want to make sure they are sending people to pages designed for humans, not search algorithms. If you’re worried about publishing long content, remember that you can make it more readable by breaking it up with subheadings and images.
#5: Make sure the user experience is front and center
In a way, this last point is a summary of everything that has come before it. Each one of the above points come back to one thing: user experience. Old-school SEO focused on tricking Google’s algorithms – to the point where many websites were far friendlier to computers than they were to human beings. More and more, Google is concerned about ensuring that their search results are leading users to sites that answer their questions. They want users to feel good about the search experience, something that’s unlikely to happen if they end up on a site that’s not mobile-friendly, or is packed with keywords but contains no real value.
There are many things you can do to test the user experience on your site, including split-testing individual components on your page. However, the best thing you can do is to do what you can to answer key questions that are implied by your chosen keywords and make sure that your site is easily viewable by any user, on any device.
Ranking on Google’s first page is always a challenge. Regardless of your niche, you will be facing some fierce competition. It might sound odd to say this, but the best way to rank is to forget about trying to rank. Don’t worry about algorithms and SEO tricks. Instead, focus on making your site a place where potential customers can find exactly what they need. If you do that, the search rank will follow.
At JVI Mobile, we are passionate about creating and growing awesome social relationships. Tell us how we can help! We’ve got a crack team literally at your fingertips!
If you haven’t already, check out our Digital Marketing Assistant. It’s a relatively new service we are offering where you can get expert help and ready access to the JVI team will all your digital marketing concerns and questions!