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Technical SEO (8)
Best plan is to hire me to do a Technical Audit and let me implement my recommendations. Too easy right? Okay…so then you need to establish a baseline go to gtmetrix.com and put in a targeted page you’d like to optimize.
Additionally combining files cuts down on the time required. I have 8 or so certification icons on the homepage but I merged them into 2 images instead of 8. Here is an example…
We can also improve Technical load times by getting a server that is dedicated to this site. You might try a micro server on AWS or Google Cloud Platform they cost hardly anything but the resources are available for your site when you need them. Cloudflare also offers speed advantageous through a cache and its CDN network. Theres more but these items should be enough to start you on the road to at most a 3 second load time. Thats honestly where you have to draw the line if you want to rank a keyword against competitors who are willing to do what it takes to load within 3 seconds.
All of your sites pages should load within three seconds. After five seconds the number of people still waiting for your page to load is about half of those who started. As your page takes longer to load, Google lowers your rank so it can serve visitors results that they’ll use.
A Lot of people discard this element of Technical SEO and a lot of people aren’t going to rank for the keywords they want. Optimize your page content and server hardware to ensure pages are visible with in three seconds.
Test the top results for the keyword you’re hoping to rank and I can pretty much guarantee it loaded in under 3 seconds. The top result for Barack Obama was his Wikipedia page. It loads in 2.8 seconds according to GTmetrix. The top result for Ultimate SEO is SEO Ultimate Plus and they load in 3.9 seconds. Our site loads in 3.4 seconds.
Page speed is one of 200 factors that go into Google ranking. Its one of the easiest to change though.
Let me show you how important it is….
Why is realtor.com not higher than zumper.com in the mobile search on the left? Consider these metrics
Realtor.com = Domain Score: 55 Trust Score 58 Alexa Rank 763 Registered 1996 Ads 3,900 Backlinks 57,000,000 Traffic Rank 108
Zumper.com = Domain Score: 37 Trust Score 44 Alexa Rank 17,000 Registered 2004 Ads 0 Backlinks 1,700,000 Traffic Rank 2830
In every metric realtor.com wins, so why is it below Zumper.com on the mobile search?
Site Speed Test on GTMetrix
Realtor.com Fails Speed
Zumper.com Passes Speed
So in this example we clearly see a more popular site beaten by a less established site and the single only factor the smaller site did better was speed. And we cant discount this as … well its only important in mobile. In case you missed it…
So…two cost centers here ….
The steps you take to address the tech issues…often they should pay for themselves. For example. I worked for a company that did like 20 million a year in sales, so not a mom and pap shop but a company. B2B data analytics kinda folks..so also dealing in some big deals likely.
They were using GoDaddy shared hosting …. I think I used that for a summer in my college days for hosting my personal blog about my life on campus. Thats NOT appropriate for an enterprise and it shows easily in page speed.
They paid like $5 a month. I made them a Digital Ocean 1 cpu 1gb ram virtual private server for $5 a month. Same cost …. but 12 second load times turned into 5 second. We also signed up for Cloudflare’s CDN free plan and saw another 2 second decrease.
So what was the cost?
Well me. Everything cost the same as when we started. But now they could deliver a site in 1/4 the time. Sure they paid me for my time but I’m pretty cheap. Imagine the boom that gave their conversions, site traffic, repeat visitors and ultimately sales. They probably made up for my time in one sale..
So Technical SEO should be seen as a revenue generator. And the costs associated can likely be improved for the price of a tank of gas. Use linux OS, Open Source Software, Virtual infrastructure and you’ve spent next to nothing.
Its just like investing in a coffee maker if you’re starbucks, with out it there isn’t any business.
Theres likely debate and I don’t claim to have tested everything out there but I’ve found this mix to be good for me.
WPA Auto Links – It auto adds links in your content when it recognizes a phrase you have already covered so it adds an internal link for you.
Yoast – Hands down the best most configurable SEO plugin for what you want people to see in search results. I rarely use the keyword tool where it says to add this word here or there. I also prefer xml site maps from a different plugin.
XML Site maps And Google News plugin just makes the files I want exactly the way I want.
Schema is another plugin that Yoast also does but I prefer a plugin that does it really well.
CyberSyn – For RSS feeds to posts, it gives the most features of any plugins I know of on WordPress for RSS to post.
Ultimate FAQs – I am a fan of FAQs all the time and anytime. I like that in this plugin they are all on one page together but a permalink exists to the specific FAQ on its own as well giving you the flexibility of serving it a la cart.
Smush – Image optimization is essential and without a plugin to ensure you’re not showing a 2000 x 2000 image in a 200 x 200 spot you’ll quickly lose control of your site’s load times.
Merge Minify Refresh – You’ll have 25 css and 20 js files on every page and this plugin helps tackle that with out breaking everything. I am NOT a fan of Auto-Optimize I usually find myself having to recover from backup after it auto does its thing.
404 to 301 – I like to 404 redirect to a search page that is likely to help someone find what they are after rather than just drop them on a 404 error page or the homepage.
WP-Optimize – I prefer this tool … always backup first but it does a good amount of cleaning and helps keep your database tables neat. Neat means faster page load times.
Content Delivery Networks are used to speed up sites by removing the bottleneck created by having one server provide files. These added servers are then spread out over a geographical area bringing the files closer to end users. This network could be global or regional.
Cloudflare is an example of a CDN as well as Jetpack. A popular paid CDN is AWS’s Cloudfront. These servers are called Edge servers as they are on the edge of the companies network all over.
Negative SEO is a branch of SEO that largely came into existence with Google’s Penguin Update. For the first time in SEO a search engine was prepared to lower your ranking based on what it perceived to be a site gaming the system. Not only did site’s change the way they promoted themselves but this created a very real opportunity to harm competitor’s sites.
All you have to do to is mimic spammy promotion of a site to draw Google into penalizing that site. This can include:
- Building too many unnatural backlinks from low quality sites too quickly to have been organic
- Using anchor text with adult themes or words associated with low brow tactics.
- Associate the competitor or target site with link building schemes, such as a PBN.
- Duplicate content thereby watering down the value of their original content.
Google On Negative SEO
Volume and because Google says it is. That’s honestly the best answer…now for the why….
- More than half of the searches on Google are from mobile devices. If you only think in terms of searching from a desktop you ignore the majority of searches. A mobile device usually displays content in a small limited width view, desktop pages are not appropriate for a good mobile experience. Mobile’s load generally slower as they lack a physical connection to a network. Pages need to load fast and thus need to be streamlined for the best experience, page load speed is therefore extremely important.
- Mobile First – Is an initiative Google started in 2018. The name is self explanatory. If you don’t want to put mobile first you’ll ignore the greatest customer you have….Google.
- Mobile Index – to address the disparity between the mobile experience and a desktop experience Google created a second index of results thats independent of the desktop results. You could be the number one result in desktop but not listed in mobile. Since we noted more than half of searches are on mobile devices you would lose over half the opportunities for reaching a visitor.
Ignore mobile devices at your own peril. Your SEO efforts are doomed in my humble opinion. I don’t work on projects I dont think can succeed so I’d bow out if working on a project ignoring mobile.
Here is an example …. searching “rental homes in louisville” you’ll notice that the results come in a different order.
It appears while realtor.com is considered better for desktops, zumper.com has a better mobile experience. Its likely better laid out and faster than realtor.com so it beats that site in mobile. Who wins here? Zumper as more searches on mobile than desktop. You think well…whats the big difference its one position…the difference between 3rd and 4th or 2nd and 3rd is huge. The difference between 1st and 2nd position is more than 50%. If this is a billion dollar industry we’re talking about potentially hundreds of millions of dollars.
And it IS likely layout and speed. Notice in the desktop view realtor.com has a higher trust score and a higher domain score. Realtor.com has a higher rank, advertises more, was a domain first ….. in almost every SEO metric realtor.com should be higher than zumper.com. BUT in mobile it is not.