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New Study Finds Average Load Time for a Mobile Page is 22 Seconds

What We Can Learn from New Mobile Page Speed Insights

Mobile benchmarks are changing rapidly.

According to an article on Think With Google titled Find Out How You Stack Up To New Industry Benchmarks for Mobile Page Speed, the average loading time for a mobile page is 22 seconds.

This is an outrageous number considering that 53% of mobile visitors to your site won’t stick around unless your page loads in under 3 seconds.

Somehow, most websites are missing the “3 second” mark!

In this article, we will talk about what you can do to improve your mobile page load times, and also briefly indicate areas over which you have no control whatsoever. Let’s get started!

1. Optimize for Mobile Speed or Risk High Bounce Rates and Low Conversions.

Web traffic from mobile is more than half of overall web traffic. In their study, Google analyzed over 900,000 mobile landing pages from 126 countries. Results were not surprising but were also not impressive.

Over 70% of mobile pages took over 10 seconds to load completely. That included all visual content from above and below the fold.

Google used a deep neural network (which had 90% prediction accuracy) and was modeled on the nervous system and brain of a human. As page load times increase proportionately from 1 – 7 seconds, probable visitor bounce rates increased by 113%.

If the quantity of page elements increases from 400 – 6,000, conversion probability drops by 95%. Moreover, there were other interesting revelations.

2. Page size correlates with page speed.

Of the pages that were examined the following stats were revealed:

  • 70% of pages were over 1MB in size
  • 36% of pages were over 2MB in size
  • 12% of pages were over 4 MB in size

A 1.49MB page takes 7 seconds to load over a fast 3G connection according to Google.

Customers are already long gone before the page has even completely presented itself. One site totaled out at 16MB. You do not stand a chance of impressing a mobile visitor with such slow download speed.

3. Improve mobile benchmarks by reducing content and images, where possible.

  1. Compress your site content and images. For more than 30% of pages examined, a decrease in page size of 250KB could occur after compression.
  2. Examine your site design and determine if a less intense image strategy overall could improve your page load speed.
  3. Review your article content and ascertain the feasibility of reducing article imagery or minimizing content.
  4. Contemplate splitting some articles in two. This strategy might expedite mobile access. It also presents double the ranking opportunity.
  5. Remove what is not absolutely necessary from site pages. Slideshows can be a resource and speed hog, as are image galleries.

4. Accept that there are some mobile benchmarks over which you have no control.

No one can know the wireless connection speed a site visitor might be experiencing. A site that loaded in under 2 seconds at home over WiFi might take 7 seconds or more depending on their mobile carrier due to network constraints, network traffic, disruption of communication equipment, areas of coverage, and the list goes on.

Essentially, you can optimize your site until the cows are all safely in the barn, but it’s the points between your server and the phone to which your site data is being served that ultimately make the difference.

Key Takeaways for Mobile Page Speed Benchmarks

  1. Be as careful as you can about the creation of your mobile pages, decreasing sizes wherever possible.
  2. Use the Google Mobile Page Speed Checker to evaluate your own website.
  3. Keep a close eye on your mobile website page speed over time to make sure it stays as fast as possible.

For specific information about optimizing your website for mobile, chat with one of our experts at 1st on the List. We’ve been around longer than Google, and have some unique insights on optimizing for mobile.

Call us now at 1-888-262-6687!

Be sure to check out our additional articles about Page Speed and Site Performance:

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7 Reasons Internal Link Structure of Your Website Matters for SEO

What kind of tools do you give your website visitors to find more relevant information on your website other than the first page they land on? Are the Search Engines finding every page on your website and understanding how your pages are related?

Internal link structure can address both of these issues, plus others. When we talk about internal link structure we are referring to the links within one page’s content that lead site visitors to other pages of the website with similar or related content. Not only do these links help visitors but there is also value in internal link structure for SEO.

What is Link Structure in SEO?

Before we go further into why internal link structure of a website matters, let’s first talk about link structure for SEO. Links are one of the most important factors that Search Engines like Google look at when deciding how to rank your website. An internal link is simply a link on your website page that goes to another website page on your website. These internal links help both your visitors navigate through your website and help the Search Engines establish your Site architecture or hierarchy, which is how your pages are related. If needed, review How the Search Engines View Linking before continuing on.

Here are 7 ways the hyperlinks and link structure of your website can help improve your SEO, visitor behavior, website rankings.

1. Link Structure Creates Ease of Access

A visitor lands on one of your site pages. After skimming or thoroughly reading the content, they may want more information. Providing links within the content directly to similar or supporting documentation makes it easy for them to maneuver around your site based on their needs. Learn more on how SEO and User Experience Work Together.

2. Link Structure Helps Googles Crawlers Find All Website Pages

Websites with poor internal link structures can be more difficult for crawler bots to follow. Providing internal links between pages makes it easier for Search Engine crawlers to analyze your website and index/rank all your pages. New pages can compel the bot to crawl them, and also re-crawl the accompanying pages to which you have linked. Learn more by reading Understanding Crawl Budgets and How to Increase Your Website Crawl Budget with Google.

3. Link Structure Increases Page Strength

Links pointing to your site from authoritative websites can improve your ranking. That is what we refer to as an external link or a backlink. Visitors who arrive through these external links may choose to then follow your internal links to other pages on your website. Theoretically, your internally linked pages from the original page can benefit by accumulating more exposure and potentially acquire direct links of their own.

4. Link Structure Utilizes Anchor Text

The anchor text you use for the link indicates to the visitor what the page is about and can have some SEO benefit for when the Search Engines crawl the page. Make sure your anchor text is relevant to the content found on the subsequent page. Using the page title or a relevant keyword phrase can be useful and easily understandable. You can find more details in the article What Does it Take to Rank #1 on Google?

5. Link Structure Points Upward and Non-Circular

In general, a best practice for SEO is to have your internal links point upward to their parent page. In this way, you are pushing link juice or link credit from pages deep within your site to your main pages. For example, on a renovation company’s website they may have their Kitchen Renovations page link to their Home Renovations page which then links to their Homepage.

Another best practice is to avoid circular internal linking that can cause the visitor to click in circles and get frustrated. This circular linking can also cancel out the link juice you are trying to structure.

6. Link Structure Requires Review and Updating

Run a quick link structure analysis and examine the status of internal links from existing site pages. Make sure that these links:

  • Are still active – do not 404, do not rely on a 301 redirect.
  • Are still relevant – have current pricing, product features, service list, etc.
  • Are still the most useful page on the site – have you since created a better more useful page?

Update old links with new links to more current content, and similarly connect your latest content to your more dated pieces, rejuvenating interest in them. If you are thinking of updating or changing link structure soon be sure to read the article Top 8 Ways to Rejuvenate Old SEO Content for New Exposure.

7. Link Structure Relies on Content

How many links you should provide from one page to another is going to depend on the length of the original page, and the number of suitable pages to which you can link. Do some internal research before you post the item and arrive at a number that makes sense for your readership.

A Little Link Structure Optimization Goes a Long Way!

Remember:

  1. Users have a much better experience on websites that provide relevant internal links from one page to another.
  2. Effective link descriptions (anchor text) make users aware of where they are going and can help with SEO.
  3. Internal link structure helps Search Engine robots find all the pages on your site, preventing any “orphaned” or unlinked pages.

For more information on link structure for your website contact 1st on the List today at 1-888-262-6687 or contact@1stonthelist.ca.

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Understanding Crawl Budgets and How to Increase Your Website Crawl Budget with Google

Google admitted in their Webmaster Central Blog on January 16, 2017, that they don’t have an official “crawl budget definition”, indicating that a single term would not suffice. They went on to indicate that they would clarify what they actually have and what it means for Googlebot.

In this article, we will explore what Google has told us about site crawl budget and how it operates.

What is Crawl Budget?

As an SEO, when we talk about crawl budget we are referring to the resources Google will allocate to crawling (or discovering) the pages on your website. The budget could be determined by number of pages and or the time Google will spend crawling. That’s right – Google has limits on how long and how many pages of your website they will crawl!

Should I Be Concerned About My Site Crawl Budget?

For pages crawled on a daily basis, Crawl Budget is not a high priority concern for websites with fewer than 1,000 URLs. As long as there isn’t anything blocking Google out of the site there shouldn’t be issues crawling these pages.

Google stresses that website crawl budgets are more improtant for larger sites.

What are Google’s Limits to Site Crawl Rates?

Crawling is a priority, but Google claims it does so without degrading user experience on the site, instituting crawl rate limits for given sites to minimize that possibility. They define crawl rate limits as the number of simultaneous connections used by Googlebot to crawl, and the wait-time between fetches.

What is Crawl Health?

On websites that respond rapidly to Google crawling its pages, the crawl limits go up, using more connections, and allowing Google to crawl and discover more and more pages. This allows Google to index and rank more and more pages.

For slower sites or those with server errors, the crawl limit is throttled back and fewer pages are crawled as the Googlebot has to wait longer to crawl each page.

Google also reminds website owners you can manually set limits for crawling inside your Google Search Console, but that setting higher limits does not mean they will automatically increase the crawl on your site.

How Frequently are Crawl Demands Made?

If there is little demand from indexing (even when peak crawl rates haven’t been reached) there will be little Googlebot crawl activity.

More popular URLs are usually crawled more consistently to keep Google’s index up-to-date, as another objective for the crawler is to prevent URLs from becoming stale.

Crawls can also be triggered if a website is moved and new URLs need to be re-indexed.

Ultimately, the rate and demand are what define a crawl budget in Google’s eyes.

6 Ways to Improve Your Website Crawl Budget According to Google

Google says that crawl rate is negatively affected by websites with numerous low-value-add pages and categorizes these types of websites into 6 main groups, listed by order of importance.

If your site is large enough to have a Crawl Budget, or if you want to prevent your site from falling under a Crawl Budget, address the following prioritized issues, as applicable.

1. Address URLs with naturally duplicated content.

Faceted navigation (ability to filter pages by price, colour, size, etc.) affects the crawl budget because they contain many combinations of a URL with duplicated content. These prevent Google from crawling new and unique content as quickly or index pages correctly as a result of diluted signals between versions that have been duplicated.

Session identifiers also fall under this list. User info and tracking information stored in these URLs cause duplicated content through the numerous URLs used to access a single page.

2. Minimize duplicate text content from page to page.

On websites with content duplicated across several pages, Google uses algorithms designed to prevent this duplicated content from adversely affecting user-experience or webmaster-experience. Here’s how Google deals with this duplicate content:

  1. When duplicate content is found, the URLs are grouped into a cluster.
  2. The best URL that represents the cluster is chosen and presented in search results.
  3. Properties such as link popularity within the cluster are consolidated and applied to the chosen URL that represents the cluster.

3. Mark old deleted pages with 404 Not Found response.

Crawl rate can be affected by soft error pages that occur when a server responds with a 200 OK response if a page does not exist instead of a 404 Not Found which is more appropriate. This limits site crawling because these old deleted pages might be crawled instead of other live pages on the site.

4.  Deal with any hacked website pages and content ASAP.

If your site has any hacked pages, well, just don’t expect Google to crawl it anytime soon.

5.  Make sure that each URL on your website has its own unique purpose.

Sites affectionately called infinite spaces (sites with an excessive number of URLs) are not high on Google’s list of crawlable content. Make sure that each page you want Google to crawl has its own unique purpose and message. What need does it meet for your visitor?

6. Purge any low quality or spam pages.

Pages containing low quality and spam are right up there with the hacked pages and will negatively affect the crawling rate of the site.

Google determines all six of these areas as a waste of their resources and delays them from discovering the great content of a website.

If you have any questions about Crawl Budget, whether or not your site contains any of the items that might negatively affect your crawl budget, give 1st on the List a call at 1-888-262-6687. You can also reach us through email at contact@1stonthelist.ca.

Learn more about How Search Engines Work to crawl, index, and rank your website!

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What is OSCP and How Does It Secure My Website with HTTPS?

When was the last time you thought about your website’s security?

If not recently, maybe now is the time. Both Chrome and Firefox are getting close to releasing the newest versions of their browsers that will noticeably mark your website as Not Secure to visitors.

In this article, we will explain Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP), how it works, and the importance of making the OCSP process as fast as possible on your secure HTTPS website.

What is Online Certificate Status Protocol (OSCP)?

The OSCP definition is pretty straight forward. It is a protocol for checking the status of an online certificate. In other words, OCSP is a set of steps taken to check the status of your SSL Certificate before your website is shown to the visitor. During this multi-step process the browser and your server will check/prove the identity of your website and then encrypt all information shared between the browser and the server so that hackers and phishers can’t intercept the data transfer.

How Does OSCP Work?

The Internet browser of your website visitor (like Chrome or Firefox) initiates what is called a handshake with your secured website, asking it to identify itself. Your secured website sends a copy of its SSL certificate, including the server’s public key.

The visitor’s browser checks the certificate root against a list of trusted CAs. It checks to make sure the certificate hasn’t expired, hasn’t been revoked, and that its common name is valid for the website to which the browser is connecting.

If the SSL Certificate is trusted by the browser, the browser produces and returns a symmetric session key using the public key it got from the server. The server decrypts the session key with the public key of its own on the server. The server then sends back the acknowledgement which has been encrypted by the session key.

The secure encrypted session begins.

how ocsp works

Can OCSP Affect My Website Speed?

With so many steps back and forth you may be wondering how long this takes, especially as we stress the importance of site speed for SEO. The process should only take milliseconds because during this time your site visitor has to wait. The faster the OCSP process is completed, the more quickly your site visitor will gain access to your site. Google likes websites that can be accessed quickly.

That is why we recommend choosing a trusted Certificate Authority and purchasing a high-quality SSL Certificate.

How Do OCSP Response Times Compare Between Certificate Authorities?

There are a lot of Certificate Authorities (CAs) that sell SSL Certificates at various price points, but don’t let price be your only consideration.

You need to know that the Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP) speed with the company you choose can affect your website speed, and overall site traffic and rank with Google.

In our experience, DigiCert has one of the quickest OCSP response times in the industry, 4 to 8 times faster than most Certificate Authorities. This provides your site visitors with quick responses to OCSP requests through their browser.

OCSP Response Times January 2016

Interested in learning more about SSL and putting OSCP into action on your website in order to provide your visitors with the most secure browsing experience possible?

Contact 1st on the List!

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3 Ways Featured Snippets in Search Can Boost Your Website Traffic

Ever wonder what those rectangular boxes are at the top of a search engine results (SERP) page are called? Or what about how you can get your website’s information to appear in them? They’re referred to as Featured Snippets and you can have your website appear there by having the most relevant answer formatted properly on your website.

Here are three good reasons why you should strive to have your website content show up in one of them. But first, let’s examine featured snippets more closely.

What Are Featured Snippets?

Feature Snippets are answer summaries, extracted from a web page in response to a direct user query, and are presented at the top of a search results page.

Essentially, Featured Snippets are Google’s way of presenting you with the best answer they could find for the query you entered into their search engine. Featured Snippets are fast, accurate answers to very specific questions.

No need for you to browse through site after site for a particular answer. Google presents the answer front and center, no muss no fuss! And the side benefits of having a Featured Snippet on Google are that they can boost website traffic.

How Can Feature Snippets Boost Website Traffic?

There are three ways that Featured Snippets can boost website traffic for sites that have the answer Google feels is the most efficient for the query that was searched.

  1. An excerpt from the web page containing the Featured Snippet will be shown at the top of the search engine results.
  2. The page title and link to the website URL will be shown in the Featured Snippet.
  3. A hyperlink to the website page from which the Featured Snippet was extracted will also be presented beneath the Featured Snippet on the results page.

Essentially, you receive 2 links to your website, a summary, and a page title all on 1 search results page if you are able to develop a succinct answer to the question in the format the Google is looking for.

Is it time to pursue Feature Snippets as part of your SEO Strategy?

How Can I Get A Featured Snippet on Google?

If you can answer a question in a way (table, graph, or list) that Google feels is more significant than any other answer they can find, you own (temporarily) the top position in the SERPs for that specific question.

The key word here is specific.

Determining what question to answer, and how to answer the question, takes some research and persistence, but I feel any effort you put into a Feature Snippet is well worth it.

Start by examining your website content and the keywords you used on your website pages. Determine if you can re-arrange some of that content into an answer form that Google prefers to see (table, graph or list) without disturbing the content significantly.

Keep reworking the content until you answer what you feel to be a very specific question related to your industry, company or organization. It may take a bit of literary massaging to shuffle the words into a concise answer.

As you develop this content, try searching the questions you come up with and determine if a Featured Snippet already exists for the query. Continue to do this throughout the process.

Once you’re satisfied that you’ve answered a question which meets all of Google’s criteria, you should also ensure that you have the correct Schema Markup in place to support the answer you have developed.

Schema Code and Featured Snippets

Along with reshaping your content to more directly address Featured Snippets, you should also be including or enhancing Schema Markup on your website to help the search engines better understand the page content you have developed.

There have been numerous discussions and articles indicating that Schema Markup isn’t necessary to secure a Featured Snippet listing on Google at the moment. And that seems to be true for the most part. But only because Google has not as yet focussed on the Schema Markup requirements that closely. They seem to have chosen instead to monitor the usefulness and long-term success of Featured Snippets. But that doesn’t mean Google has forgotten about Schema.

It is still on Google’s table, and when the time is right they will inevitably address Schema Markup as it applies to Featured Snippets and move it more prominently into play.

By addressing Schema Markup alongside your Featured Snippet plan now, you won’t lose any ground later if your Featured Snippet gains traction and Google starts enforcing the Schema Markup at a later point, penalizing your Featured Snippet content if there is insufficient Schema Markup to support it.

For more information about Advanced SEO Strategies please call our team at 1st on the List: 1-888-262-6687.

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The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project Explained

Clunky. Slow. Frustrating.

These are the exact mobile web browsing issues that the Google-led Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project has worked rapidly in the last three and a half months to solve once and for all.

Rising to the challenge of providing web pages that load faster and look better on mobile devices, this open source initiative means that websites using the accelerate mobile pages framework can have content that will load instantly through any source, including:

  • Messaging Apps (SMS, iChat, Hangouts)
  • E-Readers
  • Newsfeed and Aggregator Apps
  • Social platforms

At 1st on the List, our Technical SEO’s have put together an in-depth (yet not technically overwhelming) explanation of the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project, how AMP-pages work, the benefits of AMP, Google Search guidelines for AMP, and how you can potentially use AMP to improve your SEO.

What is the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project?

The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project is an open source Google initiative to improve the mobile web for users and enhance the distribution ecosystem for publishers.

“With the recent shift to mobile, media consumption is changing. Users now consume content wherever they find it — sometimes it’s directly from a publisher’s website, oftentimes it’s not. Given how frustrating the mobile web can be, many content distribution platforms are seeking alternatives. In many cases, these alternatives tend to be platform specific, placing a burden on the publishers to support this fragmentation of formats and closing off the ecosystem.”
~ (AMPProject.org)

Essentially, the main goal of the AMP Project is to preserve the open web publishing model and protect all the revenue streams that go along with it. In order to do this, the AMP Project focuses on building a more common technical core between pages in order to ensure:

  • Consistent content appearance across all modern browsers and apps,
  • Fast loading, flexible and beautiful content, and
  • Compelling and effective ads.

Open source means that AMP is freely available, modifiable, and shareable because its design is publicly accessible. This encourages collaboration, community development, and transparency. Anyone can help enhance AMP.

Since its launch less than four months ago, over 5,200 developers have interacted with AMP. Contributors include people of all different job titles including Chief Strategy Officers, VP’s of Engineering, Editor in Chiefs, and CEO’s. Some of the big publishers contributing to and using AMP HTML include BuzzFeed, The Guardian, BBC, Mashable, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. Additional technology companies include LinkedIn, Twitter, WordPress.com and Pinterest.

The AMP Project Timeline

May 12, 2015 – Facebook launches Instant Articles

Early last year, Facebook was busy launching Instant Article which could load articles near-instantly, up to 10 times faster than the standard mobile web. The response from publishers was positive, who loved both the look and feel, plus loading speeds, it offered the end reader. Many saw Instant Articles as Facebook’s aggressive attempt to become the primary New Distributor on the web and to become the first and only place users did their Internet browsing. Some also think this triggered Google’s initiative to launch the AMP Project.

October 7, 2015 – Google officially introduces the project.

Since its launch, more than 5,200 developers engaged with the project and 16,000 new AMP pages have been created.

December 9, 2015 – Google announces their intention to send Search Traffic to AMP Pages.

Speculation by the AMP Project suggests that Google will start sending traffic to AMP Pages through Search Results starting as soon as late February 2016.

December 9, 2015Momentum for AMP Project picks up.

Richard Gingras (Head of News at Google) shares updates on the AMP Project including work in four key areas: Advertising, Analytics, Subscriptions, and Content Format. Plus several key players join the AMP movement:

  • WordPress will support publishers wishing to enable AMP pages starting early January.
  • Twitter will start linking to AMP content provided by publishers early 2016.
  • Pinterest is testing AMP pages in both their iOS and Android Apps (and finding they load 4x faster and use 8x less data that mobile optimized pages).
  • LinkedIn expresses their intention to support AMP early 2016.
  • By late February, Analytics Providers such as Google Analytics, comScore, and others will have AMP support in their tools.
  • Additional publishers around the world are expressing their intention to support AMP in 2016.

January 20, 2015 Google’s “Accelerated Mobile Pages Report” available in Search Console.

This is when we first noticed the “Accelerated Mobile Pages Report”  in Google’s Search Console (previously Webmaster Tools), within the Search Appearance section. With this tool, Google will give you a list of successfully indexed AMP pages on your site and prioritize any AMP-specific errors you need to fix in order to have them prominently served to mobile users. This tells us that Google wants to make AMP mainstream. We also take it as a strong suggestion to webmasters and developers to start integrating Accelerated Mobile Page HTML into their sites, where it makes sense to do so.

What Does an Accelerated Mobile Page Look Like?

An accelerated mobile page contains static content built to render fast on any mobile web browser and to be heavily cached. Think of it as a “diet” or slimmed down version of your regular page, like the AMP-page we just made of our latest blog post:

amp-blog-post-example

 

AMP HTML, Javascript, and Content Delivery Network (CDN)

There are three technical parts to AMP:

  • AMP HTML – the AMP HTML variation of the page includes restrictions for reliable performance, plus extensions for building rich content beyond basic HTML.
  • AMP JS – the AMP Javascript manages resource loading, gives custom tags, pre-calculates the layout of each element, and more, to ensure a fast rendering of the page.
  • AMP CDN – the AMP Content Delivery Network is responsible for fetching and caching the page, and has a built-in validation system that confirms the page is guaranteed to work.

How Do Accelerated Mobile Pages Work?

In its simplest form, AMP works by combining limited technical functionality with a distribution system built around caching. The result is a faster and better performance and stronger audience development, in any modern browser or app web view.

Here are four specific ways AMP achieves this goal:

  • Limiting HTML functionality.
  • Following site speed best practices for both technical and architectural approaches.
  • Using a common technical framework between all AMP-pages
  • Caching AMP files in the cloud to reduce time to a mobile device.

More on AMP and Caching

AMP HTML versions of your pages are accelerated by caches created by third parties such as Google. AMP makes it easier for platforms to cache your content while you still maintain full control of the content. In true open source style, Google will provide a cache to anyone to use at no charge and all AMPs will be cached by Google. Other companies can also develop their caching system if desired.

What are the Benefits of AMP?

There are several reasons why you may need to consider AMP for your website.

  1. Better user experience for mobile users.
    Readers can now access your best content regardless of what app, platform, or device chosen. Delivery of content is also blazing fast.
  2. Publishers maintain more control.
    As the publisher, AMP gives you more autonomy and reduces your effort to distribute content to 3rd Party platforms.
  3. Better advertising and revenue streams.
    As the publisher, you can also maintain economic control of your content and develop effective advertising on the mobile web.
  4. Maximizes reach of content.
    AMP boosts the usage of your mobile pages and increases the reach of your content.

Plus, Google says if your AMP-compliant pages include a few additional pieces of information, they can also benefit from special display features in Google Search results.

Accelerated Mobile Pages & SEO: Improving Speed Performance

There are several ways that AMP HTML pages speed up your website and have the potential to improve your SEO:

  • Asynchronous scripts keep JavaScript from delaying page rendering.
  • Static sized resources determine each element’s size (ex. image) before it is downloaded so that the page layout can load without waiting for resources to download.
  • Extension mechanisms (ex. Instagram or Tweet embeds) do not block page rendering.
  • Third-party JavaScripts are kept out of the critical path.
  • All CSS is kept inline and size-bound (50 kb maximum)
  • Font triggering is kept efficient and not delayed.
  • Style recalculations are limited to one per frame.
  • GPU-accelerated animations.
  • Resources are prioritized so that the most important resources are download first, such as ones likely to be seen by a user, are above the fold, or if user likely to scroll down quickly.
  • Pages load instantly because an AMP can predict and render the next page before the user explicitly navigates to it.

AMP Google Search Guidelines

Google indicates that they like validated AMP pages because they can be crawled, stored in, and served from a cache that allows them to be served even more quickly. If your website page has a valid AMP version, Google Search may direct mobile users to the cached AMP.

Here are the five steps Google says to follow to take advantage of AMP’s benefits:

  1. Follow AMP specifications.
  2. Make sure Google can find and index your AMP-pages, and understand the link between the non-AMP page and its AMP page.
  3. Test that your AMP pages are valid and work as expected.
  4. Follow Google’s structured data policies.
  5. Check your Google AMP status report.

Are Accelerated Mobile Pages Right for You?

At this point in time, the AMP Project is still fairly new and we are closely watching how it will play out with Google Search Results and interact with SEO.

We know that AMP makes the most sense for publishers of day-to-day pieces such as journalists and bloggers. Static content with a simple title, text, and perhaps an image are well suited for AMP HTML. On the other end of the spectrum, advanced apps and web pages with interactive elements and complex design may not be well suited to AMP.

Keep in mind that you can have both an HTML and a stripped down AMP HTML version of your website pages.

Visitor experience is a major aspect to consider when deciding to integrate AMP. If you answer yes to any of these questions you may want to consider AMP:

  • Do your visitors expect to find simple text on a page that loads with the blink of an eye that they can quickly read and digest?
  • Would you call your website visitors “Readers” or “Followers”?
  • Do you regularly post new content on your site and do you expect your visitors to consume this content on a daily or weekly basis?
  • Is your website page likely to be shared or viewed through messenger apps, newsfeeds, and social media?

For more information on Accelerated Mobile Pages and upgrading your site to include AMP HTML, or to explore the advantages and disadvantages of upgrading your website to include AMP HTML, please call our SEO Experts at 1-888-262-6687.

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Performance vs Content – What Matters More?

A recent study by Limelight Networks has confirmed that high performing websites are more important to consumers than fresh and updated content. Participants were asked to rank in order of importance what they expect from a website experience.

Here are the results, in order of importance:

  1. Performance (streaming with no buffering, pages loading quickly, etc.) – 50.2% said most important
  2. Fresh and updated content43.4% said most important
  3. Consistent experience on mobile and desktop23.5% said most important
  4. Personalized content14.6% said most important

Website performance and speed is so important, that 1 out of 3 respondents said they would leave the page and go buy the product somewhere else if they have to wait too long for the page to load while shopping.

Other conclusions made in the annual “State of the User Experience” study include:

  • Consumers expect more from their online experiences.
  • Experience matters, especially when it comes to purchasing a product.
  • Online experiences, whether they happen on a small or large screen, must meet rising expectations.

How is your website speed? Not only do your visitors expect your website to be fast (and will leave if it is too slow) but the Search Engines favor faster websites as they provide better user experiences. Faster websites are also easier for the Search Engines to crawl and index, which leads to better visibility in the Search Results.

Is it time to take your site speed and performance more seriously?

Call our SEO experts at 1-888-262-6687 to get on the fast track to success.

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SEO News and Google Updates – September 2015

Here’s what’s making news in the SEO community in the last several weeks.

Google Says HTTPS Sites May Get Ranking Boost

In a hangout this month between Bruce Clay and Gary Illyes of Google, Illyes reconfirmed that Google’s HTTPS ranking boost may serve as the tiebreaker if the quality signals for the two search results are equal.

He went on to say that he wishes all websites would use HTTPS but that it is perfectly fine if you don’t:

“I hope that I see more and more websites on HTTPS because I think that privacy, for example, is important, but of course I can’t expect everyone to go HTTPS. Some people don’t have the resources for that.”

You can learn some of the other reasons why HTTPS and SSL matter for your website with this Slide Deck.

Google Logo Change Represents the Google of the Future

What do you think of Google’s new logo?

In launching their new logo, Google shares a story of how search has evolved from taking place on just a desktop PC to a number of different ways people interact with Google products across all platforms, app, and devices.

The new Google logo and its updated identity represents a “world of seamless computing across an endless number of devices and different kinds of inputs (such as tap, type and talk).”

Google says that this new logo not just represents Google of today, but the Google of the future.

Does Structured Markup and Rich Snippets Influence Google’s Ranking Algorithm?

This month Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz posted an article on Google hinting it may use structured data in its ranking algorithm in the future. In the past, Google has said that these do not directly lead to your page ranking better in its search results.

This speculation comes from a comment John Mueller made in a hangout session that Google may start using Rich Snippets and Markup as a ranking factor in the future:

“If we can recognize someone is looking for a car, we can say oh well, we have these pages that are marked up with structured data for a car, so probably they are pretty useful in that regard … So I think in the long run, it definitely makes sense to use structured data where you see that as being reasonable on the website. But I wouldn’t assume that using structured data markup will make your site jump up in rankings automatically. So we try to distinguish between a site that is done technically well and a site that actually has good content.”

Check out our Advanced SEO page for more information about Rich Snippets, Microdata, and Schema.

Continued Discussions About the New Google Local Search Display

We first mentioned the new Google Local 3 Pack last month and it has been heavily talked about in the Local SEO world since.

In his article The New Google Local Search Display, Jason Decker reiterates that several of the changes to local search results first seen in August are a “blow to local businesses” and provides several implications for searchers and local businesses:

  • The new Local 3 Pack is so plain it may reduce clicks to the website.
  • Display results may reduce phone calls to businesses as the phone number is hidden in most desktop results.
  • Local businesses may need to consider paid advertising to maintain their previous level of visibility in local search results. Decker points out that as more businesses resort to paid local ads we will most likely see competition and click costs spike.
  • Home service ads (currently only available in the San Francisco Bay Area) may eventually remove local search pack or push it down lower for certain business types.

Reasons for Consumers to Lose Trust in Your Website are Also Key SEO Factors

This month MarketingCharts.com shared a study by Neustar on what causes consumers to lose trust in digital brands. As we reviewed the top reasons your visitors may lose trust in your brand we quickly noticed that almost all of them have a direct impact on your rankings and Search Visibility.

Is it time to address these key issues on your site in order to boost both rankings and visitor trust?

91% do not trust websites with errors or mistakes.

Google says websites need to provide high-quality content and that its ranking algorithms look for signals of low quality content, which may include grammar and other mistakes. Errors on your website may naturally come over time, such as old hours or out of stock products. The more up to date and error free you keep your website, the better you stand to do both in the ranking and trust department.

88% do not trust websites that frequently go down.

Significant downtime from site maintenance or server issues hurt your rankings and can result in your pages getting deindexed. Think about it: if your website is frequently down when the Search Engines try to visit why would they then want to send visitors to your website, which would likely be down?

75% do not trust websites that take too long to load.

Fast websites not only increase your visitor trust but can improve your rankings. In 2014, site speed was Search Metric’s top ranking factor. Check out our slide deck on Website Speed to understand how making your website faster will ultimately increase your bottom line.

55% do not trust websites without security safeguards to protect personal information.

As mentioned above, Gary Illyes of Google has said that secure HTTPS websites may be the tiebreaker between two equal quality websites.

Take some time to review your website from a visitor perspective, paying attention to these key Trust indicators. What do you need to improve?

For more information about what is happening in the SEO world or what it will take to improve the visibility of your brand online, give us a call at 1-888-262-6687.

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New HTTPS and SSL Slideshare Presentation Now Live

It has been several weeks in the making but we have just published an informative presentation on everything you need to know about HTTPS and SSL.

Since Google announced that HTTPS Everywhere is an SEO ranking signal in August many of these topics have been in the news. This informative presentation outlines the benefits of SSL, the different levels of SSL certificates, how you need to install SSL on your website and many other details. We invite you to take a few minutes to browse through the slides.

Still have questions? Contact us at 1-888-262-6687.

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Google Says Secure HTTPS Sites Rank Higher

For a number of months now we have believed that Search Engines will slowly start to prefer HTTPS/ SSL websites and just yesterday Google officially confirmed HTTPS as a ranking signal:

Security is a top priority for Google. We invest a lot in making sure that our services use industry-leading security, like strong HTTPS encryption by default. That means that people using Search, Gmail and Google Drive, for example, automatically have a secure connection to Google.

Beyond our own stuff, we’re also working to make the Internet safer more broadly. A big part of that is making sure that websites people access from Google are secure. For instance, we have created resources to help webmasters prevent and fix security breaches on their sites.

We want to go even further. At Google I/O a few months ago, we called for “HTTPS everywhere” on the web.

We’ve also seen more and more webmasters adopting HTTPS (also known as HTTP over TLS, or Transport Layer Security), on their website, which is encouraging.

For these reasons, over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it’s only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

What is HTTPS and SSL?

HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer.

TLS stands for Transport Layer Security protocol.

HTTPS is simply a combination of HTTP and SSL. Essentially, as Forbes explains on this topic, HTTPS encrypts the data between your browser (ex. Chrome, Safari, Firefox) and the website. This protects the privacy of anything that you do on the website. The purpose of this is to make it harder to hackers to break into the connection and steal your information.

Is Your Site HTTPS/ SSL?

You can see whether a site is HTTPS or HTTP by looking up in your browser’s search bar and checking for the small “s”.

How to Deal With the New HTTPS Google Ranking Factor

Google promises to publish their “Best Practices” much like they do with other topics such as Quality Content and Site Speed, but for now they have given some basic tips:

  1. Decide the kind of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate
  2. Use 2048-bit key certificates
  3. Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain
  4. Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains
  5. Check out the Site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s address
  6. Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt
  7. Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Avoid the noindex robots meta tag.

What Does This New Google Ranking Factor Mean for You?

  • Remember that Google says this is a “lightweight” ranking factor and that there are other more important ranking factors such as quality content.
  • There are rumors that Google may increase the importance of HTTPs in order to further encourage all websites to adopt the secure comms protocol.
  • Consider switching to HTTPS, especially if you are in a competitive market where every small advantage will make a difference.
  • In light of recent stories in the news of billions of logins and passwords being stolen from compromised websites people are becoming more cautious about where they create accounts, give their credit cards and disclose other personal information. By Google making this a “ranking factor” thousands of SEO’s will prompt their clients to implement HTTPS. As Internet users become more accustomed to seeing HTTPS sites they will likely expect this of you as well.

Need a second opinion about moving your site to HTTPS? Give us a call at 1-888-262-6687 today or read more about our HTTPS Everywhere services.