In today’s world, it is absolutely paramount that business owners have the right tools and implement the best strategies in order to make their business websites attractive to Google. As a business owner, you want your company website to rank high in Google search engine results.
Choose the right SEO plugin.
WordPress SEO plugins are the bomb! They have the ability to:
- Affect page loading speed and overall performance.
- Boost SEO.
- Augment your business website’s security.
- Bring up backlink information, important stats and keyword rankings.
- Improve your business website’s rankings in search engine results.
- Fix broken links.
- Conduct comprehensive SEO audits.
- Help you find authoritative posts and pages.
- Reorganize your company website’s structure.
- Effectively optimize your company website.
- Keep you ahead of the competition.
- Increase brand visibility.
A reliable hosting service for your WordPress site is a great way to earn SEO ranking and beef up your website’s speed, however it’s only the beginning. In fact, 75% of consumers who search using Google admit to never clicking beyond the first page of search engine results. This is why your website optimization (in collaboration with smart keywords, knowledge of search intent, content readability and image files sizing) is a MUST. It’s the only way to earn traffic that is organic (free) and relevant, which will boost your conversion rate. Furthermore, a solid SEO plugin will help speed up your optimization tasks more efficiently (sometimes automatically), freeing you up to strategize with your marketing team in order to stay on top of the latest SEO data and quickly employ strategic, results-based plans in order to boost productivity. The benefits are truly endless.
Obviously, when it comes to optimization, a good SEO plugin makes all the difference, BUT… How on earth do you tell the good from the bad?
Good WordPress SEO Plugins:
- Yoast SEO is user-friendly, especially for beginners, and offers:
- Page Optimization which allows you to easily manage page titles, URLs and meta descriptions. You can easily create an optimized, customized web page title via the user interface along with an SEO-friendly URL and unique meta description. You can then review your SEO report which will allow you to improve blog post optimization. In addition, you can easily switch on the robot tags or turn them off. This function allows you to manage your web page’s “discoverability”.
- The Robots.txt file communicates with search engines in regards to which pages are crawlable. The Yoast SEO plugin allows you to change your robots.txt via the user interface which is a time saver. There is no need to install, modify and upload the robots.txt file with each and every change, plus the file is protected from accidental overwrites resulting from system updates.
- Google Search Console allows you to authenticate your company’s website by copying and pasting an HTML code into the Yoast user interface. This is a huge benefit as it allows you to capture powerful SEO data. It is also further code protection against accidental overwrites when it is added through the plugin. Yet another time saver as you won’t need to re-add the code post site-code modification. Frankly, web developers and SEO specialists are experts at carefully handling theme modifications and WordPress updates, but I digress.
- Sitemaps are crucial for SEO as they provide search engines with lists of pages to crawl on your business website. Yoast’s auto generated XML sitemap automatically updates as you post new content to your website. You can improve search engine accessibility to certain website sections via the user interface through the XML sitemap.
- The free Redirection Plugin from WordPress’ plugin repository is fabulous for managing redirects and preventing your users from getting 404 error messages. These are easily managed via the user interface in your WordPress dashboard. The plugin is updated regularly, is secure and is also user-friendly, aiding you in reporting errors on alternate servers (broken links, 404 errors) with info entailing the way in which the error was accessed.
- The WP Internal Link Juicer plugin works specifically to help optimize your company website’s internal link structure, automatically linking phrases and keywords from your posts and comments to relevant blog posts, pages, tags and categories. This plugin avoids fraudulent SEO practices while creating internal links.
- MonsterInsights helps you track your business website’s analytics and performance, is user-friendly and sends Google Analytics data straight to your dashboard. This is great for measuring customer engagement on your website as well as understanding how consumers search for you. You are able to monitor frequently visited pages via the content reporting feature. MonsterInsights is a simpler alternative to the more complicated Google Analytics as it streamlines the gathering and interpretation of data. You’ll never need to login to your Google Analytics account.
- Improve your company’s web page speed with the WP Super Cache plugin which allows you to test loading speed across several of your company website pages. You can then leverage Pingdom tools or GTMetrix. Simply turn on the caching features after you install the plugin.
- Really Simple SSL streamlines the process of hard coding the HTACCESS file configuration for the domain-recognized setup of an SSL address in WordPress. If this is Greek to you, it’s because this is a complicated task best left to experts in search engine optimization Jacksonville. In layman’s terms, simply download Really Simple SSL, ensure your website domain’s HTTPS version is the default address and the plugin will do the rest. It will also make sure SSL encryption and encryption protocols are automatically updated in order to protect against cyberattacks.
- Rank Math also aids in website content optimization, offering real-time content insights via your WordPress dashboard. Snippet previews allow for easy optimization of titles and meta descriptions, reducing the amount of SERP display errors on search engines. This plugin is optimized for better speed and now has IndexNow integration resulting in quick alerts to search engines regarding changes to deleted or new content, redirects and much more. No need to wait for weeks on end for Google to crawl your content.
- Easy Table of Contents enhances user experience which boosts your SEO. This plugin presents a table of contents for users who wish to jump to key content. In addition, an HTML table is automatically added to your business website’s posts and pages, generating internal hyperlinks within each page. Auto generated links are an added perk as they are based specifically on page content headings. Your table style can be easily configured within the dashboard settings.
- Weglot offers the most accurate translations to date. Translation is a huge component of SEO as Google considers grammar and copy to be major ranking factors. Unless you employ interpreters in every language, you need this translation plugin which will reflect the way languages are spoken in order to properly articulate your brand’s story and what you offer.
Bad WordPress SEO Plugins:
Unfortunately, there are harmful WordPress SEO plugins. While the good ones help boost your company website’s ranking and visibility, there is a risk with any plugin authorized to access your business website:
- Exploitable vulnerabilities.
- Unsupported or outdated.
- Incompatibility with existing site code or plugins.
- Lack of adequate testing.
- Scam related.
Always ask your search engine optimization Jacksonville based expert to review the plugins in which you are interested prior to installation. Be sure you select a WordPress plugin which automatically backs up your business website while simultaneously guarding it with the correct SSL protection. There are many free WordPress plugins which can accomplish this for you. Add reputable WordPress SEO plugins to your website, properly configure them and enjoy the benefits of improved URL and content accessibility. Your organic traffic is bound to increase and your business website’s SEO rankings are bound to soar very quickly!
What is Image Optimization?
Unfortunately, large images equal large files which take up valuable space on your server. Large images also create poor user experiences on your business website for your consumers. Image optimization is the concept of shrinking the size of a file without compromising its quality using script or a plugin. This process speeds up your website’s load time. Images are optimized via one of two methods:
- Via lazy loading on your company website (also known as on-demand loading) in order to display media on said website.
- Images can also be optimized utilizing Photoshop’s “export” options during your company website creation phase.
The Benefits of Image Optimization:
Simply put, consumers have extremely short attention spans, especially when it comes to online shopping. Your website MUST load in two or less seconds and failure to optimize your images could cause serious drag time. It doesn’t matter how impressive your server might be. You can still fail to perform at top speed without proper image optimization. Furthermore, images make up an average of 21% of your web page’s total weight. This means image optimization should take precedence far above fonts and scripts. Image Optimization is crucial as it:
- Eliminates unnecessary data downloads and wait times for your website users.
- Grants your customers the content they seek at a much faster rate.
- Breaks up monotonous paragraphs and texts.
- Adds visual appeal.
- Enhances and eases the type of experience your customers will have when visiting your cyber storefront.
- Improves SEO when combined with a great SEO WordPress plugin.
- Helps your website rank higher in search engine results.
- Helps Google index and crawl your images faster for Google image search.
- Hastens backups.
- Decreases bandwidth usage.
- Frees up server storage space.
The bottom line is that your website’s images are a high dollar asset on the world wide web. That being said, your strengths can also be your weaknesses. While awesome graphics and images offer countless benefits, they can cost you slower loading times and poor site performance. The fact of the matter is that size matters. The higher the resolution, the larger the file, the slower your website! It’s an unfortunate chain of events which could adversely affect your consumers’ user experience with your business, mess with your lead generation and conversion and weaken your bottom line. If your website is running slow, your customers will speed away to your competition for a faster browsing experience. As with most things in life, this is a delicate dance. This is where image optimization comes into play and there is a myriad of things you can do to optimize the sizes of your image files in regards to your business website.
On another note, it’s super important to follow best practices regarding image optimization. The natural result is smaller file sizes and faster loading speeds which will collectively yield a better experience for your business website users. Furthermore, your images are eating away at your valuable server space. Your server is what powers your business website AND, if you utilize a host, it is likely that host will enforce limits on your overall bandwidth, depending upon your plan. You need to consider whether you are using your resources wisely and at what rate you are consuming space. If you exceed your bandwidth limit, you might be financially penalized or risk having your business website shut down. I think it goes without saying that this is bad and you want to take every measure to avoid such drastic consequences. Image optimization allows you to make the most of your storage without exceeding the limitations of your bandwidth restrictions.
Website Image Optimization 101:
Benchmark your site speed: Run a simple speed test on your site using programs such as Google PageSpeed Insights, GTMetrix, Pingdom Tools or WebPage Test. Any of these options will do the job. All you have to do is type in your URL and a report will be generated reflecting your website performance and speed.
Choose the best image file: Once you’ve created your website images, you’ll need to select the type of file you’d like to save them as. JPEGs are great for photographs as they offer a higher-quality image in a smaller size file. JPEGs should be exported as “progressive” which allows your users to quickly load a less complex version of the image before they decide they want to load the full resolution version. To export as “progressive” in Photoshop, look under “save for web”. At the end of the day, JPEG is a good choice for photos with complex color, but they don’t work well for images with transparent backgrounds.
PNG is great for icons or flat illustrations which are transparent or lack a great deal of color. If you plan to go this route, you’re going to need the exact image dimensions and save as “PNG-24”. You could even save it as “PNG-8” as long as it does not compromise the quality of your image.
GIFs, popular though they may be, support a mere 256 colors, so you’re going to need to be picky in how you utilize this particular file type.
SVG is a scalable vector format which works well with logos, text, simple images and icons. SVGs are automatically scalable in photo editing tools as well as browsers. Google indexes SVGs in the same manner it indexes JPGs and PNGs which means you don’t need to worry about SEO. In addition, SVGs are usually smaller files than JPGs and PNGs which means you can expect a faster load time.
Once again, size matters. Resize your images BEFORE you export them! This is undoubtedly the simplest way to optimize your images for your website, especially when using DSLR camera images as they can be quite a bit bigger than necessary. Extra pixels absorb more space as they generate larger files. You might be unknowingly slowing your website speed! Recommended file size is 2048 pixels wide and 240 DPI. Also, crop your images in order to decrease the file size BEFORE you upload. If you aren’t using Photoshop or something similar, Windows Paint, Canva and Mac Preview are good options for cropping.
Reduce file sizes and save storage by compressing your images: Image compression is great for shrinking the file size without compromising image quality. “Lossless” compression ensures the quality remains unphased both pre and post file compression. TinyPNG (smart “lossy” compression which decreases the number of colors used), ImageOptim (free Mac app), JPEGmini (paid option with a free trial) and RIOT (Radical Image Optimization Tool, free Windows app) are just a few image compression tools that work well to accomplish the job.
WordPress plugins automatically optimize images: Installing an image optimization plugin on your WordPress site is a great way to streamline a lot of these steps. A plugin will automatically resize and compress your images upon upload to WordPress so you don’t have to do it yourself. This means your website’s performance and speed will start off on the right foot. Recommended plugins for WordPress sites are EWWW Image Optimizer Cloud (optimizes upon upload or after upload as needed), Compress JPEG & PNG Images (optimizes JPEGS and PNGS upon upload), Imagify and Kracken.io (optimizes both new and existing images).
Your best bet is to learn how each plugin functions before you select one to install. Be sure your final choice isn’t going to overtax your server!
Try the “Blur Up” method: This is a fun trick! Even though you might have exhausted all the previous tips, you might still find that you have some large files slowing down your website speed. The “blur up” technique allows you to optimize the load experience in order to make your consumers think your files are loading faster than they actually are. Sneaky, sneaky! Appearance is everything, so if you can appear faster, then this method is for you! Start by loading a lower quality image. In other words, load a smaller version of the image before you go full scale. This allows your users the luxury of actually looking at something rather than a blank screen while they wait for all the details to fully load. Consider consulting your Jacksonville SEO expert who will know exactly how to do this for you!
Lazy loading is where it’s at: let’s call this the brother of the blur up technique, but not the twin. Lazy loading also gives the impression of faster loading time. Let’s say a consumer lands at the top of your web page, leisurely pursuing your content as they continue to scroll down on the page. Lazy loading is the concept of not loading all images simultaneously. Lazy loading means that images within the browser view will load first while remaining images load as the user scrolls down on each section of the web page. This method is easy to accomplish on WordPress sites utilizing the BJ Lazy load plugin.
Clean your media library: Media Cleaner is a great program for identifying unused media files. Cleaning out unused media files is a great way to free up space! The Media Cleaner Plugin scans media files for unused files, allowing you the opportunity to delete them. Utilizing a smart trashing system, Media Cleaner moves the deleted files to a trash directory. If you find out after a couple of weeks that a particular media file entry is missing, the smart trashing system allows you to restore the desired file from the trash directory via a simple click.
Once you’ve completed the above steps in your image optimization journey, consider running an additional site speed test to measure the benefits. Utilization of proper image optimization tools in tandem with optimized workflow will yield better loading speed and website performance, increasing leads and conversions, strengthening your bottom line. We perform complementary image optimization for our managed clients for free. Take a look at our website management packages.
Feeling a little cluttered lately? If your website looks overcrowded, too “busy” or blindingly bright and flashy, it is highly unlikely that your site is performing as it should. In fact, you could even go so far as to say that your cluttered website:
- Distracts from your brand.
- Confuses your customers.
- Increases bounce rates.
- Stifles conversions.
Drives your consumer base to your competition.
The good news is that less is more and minimalism reigns in today’s cyber society. Your customers aren’t interested in random, meaningless functions or obnoxious animations and imagery. Your website is a virtual storefront for consumers who expect a more intuitive experience. A cleaner website makes for an expedient presentation to customers looking for information fast! Simple, clean websites have the power to:
- Leave consumers with a positive impression of your brand.
- Compel consumers to interact with your brand.
- Make it easier to explore your content.
- Lead consumers along your sales funnel.
- Increase clicks on your CTA (call to action) button.
- Boost conversion rates.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to remove excess “clutter” from your website in order to make for a more compelling, user-friendly experience. Start by removing unnecessary graphics, pointless images which serve no purpose and fail to reflect your brand and irrelevant content and subheadings.
Simplify your main menu by condensing options. Keep the important links only such as “Services/Products”, “About”, “Blog” and “Contact”. Don’t make your customers jump through unnecessary hoops in order to locate simple information. Avoid a pesky mega menu stocked with numerous categories and sub links. Be sure your linking strategy is clear and incorporate secondary links in the drop-down menu and in the footer of your website if applicable. In addition, consumers spend an average of 45 seconds on a website. Internal links which connect users to alternate pages on your website are valuable as they can increase the amount of time consumers spend on your website. External links can also be valuable for improving SEO (search engine optimization), however too many links can confuse consumers. Closely evaluate the purpose and necessity of each individual link to determine which ones fulfill your goals! Think strategically!
Consider every screen by optimizing your website for all devices: smart phones, desktops, laptops, IPads, etc. Test your website on all platforms to ensure it is clear and orderly whether viewed on a tablet or a desktop!
Evaluate your content and readability:
- Avoid “fancy” fonts that are difficult to read.
- Be sure your content is engaging, employing strong SEO techniques.
- Evaluate your website for a pleasant color scheme that isn’t too harsh on the eyes.
- Check for an obvious, well-placed CTA (call to action).
- Consider average sentence length and word syllables.
Efforts to maintain a simple, clutter-free website comes with a big payoff! Enjoy improved website performance, smoother navigation experiences and greater conversion rates, all of which go to improving your bottom line!
Feeling a bit stale lately? Is your website content a tad outdated? Are your blog posts still relevant to your central marketing message?
If you are boring yourself to sleep perusing your own business website, then this post is for you! Here’s the bottom line: fresh, relevant content which accurately reflects the theme of your marketing strategy helps to build trust between you and your customers! You can’t afford to let your content go stale and maintaining a fresh approach isn’t as hard as it might seem.
Language plays a HUGE role in the maintenance of fresh content. Cultural lingo changes with the wind and what was once considered “righteous” is now deemed “cool”. Words are powerful and if you’re not speaking the language of your people (a.k.a your customers), you are automatically dating yourself and age is so much more than a number in this particular case. In addition, today’s language style has been redefined as one of inclusivity. With all of the social changes occurring regarding gender equality, for example, you need to ensure that your content speaks to your entire audience and that you aren’t inadvertently excluding or alienating customers with your material.
Jokes which were socially appropriate ten years ago are not likely to be acceptable in today’s age of enlightenment. Whether you subscribe to this philosophy or not is moot. Your business needs to be adaptable to social changes and the desires of your consumers regardless of your personal preferences and your website content needs to reflect current relevance.
While no one is trying to insult your intelligence by stating the obvious, CHECK YOUR DATES! The truth is that many business owners fail to change the dates on refreshed or recycled content. In other words, if you are planning to pull an old blog post from out of your “file” because the content is still relevant, for Pete’s sake, change the date! There is nothing worse for a new prospective customer who thinks they’ve found the answer to their problems in one of your posts only to discover the content is dated November 3, 1982. This leaves the consumer highly doubtful that the content is still relevant and they will move on to your competition who has updated material posted on their website. I can attest to this personally. Christmas shopping was rough for me when I discovered that a major 50% offer on a website expired the previous year. I won’t be doing business with THAT company. Consumers believe that true professionals don’t make rookie mistakes!
This might seem off topic, but when was the last time you watched the news or read the paper? Asking for a friend… Seriously, though, do you even know about the latest change to your entire industry? Are you up-to-date on new services and products you should be offering and have you taken any refresher courses or undergone updated training? The most successful business owners understand that it’s crucial to stay in the know and that lifelong learning is fundamental to a successful, booming business.
A simple perusal of Google can go a long way in keeping you apprised of new developments in your field which will impact your website content. Nothing says “I know my stuff” like a business owner who boasts about the newest trends in their field of expertise. Afterall, this is exactly the kind of material consumers long for! They want to achieve expert status, too! Perhaps you should set aside time each day to check out the local paper or consider a subscription to a magazine which is relevant to your field of expertise. Stay in the know!
Update those links! God may have blessed the broken road, but He cannot abide a busted link leading straight to nowhere! Okay, maybe we should leave religion out of this, but the point stands! Blog posts can be racked with broken links and nothing deters consumers like brokenness.
Broken links automatically place your website at a disadvantage by wrecking the customer’s experience with your brand and destroying your rank on search engines such as Google. The greater the amount of broken links on your website, the greater your status will plummet in search engine rankings.
I know I said I’d leave religion out of this, but it’s time to ask, “What would Jesus do?” The answer: He’d fix what’s broken. God bless!