SEO

Increase Performance with PageSpeed Insights

Wow! I just sped up my website performance quite a bit using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. While I still have some work to do, I wanted to share with you some of the things I learned using this tool on my website. If you are a novice web developer, you will find these tips come in handy when you move to speed up the performance your website using Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool.

Remember that website performance is an important factor in determining your page rank in search engines. If you want to rank high, your visitors need to be able to get access to your content quickly. Long loading screens are harmful to your overall SEO scores.

Here are a few tricks I learned using this tool:

Performance tip #1: Load as few Javascript and CSS resources in the <head> of your website’s index file as possible.

This means inlining the crucial elements of your css and small scripts that you need to load on your home page (the same goes for other pages too). So if you have a script on your homepage that loads a slider showing featured posts, you may consider inlining the CSS for that element of the page if it isn’t too bulky. Too much inline CSS can slow down the page in the long run, but if you can get away with inlining small, crucial elements and make fewer requests to the database to load resources, then all the better.

If you must load several resources in the <head> of your web page, Google recommends Try to defer or asynchronously load blocking resources, if you cannot inline them.

Performance tip #2: Set an expiry date or a maximum age in the HTTP headers for static resources.

According to Google, “Setting an expiry date or a maximum age in the HTTP headers for static resources instructs the browser to load previously downloaded resources from local disk rather than over the network.”

This isn’t as big of a deal if your server response time is clocked in as being fairly quick, but if your theme is resource heavy, I recommend taking a look to see what you can do to implement a browser cache system on your website. In WordPress, this is as simple as pasting some PHP into your .htaccess file.

Performance tip #3: Optimize Images with an image compressor.

Still in the vein of loading resources, keep in mind that your user’s browser has to load each and every image placed on your web page. If your home page uses a hefty background image, as well as several photos for featured blog posts, or an hd photo of you and the crew on the sidebar, all of these resources can stack up. Run your images through an image compressor to cut down on unnecessary space. Oftentimes, you can “losslessly” compress the image and the finished result will be 40%-50% lighter, and still identical to the previous one. There are several plugins available to help you do this in WordPress, or you can just do it manually before you upload your files.

Conclusion:

If site performance is important to you (and it should be), these tips should help you dramatically increase your site’s performance if you have any problems with speed whatsoever.

What is SEO and Why Do I Need it?

There is much talk on the web these days about SEO. Looking to get clued in on this phenomenon? Here are some basics to help the novice get a grasp on this concept.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Search Engine Optimization is the practice of optimizing web content for search engines to find and index it. An official definition according to Webopedia follows:

Webopedia-Screenshot-SEO

This means following several guidelines for writing content that include the way links are presented, the keywords used in the post, and the code of the website itself, among other things. Google says that this oftentimes simply means making small changes to parts of your website, although there are some websites that are non-SEO friendly to the core.

As you write content on the web, it’s important for you to think about how you present this content. As you write your content, you should keep two questions in the forefront of your mind. First, ask yourself: Am I presenting this material in the best way for my viewers to receive it? Second, you should ask: Am I presenting this material in the best way for search engines to recognize it as helpful for my viewers? You see, Google has bots that crawl the web indexing pages and deciding – based on complex algorithm – a page rank that determines where your website gets placed in search results when your potential visitors browse the web.

SEO in 2016

In 2016, there are many ways to get ahead with SEO. The method of choice for many web developers (myself included) is to use the Yoast plugin. If you are a WordPress user, I highly recommend this plugin as an intuitive tool that will keep you on track with SEO best practices in real time as you write content for your WordPress website. In fact, I use it for every single one of my blog posts and web pages including this post. I also recommend you go and read what Google has to say on the subject in their Search-Engine-Optimization Starter Guide.

I design all of my websites with SEO in mind. One of the biggest parts of this is setting my client up with a clean WordPress installation and a theme that utilizes SEO friendly code. I also ensure that the finished product looks great and performs well on mobile platforms, because this is a huge factor for SEO.

SEO goes far beyond this simple consideration. Page rank is also determined by proper use of the following: headings, formatting, URLs, meta description, linking, images, readability, keyword stuffing (this is very bad), and the use of fresh content, among many other things. While no one has access to Google’s complete algorithm, paying attention to what Google says about SEO can greatly aid in scoring high when a bot indexes your sites.

Creating web content that is in line with current SEO standards is truly an art form that takes practice and diligence. If you want to consistently rank at the top of search results, you need to get your household in order and continue to patiently work at it until you see results.

Are you a small business owner looking for quality web design work? Do you want your website to be primed for Google’s search index from day one? Consider shooting me a message through the contact form below to see what services I can offer you.