Slow sites are bad for users and can cause them to bounce. These are some tips for speeding up WordPress sites.
Use a CDN
Using a CDN can help protect your site as well as speeding it up. They deliver your content based on the users location in order to send them the data as quickly as possible. They also help block malicious crawlers and bots. Cloudflare is a great free option for blogs.
Compressing images cuts down the size of resources a user has to download without lowering the quality of the images users see. There are WordPress plugins that will do this for you such as ShortPixel.
Prevent Scripts From Slowing the Site
Third party scripts are often used for ads, pop ups, and other things. Many of these are important for revenue and conversions. First you should look at the scripts and plugins you are using and get rid of any that aren’t effective. Next you should use a speed testing site like Pingdom to review your remaining scripts to see if they are slowing the site down. Any offenders you can look at replacing.
Use a Caching Plugin
Caching can speed up your site by saving a static copy of it. There are a number of plugin options such as WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache.
Disable Unused Plugins
If you’re not using it anymore get rid of it. You should also make sure all plugins are up to date.
Speed Up Other Media
Not all media will be local to your site. If you’re using YouTube or Twitter embeds or infographics from other sites these can be slow. Plugins like BJ Lazy Load can help speed things up by making sure that these things don’t block the rendering of the page. Basically, text content and your layout will load before media content.
Once a Google Analytics account is linked to its matching Webmaster Tools account the new “Search Engine Optimization” Reports become available. Each of these reports has useful information. The data is usually a couple of days behind though so keep this in mind when looking for new data.
Queries shows keywords that your website appears for along with the number of impressions that the listing has received along with the click through rate. This can be used to find keywords that have a good impression rate that can be improved on to increase click through. Quick Sprout suggests looking for relevant keywords with high impressions and a click through rate under 7%. These can usually be easily improved on to bring an increase in traffic. They also suggest 20% as the goal for click through rate.
Landing pages is similar and related to queries. It shows how many impressions various landing pages receive along with their click through rates and their average ranking position for all the keywords they rank for. Here we should seek to improve the pages with the highest impressions and the lowest click through rate.
This report shows you what countries you are getting traffic from. This an be helpful in determining or refining audience and deciding what countries to invest time and money into pursuing.
Using These Reports
By looking at the Landing Page and Queries reports together you can quickly find pages that can be improved. First, put the highest impression pages into a spread sheet and list out the highest ranking keywords with their stats for those pages. Next you will be highlighting those number based on their value:
- Highlight rankings of 1-4 in green (rankings should be considered based on a scale of 1 to 10 so 14 would be 4)
- For rankings 7-8 highlight click through greater than 3% in green, less in red
- For rankings 4-6 highlight click through greater than 8% in green, less in red
- For rankings 1-3 highlight click through greater than 20% in green, less in red
This will provide a quick visual guide to what pages can be improved quickly. For low rankings focus on ranking factors. For low click through focus on title tag and meta description.
With keywords in Analytics moving entirely to “not provided” tracking certain mertics has been cut back. In this video Rand gives his suggestions of ways to work around the lack of keyword data. This includes things like tracking rankings in brackets (branded, non branded, long tail) and comparing the traffic to the pages that rank for those types of terms or using other tools such as AdWords and keywords research tools.
This articles summarizes the results of a study about headlines. It breaks down the five common types of headlines: normal, question, number, how to and reader addressing. It then looks at survey data as to the preference for each type of headline. The results found that number (such as _ ways to _) were by far the most common with reader addressing coming in second. The conclusion that was drawn from the data is that readers like headline that are clear as possible, giving precise information about what is in the article.
There are also some statistics here about the importance of headlines. 2 million blog posts, 294 billion emails, and 864 thousand hours of video are created daily. That’s a lot of content, and while many people look at a large number of headlines statistics show that only about 20% of articles that are seen are actually read. This means that creating headlines that are enticing and appealing is incredibly important.
This article presents the notes from an SMX Advance panel about micro data and rich snippets. There is a lot of good information in the article and I have selected a few points I thought were particularly interesting. First, when multiple types of mark up are included, such as author, rating, product information etc Google will display different types of rich snippets based on the keyword being search for. Second, when author markup is used and a reader goes to the link and then hits the back button a “more by” type box shows up in the SERP. And third, bread crumbs are a possible rich snippet options, which opens up opportunities for purely informational articles that don’t easily lend themselves to other types of rich snippets.
This article presents 25 steps to execute great SEO. The article is too long and to well written to properly summarize. Instead I’m going to pick a few steps that presented information or techniques that were new to me.
Step 2: Keyword Theme
While keywords and keyword research are nothing new to SEO this article presents it in a different way. Rather than focusing on a single keyword or keyword phrase the purpose here is to build keyword themes. This is a central concept and a set of keyword phrases that support it. This allows for several things. First, it targets many long tail keywords rather than a single, likely competitive keyword. Second, it gives more room to create natural sounding content. And third, it can be used as the ground work for a keyword strategy that spans a single page, a group of pages or an entire website.
Step 8: Post Titles
The importance of post titles is nothing new. How we think about them is important though. Creating titles for people that utilize keywords when appropriate is the best bet for pleasing a search engine. It doesn’t matter where you rank though if no one wants to click on the title. Coming up with intriguing and inviting titles is just as important, or more important than the article itself. A simple description of the article may be adequate but creating something that is relevant and sensational will take things a lot farther.
Step 9: Length and Depth of Articles
There are really three things here to consider. The length of the article, how detailed it is, and the quality of its content. Length can be important but only as a vehicle for producing better quality. Having a good depth of information, or even adding new information is far more important than the total number of words on the page. Even short news clips can be made much more valuable by drawing a new conclusion, adding a new opinion or bringing in information from another source. Every article should add value to a topic.
Step 22: Structured Data
Structured data is seeing more and more applications and influence. While there are no big signs that it affects the actual rankings it does affect the way the SERPs look and this can have a direct influence on click through rate.
While this Whiteboard Friday video is mainly a history lessons there is a lot of very good information here. Being able to see how search has changed offers great insight into how things run now and an idea of where things might be going. The biggest directly useful information is about how social and entity search is progressing. While links may still hold the most power at this point these are important indicators that are likely to get more and more weight.
Entity search I think is the most interesting part of this video. It discusses how search engines are learning to identify things as entities, such as Obama in the example, rather than just combinations of letters. This allows them to make better connections in information between search queries, intent and results. Many of these results for basic information is displayed directly in the SERPS. The most important take away here is that it is increasingly important to create content and focus on information that Google can’t provide.
The shout out to PRISM at the end is also a very nice touch of humor.