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Review your website performance because every second matters

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Review your website performance because every second matters


A few years ago, Amazon reported that for every 100-millisecond increase in the speed of their website, they noticed an increase in revenue by one percent. This was followed by Google’s announcement that a website’s page load speed was a factor for a site’s ranking in Google’s search results.

The process of optimizing your website’s page load speeds can be a never-ending process, much like running on a treadmill. Page speed optimization will always have room for improvement and will, therefore, never be entirely satisfactory. That said, here are some steps to increase your load speeds.

Minimize HTTP requests

According to a release by Yahoo, 80 percent of a page’s load time is spent downloading the various parts of a webpage viz, stylesheets, images, scripts, etc.

Since an HTTP request is made for every single one of these elements, the more on-page components a page has, the longer it takes for it to render.

The initial step when attempting to minimize requests is to narrow down and benchmark on the number of requests and how many requests the site actually completes.

With Google Chrome, the browser’s developer tools allow users to view the number of HTTP requests made by a site. To see the number of HTTP requests a site makes users can:

  1. Right-click on the page that needs to be analyzed and select Inspect.
  2. Click the Network tab.

In case the Network tab is unavailable, you may need to drag the left border further to the left and expand the sidebar.

The Name column denotes the files located on the page. The size of each file is shown under the Size column and the estimated time to load each file is indicated under the Time column.

The bottom left corner of the page displaces the total number of requests that the site has made. Users will be able to speed up the load time of their website by reducing this number. The most straightforward way is to review the set of files and identify those that can be deemed unnecessary.

While it may take some time to observe a noticeable difference, a few files can easily be considered as prime candidates for consolidating.

Use scripts for asynchronous loading

Scripts such as JavaScript and CSS can be loaded in two separate ways – synchronously or asynchronously. Synchronous loading involves loading the snippets one at a time, in the same order as they are displayed on the screen. In asynchronous loading, scripts are loaded simultaneously, which helps speed up the process. Users can also prioritize the loading of specific elements without having to wait for external sources to load.

If the browser finds an asynchronous CSS file or a JavaScript, page load will pause until the relevant archive is completely loaded. However, for asynchronous data, the browser will continue loading the other page elements.

For WordPress, users can check options besides Render-blocking CSS/JS when using WP Rocket’s Static Files tab.

You can also load CSS or JS files directly using the async or defer functionality in Javascript. Below is an example of the async option:

<script async src=”script.js”></script>

Save changes will allow users to verify that everything loads as intended.

Reduce server response time

One of the significant factors in determining how quickly a web page loads is the time it takes for the Domain Name System lookup. A DNS lookup is the process of identifying a specific website name on record. It can be imagined as a computer referencing the phone book for a contact number.

The time taken for this step depends on how quick the user’s DNS provider is. If users find that this is not fast enough, it might be time to change to a faster DNS service provider. To help choose a DNS provider, you can consult a DNS speed comparison report, like this one from SolveDNS, which provides monthly updates ranking the speed of different providers.

Make use of a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Hosting media files on a CDN is one of the best ways to increase the speed of a website. This process alone can save up to 60 percent of the bandwidth and decrease the number of requests made by the site by 50 percent.

A CDN works by hosting files over an extensive network of servers across different geographic regions. Therefore, when a site receives a visitor from a particular region in the world, it downloads files from the server that is located closest to them. Since the bandwidth is spread across an extensive network of servers, the load on a single server is considerably reduced. This also protects websites from spikes in traffic and DDoS attacks.

Caching can help, but be careful

An efficient method of speeding up a website is to make use of caching. A cache is the short-term memory of a site. When you visit a site for the first time, a copy of the requested files is saved. These “cached” files are displayed during future visits.

However, users need to be careful when considering this option. Given that caching displays a previously saved version of the site to repetitive visitors, there is a possibility that they may contain outdated information. Dynamic sites that include aspects such as a shopping cart or social media feeds, like eBay and Twitter, can be especially problematic.

Fortunately, most plugins automatically clear the cache at regular intervals; however, users may need to do this task manually now and again. If a server is using Varnish Caching, this task can be easily accomplished via the free Varnish HTTP Purge plugin.

Decrease file size for image and video optimization

Images and media files are among the biggest drains on a site’s resources. HTML5 Video players and the related media files can help you greatly compress the size of the files. While they do go a long way in making a website look appealing and can supplement textual content, they also need a larger share of bandwidth and server space. This is especially noticeable when considering sites such as online stores or portfolio that may contain a number of HD images.

Image optimization is a natural process to implement and compresses an image’s size minus any noticeable adverse effect on its quality. The method can also be completely automated. Users can try using TinyPNG for image optimization. The tool is easy and free to use.

For video compression, you can use the modern HTML5 video players that have inbuilt compression capabilities. There are tons of open-source video players that allow you to perform these actions like Plyr, Video.js, Afterglow, etc.

Minify and compress website files

Minification is a process that makes the code of a site more efficient by removing unnecessary content. This reduces the memory required and helps speed up the execution of the code.

With the right tools, you can easily achieve minification without having to interact extensively with the code. Examples of online tools include CSS Compressor and Minify, which offer numerous features and intuitive UI.  

Conclusion

While attempting to increase the page load time can be a challenging task, the outcome will be a significant improvement in the overall performance of the website.

While some of the suggestions in the list above may seem relatively minor, each small step towards decreasing page load time can make a difference in the long run. As noticed by Amazon, every second saved can lead to conversions, revenue and success.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Imperva, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Ixia, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership. Today he heads Agile SEO.

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Here’s how to set up the Google Site Kit WordPress plugin

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Here's how to set up the Google Site Kit WordPress plugin


On Oct. 31, Google announced the launch of its Site Kit WordPress plugin that, “enables you to set up and configure key Google services, get insights on how people find and use your site, learn how to improve, and easily monetize your content.”

This plugin allows you to easily connect the following Google Services in a dashboard format within your WordPress backend:

  • Search Console
  • Analytics
  • PageSpeed Insights
  • AdSense
  • Optimize
  • Tag Manager

It brings the convenience of accessing your site’s performance data while logged into the backend of the site. This is great for webmasters, developers and agencies who are often an admin for their own site or a client’s WordPress site. However, it does not offer the robust and dynamic capabilities of a Google Data Studio report or dashboard to sort data so it may not be ideal for a digital marketing manager or CMO.

With that said, it wouldn’t hurt to implement this plugin as it’s actually a nifty tool that can help you stay on top of your site’s performance metrics. It’s also another way to give Google more access to your site which can have some in-direct benefits organically. 

Here is what the Google Site Kit plugin looks like within the WordPress plugin directory.

Installing and setting up Google Site Kit

To utilize the plugin, simply click install and activate as you would any other WordPress plugin. You will then be prompted to complete the set up.

Step 1

Click on the “Start Setup” button.

Step 2

You will be prompted to give access to your site’s Google Search Console profile, which means you need to sign in to the Gmail account that has access to your site’s Search Console profile.

Step 3

Once logged in you need to grant permissions for Google to access the data in your Search Console profile.

Step 4

Once you’ve granted all the respective permissions, you will get a completion notification and can then click on “Go to my Dashboard.”

Step 5

Once you’re in the Dashboard you will see options to connect other services such as Analytics, AdSense and PageSpeed insights. You can now choose to connect these services if you like. If you go to the settings of the plugin you will see additional connection options for Optimize and Tag Manager.

Here is what the dashboard looks like with Search Console, analytics and PageSpeed Insights enabled. You can see a clear breakdown of the respective metrics.

The plugin allows you to dive into each reporting respectively with navigation options on the left to drill down into Search Console and analytics.

There is also an admin bar feature to see individual page stats.

In summary, this is a great plugin by Google but keep in mind it’s just version 1.0. I’m excited to see what features and integrations the later versions will have!


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Tony Edward is a director of SEO at Tinuiti and an adjunct instructor of search marketing at NYU. Tony has been in the online marketing industry for over 10 years. His background stems from affiliate marketing and he has experience in paid search, social media and video marketing. Tony is also the founder of the Thinking Crypto YouTube channel.

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Bing Announces Link Penalties – Search Engine Journal

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Roger Montti


Bing announced a new link penalties. These link penalties are focused on taking down private blog networks (PBNs), subdomain leasing and manipulative cross-site linking.

Inorganic Site Structure

An inorganic site structure is a linking pattern that uses internal site-level link signals (with subdomains) or cross-site linking patterns (with external domains) in order to manipulate search engine rankings.

While these spam techniques already existed, Bing introduced the concept of calling them “inorganic site structure” in order to describe them.

Bing noted that sites legitimately create subdomains to keep different parts of the site separate, such as support.example.com. These are treated as belonging to the main domain, passing site-level signals to the subdomains.

Bing also said sites like WordPress create standalone sites under subdomains, in which case no site level signals are passed to the subdomains.

Examples of Inorganic Site Structure

An inorganic site structure is when a company leases a subdomain in order to take advantage of site-level signals to rank better. There have been

Private blog networks were also included as inorganic site structure

Domain Boundaries

Bing also introduced the idea of domain boundaries. The idea is that there are boundaries to a domain. Sometimes, as in the case of legitimate subdomains (ex. support.example.com), those boundaries extend out to the subdomain. In other cases like WordPress.com subdomains the boundaries do not extend to the subdomains.

Private Blog Networks (PBNs)
Bing called out PBNs as a form of spam that abuse website boundaries.

“While not all link networks misrepresent website boundaries, there are many cases where a single website is artificially split across many different domains, all cross-linking to one another, for the obvious purpose of rank boosting. This is particularly true of PBNs (private blog networks).”

Subdomain Leasing Penalties

Bing explained why they consider subdomain leasing a spammy activity:

“…we heard concerns from the SEO community around the growing practice of hosting third-party content or letting a third party operate a designated subdomain or subfolder, generally in exchange for compensation.

…the practice equates to buying ranking signals, which is not much different from buying links.”

At the time of this article, I still see a news site subdomain ranking in Bing (and Google). This page belongs to another company. All the links are redirected affiliate type links with parameters meant for tracking the referrals.

According to Archive.org the subdomain page was credited to an anonymous news staffer. Sometime in the summer the author was switched to someone with a name who is labeled as an expert, although the content is still the same.

So if Bing is already handing out penalties that means Bing (and Google who also ranks this page) still have some catching up to do.

Cross-Site Linking

Bing mentioned sites that are essentially one site that are broken up into multiple interlinking sites. Curiously Bing said that these kinds of sites already in violation of other link spam rules but that additional penalties will apply.

Here’s the kind of link structure that Bing used as an example:

illustration of a spammy link networkAll these sites are interlinking to each other. All the sites have related content and according to Bing are essentially the same site. This kind of linking practice goes back many years. They are traditionally known as interlinked websites. They are generally topically related to each other.

Bing used the above example to illustrate interlinked sites that are really just one site.

That link structure resembles the structure of interlinked websites that belong to the same company. If you’re planning a new web venture, it’s generally a good idea to create a site that’s comprehensive than to create a multitude of sites that are focused on just a small part of the niche.

Curiously, in reference to the above illustration, Bing said that kind of link structure was already in violation of link guidelines and that more penalties would be piled on top of those:

“Fig. 3 – All these domains are effectively the same website.
This kind of behavior is already in violation of our link policy.

Going forward, it will be also in violation of our “inorganic site structure” policy and may receive additional penalties.

Takeaway

It’s good news to hear Bing is improving. Competition between search engines encourage innovation and as Bing improves perhaps search traffic may become more diversified as more people switch to Bing as well as other engines like DuckDuckGo.

Read Bing’s announcement: Some Thoughts on Website Boundaries



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Google Releases its Site Kit WordPress Plugin Out of Beta

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Matt Southern


Google has released version 1.0 of its Site Kit plugin for WordPress, which means its officially out of beta after 6 months.

In the time since the developer preview of Site Kit was released, Google says it drastically simplified the setup, fixed bugs, and polished the main user flows.

Site Kit allows WordPress users to access data from Google products right from their site’s dashboard. The plugin aggregates data from Google Search Console, Google Analytics, PageSpeed Insights, and AdSense.

Google Releases its Site Kit WordPress Plugin Out of Beta

With Site Kit there’s no additional code editing required, which makes it easy to set up products like Google Analytics for those without any developer experience.

Anyone can install Site Kit, but Google emphasizes that it’s especially useful for professionals who work on sites for clients. The reasons why include:

  • Clients and other teams can easily access data from Google products by logging into the WordPress dashboard.
  • Clients will see performance states and improvement recommendations directly from Google
  • Site Kit allows you to set roles and permissions and make sure only relevant people can see the data.

To get the most out of Site Kit, Google recommends reviewing the main dashboard on at least a weekly basis. You can also check the stats of individual pages by navigating to the page and clicking on Site Kit in the admin bar.

Google Releases its Site Kit WordPress Plugin Out of Beta

With this data, Google recommends comparing the top performing pages and seeing how people found them. This can help you discover trends, such as which topics get the most engagement on Twitter, which get the most engagement on Facebook, and so on.

To get started with Site Kit, simply install it from your WordPress dashboard.



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