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3 Proven Tactics That Will Boost Your Rankings Over Night.

This is part two, day two of The Basic SEO Experiment, a mini-series of blog posts where I look at how different types of content posted over a seven day period affect the search engine rankings of my site in order to find out the best way to quickly boost the rank of your site. You're welcome.

In today's episode, I am going to look at a factor that most people don't even realize they need to consider when making an seo strategy: website speed optimization.

What is website speed optimization you ask? Simply put, it's how fast a website loads after a link to it is clicked. There are a lot of factors that can affect website speed optimization, including:

  • A visitors internet speed connection.
  • The number of images on a page.
  • The location of the website's server in relation to the visitor.
  • The number of concurrent visitors on the website.
  • Third party plugins being used on the site.
  • The code on the website.

Google makes an incredibly useful tool to monitor your website speed optimization called Google Page Speed Insights. It is one of the tools in my list of top 10 free seo tools. There are other tools out there that measure website speed optimization, but since this blog-series is primarily focused on Google rank we really only need to look at their metrics.

I will tackle each of the items on the list individually to give you a bit of a step by step guide to fix your website speed optimization if your site is too slow. Following these guide lines will allow you to score a 95 or better on the Google Page Speed Insights tool.

I will be reviewing two websites. The slower one will remain anonymous but I know its a moderately high traffic website with excellent design and a decent  hosting provider. The other one is the very website you are reading on right now. That's right, my own website. I have made sure to check almost every box on Google Pagespeed Insights' recommendations list and my site (and all of the sites I work on) have a website speed optimization rank of 100 on both mobile and desktop.

On that note, I'd like to debunk one common misconception about mobile and desktop design: while it is true that if your website is not optimized for mobile devices you will not rank highly for mobile device searches, but that has nothing do with how you rank on a desktop search. What that means is when someone searches with their mobile device; tablets, smart phones, etc. a website that isn't optimized to display correctly on a mobile device will not show up in the search results. However, if someone searches on their desktop or laptop computer, mobile optimization is not factored into those search results. That being said, mobile searching is becoming more and more popular every day and has been trending up for the last 5 years so you should have a mobile friendly site anyway. Okay, enough of that tangent, let's get that website speed optimization going.

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The first factor I listed is a visitors internet speed. This is something that a website owner has absolutely no control over. Fortunately, the visitor usually has a pretty good understanding of their own speed so depending on where they are, they might have a little more forgiveness if a site takes a while to load. The common conception is that a website needs to load in less than 3 seconds or you will lose that visitor. And that is true in most cases until you factor in the visitor's current location or environment. If someone is in a bad reception zone or having bad weather, they are going to understand that its their connection that is causing the website to load slower. On the other hand, if they know their connection is fast and your site loads slowly, they are going to go elsewhere. We will use a slow user connection as a baseline for the website speed optimization tactics we employ.

The next factor is the number of images on a page. Images take a long time to load, especially if they are not sized and formatted to load quickly. Fixing image formats is usually the quickest and most effective way of boosting website speed optimization and there are a lot of ways to do it.

Properly size your images. It's a fact, the bigger the image size, the longer it takes to load. Many website owners will hire a photographer to give them beautiful photos to put on the site. And even if you are using stock photos that you've purchased from an online retailer chances are the photos are going to have a huge resolution, because the higher the resolution, the better the images look. You want to keep the height and width ratios the same, but scale those giant images down to as close to the exact size of the content on screen for a massive reduction in load times. For maximum website speed optimization there should be a different sized image for every type of device. At minimum, five different sizes for large displays, medium displays (like a laptop screen), tablet screen, and phone screens with both vertical and horizontal positions. But the more sizes you account for the better your website speed optimization will be.

There is one more trick that will take your website speed optimization of images to the highest possible level and its called serving your images in "next-gen formats." The term next-gen formats is something Google has been pushing heavily over the last few years. Most people are familiar with images that end with .PNG or .JPG, but there are better formats that can be reduced in size without losing as much detail as the older formats. I'm not going to go too much into it, but basically, every time you reduce an image in size it loses a little bit of detail and clarity. Google recommends converting your images to the .WEBP format for maximum compression and website speed optimization. Here is a link to a free online image converter. And if you are interested in learning more about the website speed optimization benefits of the .WEBP format, Google has some more information on it here.

Here is the difference in size for all of the images I used in this post. The first are .PNG sizes and the second is .WEBP

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The next two factors of website speed optimization can get a little expensive and if you follow the guidelines above of image optimization and a little further down about cleaning up your code, newer sites won't have to worry about location or number of concurrent visitors. But let's be thorough and talk about them anyway.

This next part gets a little technical and might not be the most interesting for someone working on their SEO. You'll want to revisit this once we've got your website getting thousands of visits a month. 

If a visitor is in Los Angeles, but your web server is in New York, its going to take a little longer for the website to load, especially if that site has poor website speed optimization. If you are using a shared hosting plan, which is the cheapest form of web hosting you can get, you are out of luck. Your server is going to be slow and there is nothing you can do to compensate for location. 

Better servers are known as VPS, Private Servers, and Cloud Hosting which can get expensive but they have the ability to use different types of load balancers. A load balancer runs multiple versions of your site depending on how many visitors are using it. If it's the middle of the night and a website has little traffic, there isn't a need for more than one site which helps keep the cost lower. A latency based load balancer can also direct user traffic to versions of the site that are closer to where the user is coming from. High powered servers and load balancing really helps website speed optimization when you have a lot of traffic, but until that day the next best step you can take is optimizing the code on your site.

Optimizing your images will go a long way in website speed optimization and could potentially get you into the 70s or even 80s on Pagespeed Insights. But to go that extra step and get into the 90s, or possibly have a rating of 100, there are some simple yet effective tricks you can use to optimize your code.

If you look at the opportunities section of the Pagespeed Insights rating for the slow website you can see an .84 second delay being the biggest delay on the page. It's saying to eliminate render-blocking resources. Google uses a few somewhat ambiguous terms known as "above the fold" and "below the fold". A render blocking resource is anything that loads that isn't part of the initial view of the page. So anything blow the fold should not load until the very end, after everything above the fold and all of the HTML has loaded.

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This is a screen shot of Amazon's home page. I zoomed out 200% so we can get a picture of most of the front page. The red line denotes this so called "fold." Anything CSS or images below that red line should not load until all of the HTML has loaded. Its actually pretty simple to implement that CSS change. Just create two separate CSS files. I label mine, abovethefold.css and belowthefold.css, feel free to do the same. My abovethefold.css file is put inbetween the <head> tag of my website while belowthefold.css is put just before the closing </body> tag.

As you can see, Amazon has a lot of images to load but the page is relatively fast. The last piece of advice I will give today is about "lazy loading" images. I will probably create a tutorial for YouTube on lazy loading, but its actaully pretty simple. With a bit of javascript, you can defer the loading of images, videos, and animations until everything else has been loaded. If you want a completed script, I made one and put it up on CodePen. You can check it out here.

Follow these tips and your website speed optimization will not be the reason your site isn't ranking. It might seem challenging, especially if you aren't a developer, but you can do it. If you need any help, please feel free to contact me.

 

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With all the free and cheap tools out there, almost anyone with a computer, a website and some basic seo knowledge can bring in massive amounts of traffic and start building a customer base. I wanted to go over my top ten list of seo tools so far in 2019.

1. Google Search Console - This is by far my most used seo tool. Using Google Search Console lets you see your site the same way Google's web crawlers see it. Google is the #1 search engine by a long shot and if you are serious about finding new customers through your website, you need to learn to play by Google's rules.

2. Page Speed Insights - Another nice seo tool from Google that tells you how fast your visitors can load your website. It also differentiates between desktop and mobile browsers. And it even tells you what you can do to increase your sites performance.

3. UberSuggest - If you need ideas for content, this seo tool is exactly what you need. You can enter in some keywords and Ubersuggest will tell you how many other sites are trying to rank for the same words. This is great when you're trying to get a leg up in a competitive market.

4. HotJar - A great way to increase your search engine rankings is by understanding how your current visitors are using your site. HotJar lets you see how your visitors are using your site. You can find out what's causing them to leave and then adjust your design to accomidate.

5. Google Analytics - This seo tool can be a little more difficult to use than the others on this list, but it does have some useful features including which pages people are visiting the most, what time of the day your visitors on the site and even where the visitors are coming from.

6. Wave - This simple yet powerful seo too checks your website's layout and design for handicapped accessibility and offers you suggestions on how to fix any issues your site has. Accessibility is going to play a bigger part of seo rankings in the future.

7. SEO Site Checkup - This seo tool checks your site for possible problems in a deeper way than Google Search Console does. It also offers suggestions on how to fix them.

8. SEM Rush - SEM Rush has a number of useful tools from detailed error reports to social media post scheduler. Not all of their services are free

9. Hexometer - This is an seo tool that I recently discovered but I think it has potential to be something etremely useful. It analyzes your content and arcitecture and gives you a report based on trends in today's user experience requirements.

10. The Handly Little Blog Helper Tool - This is a bit of a shameless plug for a tool I created to help me write these blogs. It's completely free and very easy to use. You just enter a keyword or phrase and start writing your blog post. The tool will count the number of words you've written as well give you your keyword density, both of which are very important pieces of information in order to maximize the basic seo of your content.

And that's the list. If you are looking for more information on basic seo, this blog post is part of a series of posts I am working on for the site called The Basic SEO Experiment and I invite you to read more about it here

If you want to see even more SEO tools, look at this far more comprehensive list by Brain Dean at Backlinko.

 

 

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If you're looking to make a little extra money on the side, and maybe even start your own successful business, don't believe the hype: SEO is not dead! New businesses are opening up around you all the time and almost all of them have a website. But are they using it right? In most cases the answer is a resounding "no". A business' main goal is to make money and in order to make money, they need customers. A good website should attract new customers and help returning customers find what they need quickly. But without some basic seo customers will never find that site. That's where you come in.

 

Whether the business is new or old, chances are they want more customers. I've worked with hundreds of small businesses and as far as I remember, none of them ever said they don't want more customers. If you can bring them more customers with very basic seo they will pay you very well. The problem in today's seo market, there are a lot of empty promises and many businesses don't want to spend their limited funds on something that might not work out. So how do you as someone with even basic seo knowledge get yourself some customers? Its easier than you think.

 

If you want to target local businesses, for instance a local interior designer, head over to GoDaddy and buy a new domain and hosting plan. Once you've got a domain and a hosting plan, you will need to do a little research on the competition!

 

Do a Google search for interior designers in your city. Find out which companies are ranking the highest for in your city and review their websites. You will want to check on the number of blogs and/or pages each of the highest rankings site have. After you've done a bit of sleuthing, you can start the real work: writing blog posts.

 

You are aiming for about 30 blogs in 30 days. Its not the easiest thing to do when you first start, especially if you're not used to writing too much. But you can do it. The sweet spot for ranking on Google is about 1600 words with a keyword density ratio between 1.5% and 2.5%. [If you need help counting words and measuring the keyword density, I've got a free, easy-to-use tool on my website called The Handy Little Blog Helper Tool.] You already know what keywords you want to rank for. In this case, interior designer (your city). I live in Ventura, CA so I would want to rank for interior designer Ventura or Ventura interior designer. This is basic seo at its core. But I'm sure you're asking "so how do I make money using basic seo?"

 

Think about this: if you have a website about interior design and you are getting a few hundred visitors to your website a month, you can approach some of those companies you did research on in the beginning and show them your numbers. If your website can bring that company an extra $3000 or more per month, they will gladly pay you a monthly fee of $1200 at least. And once you have one site up and running, you can go after another market the next month. If you can get ten sites in that manner, you can be bringing in $12,000 in passive income. All you need is a domain, a blog and basic seo knowledge.

 

This website is part of a twenty-one part series collectively known as The Basic SEO Experiment. Check it out for more great content!

 

-Steve

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Most website owners understand that writing blogs is very important for seo. But the effects each new article has on your day-to-day traffic is less understood. So I've decided to monitor the impressions and clicks my own site is receiving based on a few different factors: the length of the post, keyword density and social media shares and I'll track all of this through Google Search Console. Some posts are optimized, meaning they've hit the 1600 word count and 2.5% keyword ratio. Some are much shorter while others do not have a great keyword density. For the shorter and keyword variant posts, I'll share them on multiple forms of social media. Since the longer, more optimized articles are already geared for the best seo results, I'll only share them on LinkedIn.

 

I tend to use LinkedIn more often than any other social media platform because of the b2b nature of my company and I have a fairly large network there and seo is always a trending topic. In the future I will be looking into Facebook and Twitter to see how they compare. I don't have a following on either site, but feel free to help me grow those followings by checking out my Facebook and Twitter pages. If I get enough of a following, I will start posting there more often.

 

Google Search Console has a nice feature that lets you examine your traffic over a variety of time periods, including a custom time frame that lets you decide the exact range. Since I want to track the most recent results for this seo experiment, I will only focused on the 7 day performance. I'm not going to look at how the individual posts track, I'm more interested in how the websites overall seo will be effected as a whole.

 

This idea occurred to me when I started noticing a couple of posts I made a few months ago doing very well, one even ranking on the first page of Google for a time. I don't typically use this website for seo purposes and I haven't always been interested in increasing my rankings. I just try to share tips and tricks for businesses to increase the ROI of their website. But since I am getting more action off the backs of those posts I thought it would be a great time to experiment on my own site, which doesn't rank particularly, well and share some useful information with the rest of the world. Seo can be tricky for new or unranked websites, but hopefully this guide will give you a baseline of what to expect from the money you spend on your seo campaigns.

 

As I said, I don't use this site for search engine rankings; its more of a projects / contact page and not much seo goes into it. However, I've been helping other companies manage their seo for years now. When I work with websites that are not ranking highly on the search engines there are two or three main reasons. With newer sites there isn't usually very much content which is incredibly important for strong seo. Older sites might have a ton of content but with no focus and no back-links will find themselves at the end of the search results, and no body wants to be there! No matter how much time you spend on seo, if you're not doing it right you won't get anywhere.

 

Admittedly, this first post is a little bit of a stream of consciousness (though it has been editted) and the rest of these posts will have more substance. The reason for the format of this post is because there are better ways to learn about the fundamentals of seo. What I am trying to do is give people an experiment they can use once they've learned the basics of seo. The title of this post is "The Basics of SEO" but really it should be "How To Use Your New Found SEO Skills," but that's a little longer of a title than I want, plus I think you can learn something from this experiment even if you don't have any prior basic seo experience. (edit: I decided to go with a better title - The Basic SEO Experiment)

 

The Process:

 

This seo experiment is starting on Tuesday, October 15th 2019. I am going to write three blogs per day; one with strong seo content and two without. Using the search console, I will be able to see how Google is ranking my site and using Google Analytics, I will be able to see how my social shares bring in visitors. The first post will be this one and if you haven't noticed by now the keyword I am targeting is seo. Seo is actually an extremely competitive search term. There are thousands of seo and marketing firms on the internet, and they all want your business (and so do I!) so ranking for the term seo is going to be quite the challenge. 

 

As a shameless plug, I am monitoring my keyword density and word count with a tool I made to do just that. If you want to follow along with me, head over to the Handy Little Blog Helper Tool on my website.

 

Each day will have a separate keyword from the other days. However, each of those day's blog posts will focus on the same keyword. For instance, all three of today's blog posts will focus on seo. Tomorrow I will probably go into optimizing your page speed, which helps basic seo tremendously also happens to be related to basic seo which helps keep my posts focused. 

 

For the most part, I am going to stick to those rules. But since this is an experiment I will switch things up a few times to see what kind of effects unfocused content has on basic seo rankings and to see how quickly we can begin to rank on new topics. On day five, I will go off topic completely and probably talk about how awesome my new pasta maker is. Day six I will bring it back to discussing seo and marketing, but each of that day's posts will be on a different topic.

 

And, as mentioned many times before, I will be tracking all of this with Google Search Console. This is what my seven day and one day traffic looks like as of today. 

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Every day will have a few more pictures of my sites performance along with one more image of what keywords I'm ranking for. As of now, that information isn't relevant but you can see that my Windows server posts are doing pretty well. It was those articles that got me thinking about this little basic seo experiment.

 

Hypothesis:

 

Promoting your content is very important. I believe the smaller less keyword dense posts will give my site a huge rankings boost. Part of Google's algorithm depends on the number of clicks and links your website gets. Since this experiment is focused on seeing results in as little time as possible, and helping struggling sites get ranked. By promoting smaller and potentially more digestible content through social media and forums I think I will see some nice results. I will also link all of these posts to each other so they should all be crawled at the same rate.

 

In the long run, I know my longer posts will hold up over an extended period of time and will be the content that rise the highest over time. But because the shorter posts will also be linked to the longer posts, I should see pretty good results across all of the content.

 

As for the two days where I veer away from the standard format, I don't expect those posts to do very well. I really hope the pasta maker post doesn't hurt my overall ratings, but hey, its for science. 

 

Final Thoughts:

 

For one, this is going to take a lot of writing. I do have a built in advantage because my site has been programmed to be extremely fast, mobile friendly and easy to use. Not everyone will start with the same foundation that I have if, for instance, they are using something like a WordPress theme or SquareSpace.  Those types of sites don't usually have very good coding standards since they are meant to be easy to get up an running. I will get into that a little more in tomorrows blog post so stay tuned!

 

If you are interested in learning more about the basics of seo and seo fundamentals, check out my this page that's full of links to places that give free and paid seo training. If you're interested in making passive income, read this. There are also links to things like Google Search Console and Google Analytics which if you're not using now, you really need to start.

 

Finally, I am going to focus primarily on Google search rankings. Because Google has the most stringent algorithm and the most competition, I think its a better idea to hyper focus on them. Not to say that Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, DuckDuckGo or any of the others aren't an import part of any basic seo strategy, because they absolutely are. But in my experience, following Google's guidelines will also help you rank on the other search engines. I have a few sites that are on the first page of Bing, but page 3 on Google. Its just that much harder to get your content noticed by the big Google machine. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me steve@the3rdpig.com or request to connect on LinkedIn. Just tell me you read (at least skimmed) my post on the basic seo experiment. Happy rankings and good luck!

 

-Steve

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Over my 15 years as a developer I've worked with a lot of programming languages and frameworks. One of, if not the best, things about being a software engineer is that the industry standards are always changing and the best developers want to adapt. I can't ever see myself dedicating everything to one language or framework, but a few years ago I found a beta project by Microsoft call ASP.NET vNext (now know as ASP.NET Core) and my life as a developer changed forever.

I'd used ASP.NET 3.5 and 4.5 many times in the past. Durring my 5 years developing for the oil industry I used .NET and Sharepoint exclusively. One of the biggest advantages of .NET is its integration with Visual Studio. But Visual Studio, as well as finding reliable IIS hosting, was expensive back in the mid '00s and the price point wasn't worth it for me to buy it on my home computer. Consequently, I never took .NET side projects; I was a PHP cavalier. But in March of 2015 I stumbled upon ASP.NET vNext version 0.4. The solution structure of the MVC templates looked incredibly clean. I could have a Bootstrapped web app with a user log-in system deployed to Azure in less than 5 minutes. I knew this new .NET framework was going to change the way I could help my clients realize their goals in unpreccedented time.

Another huge change to my business strategy was how much Microsoft Azure had matured. I had used AWS since 2010 and I had mastered that development stack, but it was slow and took a lot of steps to get something simple up and running. I stayed with PHP, Zend Framework and AWS until ASP.NET launched their first official release which became known as ASP.NET Core 1.0. Within two months, I was able to leave my full-time job and focus soley on freelancing. Within the span of 1 year I launched 25 new web applications of various sizes and complexity. Business was booming and I stayed up on the all of the changes to .NET Core, constantly adapting my applications to run on the latest versions. Each project maintains the highest of security standards and speed and my clients are extremely happy with the performance. That was nearly 4 years ago, and I am still on top, out performing every other out-of-the-box web application systems on the market.

This blog is not meant to be a fluff piece for Microsoft or .NET. Instead, this is something I truly believe in and I am very passionate about this product because of what it provides my clients. Keeping projects steamlined and fast are two things that mean a lot to an independent developer with few to no other developers to work with. I strive to deliver the highest quality products to whomever I work but working effeciently can mean taking some short-cuts. This short-cut does not suffer a lack in quality.

https://www.toptal.com/hire-dedicated-net-developer

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