Getting Optimum Performance Out Of Your WordPress Site

Your website is ground zero for all of your online marketing. Whether you are using video, social media, adwords – you name it, everything points back to your website to convert visitors into customers. However, if your site isn’t performing at it’s peak, then you maybe losing sales. Here are some great tips to make sure you are getting the maximum potential out of your WordPress site.

How To Optimize Your WordPress Website

Optimizing Your WordPress Site

There are a lot of factors that come into play when optimizing your site not only for search engines, but customers as well. As search engines become smarter, it does get a little easier to combine your optimization efforts to please both.

If you have followed any of our posts on Web Design, you know that we have been mentioning for awhile that your site needs to load fast. If your site doesn’t load in just a couple of seconds, users will hit the back button to go to another site. Site load speed is also a ranking factor in search engines. So making sure your site loads fast is probably one of the biggest factors in getting the most out of your site. To learn more about how to make your site load faster, see our post “Speed Up Your Site For Better Rankings And UX“.

Website Hosting

The next thing that must be mentioned is hosting. If you have your site on subpar host, then your site will be lacking. In fact it can hurt not only your site load speed, but user engagement as well. “How” you may ask? Well this was just covered in an article by Chris Garret on CopyBlogger and his tenth point:

 

Hosting with a company that prevents or punishes your success

This last one will catch you by surprise at the worst moment.

You get your 15 minutes (or 15,000 visitors) of fame, only for your host to tell you … nope! Not on their watch.

They shut you down.

There it is, in the fine print of your hosting contract … you’re only allowed a certain number of visitors or so much bandwidth … which means all your new prospects land on a page that says your website is down.

It’s smart to keep your costs manageable when you’re starting out, but losing potential customers because of penny-pinching isn’t so smart.

If you currently have cheap “hobby” hosting, you need to ask yourself:

How many clients or customers can I afford to lose to a bad web experience?

Read Chris’ full article “10 Often Overlooked Website Mistakes that May Harm Your Business

It’s a great point from Chris. We like how he makes the connection between cheap hosting and “hobby” hosting. It’s true. You need to stop and ask yourself if it’s worth saving a few hundred dollars a year on hosting costs that could literally be costing your business tens of thousands of dollars in sales due to a slow loading site or not loading because of exceeding your monthly bandwidth. Are you running a business, or is it just a hobby??

Next we move onto more things on your WordPress site itself. We have covered about how important it is to keep your site’s themes and plugins updated. “Is Your Website At Risk Of Being Hacked” explains how important these updates are in keeping your site secure. Sometimes these updates can also lead to how well your site performs, or doesn’t.

But what about your site’s database and links? One of our favorite writers, Colin Newcomer, just made a post on WPKube that covers this:

Clean and Optimize Your Database

When you first install WordPress, your database starts off so clean and tiny. But as you start “living” in your site, your database starts picking up all kinds of junk. It’s like dust in your house. You didn’t do anything to “cause” the dust…but it still accumulates and makes everything look dirty.

Posts revisions, transients, table overhead, spam comments, and more do that to your database. Each individual database entry isn’t a big deal…but combined (like those specks of dust), they can make your site a big sluggish.

Thankfully, they’re easy to clean up. All you need to do is run a plugin like WP-Sweep. Nothing to configure – just install, head to Tools → Sweep and clean up your various tables:

You can also Sweep All at the bottom of the page – though I don’t recommend it because you might wipe out your drafts. It’s usually better to go through each category individually to ensure you don’t remove important information.

Check for Broken Internal and External Links

Broken links are bad for user experience and, to a lesser extent, SEO. They make it harder for humans to use your site and robots to crawl your site. They’re difficult to find manually…but with the right tool (Broken Link Checker), you can instantly sniff out every single broken link on your WordPress site.

While the plugin does have some advanced settings, for most sites, you can just install it and head to Tools → Broken Links:

You can hover over each link to quickly edit it or remove the link.

Because some people say that Broken Link Checker can slow down the wp-admin dashboard, I recommend only enabling the plugin specifically when you want to check for broken links.

Read Colin’s Full Article “9 WordPress Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Site Running Smoothly

Those are some really good tips. However, before adding any plugins to your site, make sure you back it up first as they may conflict with others and cause the dreaded “white screen of death”. We would also advise that with both of these plugins you deactivate them when not in use as Colin points out with Broken Link Checker. This brings us to our last point –

wordpress plugins

Plugins

One of the greatest things about WordPress are the plugins. There are thousands of them. What you must remember is that “the more the better” rule DOES NOT apply here. Too many plugins will slow down your site, while some plugins are hogs and can really slow things down. As a general rule, we try and stay away from “Swiss Army Knife” plugins that do “everything” for you as they tend to be the worst. Also, the more plugins you are running the greater your chances of having a conflict resulting in again the “white screen of death” or the site not functioning properly leading to poor user experience.

Try and use the minimum amount of plugins as possible to get your needs done. It’s a good idea to regularly check your plugins and if you are not using them, deactivate and uninstall to keep from slowing down your site and minimize the risk of plugin conflict.

Summing It Up

Getting optimum performance from your website really starts with your hosting. With a low cost hosting provider you may be saving a few bucks, but losing thousands in lost revenue due to customers leaving your site before they even see it. Try and use the plugins that Colin recommends to clean up your database and links. Cleaning your database will mostly only benefit your load times, but broken links can not only impact rankings, but user experience as well. Just these few things can have a real impact on how well your site performs.

If you need help with optimizing your website, need a website rebuild, or just need a web design service, visit us at MD Internet Marketing Solutions

Getting Optimum Performance Out Of Your WordPress Site Find more on: http://www.MDIMSolutions.com

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Is Your Website At Risk Of Being Hacked?

How Secure Is Your Website?

You may be the owner of a small business with a small website and think your website isn’t a target for hackers. After all, what would a hacker want with your website? Your website might be just about your services that doesn’t contain any customer information. Why would a hacker even bother with your “little” site? You might be surprised about what hackers can do with your site once they infiltrate it and what they can do.

Is your website at risk of being hacked?

 

We are sticklers about website security. We have also taken on customers that have had their site hacked. It’s no fun. Every site that we have dealt with that has been hacked did not have any person’s personal information whatsoever. So why did the hackers bother with these sites?

If you are using our favorite CMS – WordPress, it’s really very simple. It’s all about the numbers. As of last year (2016), WordPress websites accounted for around 26% of the websites on the web. So with over a Billion sites on the web that equates to around 250 million of them being on WordPress. It’s a numbers game for hackers, why not create one bot that can have the most effect and best chances of succeeding.

What Will Hackers Do With Your Site?

What does a hacker want with your site? Install malware to try and infect visitors computers, try and spread their political views, try and gain access to the server your site is hosted on, and probably sometimes, some geek with too much time on their hands.

So how do these hackers get into your site in the first place? A rather large list was made on WPMUDEV.org recently that has some of the most used techniques:

How Hackers Compromise Websites

When writing code, it’s near impossible to not create any security holes whatsoever. When hackers find these vulnerabilities, they exploit them and you’re left with a compromised site.

There are are also other ways a site could be vulnerable including human error such as using passwords that are easy to guess as well as insecure or unreliable hosting.

There are a number of commonly exploited and potential WordPress vulnerabilities including:

  • SQL Injection (SQLI) – Occurs when SQL queries and statements can be entered and executed from a site’s URL
  • Cross-site Scripting (XSS) – A hacker can inject code into a site, typically through an input field
  • File Upload – A file with malicious code is uploaded to a server without restriction
  • Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) – Code or strings are entered and executed from a site’s URL
  • Brute Force – Constantly trying to log in by guessing the admin’s account username and password
  • Denial of Service (DoS) – When a site goes down due to a steady stream of traffic coming from a hackbot
  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) – Similar to a DoS attack, except the hackbot is sending traffic from multiple sources such as infected computers or routers
  • Open Redirect – Occurs due to a vulnerability and it’s a site’s page that’s redirected to a different one that’s set by a hacker and is often spam or a phishing site
  • Phishing (Identity Theft) – A site or page created by a hacker that looks like a well-known, commonly trusted site, but is used to collect login credentials by tricking a user to input their details
  • Malware – A malicious script or program with a purpose to infect a site or system
    Local File Inclusion (LFI) – An attacker is able to control what file is executed at a scheduled time that was set up by the CMS or web app
  • Authentication Bypass – A security hole that enables a hacker to circumvent the login form and gain access to the site
  • Full Path Disclosure (FPD) – When the path to a site’s webroot is exposed such as when the directory listing, errors or warnings are visible
  • User Enumeration – Being able to determine a valid username to later use for brute force attacks by adding a string to the end of a WordPress site’s URL to request a user ID which may return an author’s profile with the valid username
  • XML External Entity (XXE) – An XML input that references an external entity and is processed poorly by improperly set up XML parser and can lead to confidential information disclosure

Read The Full Article “The Ultimate Guide to WordPress Security

That’s not even the entire list from the post, nor is the post every way that a site can be hacked. As time goes on, hackers get more sophisticated and develop new ways to get into sites to use them as they wish.

How To Keep Your Site Secure

Before you get into a full on panic, there are things you can do to help make sure your site doesn’t fall victim to hackers.

The first thing you can do is make sure you use strong usernames and passwords. Never, and we mean never, use the default “Admin”. Use very long passwords, maybe a snippet from your favorite song and add a few punctuation marks and numbers before and after.

The second thing and probably the most effective is……. KEEP YOUR SITE UPDATED! Whenever there is a new release of WordPress, make sure you install it right away. Whenever you receive an email that an update is available, get it done. But it doesn’t stop there, you also need to make sure that your Themes and Plugins are also kept up to date because they can be just as vulnerable. A classic example of this is the vulnerability in the Revolution Slider back in 2014 where as many as 100 thousand sites were hacked. You won’t receive email notifications for these types of updates, so we suggest checking at least weekly that everything is up to date.

Gail Gardner just posted an article today on another one of our top priorities of keeping your site secure with the importance of choosing a good server or hosting provider:

Choose a Secure Web Host

Web hosts vary greatly in how secure they are. Shared Web hosting is the most affordable option, since you’re sharing server space with countless other websites. But, that affordability comes at the cost of security in many cases.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting is a middle-ground option where you’re still technically sharing a server with other websites, but you’re each given flexibility as if you were all running on a dedicated server. Dedicated hosting means that you’re the only website on the server, so it of course it comes at a premium.

To provide more security, but still keep costs relatively manageable, many web hosts are now offering managed WordPress hosting, which is similar to shared hosting. But by having them manage the WordPress installation itself, they can help avoid security breaches.

Read Gail’s full post “Web Security More Important Now Than Ever

Gail also makes some good points in her article about you company’s security policy with employees that have access to your site.

Lastly, we want to point out that you should be making backups regularly. Why? Because if your site does get hacked, restoring your site to it’s previous condition will be a whole lot easier.

Wrap Up

While you might consider your site not large enough, or have important data that hackers may want, it’s still a target. The most important and effective ways of keeping hackers out is to choose a good host, and keeping your site up date to help minimize the risks of your site falling prey. And in case it does fall victim, make sure you have backups!

To learn more about how we help keep our customers sites secure, as well as our web design services, visit our site MD Internet Marketing Solutions

Is Your Website At Risk Of Being Hacked? was
first published on http://www.MDIMSolutions.com

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Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Videos

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Video Marketing

Video is one of our favorite ways of marketing our clients to the public. We like video because of the engagement factor over text. However,  some companies do struggle sometimes to get views and get their target audience to engage with their video content and take action. In this short article we will cover what to avoid and what must be done to make sure you are creating engaging video content that converts.

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You may have attempted video marketing on your own, with lack luster results. It can be disheartening. It happens. not every video you create will go viral or be the next dollar shave commercial. Not every video you create is going to be a home run. The important thing to do is learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward with more video content. The good news is that with some careful planning, you can give your videos a lot better chance of being the conversion tool you are looking for.

Two Things To Avoid In Your Video Marketing

Yes, there are some things that you must avoid when making your videos. There are 2 things that we see continually among newbie video creators. One thing that is a must to avoid is making the video entirely too long. This was covered in one of our favorite blogs, Hubspot, where Amanda Zantal-Wiener just wrote about yesterday:

It seems like we’re past the point of requiring evidence that supports the dwindling human attention span, but just in case — studies say it’s about eight seconds. On top of that, roughly two-thirds of consumers prefer video under one minute, so in sum: Keep it short.

I’ll never forget what HubSpot’s CEO, Brian Halligan, said to me during a chat about content creation: “You’re asking to borrow someone’s brain.” When you ask someone to borrow anything, the considerate thing to do is to be respectful of that person’s time, and when they might need it back. Generally, we need our brains — so when you create something like video content, remember that you have your viewer’s brain on loan.

That’s not to say that your video needs to be limited to eight seconds — after all, how much could you possibly say in that amount of time? But when you create it, make sure those first few seconds are highly engaging, as that’s when you’ll need to grab the viewer’s attention to maintain it.

Read Amanda’s Full Article “7 Reasons Why No One is Watching Your Video Content

She has some good points throughout her article. However when it comes to video length, it can be really hard to get everything you need to say in under a minute. We tend to make our videos between 1 and 2 minutes. Another point that she makes is about not promoting your video on other channels. There is a lot of controversy about this. Some video experts say to create different videos for different platforms. We tend to agree with Amanda and say go ahead and promote every video you create on every social media platform available to you.

The second thing to avoid and that we see as a problem for a lot of “do it yourself” videos is going on and on about how great their company is, or how many awards they have won, or just continually talking about themselves or the company. What people care about is how YOUR company can help solve THEIR problem. It’s okay to tell your viewers about your companies achievements, but keep it very short and to the point. Remember that your marketing videos are to get conversions, so the more you tell them about how using your product or service will simplify or make their lives easier increases your chances of turning viewers into customers.

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The Do’s In Your Video Marketing

Now on to what is important with your video marketing campaigns. We actually found an article that covers the 2 things that we think are among the most important from Colin Newcomer in an article he has on Elegant Themes blog:

Remember That It’s Not Just About View Counts

Many marketers obsess over view counts. Views are the most important measure of a video’s success, right?

Eh, maybe.

There certainly is something to be said for tracking the raw number of views that your videos get. But it’s far from the only metric that matters.

Why’s that? Because you probably want people to actually pay attention to your videos. So to find out how engaged they are, you’ll also want to measure data like:

  • Drop-off rates. That is, how many people watch a video to the end? And if they don’t make it to the end, at what point do they stop watching?
  • Social shares. Shares are a good metric for how valuable viewers found your content.

So yes, pay attention to view counts. But pay attention to the other stuff, too.

End With a CTA

Fading to black is great for movies…it’s not so great for video marketing.

You would never create a landing page without a CTA, right? Well, it’s the same for your videos. You always want to close by pushing your viewers to complete an action.

So what should you tell them to do? That depends on the goals you set out at the beginning (remember – you should have specific success metrics!).

If you want to primarily boost brand engagement, you might push them to watch other videos by asking them to subscribe and suggesting some videos to watch next.

On the other hand, if you want more email opt-ins, the end of your video is a great time to push them towards your squeeze page or your sales team:

Read Colin’s Full Article “8 Key Elements Your Video Marketing Strategy Needs

Good article from Colin. Kind of funny that we found it on Elegant Themes site. If you read his full article you also notice that one of his factors is also video length.

We included his article because we find that these things are often overlooked by people producing videos. Many people put too much emphasis on views and don’t pay any attention to other metrics, such as drop off rates. While you video may be getting views, viewers maybe leaving the video at 30 seconds in before they get to a call to action.

Then all to often we see videos with no clear call to action. If you don’t tell viewers to take action, they won’t. Most videos that do have a call to action usually have them at the end of the video. This can be a problem when viewers aren’t watching the video to the end, and why paying attention to the drop off rate is important. This can sometimes be avoided on YouTube with the use of Cards. You can have Cards open up with teaser text and calls to action right inside the video and put them towards the beginning of the video to help increase conversions. The problem with YouTube Cards is that they do not work on every device, so if your drop off rate is before your CTA, your video isn’t converting.

Summing It Up

Keep you videos short and to the point. It’s okay to tell your viewers about your company, but keep it short and remember to tell them how YOU can help THEM. While views are important, don’t forget about drop off rates as this can effect your CTA and your video may not convert as much as you would like. To help avoid drop off before your CTA, and if you are hosting your videos on YouTube, make use of Cards.

If you or your company needs help with video production, just visit our site www.mdimsolutions.com for all of your video marketing needs.

 

Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Videos is republished from www.MDIMSolutions.com

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Should You Optimize Your Site For Voice Search?

 Can Optimizing For Voice Search Be Beneficial?

Voice search from Google has been around for a few years now and more people are adapting to it because of the ease of use over typing, especially on smaller devices. The accuracy of voice search has also increased significantly as of late, making it more appealing to more people. Is it really that important to make adjustments on your site and content for voice search? That’s what we will be answering here.

Should you optimize your site for voice search

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According to Google, 20 percent of searches on its mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches. As with almost anything in technology, this number is sure to increase in the coming years. And with “personal assistant” tools like Alexa and Google Home purchases on the rise, it’s a sure sign people like the ability to just speak instead of type.

Why Do People Use Voice Search

Why do people use voice search? Simple answer – it’s easier, especially on mobile devices. Almost every person can speak faster than they type, and not get aggravated trying to type on small screens on their phones. Research does indicate that these are the top reasons, and more, that people prefer voice search which was covered by Nate Dame on Search Engine Land:

While familiarity with personal assistant technology will encourage more people to try voice search, it is convenience that will really drive adoption. The top reasons people use voice search are almost all related to improved user experience.

People use voice search because it’s faster, simpler and more user-friendly. It simplifies searching for individuals who struggle to type on small devices, and it helps searchers avoid navigating confusing site menus. It’s also faster than searching by text, guided by improved accuracy in the technology.

And that’s not just people’s perception: Google’s voice recognition technology is now 95 percent accurate — improved nearly 20 percent since 2013. On average, humans can speak more than three times as many words per minute as they can type. If voice recognition is just as accurate as typing, the speed of voice search provides a compelling justification for adoption.

Voice search provides a better user experience, particularly on mobile devices. Given that 90 percent of executives use mobile devices to conduct research before making a purchase, it’s not hard to imagine that those executives will transition to voice search — not to mention the next generation of B2B buyers who are growing up with the technology as second nature.

Read The Full Article “Voice search and SEO: Why B2B marketers need to pay attention now

Good points from Nate. It’s important that you the reader take note of his last paragraph about executives, that 90% of execs use mobile before making a purchase and that they too will soon start using voice search. For that reason alone you should want to ensure your site is ready for voice search.

So how will this affect businesses and search? This is a really good question, and if you stop and think about the possibilities, it could possibly change the entire landscape of search marketing.

This was actually covered in a post by Megan Hannay in Search Engine Land just a few months ago:

Most who do believe in a voice-dominated future are in a love/hate relationship with the idea. Some predict we’ll lose all local organic space to ads. Others foresee a future in which anything less than the No. 1 rank is worthless. I see both conclusions as an incomplete picture.

A recent Moz study demonstrated that only 3.4 percent of Google local searches result in ad clicks. While it’s possible to anticipate a future in which voice search results are entirely paid ads, the fact that consumers seem to largely prefer organic suggests that Google would have a hard time retaining customers with such a model.

Imagine if Google’s “I’m feeling lucky” search were a paid ad spot — who would click that button? Replacing the organic “best” option with the highest bidder changes our perception of the result. For businesses, this is further encouragement to tap into the power of organic local reach via accurate data and local knowledge sharing.

Additionally, I think it’s a fallacy to assume that instant answers will beget a world where only the lucky top-ranked result wins. Rather, as I’ll show in this post, voice will make filtering for exactly what a consumer wants a much simpler process. So instead of a single No. 1 rank for a given local keyword (e.g., “divorce lawyer Los Angeles”), there will be dozens of No. 1 pages based on the other parameters a searcher indicates in her query (“a female divorce lawyer within a 20-minute drive from my office in Los Angeles who has experience in custody cases and pre-nups, with at least a 4.5-star rating and who can meet during my lunch break this week”).

Read Megan’s Full Post Here…

That’s a good read from Megan. When we at the office started brain storming about the possibilities of voice search, we have to admit that we did think that it could really wreck organic search results. However, Megan makes a strong case for multiple page 1 results based on the searcher’s query. In any case, voice search is another trend that must be addressed for local businesses.

how to optimize for voice search

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How To Optimize For Voice Search

Chances are you have been optimizing your site for regular search. 2, 3 maybe 4 keywords together. For a longtime we have been big fans of optimizing for long tail keywords to target more queries. If you have been following our advice, you are ahead of the game.

Seth Nickerson just made a great video about how to actually start optimizing for voice search that includes using long tails and more:

 

Great video with good actionable tips that you can start using now to get a jump on your competition. For the point he makes about using Schema, we will devote an entire article to that subject soon.

Summing It Up

Now is the time to start optimizing for voice search. There is plenty of evidence that this trend is going to grow, and if you don’t optimize for it, your competition that does will beat you to the punch 😮

If you are to busy to implement this or any other Local SEO tactics, contact us at www.MDIMSolutions.com for a free consultation.

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Speed Up Your Site For Better Rankings And UX

Site Speed Effects UX And Rankings

For quite some time Google has been informing the public that site load speed is a ranking factor. The problem is a lot of site owners have no clue how to speed up their site. In this short article we’ll cover a few actionable tips to get your site up to speed and better rankings.

Speed Up Your Site For Better Rankings And UX

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In our last post under the web design topic, we wrote about how using a CDN can help speed up your site. Because site speed is so important to both rankings and UX, we thought we would expand further on site speed. Honestly, we could have put this post under the local seo blog because of the ranking factor, but since it’s a little more technical, we opted to place it under the website building, design and development category.

First up, lets just cover the FACT that site speed IS a ranking factor to Google. They actually made this public statement about site speed and rankings:

You may have heard that here at Google we’re obsessed with speed, in our products and on the web. As part of that effort, today we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed. Site speed reflects how quickly a website responds to web requests.

Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. But faster sites don’t just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs. Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed — that’s why we’ve decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings. We use a variety of sources to determine the speed of a site relative to other sites.

Read The Full Article “Using site speed in web search ranking

That article is straight from Google’s Webmaster Central Blog – all the way back in April of 2010, over 7 years ago! Now that can put to rest any doubt about site speed and it’s effect on rankings 🙂

UX Site Speed And Bounce Rate

A lot of people don’t realize how site speed and UX tie together for rankings. If someone clicks a link to your site and it takes more than a few seconds to load, most people just hit the back button to look elsewhere for the information they are hunting. This actually counts against you twice.

The first is obvious, you have lost a customer to someone else. The second is that to the search engines, you are giving a negative bounce signal, which means the person performing the search wasn’t given the info they were searching for on your site and decided to search elsewhere. That negative bounce signal can be increased if you are using Google Analytics on your site.

How Do You Speed Up Your Site?

There are a lot of things that come into play when it comes to how fast your website loads. The first that we have mentioned before is where your website is hosted. Where your website is hosted alone can make a HUGE difference in page load time. Cheap shared hosting just won’t cut it. We feel that hosting is such a big issue we will cover it more in depth in an up coming post.

There’s a whole slew of things in the backend of your website to help improve performance. David Manng just wrote a post today that gives great info about how to get more speed out of your site and a few of the techniques that we also use for our customers site’s:

Optimize every single image

A common warning you’ll see when you test your site is that your images are not properly formatted. Maybe you’re using high resolution images when you don’t need to, increasing the page-load time needed to download your images. Compressing and resizing your images to fit your web page can reduce the file size without noticeable quality loss.

The type of image matters as well. It’s recommended to use a JPG for photographs and PNG for everything else. As modern sites become more image heavy, this recommendation becomes more critical. One tool we’d recommend to compress individual images is Optimizilla. If you want to do a crawl for large images on your site, try Screaming Frog.

Leverage Browser Caching

Every time a user visits your site, they are requesting files from the server. If they are revisiting, you should allow them to reuse the local files that are stored in their browser. This will reduce the amount of downloads and make one less request to the server, resulting in a faster page load time. You can do this by marking files to update at different times. For example, a logo is unlikely to change so you can mark that to update less regularly.

Minify HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

Minifying one of these resources is the process of removing unnecessary data without affecting how the page loads in the browser. By compacting the code, you save data and speed up downloading time.

Read David’s full article “How to Improve Page Load Speed Performance

David gives a lot of great tips in the article. One of the biggest speed factors that we see for clients that come to us with an existing website is the point he makes about images. We would add that proper image size is also important, especially if your are using WordPress. Many times we see on site pages an image that is 400×400 pixels, but then when the media library is inspected the image is a whopping 1500×1500. Now WordPress is being slowed down by having to resize these images while loading.

In David’s article he also recommends GTMetrix and Google’s tool for checking site speed. We found another speed tool that we like – https://tools.pingdom.com

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Good News For WordPress Users!

A lot of David’s tips from above can be difficult to achieve for newbies. We actually ran across an article from WPMUDEV about the new release of a plugin that can help with solving site speed problems:

Got a serious need for speed? Satisfy it – for free! – with Hummingbird. We’re excited to announce today that our speed optimization plugin is now available to download at WordPress.org.

Hummingbird is the ultimate performance optimization plugin for WordPress. Once activated, it scans your site for potential speed improvements and provides fine-tuned controls for file compression, minification and browser caching. Not only does Hummingbird make your site faster, it also helps you improve your Google PageSpeed Insights score!

Fast AND Free!? Pinch Me, I Must Be Dreaming

You may have noticed we’ve been looking for ways to give back to the WordPress community and what better way to spread the love than by sharing some of our favorite tools!

Well, everyone’s making a big deal over pagespeed because it is a BIG DEAL. Slow pages have visitors bouncing faster than a rabbit in heat and if your site isn’t optimized to load lightning fast you can kiss your dreams of ranking on the front page of Google goodbye.

Read Their Full Article And Download The Plugin Here

This looks really promising, while we will have to do some testing on a few of our own sites to make sure it does what it says it will and doesn’t break sites. We do have to admit that we were a little confused by the name “Hummingbird”, thinking that it was going to be something that talked too, or tickled Google’s Hummingbird update.

Summing It Up

If you have been ignoring how fast your site loads, you better start giving it some thought now and taking action. Even if you aren’t driving traffic from Google, but social media or other avenues, visitors to your site will not tolerate slow loading sites. We’ve given you a few actionable tips through a couple of trusted sources to help get the job done. One word of caution, before making any changes to your siteMAKE A BACKUP of your site, just in case things go wrong.

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Speed Up Your Site For Better Rankings And UX Find more on: www.MDIMSolutions.com

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What Is A CDN And Why You Should Use One

What And Why Your Company Website Needs A CDN

You may or may not have heard of CDNs before. There are a lot of important parts to your website, especially if it’s the life blood of your business. However, a CDN can be considered an important external part of your site. In this short article we will cover more on what and why you should be using one.

What is a CDN and why your company website needs one

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What is a CDN

CDN – it stands for Content Delivery Network. What it actually amounts to is other servers across the web that contain your website and deliver your site content to a user remotely closer to the user that your website is hosted on. That was a little confusing 🙂 Here is a better definition from Webopedia by Vangie Beal:

A content delivery network (CDN) is a system of distributed servers (network) that deliver webpages and other Web content to a user based on the geographic locations of the user, the origin of the webpage and a content delivery server.

This service is effective in speeding the delivery of content of websites with high traffic and websites that have global reach. The closer the CDN server is to the user geographically, the faster the content will be delivered to the user. CDNs also provide protection from large surges in traffic.

Read The Full Definition Here

Her first sentence explains it better than we did, with less words. We wanted to include the second paragraph as well because this is another great advantage of using a CDN – and that is speed and security.

By now you should now that how fast your website loads is not only a ranking factor, but better for the end user also. Your customers will not wait 7 to 10 seconds for your website to load. While proper construction of your website has the biggest effect on site speed, a CDN will help improve speed even more.

Smart Insights did an article that goes more indepth about CDNs and the impact of site speed:

Speed

Remember, if you ignore speed, you will be ignored… Speed is a ranking factor for Google.

If it takes time for Google to crawl your content, you need to re-work on the speed. Speed makes a huge difference when it comes to page loads. If you are slow, users will engage less with you.

Statistics from recent studies indicate that one in four people discontinue browsing a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load…
Seriously, this is something to be worked on.

Content that loads more slowly will get fewer visits.

Reports indicate that mobile devices lag behind in customer engagement metrics due to low speed. Nearly 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages stretch beyond 3 seconds to load. Wait time not only affects performance metrics, but it can be costly for the companies too.

Amazon recently revealed that an extra second in loading its content page will cost the company close to 1.6 billion in sales. With more than 244 million active users, Amazon constantly tries to optimise its presence with a special focus to reduce the load time of its content.

Be it games, software, advertisements, mobile or website content, ecommerce etc., the speed of delivery marks success. CDNs play a huge role in achieving this.

Read The Full Article “How to use CDNs to increase your site speed by 200%

We wanted to give you that snippet just in case you didn’t believe us about how important speed is to your site. Those are crazy numbers from Amazon and how much just ONE second of extra load time cost the company 1.6 BILLION! Granted, you are probably not running a site as large as Amazon, but you should take into consideration the same things they do for a successful online presence.

CDNs help with Website Security

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CDNs For Website Security

This is a subject that we are adamant about, Site security. Hackers can do a lot of damage whether they are gaining access to your site or DDoS attacks.

How it helps with security. David Attard wrote on SitePoint about some statistics and how your site will be safer by using a CDN:

Your Website Will be Safer with a CDN

The next reason why a CDN is essential for your website is security.

Did you know that more than 51% of the web’s traffic actually comes from bots rather than humans?

When I first saw this report, I was completely taken aback: (See Info Graphic)

The even scarier statistic from the above is that 29% of web traffic comes from malicious bots.

That means your website is constantly under a deluge of bad bot traffic. If you’ve ever taken a look at analytics data, or used a security plugin like WordFence, you’re already aware of this fact.

These bots are constantly probing your site for vulnerabilities. If you slip slightly in your security efforts, if you have not chosen a good WordPress host, or if you miss a WordPress security update or a plugin update, rest assured your site will soon be suffering the consequences.

Most CDNs are able to identify and block bad bots rapidly, making your site safer when plugged into a CDN. The collective knowledge gained by the network can be used to prevent attacks on your own sites.

Read “4 Reasons to Use a CDN for WordPress

Good article from David. He also gives the same reason earlier in his article that it helps increase speed. He also goes on to talk more about DDoS attacks. DDoS stands for “distributed denial of service”.

The way we like to explain DDoS goes like this. Let’s say you actually have a brick and mortar store. Then you have a competitor that doesn’t like you. This competitor pays a bunch of people to stand outside in front of the door, not allowing customers to get in. This is the basic premise of a DDoS attack. A bunch of computers or servers all going to your site at once. Then your regular customers can’t access your site because your hosting server is overwhelmed by the DDoS attack. A CDN will help eliminate this threat.

Summing It Up

If you didn’t know what a CDN is, you do now, as well as why you should be using one. Speed and security are the 2 biggest in our opinion. You can either setup a free account with someone like CloudFlare, or get a paid account with someone such as Amazon CloudFront, or a host of others. We have everyone of our clients on a CDN.

For more on how we build and design websites, visit our site. Until next time 🙂

What Is A CDN And Why You Should Use One was
originally published to MD Internet Marketing Solutions
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Search Engine Optimization Tips For Small Businesses

What Does It Take To Rank In 2017?

We get this question all the time. In reality, there are a lot of variables that come into play, and what it will take to get your site highly visible in search results will vary depending on your location and niche. However, there are a few things that you MUST do to establish a foot print on the web and give your site an edge.

How To Get Good Rankings With Local SEO

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SEO has been around a long time, and what SEO involves has changed dramatically over the years. It is still one of the best ways to get more traffic to your site, and ultimately grow your business.

When most people think of SEO, the first thing that comes to mind is backlinks. While backlinks are still the driving force of the web, there are a lot of other factors the search engine bots take into consideration now as well. They are looking at engagement on your posts, dwell time on your site, page load time and many other factors.

Tony Messer wrote an article on Pickaweb last week where he explains and gives an exhaustive list of what it takes to get started with small business local seo:

Local Listings – How To Setup and Optimise

Before you do anything, you need to set up your main local listings. These are Google My Business, Bing Place for Business and Yahoo Local.

These are really important and you don’t need any special skills to do this. The only thing you need to do is to make sure you optimise your listing – filling all the details available, not just the basics like address and map. Include a full description using keywords that people are likely to search on.

Also add photos and videos – nothing flash, you just need to put in a little more effort than your competitors.

Start Getting Local Reviews

We recently did some analysis of top performing local websites and one of the key differences between the Best in Class and the Industry Average was the number of Google Reviews.

Check the local search results and you’ll see what I mean. The top sites get more reviews. It’s as simple as that.

And even simpler is getting reviews. You just need to ask and direct people to your Google listing. Even better is that you probably have loads of customers who would be happy to leave a 5 star review for you.

But don’t go crazy getting 100 reviews in a week – that looks unnatural and risks getting your site penalized by Google.

Steady as she goes is the way to think. Just get in the habit of getting reviews and if you add several each month then you will be absolutely fine.

Name, Address And Phone (NAP) Citations

There are loads of reputable local listing websites that you can list your website in. Google trusts these sites and getting listed is super easy.

They allow you to list your business with your Name, Address and Phone (hence NAP) details. The majority offer a free listing and there will usually be an enhanced, chargeable service. The main thing is to get listed and get a link back to your site.

As with reviews, nice and steady. Just pick up a few NAP Citations each month – 10 or 20 will be fine and you’ll see your rankings improve.

Read Tony’s Full Article “The Definitive Guide To Local SEO

Tony gives a ton of great information in that article. We really love his infographic that he has on the page and highly suggest that if you are attempting SEO on  your own that you check it out and follow it! Everything he recommends in his post, we recommend, and implement for everyone of our customers as well. Mr. Messer, if you see this – well done on the article!

We must add that depending on your niche and location, a lot more may be required to get, and maintain good rankings in search results. If your business is located in a major city, or very competitive, there will be a lot more involved. In this case one of the best things you can do is really dive deep into your site as to how it functions and is structured. This can be very “geeky” and too technical for some business owners.

Using Schema On Your Website

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Search Optimization With Schema

One of the components that we see gaining strength in search results is the use of Schema, or Structured Data. Aleyda Solis wrote an article on Search Engine Land that give a good explanation of why your company should be using Schema:

Structured data usage & optimization

Google SERPs haven’t been the traditional “10 blue links” for a long time, thanks to universal search results’ images, videos and local packs; however, the evolution took the next step with the launch and ongoing expansion of features like rich snippets, rich cards, knowledge panels and answer boxes. These features, according to SERP monitors like Mozcast and RankRanger, are now included in a non-trivial percentage of search results.

This shift means that attracting more clicks and visits through SEO efforts is now achieved not only through ranking well in organic listings but also by maximizing your site’s page visibility through these SERP features. In many cases, obtaining these display enhancements is a matter of correctly implementing structured data, as well as formatting and targeting your content to answer queries, where even modifiers can generate a change.

It has become critical to understand which of your popular and relevant queries can provide you more visibility through these various SERP features. By understanding which content has the opportunity to gain an enhanced display in SERPs, you can optimize that content accordingly with structured data and relevant formatting. You can identify these opportunities with search competition and keywords tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs and the Moz Keyword Explorer.

Once you identify which of your content you should format and optimize with structured data, you can use Google’s search gallery examples as a reference to do it and verify its implementation with the Structured Data Testing tool (as well as the Google Search Console’s Structured Data and Rich Cards reports).

Continue Reading Aleyda’s Article “5 must-do technical SEO audit items in 2017

She produced a great article with a lot of technical information that will make most people’s head spin that aren’t in the industry. However, she does give good reasons why your site should be using Schema. We would like to add that in our tests, adding Schema and structured data in the form of JSON-LD to your site can make a significant difference in how well your site ranks in search. This is because you are talking directly to the bot and telling it what your site is about without the bot having to try and figure out your site by the page content.

Summing It Up

SEO, rankings and getting visitors to your site has changed over the years, and continues to evolve. It is doable for some small business’ to take on their own search engine optimization, but will take a considerable amount of time from their daily schedule that could be spent instead focusing on daily operations. It will also involve a bit of a learning curve as well. Don’t let it scare you if you don’t have the budget to hire an outside firm. It is important to start creating a “foot print” on the web for your brand to compete in today’s online landscape.

As usual, if it’s too much for you to handle, or you don’t have the time, you can always contact us to handle your local seo at MDIMSolutions. You can also connect with our CEO on LinkedIn.

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