Tweaks to Speed up Your Website – Part II

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As a website owner, the impact of your website speed on traffic, conversions and revenue should not be underestimated. A report by Akaimi found that 46% of people on the internet expect a wesbite’s pages to load in less than 2 seconds and 40% of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Many other studies have been published on the impact of website speed, another study found that a 1 second delay in site loading time resulted in a 6% conversion decrease, and 12% decrease in page views and a 15% decrease in customer satisfaction. As you might already know Google uses website speed as a ranking factor.

So, having a slow loading website will negatively impact the following:

  • Brand image and perception in the mind of your visitors
  • Traffic & page views
  • Conversions
  • Sales

Before you start optimizing your website to load faster, there are two things you should consider:

First, go and check your current website load-time via Pingdom or Google PageSpeed Insights. This helps you to compare the speed increases once you have tweaked your site.

Secondly, make sure to back-up your site as some of the methods require tweaking/editing files that can mess up your site. Here’s how to back up WordPress website and here’s how to backup any other…

Here are the tweaks, in no particular order. Just pick ones that you think can be easily performed first.

1) Remove Unnecessary Plugins & Add-ons

Unnecessary plugins and add-ons can reduce your website speed by A LOT, and it’s especially important to pay attention to them if you use blogging CMSs like WordPress or Drupal.

For reference, you might be able to increase your page load times for 4 second to 1.5 seconds.

It’s very important to note that it’s not just about the number of plugins you have installed on your website but about the quality as well. A website with 50 plugins can load much faster than a website with 10 plugins if the website with fewer plugins have crappy plugins. Generally, you want to avoid plugins that load a lot of scripts and styles, plugins that perform lots of remote requests and plugins that add extra database queries to every page on your website.

Indeed, plugins help enhance your website’s functionality but it is also important to only use a plugin if you’re convinced that it is absolutely necessary.

If you’re a WordPress user, you might want to install the P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler);

This plugin will scan all of your WordPress plugins to find the bottlenecks, and give you a report so that you can see how each plugin affects your website performance.

2) Significantly Limit (or Remove) Social Sharing Buttons on Your Website

If you believe that you need to have 100 social sharing buttons on your website, think again. It’s hard to pinpoint research that establishes a massive boost in website traffic due to having social sharing buttons (if anything, too many social sharing buttons will confuse your readers), but research shows that a slow website does reduce traffic.

Most social sharing buttons use JavaScript, and this can be very troublesome when it comes to performance; social media site, outages significantly impacts the website speed of people who have installed their share buttons.

The solution is to either limit/remove social sharing buttons, or to configure them to load asynchronously so that an outage of a particular social media site won’t slow down your website.

3) Enable Expires Headers

There are several factors that influence how fast a website is, but the server response time contributes a great deal to site speed; the more requests are being made to your server, the slower it’ll take your website to load.

Expires Headers tell your visitor’s browser when to request certain files from your server vs. from their browser cache; if an Expires Headers is configured so that your visitor’s browser only request a file once in a month, and that file has been stored in their cache from a recent visit, then their browser won’t request that file again until a month is over. This is like a double-edged sword for boosting site speed because it limits the number of HTTP requests on your server and at the same time reduces load on your server since the same file won’t be requested repeatedly.

If you want to implement Expires Headers on your website, this GTmetrix tutorial shows you how.

4) Enable HTTP Keep-Alive

Usually, when a visitor’s web browser tries to request a file from your web server, it will grab each file individually; in other words, a connection closes when a file has been grabbed, and then reopens to request a new file. This uses more processor, network and memory and eventually leads to a slower website if there’s a lot of load on your server. Enabling HTTP keep-alive ensures that all file requests to your server will be made via a single open connection, leading to a much faster website for your users by limiting the number of connections to your server.

You can enable keep-alive by copying and pasting the code below into your .htaccess file:

Header set Connection keep-alive

Alternatively, you can follow the instructions here or here depending on your server.

On Choosing the Best CMS for Your Particular Needs

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You may have heard of the 3 more popular content management applications: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla – but you are not sure which one is best for your needs. Perhaps you remain curious; so we will focus the the two ‘other’ choices besides WordPress: Drupal & Joomla.

Each particular CMS will provide the basic functions of: adding, deleting, and publishing various types of content. Each program has different strong points (and weaknesses) which should be considered whole-cloth, prior to making your ultimate decision.

First write down your business’ objectives and goals. This should be is the first step in selecting the best CMS application suited for your particular business needs. Ultimately, optimally serving your business’ unique target audience.

Choosing the right CMS (by the way, easily confused with CNS (Central Nervous System)), is the backbone for your project it will save you a great deal of headaches later. A reliable web host, with super customer support, also saves you from initial and future headaches. With 4GoodHosting.ca you can get both ultra-reliable hosting and the CMS of your choice for free: Joomla, Drupal, or of course; WordPress – or any of the 200+ free scripts we offer you with any of our hosting package.

Drupal:

In 2016, there is an estimated 1 million+ websites built atop the Drupal CMS. Drupal is common to government offices, universities and colleges, Non-government Organization, Canadian & otherwise global enterprises. America’s White House website is taking advantage of Drupal’s strong website security features. Drupal is a comprehensive, expandable, powerful content management framework suitable to be the foundation of virtually any type of website.

Drupal’s Advantages:

  • * Tested Enterprise-level security; advanced control over URL structure
  • * Lots of functionality – including advanced menu management, graphics modification utilities, poll management, and administration/users management
  • * Built for high performance; pages load fast because of its defaulting caching features
  • * Ability to handle large amounts of content & data
  • * Extensive selection of themes, modules & extensions
  • * Ideal for community platform sites (requiring multiple users – admin, editors, logged in users requiring customized content, private groups, etc.)
  • * Large robust community generally responsive to inquiries and concerns.
  • * Good SEO configurability
  • * Clean/professional looking designs/themes.

Drupal’s Disadvantages:

  • * High/technical learning curve; not user-friendly
  • * Developer skills needed to install and apply upgrades requiring experienced knowledge of PHP and HTML languages as well as CSS
  • * More expensive: premium themes and plugins (modules) are prices considerably higher than say WordPress (and Joomla)
  • * Big name Brands who are Using Joomla:
  • * The Weather Channel
  • * NBC.com
  • * Twitter
  • * Oxford University
  • * Verizon Wireless
  • * The White House
  • * The Economist Magazine
  • * Forbes Magazine

Joomla:

Another good option for small to mid-sized websites or e-commerce stores (or for building a community or a social network with a membership features, forums, newsroom, articles, and a writing staff). However, if you need something more powerful for larger/enterprise projects where scalability, stability, & high versatility are essential, then learning and using Drupal would be more appropriate.

Joomla is becoming an increasingly popular CMS platform. Trailing WordPress, it is the 2nd most accepted CMS. Joomla is currently housing over 3 million websites.

Joomla level of complexity is somewhere between WordPress (simplest) in most advanced and enterprise-class Drupal.

Joomla has the extensibility of being extended in order to produce even new functionality. Joomla has won the Packt Open Source Awards now several years in a row.

Joomla entails a slight learning curve, particularly for novices, yet webmasters usually wind up happy with Joomla’s built in features.

Joomla’s Advantages:

  • * Installation is simple (developer knowledge of CSS, PHP, or HTML is not required) updates installs are easily done through web browser
  • * E-commerce made easy
  • * Thousands of free extensions available (for increased functionality of your site)
  • * Advanced administration panel offers many functions for complete optimization
  • * Manage users simply and easily
  • * Joomla’s application framework makes it possible for developers to create powerful add-ons
  • * URLs generated are SEO friendly
  • * Active community support (programmer tools and tutorials for users )

Joomla’s Disadvantages:

  • * Some learning curve to ride – but not as much as Drupal.
  • * About half of the plugins/extensions & modules are for purchase
  • * Limited configurability options (particularly for advanced users); Limited “access control list” (ACL) support
  • * Occasional compatibility issues with some of the plugins, which requires some PHP skill to iron-out the functions to work properly

Big name Brands who are Using Joomla:

  • * IKEA
  • * IHOP
  • * Harvard University (Graduate School of Arts and Sciences )

If you have some experience with content management systems and you’re not wanting WordPress for any reason, and if diving into Drupal seems quite daunting, then Joomla might be your best option. Thank you for choosing 4GoodHosting.com as your 5.0 Google rated, A+ BBB Canadian Web Host.

Hosting Upgrade Considerations


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Is your website becoming much more popular?

If you are searching for reliable yet inexpensive, and fast loading website hosting, “shared web hosting” or “V.P.S.” (Virtual Private Server hosting) service are two good, but not identical, options. The most common choice, to do it at rock bottom costs, shared hosting, but for many businesses the limitations of shared hosting eventually becomes outgrown.

Migrating from a shared server plan to a VPS (or an entirely “Dedicated” or “Standalone Server) is typically the next step.

4GoodHosintg provides free upgrade migration services; to solve any nervousness when you may decide to upgrade your website to its own server.

Some signs you have outgrown Shared Web Hosting:

Skyrocketting Traffic

For low traffic websites shared hosting is ideal. If you are noticing your traffic increase consistently, or if you are offering high-bandwidth content such as video(s); you may need to upgrade to a VPS (Virtual Private Server) for dedicated bandwidth, and for a lower-latency (faster) less congested network connections.

When your business/website grows in size: your email, disk space, CPU & RAM (Random access memory) requirements will also eventually surpass your existing shared hosting plan. The growth of your business will often dictate the need for upgrades.

Choosing between VPS and dedicated server

Perhaps you would feel best serving your website by renting your own private server (standalone web server with it’s own dual power supply). However, first consider the differences between VPS and Dedicated servers – to find out which one is best for your application; including cost, as VPS are less expensive than leasing dedicated equipment in our data center.

In either case, 4GoodHosting offers numerous advantages: such as 24/7 customer support, “RAID” hard drive and SSD redundancy, dual-coast back-ups, disaster recovery servers, plus the flexibility of upgrading or downgrading your server hosting package whenever you need with free migrations.

JavaScript content isn’t indexed by Google; a recent Google admission

image70A representative from Google tweeted out something many Webmasters and SEO-minded people have usually presumed there was no issue with. However, in the case of having your page content indexed by the Google search engine, for best results your content should be plainly visible on the page as it loads, instead of being hidden in on-screen widgets that are typically programmed in Javascript.

The representative, Gary Illyes, said in his tweet that Google doesn’t consider (or ‘index’ in search engine lingo) content that is programmed into Javascript. So, basically if important parts of your content are embedded in Javascript code, then you may want to reconsider the design of your website. This doesn’t imply that Javascript functionality isn’t ‘worth it’. It most likely is. Only if say 20% of your content is hidden by it until the viewer clicks “see more” or “expand”, then it might be worth trying another design technique. Google “won’t see the content behind tabs if the content under the tab is dynamically generated.

What did Google precisely admit in their most recent statement?

Gary Illyes of Google said on Twitter:

If you put content in a Javascript array and only expand them when you click e.g. ‘…’, those contents won’t be indexed by Google.

Here is a snapshot of his November 4th tweet:

gary-illyes-javascript
How can you check if Google is indexing your web pages?

If Google cannot index your web pages fully or correctly, your web pages probably won’t rank as high as they probably would rank otherwise.

It is a good idea to check if Google, and other search engines, are indexing your pages in full – and that your pages contain everything that the various search engine robots expect or require when spidering over your website.

If you’d like help with your SEO efforts, please write us at support (at) 4goodhosting.com and we’d gladly consult and provide a quote to you for SEO optimization for your website.

Google Analytics: Various ways empower your marketing efforts

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Google Analytics (GA) is the most popular website statistics and analytics application used by almost every other webmaster; 60% of the top million websites use it.

However, most use it lightly, and don’t use GA to it’s potential. Some studies have shown that 8 out of 10 of ecommerce webmasters are using GA in a non-optimal manner. Simply viewing daily/hourly traffic statistics, page views, and identifying sources of traffic is only a very basic way of using GA.

As a webmaster, you can utilize GA in a more advanced manner to derive useful insights that you can use to fine tune your marketing campaigns and traffic strategy.

In this post, we will discuss a few ways to use the information generated by GA to fine tune your SEO, improve your website’s content structure, and thereby generate increased traffic.

A) Keyword Reports

You can increase your website’s traffic by using the most relevant keywords within your content; you can use the keyword report in GA.

To view this report, click on “Traffic Source Keyword Report” within GA. This is where you can locate the top keywords that are bringing traffic to your website or blog. We suggest you focus on just the top ten keywords, those bringing in the most traffic. These are the keywords that your website ranks well in Google.

The objective is to improve the click-through rate, CTR, for these keywords. To improve the CTR keywords:
· Use these high traffic keywords in your page title and description. Keep your page titles about 55 characters, and meta descriptions less than 156 characters.
· Create more blog content using your high traffic keywords.
· Use these keywords in the titles of the images on your website.
· Use these keywords as alternate tags in the images on your website.
· Make these keywords a part of the anchor text of your internal website links.
· Understand the ways in which people are searching for high impression keywords, then create content that is useful for those people.

Keep in mind search engines when changing your site

Dollarphotoclub_74648742Being mobile friendly is the current ‘big thing’ going on in terms of search engine ranking for websites. If you are not just doing simple updates to your website, but rather replacing large portions of it in full, there are considerations to keep in mind. Maybe you are just handing your site redevelopment to a third party?

There are several other things at play than what can be visually seen, replacing your site structure could bring down your site’s rankings causing it to drop in terms of SERPs (which are “search engine results pages”)

So the following are some tips and guidelines to follow in order to keep your site safe from new Google penalties and to get your site maximum visibility in Google. Unfortunately, we all have to become Google conformists. Our society, our global culture as a whole, unfortunately believes in continuous centralization of power. Resistance is apparently futile.

1. Create a website map of your site

The first step is understanding where everything is placed on your website. If you have implemented SEO methodology in the past, then most likely at least a few pages rank well SERPs, and you don’t want to lose those gains when your website structure changes.

The benefit of socially enabling your website content

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Dear 4GoodHosting customers ,

As you probably are already aware of social media (ie. twitter, facebook, etc. ) is an extremely valuable tool for promoting your website content.

Other associated services, like ‘addthis’ and ‘sharaholic, make it 1-click simple to share content whether it be images, articles, comments, or other activities from websites to facebook, twitter, linkedin, pinterest and many more social media outlets as well. (as pictured above)

You have probably seen this in action already in many places on the internet. If you haven’t done so already, in this blog we are going to show you how to easily set up social media sharing buttons and tools on your website. By doing so you will be extending your website’s visibility and leveraging what is known as “inbound marketing”, or increasing your visibility from the inside-out (free) rather than the outside-in (paid). You already have great content on your site, so you want to leverage that fact. The following social media buttons/tools will help you fully enable that.

The Often Untapped Power of “Inbound Marketing”

In this week’s blog we wish to describe some marketing techniques to help you market your website for free. For free? Yes. The advent of the internet has given birth to marketing techniques now known as “inbound marketing” – that doesn’t rely on funding traditional, often expensive, marketing campaigns.

Inbound marketing is an overall technique that a company, or perhaps just your personal website as well, can use to market itself through blog posts, seo optimization, press releases, electronic newsletters, whitepapers, social media, article writing and other similar creative methods that you might come up with. That is a list of marketing tools that don’t really require money upfront if you are willing to do the work to assemble and publish the materials. Inbound marketing is also commonly referred to as “content marketing” as well. Inbound marketing retains the benefit creating value from the very start of the interaction with prospective customers.

In short, Inbound marketing is pretty much all about creating, publishing, and sharing content (also posted in a discoverable way typically through search engines) around the internet.

The easiest way to boost your google ranking and mobile user experience

 

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Small Smartphone screens count bigtime too!

We could have entitled this article “The need for pleasing your website visitors who are using mobile device”, and perhaps that would be a better title. In any case the message of this article is to persuade you that it is basically critical to your business not only to have a website – but to also have a mobile website. So we urge you to consider the little investment in time and the little bit extra per month to develop a mobile friendly website.

Would this mean that your website could require two domains? The answer to that is no. It is actually a better practice to use a single domain and then use an intelligent piece of javascript code on your website to determine if the viewing device is a smartphone or a larger device such as a laptop or a desktop PC or Mac.

For example, if you go to Amazon.com on your mobile device, you will see a different layout than the larger pages you would see on a desktop monitor. If people were required to “pinch and zoom” on their small screens ( to read very small font, or to have to scroll left and right and up and down to read the site content ) – then Amazon would be losing out on many of their sales that come through iphones, and androids, windows phones, and other such devices.

See for yourself if Google considers your website to be mobile friendly:

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

Go ahead and try your website in the google tool above. Did your website pass the test?

April 21st – Another Big Google Ranking Change (for mobile equipped sites)

mobile in hands, mouse and keyboardApril 21st is another ‘big SEO day’ around the world from a google ranking index perspective. Why a month and two weeks from the date of this article? Well, that is when Google will be changing the technique that they use to rank websites (with a higher high ranking factor given to websites that are also mobile friendly).

Google started highlighting ‘mobile friendly sites’ in results last year. Google states that their April 21st update will have ”significant impact” on all mobile-based searches from all around the world. Google justifies the change in saying that searchers will see better search results.

Details on how ranking will effect desktop searches is yet to be seen; but it is anticipated that websites that are also mobile friendly will be given extra elevation by Google’s new algorithm.

These changes are good news for mobile webmasters. Also, it should help motivate webmasters and designers that still don’t have a mobile website deployed to create one.

Since the middle of this past year – mobile internet users started outnumbering those who surf the web with a desktop computer (or laptop). Today’s mobile users certainly expect that websites will display most effectively on their choice of device. Webmasters who want to test their website’s ‘mobile compatibility’ can use Google’s tools for detailed information.

Overall the change means that owners of websites that are not ‘mobile-friendly’ as of April 21st, 2015 can now expect to see their search rankings and traffic take a significant downward hit.