Page speed, in its simplest terms, can be defined as the time it takes for a website page to load.
Page speed has been a ranking factor for Google since 2010, and increased its importance in how Google ranks sites in 2018. Simply put, a slow website can hurt your search engine rankings and traffic.
What is page speed?
To fully understand why page speed is an important factor in the overall performance of your website, it is best to first understand what page speed is.
Page speed can have a few definitions, but the definition Google uses is made up of two metrics: first contentful paint and DOMcontentLoaded.
First contentful paint is the time it takes for the first bit of any content on a page to be rendered and the DOMcontentloaded is the time it takes for the entirety of the HTML content on the page to be loaded.
Google uses these to generate their page speed score – which can be tested with Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
What impact does page speed have?
From an SEO perspective, the first reason you should pay attention to page speed is that it is a direct ranking for Google.
While a faster site won’t always mean you will automatically outrank a slower site or vice versa, it does definitely improve your chances of ranking higher in search engines.
Speed also has an impact on PPC performance, as a slower site can also decrease your Google AdWords Quality Score. A lower quality score makes it more difficult and expensive to bid for the top positions in Google’s paid results.
Page speed is not just important for how Google views your site, but how users interact with it as well.
A slow site is less efficient and more difficult to use, which may actually turn users away that have already landed on your site. A study by Kissmetric suggests that if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to fully load over a quarter of users will click away.
This will increase bounce rate and lower conversion rate considerably, particularly if you are an eCommerce site. If it takes a long time for a user to navigate a site to reach their goal, whether it’s buying a product or finding information, the more likely they are to abandon their journey. For instance, Walmart.com saw that with every second of increased page speed, their conversions increased by two percent.
How to improve page speed
Improving page speed comes down to removing unnecessary elements that may be bogging down your page load time – however, it can often be more complicated than this sounds depending on how your site has been built.
Here’s a few examples of how you can improve page speed:
- Minimize HTTP requests
- Minify and combine files
- Enable compression
- Enable browser caching
This is by no means an exhaustive list and it won’t always just be a simple case of following these steps and seeing your page speed rocket upwards. No two websites are the same, so diagnosing speed issues requires the knowledge of a skilled web designer or developer.
The team at eSterling can help you improve your page speed, with our expert designers and developers equipped with the knowledge and skills to quickly identify any issues that are preventing your site
If your site is scoring low on Google Page Speed Insights, give eSterling a call now on 0121 766 8087 and we can offer expert advice on how to improve your site’s performance.
User reviews are integral to online success in 2019 – the power of one customers’ thoughts should not be underestimated in its influence on other potential customer.
A Google My Business profile is one of the main ways to gather reviews for your business. Just accumulating genuine reviews through Google is a great way to boost business in itself, but prominently displaying these on your website is even more important.
According to data from BrightLocal, 86% of consumers read reviews for local business (increasing to 95% for people ages 18 – 34). Consumers are always seeking out social proof to ensure they are making the right decision, If reviews from a trusted source like Google are prominently displayed on your website, this social proof is right in front of them, decreasing the chance that they will look elsewhere.
Google reviews also help build trust more than a traditional testimonials page. Google recommends that all the site owner should have control over all main content except for user generated content such as reviews and comments. Testimonial pages with static reviews are controlled by the site owner, and don’t guarantees legitimacy. Reviews that come directly from Google cements trust in users that reviews are legitimate.
This also has SEO benefits for your website. Review signals are a big ranking factor for Google’s “local pack” – the listings that appear underneath the map on local searches. More reviews mean you will appear higher in these local search results, putting you in front of more customers in your local area. Onsite reviews from third parties also help boost page quality, which can have a positive impact on search rankings and traffic.
Perhaps most importantly, if your website has eCommerce features onsite reviews can help boost conversions massively. Social proof is one of the biggest deciding factors to whether or not a customer chooses to buy a product.
If you don’t have Google Reviews on your site currently, eSterling can help.
Our team of web designers can install a Google review widget onto your site that will fit perfectly into your existing website design.
Contact us now for more information on our Google review widget.
In July, Google will change how your website is shown on Chrome if you don’t have an SSL certificate installed.
Google have announced that to coincide with the release of Chrome 68, they will now mark all non-HTTPS site as not secure. The image below shows how this change will appear to users:
This may impact how trustworthy your site appears to users, which in turn could affect bounce rates, conversion rates and sales. Building trust is a vital component for a successful website. Chrome is the most popular browser, with over 44% market share, so if you don’t have an SSL installed on your site, it could appear as not secure for a large number of visitors.
Most sites are now seeing the benefits of HTTPS – with Google reporting that 81 of the top 100 sites on the web use HTTPS by default
If your site doesn’t have an SSL installed, don’t panic, eSterling can help!
Contact us now for more information on how we can make sure your site secure and provide you with an SSL certificate.
It seems like a good thing to have, and there’s plenty of companies out there who harp on about its effectiveness and how it improves the search rankings. So here is some information we thought would be useful
What is Google Business View?
Based on Google Street View, Google’s Business View gives users an inside view of your business. The idea is that, instead of just seeing a shop front, warehouse or generic office facade, you can now do a virtual walk in and see what the business looks like on the inside.
The difference from Google Street View is that there is no special Google vehicle doing the photographs. Instead, to get all those 360° images, you must hire a trusted agency (which we are) – it’s not something you can just do yourself.
The web seems to be unanimous in saying that there are benefits to having your business included in Google Business View. Having images of your business displayed right next to search page results should give customers a better sense who you are, and whether you are a real and trusted company.
So, it would be fair to say it will help your click through rate. But will it help your search ranking?
To date, it there doesn’t seem to be much research on this, and Google are pretty “hush hush” about it.
“An article that appeared in Moz.com in 2013 did show that sites that ranked high in local searches and have also adopted Google Business View managed to retain their dominance.”
Which suggests a correlation between having Google Business View and maintaining a Google ranking.
One thing we are fairly sure about, is that Google usually looks after those who use a Google feature. Having a virtual tour may not directly boost rankings, but is will increase trust, which does play a part in the local algorithm.
What can we offer with this Google 360 service?
- High quality 360 degrees walkthrough of your business from a Google Trusted & Verified agent
- Images linked to allow a virtual walk around offering a Virtual reality experience
- Interior & Exterior images
- Improve your Google presence
- Improve traffic to your website
- We will add the feature on your Google Business page, maps and street view
- Can be viewed across all mobile devices
- The codes/306 will be embedded onto your website
- The codes/306 can be embedded onto your social media accounts
- Ideal to show your showrooms/offices/factory/industrial/Warehouses
To discuss this package please contact Wave White on 0121 766 8087
Achieving Google Partner status means that eSterling Ltd has demonstrated Adwords expertise; met Adwords spend requirements, and demonstrated sustained revenue growth for our clients, as well as understands best practices.
What does it means when a marketing agency advertises that it is a certified Google Partner?
When you see that badge on agencies website, it tells you a lot about the business.
Google Partner status isn’t just handed out… that badge has to be earned, and we have worked for ours!
Not only must our employees take various courses and pass a few tests to gain individual qualification, eSterling Ltd itself has proven that it can meet Google’s strict requirements to become a partner.
As eSterling is a Google Partner Agency, what are the benefits for our clients?
- Google Partners provide features and tools designed to help us grow your campaigns.
- We are up to date and constantly on the ball, through the certification process, our team is provided with training directly from Google.
- Being certified demonstrates the excellent service we provide to our clients.
- We can demonstrate we work along side Google and that Google trusts us!
Over the years, the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) have changed a lot. Features like news, images, videos and the Knowledge Graph have impacted the display, sorting and order of SERPs, dramatically impacting organic listings.
Recently, Google decided that paid search ads will no longer appear on the right-hand side of search results for desktop users and up to 4 paid search results will appear at the top of the page.
Paid search ads that fall below the 4th rank will appear at the bottom of the page, which has limited visibility to end users, for a total of 7 ads per page max.
This is a big change, but how does it really impact organic search?
Like many companies, Google has seen mobile traffic grow at an accelerated pace over the past two years. This new layout makes the desktop experience very similar to the current mobile SERP. It will allow Google to provide more relevant results for end users and also provide better performance for advertisers
The key here is the fact that Google is very good at understanding intent. Google can distinguish a transactional query from an informational query.
How does this impact organic search?
Now that paid search ads are taking up more organic space, click-through rates for organic search listings, especially in the first two positions will probably decrease because the organic results have been pushed farther down the page.
Since the organic search results will be relegated to further down the list, this will cause more advertisers to get more visibility from the top paid search ads, but it comes at a high cost.
If brands really want to get the most out of search, they will need to create an integrated organic and paid search strategy with focus on top rankings and paid ads to maintain visibility and be in front of their target audiences.
With more paid listings appearing you will need to focus paid landing pages towards searchers in the buying/decision-making stages, whereas your organic landing pages should be better positioned (and possibly expanded) to gain visitors in the research/tought stages.
In summary, it will be more important to rank in the first two organic positions to capture the most clicks and visibility from organic search.
Since the organic results are getting pushed further down the page, both paid and SEO must work together to gain the best results.
The SERPs will continue to evolve as Google looks for new and innovative ways to make the desktop experience similar to the current mobile SERP and provide the most relevant results for end users.
Agencies and brands must adapt and put together results-driven strategies and tactics using both paid and organic search together to maximize ROI, capture more conversions and provide end users with relevant content in their moment of need.
Google Become Alphabet in a Huge Restructure
Recently, Google announced that they would no longer be functioning under the well-known brand, but restructuring as ‘Alphabet’. This will be the overriding holding company, with Google becoming a subsidiary of this.
The whole shake-up has emerged from the top, with Google’s co-founders, Larry Page & Sergey Brin, stating that the entire company will be changing, with big alterations to the structure and management; the biggest change being that Sundar Puchai will now oversee the search engine, Google.
This restructure comes as part of an initiative to give investors chance to see where their money is going and exactly what it’s being spent on. With the huge success of the search engine, it’s clear that Google, or ‘Alphabet’, can play its hand elsewhere.
The new company, Alphabet, will preside over a collection of companies, the largest of which will be Google.
All shares of Google will automatically convert into corresponding shares of Alphabet, which will continue to trade under the stock ticker symbols GOOG and GOOGL. Shares in Google soared 5% in after hours trading. The new structure is said to be similar to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which wholly owns a number of diverse holdings and has stakes in several others.
It seems that Google will continue to push the main Internet products that the business has to offer, but Alphabet will expand and increase the growing need for other products and business sectors. Statements suggest that the separation of the companies will enable them to independently market items that aren’t entirely related.
It remains to be seen whether Google will simply continue to tell shareholders to be content with their profits when it comes to some major business segments.
Rap Genius didn’t find the best present from Santa in their stocking when they received a penalty from Google for using link schemes to boost their search rankings. This has resulted in their website not being found on the first page of results for even their own brand name. Instead news stories reporting this and their social media accounts are displayed. A site that saw over half a million unique visits a day has now been reduced to 10% of that showing the enormous power that Google hold in making an online business successful.
The link scheme they were penalised for was asking bloggers to join and affiliate scheme by adding a link to their website in exchange for a ‘thank you’ tweet from Rap Genius. In Google’s eyes even agreeing to exchange a tweet for a link back to a website is considered ‘paying’ for it and falls under “exchanging goods or services for links” which can result in a penalty. A link in a tweet may not have the same value to Google as a link on a website but social media still has an influence on search rankings. For Google this is about the credibility of the search results they provide and need to have these highly visible targets to penalise so as to not encourage link buying behaviour.
Critics argue that the manual penalties that Google applies are not done in a fair way as there are plenty of sites that buy links yet do not get penalised. The consensus is that Google would not be so vocal and stringent about the buying of back links if it didn’t actually work and wasn’t the easiest method to get a higher ranking.
It can be frustrating that behaviour of competitors is overlooked or even tolerated. When your competition is clearly buying links in order to improve their rankings yet do not receive a penalty and you follow Googles best practices and still get a lower position on search results it can be very tempting to follow suite. This is why gaming their SEO would have been a strategy that was seriously considered.
Most agree that Rap Genius has, in their market, the best content and is perceived to be the least spam driven lyrics site on the web. However others suggest that they couldn’t rely upon this to continue having good rankings. While they may have offered a better user experience they didn’t have the number of lyrics that other sites did. In addition while they may have built up an on-site community this would not be as important to ranking in Google as just providing the basic information people look for.
Will Rap Genius be able to return to the top of rankings by cleaning up their site and disavowing those links and will Google be seen to apply their penalties in a fairer way? We will await that news.
As ludicrous as it sounds, there are only 106 days left until Christmas and whilst the sane amongst us are still hanging desperately onto barbeque season and flip flops, the retailers amongst us know that now is the time to get ready for the festive season. The mince pies are in the supermarkets, the incidence of toy adverts on the television is steadily increasing and consumers, whether they know it or not, are being subtly herded towards the bright lights and ringing tills of Christmas shopping.
Now is the time to make sure your website is ready for the approaching season of madness, take stock, decide on any strategies or special offers and make sure your web development company has details of any changes you want to make sooner rather than later. Christmas 2013 is going to be tough for retailers but with a slight upward trend in the amount of consumer spending, for the well-prepared things are looking up. So, what to do to get your website ready?
1. Freshen up.
Have a good check through your content. It is always a good idea to change or add to your website, keeping your content fresh not only gives you Google points, but it keeps your customers interested too. If your site has a featured products section, start adding in your best-sellers or any new ranges. Make sure any photography is professional and shows off your products to their best advantage.
2. Special Offers.
Consider running some seasonal offers. Online purchasers love little extras like free delivery and that can make the difference between them choosing your site and someone else’s for their gifts. Most modern ecommerce systems will allow you to display linked products (customers who bought this also bought that). Alternatively a good old-fashioned BOGOF always goes down a treat.
3. Keep things simple.
Making your website hassle-free is one major way of improving your customer commitment. Look at how smoothly your search function works, and how easy it is for customers to checkout. Keep things simple and give good customer service and people will come back.
4. Don’t go mad on the tinsel.
Although you want to get ready for the festive market, don’t over-do the Christmas vibe. Gradually introduce changes to the site to get ready for the bells and whistles of December, but don’t go for it too early.
If you need to discuss any promotional changes to your website, or would like further information on website design, get in touch with eSterling today. We offer full design and development services to ensure your website is at the heart of your business.
Anyone who pays any attention whatsoever to the world of web design will by now be very familiar with mobile sites and the concept of responsive design (and if you aren’t, you can read more here).
Well, now there’s another reason to perfect your mobile presence – Google have now decided to take the smartphone-friendliness of a website into consideration when determining where a site ranks in its SERPS – meaning if your site can’t strut it’s stuff on the small screen, you could be losing even more traffic than before.
Google have announced in a recent blog post that they are planning to roll out algorithm updates that will penalise websites that are incorrectly configured for mobile browsing.
Here are a few of the most common errors made in mobile sites, and our advice for avoiding them:
Correct Your Redirect
A common strategy for providing a mobile site alongside your desktop website is to use different URLs to serve different pages. This tactic can work very well, as it allows you to lay out the content on your pages in a different format that is better suited for smaller screens and touch-based interaction. However, these redirects must be handled correctly in order to provide a consistent experience for the user with minimal frustration.
A mistake that often crops up with this sort of configuration is directing smartphone users to a set page (most often the home page), no matter which desktop page they are trying to access – requiring extra work from the user in order to navigate back to the page they originally attempted to visit in the first place! Naturally, this can be a source of annoyance for the user, and can result in them leaving your site in search of something less tedious to find their way around.
The solution for this issue is simple – make sure each page redirects to its own respective mobile-friendly page. If the content is not available in mobile form, then directing the user to the home page or other related page is preferable to serving a 404 page – but still not really ideal.
The difficulty that mobile platforms have with video content is well documented, and a topic for lengthy discussion in its own right. However, if you’re serving unplayable video content to your mobile users, pretty soon you can expect to see a drop in your search rankings.
The solution for this problem is (perhaps unsurprisingly) to avoid Flash content on mobile sites in general, as it is unsupported in iOS and Android version 4.1 and higher. To include video content, it is possible to use the new HTML5 markup
<video> tag, which should work without a hitch on all mobile platforms.
If you also provide a mobile app, it would seem only logical to promote this app to users browsing on a mobile device – and this can seem like a perfectly user-friendly move too, as your app may provide a better interface for your users to interact with similar content. However, advertising your app through interstitials or other methods which disrupt the conventional user experience of your site will soon start to have a negative impact on your site’s rankings, as well as annoying your users.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t try to entice mobile users with your shiny new app – as long as it is done tastefully. Google recommends using a “simple banner” displayed inline, alongside the rest of your website’s content. This can mean either a standard HTML image banner or utilising the support offered by the device’s native browser and operating system – for example Smart App Banners for Safari on iOS6.
More Speed, Less Haste
On top of these new rules concerning content, Google’s head of search spam Matt Cutts has alluded to a site speed penalty for mobile sites, similar to the penalty imposed on slow loading desktop sites. Whilst not much information has been disclosed at the minute, it’s fairly safe to assume that as mobile users are often connected to the internet via low-speed cellular connections, the load time that must be achieved will probably be significantly faster than in the desktop speed test.
As is usually the case with Google’s algorithm updates, these new guidelines will help to make the web a better place – both for webmasters and users themselves. Here at eSterling, we welcome them with open arms, and look forward to the mobile web becoming more user-centric and streamlined.
If you’d like to read more on the issues which may cause your mobile site to lose rankings, Google has helpfully compiled a list of common mistakes in smartphone sites to help you out.
As always, if there’s anything in this post which you wish to discuss or would like some more information on, please leave us a message in the comments or email us here.