SEO

The Ultimate Roadmap To Website Optimization

07.31.2020

In this guide, we will cover every part of website optimization to ensure you consistently generate traffic, sales, and ultimately boost your revenues.

Ernest Atta Adjei

Author

50 min read

website optimization

There's been a lot of discussion about how to improve various marketing channels, how to create better social content, write better emails, etc. But all those traffic drives to one place, which is your website, and for many of us, our sites have remained relatively static for a couple of years now. This is where website optimization comes into play!

Many companies go through several website redesigns, which are essential because they bring your site to current design standards and ensure that your site is reflective of who you are as a company and what you stand for.

When a site performs better, more people can do whatever they want to do on the website without any obstructions. And one different crucial approach to making your site better is through web optimization.

In this guide, we will cover every part of website optimization and ensure that you consistently generate traffic, sales, and ultimately boost your revenues. It will give you a fundamental knowledge on what it takes to optimize your website. Let’s crack on!

 

What Is Website Optimization?

Web optimization refers to a process whereby you use advanced tools, strategies, and many experiments to enhance your website's performance. In simple terms, the whole idea of website optimization is to improve your UX (user experience) so that more people will buy your product, order your services, or take whatever action you want them to take when they visit your website. 

Most businesses optimize their site by totally redesigning their websites periodically. But the truth is, it doesn't matter how well you know your target audience or redesign your site, people's behavior changes from time to time.

Therefore, it is crucial to constantly follow new trends, gather data about your customers’ behaviors and optimize your website accordingly.

Ideally, the website optimization process should be like the plan below:

 website optimization process

The process includes the following steps:

 

  1. Develop A Hypothesis (Ideas)

In this process, you determine the part of your site poorly performing using various analytics. You can also use qualitative feedback from your visitors to know why they're not converting. Typically, you come up with ideas for the cause of the poor performance through which you can create a list of website optimizations to test.

 

  1. Prioritize

After creating a list of issues, you group them according to the utmost importance. You can place them in a spreadsheet and list them in order of the following criteria:

  • The projected  impact,
  • The simplicity involved in implementing the change,
  • Your sixth-sense or confidence to know which aspect will have a higher performance.

 

  1. Test The Optimizations

You test your website’s performance by keeping those that improved the site's performance, and eliminating or improving those that didn't. You can use A/B testing in this step, which we will cover in detail later in this article.

 

  1. Analyze Results

In this process, you review the data to know which hypothesis was correct or not. By using the winning tests, you can optimize your site for higher conversions.

 

  1. Optimize Your Site

By implementing your winning tests, you can proceed to optimize your site and learn from the failed test for future test runs.

The best part about the process in web optimization is that you get to know your target audience, likes, and dislikes, which can help you come up with better hypotheses in the future.

In this guide, we will cover various aspects of website optimization to help you take a beginner’s step of optimizing your site correctly. Through that, you can use the 5-process cycles to implement relevant changes continually to see practical results.

 

Responsive Web Design

The use of mobile devices to browse the internet continues to grow at an astronomical rate. But they are usually constrained by the size of the display, and that means there has to be a different approach to how contents are displayed on the screen. That is where responsive web design comes in.

Responsive web design implies that a site's design should actively respond screen size or ratio based on these criteria:

  • Size of the screen, 
  • Platform, 
  • Orientation 

So in simple terms, the layout of the device changes depending on the capabilities and size of the device.

For example, a user browsing on the phone will likely view content in a single-column while a tablet may display contents in two columns. The size of the screens is always changing among phones, tablets, desktops, TVs, and now wearables. 

Your website optimization list should definitely include responsiveness so your website design adapts to any screen sizes available today and in the future.

 

What You Should Know Before Starting Responsive Web Design 

Responsive web design is solely HTML and CSS. By writing your CSS rules, you can change the style or layout of your website based on a user’s device or screen size. If you have a basic knowledge of JavaScript or any other programming language, you must be familiar with the if statement.

For example, you can create a rule that if the size of the screen of any mobile device is more than 350 pixels, display the sidebar. Here’s another example: if the size of the screen is more than 1920 pixels, the body text font size should increase to 15px. 

We will talk about it in more detail in the CSS Media Queries section.

At the end of the day, when a user switches from an iPad to a desktop, your site should automatically change to image size, scripting capabilities, and resolutions.

Here’s how to go about it in your website optimization efforts.

 

Set The Viewport

You may have pages on your website that are optimized for different devices. In such cases, you should include a meta viewport placed at the top of the document. The viewport instructs the browser on how to modify the scale of a page, including the dimensions.

Sometimes to get the best experience, mobile users render the width of a page on their desktop screen to around 980px (although it changes per each device), increase the content’s font size, and scale the content to make it fit the screen.

It shows that font sizes may not be favorable for most users and may zoom in on the content by pinching or double-tapping. 

But with a meta-viewport, you can set the value  "width=device-width" that will match the device's screen width with the page in density independence or device-independent pixels. 

The density (or device) independent pixel refers to flexible units or pixels that can scale at will to accommodate any dimensions on every device screen. They offer more flexibility for a web page design to adjust and adapt across various platforms. 

In other words, you're able to view the same page content on different devices without any distortions or the need to zoom in to see contents. 

Here’s an example of a meta viewport value used in a doctype HTML:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <head>
      ...
      <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
      ... 
  </head>
...
</html>

When a page does not have a meta viewport set, here’s how it looks when the page loads:

 

When a page has a viewport set, here’s how it looks:

When browsing, some users maintain the page's width when changing to landscape mode and then zoom in instead of reflowing to fill the screen. 

In such an instance, including the value "initial-scale=1", will command browsers to set up a 1:1 connection between density-independent and CSS pixels despite the device’s orientation. It also enables pages to have full access to the landscape width.

Note: To make sure that older browsers can adequately analyze the attributes, separate them by using a comma.

If your pages do not have a meta viewport, you can automate the entire process using the Lighthouse audit. With the software, you can ensure that all your HTML documents are correctly using the viewport tags.

If you want to learn how to audit using a lighthouse for meta viewport tag, skip to the Lighthouse section. 

 

Ensure That The Viewport Is Accessible Viewport 

Aside from setting the attribute “initial-scale,” there are other values you can place on the viewport. They are: 

  • Minimum-scale 
  • User-scalable
  • Maximum-scale 

When you set these attributes, it will block the user from zooming the viewport, which can cause accessibility problems. Therefore, we recommend that you don’t use the above attributes. 

 

Size The Contents To The Viewport 

Almost everyone that browses the internet scroll vertically, not horizontally, whether it’s a mobile device or a desktop. Therefore, if you give your users the only option to scroll horizontally or zoom out to view the entire page will lead to bad user experience. 

Usually, you can, not intentionally, develop a content page that does not fit perfectly within the defined viewport. And it can quickly happen. For example, if you display an image with a larger width than the viewport, it makes the viewport scroll in a horizontal position. In such an instance, the page will automatically scroll horizontally without the help of the user. 

With the help of the Lighthouse audit, you can detect contents wider than the viewports. The Lighthouse will show a red flag like this: 

 

Usually, the audit will fail if the “window.innerWidth” is not equal to the “window.outerWidth”

 

Images

An image usually has set dimensions, but a scrollbar occurs when it gets wider than the viewport. To fix this problem, ensure that the images are "100%" in terms of the “max-width.” With that, the image will decrease in size to fit the given space.

However, because the “max-width” is 100% and not the “width,” the image size will not be larger than the original size. You can integrate the following values so that you don’t face such issues with images:

img {
    max-width: 100%;
    display: block;
}

You can add the image dimensions to the img element.

Remember that when you use the “max-width: 100%” attribute, you override the original image dimensions. However, you need to use these attributes “width” and “height” on the “<img>” tag. That’s because modern browsers use this kind of information to save image space before it loads. It helps to prevent layout shifts when the content loads. 

Cumulative Layout Shift occurs when a webpage unexpectedly shifts while the page is still in the download progress. This Google metric is highly vital because it will be a ranking factor in 2021 according to the Search Engine Journal.

So let’s have a quick overview of what CLS is and why you should know it before starting your website optimization endeavors.

 

What Causes CLS?

According to Google, CLS happens due to five reasons:

 

  1.  Images that have no dimensions

Images, including videos, should have the right height and width dimensions as stipulated in the HTML. In terms of the image responsiveness, ensure that the different image sizes have the exact aspect ratio for different viewports.

You can use AspectRatioCalculator to determine the aspect ratio. 

 

  1.  Iframes, embeds, and Ads that have no dimensions

When your ads are generating CLS, style the element at the place where you will display the ads. For instance, the div can be styled to have a particular width and height so that the ads will limit itself to such dimensions.

If an element that is supposed to show an ad is not responding, you can set it to have an alternative replacement such as a placeholder image or banner ad.

 

  1. Contents that are dynamically injected

Contents dynamically injected are those that are "infused" into a web page. Let's take WordPress, for example. You can link a WordPress to a YouTube video which will then be an embedded object on WordPress.

 

  1.  Web fonts that cause FOUT and FOIT to happen

Some web fonts that get downloaded can create what is referred to as Flash of Unstyled Text (FOUT) and Flash of Invisible Text (FOIT). To avoid this, use this attribute "rel=preload" in the web font downloading link. You can also use Lighthouse to analyze where the CLS is coming from and conduct website optimization based on the provided information.

 

  1. CLS sneaky outbreak during development 

The CLS can happen in the stage of development without your notice. Here's how it happens. Most of the assets on the page that needs rendering gets loaded on the cache on the browser. So when the administrator logs in the development phase page, mostly, they don't realize there is a shift in the layout. Because by then, the elements on the page have already been downloaded.

That’s why it’s recommended to have a measurement. To learn more about Cumulative Layout Shifts, find out more from here.

 

CSS Media Queries

CSS media queries are highly essential in website optimization. It relies on the overall device type or particular requirements and features such as the width of the viewport of a browser or the screen resolution. 

With media queries, you can: 

  •  Integrate CSS styles with the @import and @media at-rules conditionally. 
  • Target particular media for the <link>, <style>, <source>, and various HTML elements with the value media=.
  • Test and analyze the media state with assistance from the various JavaScript procedures.

 

So, What Exactly Are They?

CSS media queries behave as if statements when it comes to Cascading Style Sheets. Languages in programming such as Python or JavaScript have an if statement which indicates a specific code that takes effect only when the condition meets the if statement. It’s the same approach with CSS media queries. 

In simple terms,

 “If the media query’s condition becomes true or is met, then whatever is written inside will be executed.”

 

Writing CSS Media Queries

Before you write a media query, begin with the attribute “@media," then write your conditions. The conditions can range from the various kinds of screen devices (such as a tablet, a computer, or a laptop), to a print medium (such as print documents that are viewed in preview mode). It can also include the specifications for the height and width.

For example, a standard media query will include a browser window’s height and width, and the kind of device. Check the screenshot below:

@media screen and (width: 500px) {
    .heading {
        padding: 20px;
    }
}

In the above test example, if the “screen” is the kind of device and the 500px is the window’s width for the browser, then the padding for the class value “heading” will be 20px. The attribute “height” can also be used because it matches the height of the browser window’s height. 

Usually, it's advisable to determine if the height or width is within a specific range rather than just fixing a value such as 500px. You can do so with:

  •  min-height,
  •  max-height,
  •  min-width, max-width.

Also, the “and” is a logical operator in the screenshot example above. So, for example, the (width: 500px) and screen are different media queries which were put together with the operator and. You can join several queries the same way as if statements.

Here’s another example to find out if the width is within a particular range:

@media screen and (min-width: 500px) and (max-width: 700px) {
  .heading {
      padding: 25px;
  }
}

In the above example, we’ve combined three different media queries with a logical operator: (min-width: 500px), screen, and (max-width: 700px). However, keep in mind that the query in the screenshot above corresponds only to the value .heading.  That is, if the kind of device is a screen and the window's width for the browser ranges from 500px to 700px.

In the example screenshot below, the media query will be for every kind of devices and a logical operator “or”:

.heading {
    background-color: red;
    margin-right: 15px;
}
@media all and (min-width: 500px) and (max-width: 720px), (min-width: 1000px) {
    .heading {
        background-color: aqua;
        font-size: 37px;
        margin: 25px 0;
    }
}

This media query is almost the same as the previous one, but we used the value “all," instead of the value "screen." What it means is that, instead of limiting it to a specific device, the query should execute for every device. There are also queries used in the previous examples, (min-width: 500px) and (max-width: 720), which verify if the width range is between 500px and 720px. 

However, if you noticed, there are new conditions in this example, that is, “, (min-width: 1000px)”.  So far, we know that (min-width: 1000px) is a definite media query. So what about the comma in front of the query? Remember we talked about including a new logical operator “or”? That is what is represented there.

Here’s the whole meaning of the above media query example:

Implement the CSS media query to .heading regardless of the kind of device ( That’s because we used the value “all”), and the window’s width for the browser should be from 500px to 720px or if the window's minimum width for the browser is 1000px. (Take note of the bolden "or." It is the logical operator "or”).

Another crucial feature to be aware of is the background color set to the style of the .heading value. That means, to integrate the style of the media query, the window’s width for the browser must range from 500px to 720px, or the minimum width should be 1000px. 

If both of the conditions are not fulfilled, then the style outside the CSS media query will apply to the class element "heading." 

There are other logical operators you can use, such as the not and only logical operators. Here’s how each of them works.

 

Not Logical Operator

The not logical operator is used at the starting of a media query to enable and disable the truthiness of an entire media query. It can be helpful to implement particular styles when a browser or device does not meet a specific condition.

In the example below, the media query will initiate only if the primary pointing device is not able to hover on the elements:

@media not screen and (hover: hover) {
    /*...*/
}

Keep in mind that the not logical operator is not optional, and does not nullify the overall query list, but only one media query. (The list of media queries are the queries with commas separating them.)

 

Only Logical Operator

The logical operator “only” is a bit unique and makes the entire media queries invisible for older browsers. In simple terms, older browsers can’t understand the “only" operator, so they ignore the whole media query. If not, the only will have no effect:

@media only all and (min-width: 320px) and (max-width: 480px) {
    /* ignored by older browsers */
}

Remember that the only operator is not optional, like the not logical operator.

Learn more about Writing CSS Media Queries.

 

Mobile-First Indexing

Under normal circumstances, when you search a term on Google, and the results appear, Google uses the desktop version to analyze the relevance of a web page to a person's query. It made sense back then because the desktop was ruling, but not now.

As you probably know, most people nowadays are using mobile devices to search for basically everything. Even though the desktop will be around, Google can’t neglect the fact that mobile usage is on the rise.

Due to that, Google is now using your website's mobile version as a primary factor to rank you. It wouldn't have been a problem if the mobile and desktop had the same requirements for indexing, but they do not. However, they do have the same index, which means Google still factors in desktop. 

So, Google's mobile-first indexing will rank you by first analyzing your site on mobile devices, and second, on desktop versions.

Let’s break down mobile-first indexing in simple definition:

Mobile-first indexing refers to the process whereby Google indexes and ranks your site by using the mobile version of your website as the predominant factor.

Google began in July 2019, which means mobile-first indexing is underway.

However, they are not entirely focusing on mobile search. Desktop searches still count, so you shouldn’t update your mobile version, without updating your desktop site.

 

Google Isn’t Out To Get You

Google is not radical, and their goal is not to hurt your Google rankings. If your site has quality information for a specific search, Google will rank you higher, whether it's on a mobile device or desktop version.

If a user enters this query “best restaurants in Los Angeles 2020,” and you’re one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles, Google will want to rank your site higher on their search engine regardless the type of device the individual uses.

 

 

But you will need to play your part for Google to help you.

Here’s what we mean. If the texts or click buttons are too small, it will frustrate and cause your visitors to look elsewhere even though you may have relevant information the searcher needs. Besides, Google will not recommend a site that will cause people to find information on other search engines.

So if you don’t want your website to rank low due to poor mobile optimization, use the following steps to help you improve your mobile-first indexing. 

 

Test The Mobile Version Of Your Site

Before anything else, check the state of your mobile site before you proceed further. Thankfully, this process is quite easy to do. Remember, we are only testing how mobile-friendly your website is. Let's go through the process together.

First, use Mobile-Friendly Test by Google to determine your mobile site’s quality. All you need to do is insert your URL to begin and click “Test URL”. Here’s how it looks:

After clicking on the “Test URL”, Google will run the URL and give you the results shortly. Here’s how it will look if the page is mobile-friendly. 

If your page is not mobile-friendly, Google will suggest practical ways to improve your mobile site.

Keep in mind that Google will only rank your desktop version if you don't have a mobile version. But that will significantly affect your ranking and, ultimately, your online visibility. So if you don't have a mobile version or it's not well optimized, we recommend you do so ASAP!

 

Content Marketing

User Intent

What is User Intent?

User intent, also known as search intent, refers to the why behind a person's search query. HubSpot refers to the user intent as "the art of detecting and fulfilling a need," which is an excellent definition. 

In other words, why did the user search for that keyword, or term? Is there something they want to learn? Are they searching for a product to purchase? Could it be they are looking for a specific website?

Every person has a need, and it is reflected in their search query. The task is now up to you to examine what their search intent is. Based on that, you can develop quality content that will help them achieve the goal or motive they have in mind. 

The user intent behaves similarly to the phases of the buying cycle. The keyword research corresponds to every stage in the buying cycle:

  • Awareness
  • Research
  • Decision
  • Purchase

Naturally, people read content based on what they want. Therefore, if your page is well-optimized for search intent, you can efficiently perform better than pages optimized for only the search engine.

 

How To Identify User Intent Using The Search Query

Usually, the search queries are in fragments, which leads to a lot of interpretation. But you'll be amazed at the things you can learn from search queries, regardless of the couple of words they might have. Let's see how we can use our natural understanding of languages and semantics to find the intent and meaning behind search queries.

 

  1.  Dismantle The Search Query To Distinguish Individual Elements

Sometimes, search queries may have multiple meanings. With such queries, you can separate the elements such as the nouns, verbs, the meaning and relationship between the terms. 

A good example is “catch a cricket.” There are several ways you can interpret this meaning:

  •  It can mean catching a cricket ball.
  • In terms of sport, "catch" can mean "watch." It may be that the user wants to know the next upcoming cricket match.
  •  Catch a cricket can also mean the best way to catch the insect "cricket."

 

  1. Use Prefixes To Find More Accurate Meaning

When you affix, it can change the correlation between words (such as "ing"), indicate time (such as "pre" or "post"), or give an in-depth context ("such as "un" or "re").

 

  1. The Syntax Of The Search Query

The syntax of the searched term refers to how the words are phrased. It can completely change the meaning of the phrase, even for precise queries. Fortunately, the searches are becoming more conversational, especially through voice search, which gives more clarity.

There is also less need to depend on trained search behavior where you adjust your natural language to the early search engines. But the search engines, notably Google, are becoming more intelligent. That means, we can use our natural language to understand the search queries. 

Here are two examples to dissect: "dogs love" and "love dogs."

Usually, you can make a list of several potential user intents, but the best way to break this search intent down is to use another method called intent modifiers. The modifiers can help you know the intent stage the user is in.

Let's go through the four intent modifiers quickly.

 

Types Of User Intent Modifiers

99% of all user searches on Google falls under four categories, according to Backlinko:

 

  1.  Informational Intent

As the name implies, the user is searching for a piece of information. The question can range from simple to complex ones such as “how does blockchain technology work?” But keep in mind that not every informational intent comes as a question. 

Examples include:

  •  "MacBook Pro specifications."
  • "Blockchain technology."
  • “Elon Musk”
  •  “HTML”

 

  1. Navigational Intent

With navigational intent, the real intent of the user is to find a specific website. They may know where to find the information, but it's quicker if they search on Google than typing the domain name in the URL bar. They may also not know the exact website, and the best way to find it is through Google.

 Examples of navigational intent include:

  •  "Webzool contact."
  •  "Facebook login."
  •  “Twitter”
  •  “Wikipedia”

From Webzool's perspective, it's highly relevant to rank on the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for your brand. But buying ads with a keyword that has a navigational intent may not be a good idea. That's because most of the people are likely not looking for immediate purchase.

 

  1. Transactional Intent

With the transactional intent, users are ready to make a purchase, and they mostly know what to buy. They are just looking for the right place to buy the product from.

Examples of transaction intent:

  •  "Samsung Galaxy A10 discount."
  •  "Book 5 star hotels in Los Angeles."
  •  “Buy MacBook Air” 

 

  1.  Commercial Intent

The users are searching for a particular service or product, but they haven't made the final decision. They are likely to be searching for comparisons and reviews, weighing their options. 

Examples include:

  •  "top restaurant in Los Angeles."
  •  "Best protein supplements."
  •  "Amazon review."

Typically, you can know the user intent just by looking at the keyword itself. For instance, "buy MacBook Air" is clearly transactional. But a search term like "does a MacBook Air have a USB port" has an apparent informational intent.

 

Segmenting

With the four intent modifiers, you can group your keyword list by the type of user intent. By so doing, you can create new quality content or change your already-written content to suit the searcher’s intent.

For example, if your keyword has a transactional intent, you can map it to your product page, while connecting commercial intent to your category pages or corresponding articles. But ensure that you have the user's objective or intent in mind, which will usually vary due to the meaning of each intent modifier and search query.

In summary, you can see that analyzing search queries and interpreting the meaning behind each element helps you to get the overall idea behind a searched term.

Now, there's another thing you need to understand - keyword research.

 

Keyword Research

How people conduct research for keywords has evolved throughout the years. Back in the 2000s, the entire method involved three significant steps:

  •  Log in to your Google Keyword Planner,
  •  Find the keywords which have the maximum search volume,
  • Dump them into the content on your website.

Many people abused it, and Google responded by updating its search engine with numerous algorithms as the years went by. As their mission states, the main aim of the updates was to understand what searchers want and provide them with the optimal results.

The most relevant algorithm updates that changed how keyword research works:

  • Panda: penalized duplicate text and contents that were of low-quality
  • Penguin: penalized abnormal use of keywords
  • Hummingbird: enhanced semantic search and focused on user intent

Now, keyword research affects any SEO task you carry out, whether it’s searching for topics for your content, promoting your content, on-page SEO, or email outreach.

 

So What is Keyword Research?

Before we get to this question, we need to know the meaning of keywords first.

 

What Are Keywords?

Keywords are the words, including phrases that people type into search engines. The keywords fall into two major categories:

  1. Short-tail keywords
  2. Long-tail keywords 

The difference between them is quite simple. The short-tail keywords are common or general terms like shoes, restaurants, clothes, etc. On the other hand, long-tail keywords are more definite. The length of words makes them more specific.

The following examples will give you a clearer understanding: “Buy breathable running socks,” “best summer clothes,” etc.

 

What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is searching and analyzing words and phrases (keywords) that people use to find information on the internet to optimize content to rank on Google.

In other words, you're searching for the words that are highly searched on Google and use that to develop compelling content so that it ranks high on Google. That way, people will find your content when they search for that keyword.

 

Phases Of Keyword Research

For this guide, we will categorize the entire process into three significant steps:

  1. Find the keywords
  2. Analyze the keywords
  3. The keywords usage

Let’s talk more about each phase in detail.

 

How To Find the Keywords

If you want your content to be more compelling, you need to know what your target audience is searching for and cover that area in your article. Sounds clear enough, right?

There are several ways to find keywords, but the simplest way to search for the words without keyword tools is to use the autocomplete functions of Google suggest, sometimes even YouTube.

 

Google And YouTube Suggest

Type a keyword into Google without pressing enter. You'll see several suggestions generated by Google itself, which makes the keyword suggestions valid data.

Here is an example of the searched term "search engine optimization" with Google's suggestions:

The suggestions Google pulled up shows that people are searching for search engine optimization services, strategies, definition, examples, etc. These are helpful and worth noting down as potential keywords.

In the same way, if you want to optimize your YouTube videos, you can take advantage of the suggestions YouTube provides. Let's use the same keyword, "search engine optimization."

 

Google Related Keywords 

Another way to search for keywords is through Google related keywords. Google shows several searches related to the keyword that you type into the search box. It can help you come up with new ideas for keywords.

From the above screenshot, you can add search engine marketing, techniques, courses, tutorials, and keyword lists. You can find more keywords to add to your list from the related searches.

 

Reddit Keyword Research

Reddit is one of the largest communities that talk about almost any topic out there. As such, you can find people who discuss topics in your niche.

If you want to find new topics and write quality content, Reddit can help you accomplish that. There are constant questions people ask which you can give solutions to them in your article.

Let’s say your niche is personal finance. First, use the subreddits that are related to your niche. From the screenshot below, you can see how even a precise niche like personal finance has millions of followers in different subreddits.

 

You can choose a particular subreddit and find content ideas from the posts that have the highest engagement. You can also look for posts that have questions. You can search for words like:

  •  “Tips”
  •  “Suggestions”
  •   "How to's."
  •  “Question”

There are various questions you can find which you can draw inspiration from to write compelling content. 

You can use a similar process to find relevant keywords for your content on forums, Quora, etc.

 

 Quality Content

If you want to improve your rankings and gain more traffic or leads to your website, you must have highly informative and digestible content. 

But how do you create quality content?

Let’s find out. 

 

  1.  Let Your Contents Be Original

It is important that your articles are original and not just a copy/paste from random websites. Many search engines, especially Google, will give more exposure to your site if your contents have originality in them; it’s highly relevant.

Besides, Google penalizes websites that have duplicate content. You can check off almost all of Google's guidelines if you do that one thing - create original content that resonates with your audience.

Do you remember the time Ezine articles used to rank on top of Google’s SERPs? When Google rolled out its Panda update (popularly known as the Google Farmer update) in 2011, it affected nearly 12% of all search results. And Ezine articles were no exception. Google designed the update to decrease low-quality sites.

So what accounts for duplicate sites? Simple. Duplicate contents. Of course, if your site adds no value to people or is not very helpful, Google counts it as low-quality. If you want to prevent this, always produce original, informative, and actionable content.

What is the meaning of original content?

Original content means your ideas are new and unique, not a copy-cat from other sources. You can term it as stealing. Aside from Google penalizing such acts, it’s also wrong from people’s perspective.

It’s a bit disappointing to find an article appearing on two websites. Usually, they will stop visiting your site and focus on the one you stole from. Yes, they can tell!

 

  1. Create Powerful Headlines

Headlines are the first thing people see before they read the whole article. That means, if it’s not powerful enough, they will turn away without a second thought. Remember the attention span of an average person. Your headline should hook your audience in less than eight seconds, or you’ll lose them forever.

According to Copyblogger’s statistics, eight people out of ten will take a look at your headline. Only two out of ten will take the time to read the rest of the article.

Take a significant time to come up with several headlines and select the best one out of them. Try to keep your headlines within 40-60 characters so that the headlines don’t cut off when viewed on Google. It affects the Clickthrough rate (CTR).

Also, focus on writing compelling subheadings. It should be easy, direct, and understandable.

 The same applies to social media posts. Keep your headlines short, but powerful. You can use CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer to help you generate compelling headlines.

 

  1. Your Content Should Inspire People To Act

Quality contents give people the urgency to implement the lessons they just read. Most of the time, people are searching for information on how to improve on something. Whatever their intent is, it is to make them better. 

That’s what your blog posts should do - help your readers to learn and become better by giving them tips and offering actionable steps. 

Furthermore, always provide the answers your target audience is searching for. People are looking for answers, and they want it fast. That’s why you should integrate videos, infographics, links, pictures, etc. to make it more appealing and digestible.

 

  1. Let Your Content Be Precise

Make your content easy to read by making your sentences short. Due to the attention span, you should limit your sentences to below 30-35 words. It’s even better to limit your sentences to a maximum of 20 words. Avoid complicated words as much as possible. That way, you’ll reach wider audiences.

When it comes to word count, it usually doesn’t matter. HubSpot supports this point. A 3000-word article does not make a 300-word blog post less relevant. Focus on giving the information your audience needs and make it simple, concise, and straightforward as possible—no fluffy words. 

Besides, you'll realize that, as a content writer, it's more complicated and requires more time to keep a blog post short than writing to the greatest extent possible.

 

  1. Engage Your Audience With Thought-Provoking Content

To have an engaged community, you need to begin by writing engaging content. You can accomplish this by leaving questions in your post that readers can reflect on. It can cause them to implement the information you provided or start threads of follow-up questions.

It’s recommended to tell your readers why they should look out in your article and what you’ll cover. In short, make your audience want to read your post. 

Also, everyone loves a good story. So you can write compelling stories that can increase engagement in your articles. However, don't tell false stories if you don't have one. Always be true to your audience. 

If your content generates more comments regularly, Google will see your website as recommendable and ultimately boost your rankings.

Don’t take the contents on your website lightly. Writing quality content is important and takes considerable time to research and write. If done correctly, it can significantly boost your SEO rankings.

 

Internal Linking

The best way for Google to find your pages or blog posts is by following links. Internal linking basically does the same thing; it connects your pages and allows Google to have a clear picture of your website's structure.

With internal links, you can develop a hierarchical structure, which can help you to give more value or relevance of links to pages that are important than others. In other words, with the correct internal link strategy, you can improve your SEO rankings.

 

What Is Internal Linking?

Internal linking is the process of connecting a page to another page on your website. Readers and search engines use the links to find pages or content on your site. 

It helps people to stay longer on your site, explore more quality content while assisting Google in navigating your site.

There are other internal links you can add within contents aside from the menu, homepage, blogs, etc. They are called contextual links. These links are clickable text or hyperlinks found in the body of articles. It has the same contextual meaning or idea of what the content is talking about.

All these links help search engines to examine the significance of content and help in your rankings.

 

The Relationship Between Googlebot And Internal Links

There is a web crawler software Google uses called Googlebot to crawl your website. It follows both internal and external links on your site by beginning from your homepage. 

By going through all the site’s links, Google can determine the correlation between various posts, pages, and any other content. Through that, the bot can find pages that talk about similar topics.

Aside from the connection between contents, Google shares the value or relevance of a link among all the links on the website. Usually, the homepage has the most link relevance. 

So the homepage transfers its link relevance to all the links found on its page. The following page with a link relevance also shares its link relevance to all the links on its page. And the same process goes on for all the pages on the site.

Therefore, your published articles will get more link relevance if you link them from the homepage.

 

How To Create An Internal Linking Strategy

You must regularly check and enhance your internal link tactics as that will help Google understand the:

  • Importance of your web pages,
  • Correlation between pages
  • Link relevance of all pages

 

  1. Establish Your Website

Before you start with internal linking, you need to ensure that your website has contents and you regularly publish new content. It's advisable to publish quality content from time to time before internal linking can be useful. You also need to have a good structure for your website.

 

  1. Choose Your Most Vital Content

You should select the content that vividly describes the main goal of your business. That content should be what you want your target audience to find, that is, when the users are searching for information on a topic or product that relates to your business.

During your website optimization project, you can include many links within the content to let Google understand that the article is highly significant. But be wary of adding too many links. Otherwise, it may look like spam. Usually, these contents are long, informative articles, covering everything essential on that topic.

 

  1.  Include Contextual Links

Contextual links entail both internal and external links. But for this guide, we'll be focusing on internal links. 

When you have two contents, both talking about the same topic, you should link them together. It will help your readers and Google to know that the two contents have something in common. And you can do so through contextual links.

However, you need to know how to use anchor texts; otherwise, you can incur more harm than good. Anchor text is a clickable underlined blue text, which has a hyperlink integrated into. Ensure that the anchor text describes the meaning of the target link. 

It has to be a few words or just a short sentence, not a whole paragraph. Two separate pages should not have the same anchor text - it may confuse search engines. And don’t add “click here to read more” at the end of your posts; try to 

Let’s take a look at some examples. 

We have an article titled “12 On-Page SEO Techniques To Boost Your Rankings In 2020.” Here are good and bad ways to anchor text.

Good Anchor Text:

It’s highly essential to integrate on-page SEO techniques to improve your rankings on Google.

Bad Anchor Text:

To increase your online visibility, you need comprehensive SEO techniques and the help of experts.

You can use the exact keywords for internal links, but it should not be excessive, and your anchor texts shouldn't be the same. The bottom line is that you want to help your audience to understand your anchor texts with which they can follow other pages. It also applies to Google bot.

 

Technical Optimization

Technical optimization refers to enhancing the functional areas of a website so that its pages will rank in search engines. The fundamentals of technical optimization include:

  • Improving the website’s speed, 
  • Making it easy for Google to crawl the website, 
  • And making the site understandable for search engines.

However, if you make a mistake in your technical optimization, it can harm your site, and ultimately your rankings. It's easy to assume that the technical aspect of your website is to please Google. But ideally, a website is supposed to have a fast loading speed, simple to use, and precise for your customers.

As it turns out, developing a robust technical website optimization strategy will mean developing a better experience for your target audience as well as Google.

 

User Experience

The main aim of search engines is to provide the best quality results they can get their hands on. User Experience (UX) plays a big part in determining whether visitors would find your website pleasing and easy to use.

In its most straightforward meaning, user experience means focusing on the users and trying to offer them the best web experience possible.

 

XML Sitemap 

If you correctly structure your XML sitemap, it will serve as your site's roadmap that directs Google to all your relevant pages. It also works well for SEO as they will help search engines find the essential site pages quickly, even if your internal linking is not adequately done.

 

What Are XML Sitemaps? 

We have established how crucial it is to make it easy for Google to crawl your website. But sometimes, some of your pages may not have internal links, which makes it difficult for Google or other search engines to find those pages.

With the help of an XML sitemap, you can have all the relevant pages on your website in a list form, ensuring that the search engines find and crawl through each of them. The XML sitemap also helps search engines know how your site is structured.  

According to Google, XML sitemaps are vital for huge sites, websites with extensive archives, and new websites with few external links and sites that rely on rich media content.

 

Which Page Should You Include In Your XML Sitemap? 

You need to decide which URL is crucial to you when conducting website optimization. When users visit your website, which URL should be displayed? If you don't want people to find a URL, it should probably not be included in the XML sitemap. If you're going to exclude some URLs, you should use a robot meta tag. 

The robots meta tag shows how search engines should index or crawl a specific page on a website. They are used to prevent some URLs or pages from coming up in search results. However, that’s not its only purpose. There are diverse values for robots meta tags you can use, and Moz does an excellent job of displaying the concept.  

Sometimes, you can notice some errors in your XML sitemaps. Some pages can be on the list of sitemaps, but won't work. Tons of mistakes could occur, and Google Search Console Help has made it simple for beginners to understand.  

 

Robots.txt File 

Back then when the internet started to gain steam, developers came up with a plan to crawl and index pages on the website. They named these crawlers, spiders, or robots. From time to time, these robots crawled sites that were not supposed to be crawled and indexed. For example, if the site owners were maintaining their website.

So the developer who created the first search engine in the world, Aliweb, suggested a way to solve this problem - a kind of a road that can serve as a guide for the spiders. They completed the whole process in 1994 and named it the Robots Exclusion Protocol.

The robots.txt file executes this protocol. The protocol shows the guideline which every robot or spider must adhere to, even Google bots. Those that don’t follow the protocol are the spyware, malware, etc. 

 

What Are Robots.txt File 

Robots.txt file refers to a text file (very plain texts) that determines if a robot or spider should crawl or access particular folders, subfolders, or pages.

You can put your robots.txt at your domain’s root. For instance, www.mysite.com will be https://www.mysite.com/robots.txt. Keep note that the "robots.txt" should have the same spelling. It's case sensitive; otherwise, it won't work.

Here’s what a robots.txt file looks like:

In the screenshot above, the asterisk (*) tells the spiders the robots.txt file is available to all robots that visit the site. The slash (/) instructs the bot not to access any pages on the website. In all, it prevents all crawlers from accessing your site.

 

Can Your Website Rank Without Robots.txt? 

Robots.txt is not a vital ingredient to make your site successful. Without them, you can equally rank well on search engines. However, there are some essential things to note before you disregard it.

The robots.txt can:  

  • Prevent crawlers from accessing private folders, 
  • Maintained your resources. Bots can drain lots of bandwidth or different server resources, especially if you have tons of pages. With robots.txt, you can instruct which specific images or scripts they can access and those they can’t. 
  • Find where your sitemap is located. That way, the bots can crawl through them. 
  • Prevent duplicate contents from reaching SERPs. 

 

Noindex And Disallow Tags 

Google reported in 2019 that they have stopped using the noindex directive. However, if you want to make sure that search engines don't index your pages, then the noindex meta tag can help. It gives access to the robots, but it prompts them not to index a specific page or show up in SERPs wherever they see the noindex tag.

On the other hand, if you add the disallow tag to robots.txt, you'll prevent robots from crawling and indexing your pages. However, if a page is found in internal or external links on other pages, the robots may still be able to index it. But it will be based on the information which the other page or website provides.

Keep in mind that if you add a disallow tag to a page and also add a noindex tag, the bots will not see your noindex tag. In that case, your page will still appear on SERPs. 

 

How To Create A Sitemap And Submit To Google Search Console

As you know, it’s almost impossible to find a new address if you don’t have a navigational guide (map). Likewise, Google finds it challenging to navigate all your website’s pages if there is no sitemap.

Fortunately, there's a straightforward way to create and send your XML sitemap to Google. Let's go through them step by step and see how you can include it to your website optimization tasks.

But first, let’s find out the basics of an XML sitemap.

 

What Is A Sitemap?

A sitemap refers to an Extensible Markup Language (XML) text file that lists all the relevant pages or contents on a website. Every page on your site you want to appear on SERPs should be included in your sitemap. 

You’re limited to 50,000 URLs and 50 megabytes. If it exceeds, you’ll have to create another sitemap. 

 XML sitemaps were designed for search engines, not for you, technically. But with a little understanding, it can help you create your sitemap with ease. Here's a screenshot example from Ahrefs:

Let’s boil it down, shall we? 

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

The text above is an XML declaration that announces to Google that it’s going through an XML file. It also displays the version of the XML and the encoding a character uses. When it comes to sitemaps, the encoding must entail UTF-8 and 1.0 for the version.

<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">

The value is referred to as a URL set. And it serves as a box for every URL found in a sitemap. It informs spiders the standard of protocol it's using. Most sitemaps use the 0.90 standards, and search engines like Google support this standard.

<url>

<loc>https://ahrefs.com/</loc>

<lastmod>2019-08-21T16:12:20+03:00</lastmod>

</url>

The above tag is a URL and it’s the mother tag for each URL found on a sitemap. It’s crucial that you indicate the URL’s location in the <loc> tag. It’s highly essential that these URLs remain absolute. 

There are some optional properties: 

  1. <lastmod>

     

The "lastmod" stands for last modified, which determines the date in which the file was last revised or modified. Keep in mind that the format should be in W3C Datetime. For instance, if you modified the blog post on June 30, 2020, you should write the attribute in 2020-06-30.

  1. <priority>

     

Just like the name implies, it prioritizes the most relevant URLs with a value from 0.0 to 1.0, with the higher value being the most important. 

  1. <changefreq>

     

This attribute determines how a page frequently changes. Search engines use this attribute to know how often they need to come back and crawl a site. The values can be daily, always, weekly, hourly, monthly, never, and yearly.

Remember that all three optional tags do not affect your SEO. That means you can ignore them and still rank well on search engines.

How To Create A Sitemap

The Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress can help you easily generate a sitemap and automatically update it when there's an addition or removal of pages/posts from your website.

It will generate two files for your site:

  1. sitemap-index.xml

It is the sitemap's index file. So the location for your URL will be http://www.yoursite.com/sitemap-index.xml.

  1. sitemap.xml.gz

It is a zipped sitemap data for a website. The location of your URL will be http://www.yoursite.com/sitemap-index.xml.gz

Here’s how to activate your sitemap:

  • Sign in to CMS
  • Choose Reports & Tools, then All Reports & Tools.
  • Below the Site Management, click Enable/Disable Sitemap.
  • Click on the Toggle Status to activate the sitemap.
  • Wait for a day before you get the XML files.
  • When you enable the sitemap, send the sitemap to Google.

However, if your CMS doesn't offer this function, you can opt for a sitemap plugins. There are numerous plugins out there you can select from, such as Yoast SEO, Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, etc. Let's go through some of them.

Creating a Sitemap Using Yoast SEO In WordPress

Install Yoast SEO from your dashboard. You can do that by going to "Plugins," then "Add new." Search for Yoast SEO, Install, then click on "Activate."

After activating it, visit SEO, General, then Features. Remember to switch on the "XML sitemaps." When you do so; you'll see a display of your sitemap index or sitemap at yoursite.com/sitemap.xml or yoursite.com/sitemap_index.xml. 

If you want to add or remove some pages from your sitemap, visit the “Search Appearance” settings. From there, you can make changes from the “Advanced” editor box.

How To Create A Sitemap Using Shopify In WordPress

It’s simple to create a sitemap with Shopify because they generate the sitemap automatically for you. Follow this link to begin http://www.yourstore.com/sitemap.xml

However, it's challenging to create a noindex page when you use Shopify, which means you need to make changes in the .liquid files directly.

How To Submit Your Sitemap To Google

First, determine the location of your sitemap. In the case of a plugin, your URL could be thesite.com/sitemap.xml. Visit Google Search Console, sitemaps, then enter the location of your sitemap (thesite.com/sitemap.xml), then click on “Submit.”

 

Crawlability/Index 

Every search engine is composed of a crawler, an algorithm, and an index. As explained earlier, the crawler's purpose is to follow the links. It will read your website, and it will save the contents in an index.

Let’s break it down further. 

The crawler or spider crawls throughout the internet every time. Once it visits your site, it keeps your page’s HTML version in an enormous database called an index. When it comes to your website again, it will update the index if there’s a new version or updated version of the index. 

The frequency of the bots visit will depend on how important Google sees your website and how frequently you make changes to your site.

 

Avoiding Duplicate Contents

Duplicate contents are the exact or similar contents that show on multiple places on your website or other sites.

According to Google’s definition, two scenarios classify as duplicate contents:

  1. When two or more contents appear on the same website
  2. When multiple contents are found on other websites

However, Google does not have any penalty for duplicate contents. It does not mean you should not take duplicate contents seriously; having duplicate contents can negatively affect your SEO results and, ultimately, your traffic because the duplicate contents don't appear on search results.

A user can have access to the duplicate contents if they click the link, but the probability of them clicking the link is almost zero. That’s because you’ll see the message on the last page on the search results. And we don’t mean the tenth page. We mean page 8042 or how many pages Google shows for a given search.

 

How To Detect Duplicate Contents On Your Website

You can find duplicate contents in three ways:

  1.  Google Search Console

You can also find duplicate contents through the snippets such as meta descriptions and title tags, not only through web pages. You can spot duplicate contents with ease through Google Search Console under Optimization, then HTML improvements.

  1.  External tools

You can use external tools such as Copyscape to check for duplicate contents.

  1. Use the Search Operator “Site:”

Paste your URL in the search box and put “site:” in front of it. Here’s an example:

site:www.yoursite.com/index.html

If you find a result from Google showing omitted results like the screenshot above, then it means you have duplicate contents. 

 

How To Avoid Duplicate Contents

There are several ways to avoid duplicate content. Here are some of them:

 

  1. Create Compelling Content

Your number priority should be acquiring new, original ideas for your website. You should focus on giving the information your audience needs and not just copying contents from other websites.

 

  1. 301 Redirect

If you switched your website, it's not advisable to copy everything to the new site. Instead, use a permanent redirect, also called 301 direct. It will redirect users to your new website and prevent duplicate content.

 

  1. Customize Each Product Descriptions

It can be a challenging task and, sometimes, time-wasting. However, if you do so, it can have a significant impact on your overall ranking. You need to write different descriptions for all your products, even those that are similar.

 

Security SSL

If you remember, URLs used to begin with "http://." However, over the years, most of the websites switched to “https://.” For example, https://www.webzool.com/.

The "s" shows that all of your communications with the website are encrypted and secure, which means any information you provide to that website is safely handled. The technology behind that "s" is referred to as SSL, which denotes "Secure Sockets Layer."

 

What Is An SSL Certificate?

The SSL certificate is a security technology that secures transactions from a server to a browser. The SSL makes sure that all encrypted transactions stay private.

 

How To Acquire An SSL Certificate For Your Site

First, you need to know the sort of certificate required for your website. For instance, if you publish content on different websites or platforms, you may need different kinds of SSL certificates. 

Usually, acquiring a standard SSL certificate works well for your content. But for industries such as insurance and finance companies, you need to obtain a particular SSL certificate that is required in that industry.

When it comes to the costs, it depends. You can obtain free SSL certificates, but you will pay monthly fees for specific certificates. Also, they have an expiry date of 90 days, so ensure that your SSL certificates are always up to date.

You also need to consider the SSL certificate's validity period. The majority of the standard SSL certificates can last for a year or two by default. But you can opt for more advanced certificates which provide extended periods of validity.

 

Auditing Your Website

Auditing your website is the process of analyzing the performance of your website. Through that, you can know if you have to optimize to attain the best results or not. If not, they take some measures to boost your site's performance.

 

 Website Speed Optimization

According to Crazy Egg, if you delay your page load time for one second, you can:

  • Decrease your page views by 11%,
  •  Decrease your customer satisfaction by 16%,
  •  Lower your conversion rate to 7%.

That means, if you have a slow page loading time, it will affect your Google rankings and negatively affect your sales and visitor's engagement. The bottom line: having a slow website can decrease your visitors and conversions.

 

What Is Site Page Speed?

The page speed determines how fast content loads on a web page. How can you determine if your internet is slow? If your eye's blink is faster than the page loading time, that is, 400 milliseconds, then it's slow.

According to Google, 0.4 seconds is enough to turn your customers away. Harry Shum, a Microsoft speed expert, believes that a page that is 0.25 seconds quicker or slower will determine the competitive advantage over other online businesses.

 

Website Speed Optimization Strategies

Numerous issues can affect page speed. Let's go through some strategies on how to improve the page speed of your site.

 

  1. Optimize Images

Images can take up large spaces on your site, which can cause slow page loading. One of the faster and easier ways is to ensure that your website loads faster. With WordPress, there's a tool such as WP Smush to make it simple to optimize your images. 

You can also utilize image compressors such as TinyPNG and TinyJPG. With that, you can reserve a considerable amount of bandwidth.

Another way is to use Lazy Loading to make your website loads faster. When you use Lazy Loading, the images only load when users are scrolling near them. You can use plugins such as WPRocket’s Lazy Loading on WordPress sites, and it's straightforward to implement. 

Google also recommends image formats such as .webp. These kinds of images have a faster loading time on smartphone devices. However, there is little browser support, which means you'll have to use two different pictures like jpg and .webp dynamically.  Due to that, many people are not implementing them yet.

 

  1.  Use A Content Delivery Network (CDN)

CDN's are web servers spread throughout numerous geographical locations in the world with the primary purpose of providing web content to people in their various locations.

When you host your website on, say, server A, all the user requests will be sent to that same hardware. Due to that, it’ll increase the time required to process every request. And that will increase the load time, especially if the user is appreciably distant from the server. 

But with the CDN, the request from users will be redirected to the server near them. Consequently, users get a quicker response, and the site works faster. This method is quite expensive, but it's an effective way of increasing your page load time.

 

  1. Use Website Caching

When there are many users simultaneously accessing a page on a website, the servers tend to be low and require considerable time to send the web page to every user. When that happens, caching is the best option.

Caching stores your website's current version on a hosting and displays the saved version until the website updates. When a web page is cached, it won't have to send database requests every time.

Even though the website caching does not improve the page load speed for new visitors, it can make a significant difference for other users that visit the site. 

There are different website caching due to the difference in every platform a site was built on. For example, for WordPress, you can use the W3 Total Cache or W3 Super Cache plugins.

 

  1.  Detect 404 Errors

A 404 error indicates that a page cannot be found. Typically, hosting platforms send 404 errors to browsers or search engines when a page ceases to exist. You can utilize plugins and detection tools to detect such errors and fix them.

However, adding plugins can affect your site's speed negatively. So, it's advisable to use external tools for identifying 404 errors. Examples include, WordPress’s Redirectioner, Google Webmaster Tools (GWT), etc.  

After detecting the errors, you have to find out the traffic they generate. If the links don't bring in visitors, hence, not wasting server resources, you can choose not to do anything. However, if they generate traffic, you can set the redirects for external links and repair the link address for the internal links.

 

How To Properly Run A Site Speed Test

Before you begin the diagnostics for website loading speed, you need to find out if the caching and CDN are working on your site. If not, you have to ensure they’re enabled before you commence with the test.

Furthermore, you have to make sure that you maintain constant variables as much during the tests. That means, when testing for your website speed, you should do so at the same location. 

The reason behind this same location idea is that there are servers in many places around the world. So if it takes three seconds to load in a particular location, it may take five seconds to load the same page on another location.

With that, you can come to a better conclusion by finding consistent outcomes in your test. One crucial thing you have to take notice of is to be consistent in your page speed test. And it's not important where you conducted your analysis.

You can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to begin your tests in different locations, if you're not physically present. It will give you more options for conducting your test and coming out with a more comprehensive analysis.

 

You Have To Run The Test Multiple Times

It's not possible to run a test once and develop a good result. That's why it's called a "test." You have to conduct numerous tests until you produce consistent results. That's because running multiple tests may result in different conclusions. And you need to come out with an outcome that will increase your page speed regardless of where a user accesses the site. 

Numerous speed test tools can run several tests on your behalf. Even premium accounts can monitor your site's performance over time to examine any fluctuations in the page speed.

 

Number of Tests or A/B Testing

For you to have an excellent extensive set of data, you need to embark on several speed tests, not just only one. And you have to do so at different times, maybe during the whole day. The entire idea is to plan the tests every hour for about a week.

You can implement A/B testing to find out what works and what don't. The reason is that your website's performance will change continuously due to visitors or your box server usage.

As the tests go on, you can find the peak hours, which can be the best time to publish new content, pop ups, etc. You can learn a lot when you A/B test, and even though the loading speed in seconds can change during the test period, GTmetrix will not change some of the things they reveal with time.

 

Website Speed Optimization Tools

  1. GT Metrix

GTmetrix is a free tool that analyzes your page speed using Google Page Speed and Yslow. It then creates comprehensive reports and gives you actionable recommendations on how to repair the issues. 

You can use the GTmetrix basic version for free, and when you create an account, you can have access to multiple options. The location you select is highly relevant as it connotes where your site is physically hosted. 

With a GTmetrix account, you can decide on the number of extra analysis options. One of them is the option of picking a location through which you'll carry out your test. You have the opportunity to choose the browser of your choice. You can use mobile versions on premium versions. 

GTmetrix displays your top priority data as a summary to help you know what’s going on in your site. You can see it on top of the page. It also lists the total page loading time, page size, and the number of requests.

 

Test Location With GTmetrix

Usually, most speed testing tools that offer free versions assign a test server for you at random. That means, the location through which you'll be testing your page speed will be randomly tested. The problem with random selection is that it can lead to inconsistent findings or results.

For example, if Los Angeles is randomly picked for Test A, which, say, is 150 miles distant from your server, New York, which is also randomly selected for test B, could be 1,000 miles away from your server. This random selection will affect your test findings.

The location you choose for your test is highly critical and can make a significant difference. However, it may be alright to exclude data from distant locations such as local businesses. But you can't discard such data from locations far away for companies that have a global audience.

If you want to carry out your page test locally, you have to choose the test servers close to your server's physical location. If you're not sure where you can locate your server, contact your hosting company. 

For global testing, select four or five test servers in strategic locations all over the world.

 

Testing Targets

People, usually beginners make the mistake of testing only the homepage of their website. The homepage of your site may be the least data-demanding page, which makes it automatically the fastest loading page. 

Also, your homepage may not be the page that attracts the most traffic. Most of your organic traffic will come through search engines, and the majority of them will through posts and other pages on your site. So let your focus be on other pages on your website, not just your homepage.

 

PageSpeed And Yslow

PageSpeed and YSlow provide two small distinct ways of measuring how the structure of a website and the mechanics affect a page's speed. They both offer suggestions on how to make certain items faster, like caching, activating gzip compressions, etc.

The corresponding parts in GTmetrix link to more detailed information on the topic to have in-depth details. And also know how to execute each method to improve your page speed.

Keep in mind: don't look at the percentage scores to determine the page speed. The percentages can be misleading, and it doesn't consider all the essential things. An example is the page's entire size in megabytes, usually affected by images that are poorly optimized.

What you can do is focus on the page load speed to take some seconds off.

 

The Waterfall

The waterfall is one of the essential tools that help you to determine the constrictions in your page’s speed. Usually, there has to be a lookup, transfer, and display of every asset found on your website. And each bar in the waterfall tells all the procedures involved for every asset and the duration they took. 

Here are the steps every asset passes through:

 

DNS Lookup:

Time used in resolving the DNS. The DNS lookup time is the specific time it takes for a domain lookup to happen while a browser fetches the information.

Connecting:

The time it takes to establish a connection.

Blocking:

The time it takes to wait in a browser queue for a connection.

Sending:

The time spent in sending a request

Waiting:

The time it takes to wait for a response (that is Time To First Byte (TTFB))

Receiving:

The time spent on downloading a content

Based on the information above, we can analyze what's happening in the screenshot. First of all, if you look at the blue line in the waterfall screenshot, it shows the Document Object Model (DOM) loading point. 

The TTFB is also a vital element that acts as an indicator of a server's speed. In the waterfall above, it's displayed as the waiting information. If you see high TTFB consistently, even after improving your site speed based on the fundamental recommendations, the problem could be coming from your host server.

 

Using GTmetrix As A Monitoring Tool

You can use the alert feature to identify any circumstances where your website slows down according to your predefined speed.

 

You can set your preferred conditions, and the GTmetrix will send you notifications when the conditions are met. GTmetrix can help you keep track of your domain every hour and from diverse locations. It shows the overall idea of how your website is performing.

 

Pingdom Website Speed Test

Pingdom is one of the most popular tools for testing website performance among WordPress users. It's a site that offers various services for speed test tools.

If you're not a web performance specialist, then Pingdom is the best choice because it's simple. Currently, there are seven different locations worldwide where you can test the site's speed. However, there have been several times when the locations are not available, and it occasionally happens.

The reason is that Pingdom may be under maintenance, or there's too much load due to numerous people running various tests on the locations. If your test location is not available, try again an hour later. It should reappear.

 

Google Lighthouse Audit

Lighthouse is an open-source tool from Google that analyzes web page's performances. Even though its main priority is mobile websites and web applications, it still offers helpful recommendations and information that can improve your site's performance.

Besides, when you optimize your site with the mobile version in mind, you're enhancing your desktop version's performance as well.

Lighthouse runs numerous tests referred to as an “audit.” The audit analyzes every data on a web page or web application. After, it creates a detailed report on how the page or app is performing. 

Here's how the audit works. A page loads over a weak 3G connection that is simulated while viewing the page on a slow device. It also runs other simulations such as packet loss, data loss, CPU, and network throttling.

The audit works in a way that a page will be viewed on older phone versions with not-so-good connections. The whole idea is to improve page speed. And if a page can load fast in such difficult circumstances, the page performance will actively improve on current phone versions with fast networks.

A good result in the Lighthouse audit ranges from 90 to 100. The average is between 50 to 89, and the poor is between 0-49. According to Google, if you can rank above 90, you'll be among the 5% of proper functioning websites.

 

What Tests Does Lighthouse Conduct?

 

Performance

Lighthouse generates reports which focus on several things related to showing pages on the screen as fast as possible. It also tests the user experience (user's ability) to interact with the content on a page of your website.

When it comes to the report, the sections of the performance include:

 

First Contentful Paint

It calculates the time for any content, whether videos, blog posts, etc. to show on the screen.

 

First Meaningful Paint

It refers to the time taken for the initial content that's meaningful to appear on the screen.

 

Speed Index

The speed index refers to the tests of a website speed that portray how fast a page’s content is viewable.

 

First CPU Idle

The duration in which a device no more works to render a web page.

 

Time to Interactive

It calculates the time a page gets interactive. It means the majority of the user interface elements get interactive, and when a user makes an input, the screen responds based on its interactiveness.