Top 4 WordPress Plugins to Improve Page Speed

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WordPress plugins can be extremely helpful sometimes…

And then they cause more trouble than they’re others.

The trap that’s easy to fall into is to learn about a new plugin, and add that. Then you hear about another, and install it. And so on…

Before you realize it, you have 70+ plugins. And when you have a lot, they can interact poorly with each other, causing your website to stop working!

Plugins are a good thing. But you need to know which ones are worth having.

So here’s the top ones you should have to increase your page speed:

  1. Google PageSpeed Insights

Start right off with a plugin that uses technology from a name you trust. This plugin doesn’t do any fixes for you. But it does tell you what you need to fix.

You’ll learn:

  • The largest areas for page speed improvement across your entire site
  • What to fix on each page of your website (not all pages are the same, after all)
  • Your best and worst performing pages

 

  1. W3 Total Cache

A number of big names in the internet marketing space, and business in general, use this plugin. AT&T, Matt Cutts, Mashable, and others swear by it.

As its name suggests, it takes advantage of caching to improve your site’s speed. So, rather than loading a new page every time you visit, you can set this plugin to instead tell your user’s computers to check their internet history cache on their computer for a recent version of your web page.

W3 goes much farther than simple caching, as it’s really a complete solution for optimizing the speed of your entire WordPress site. It even has support for content delivery network integration.

Few WordPress plugins have W3’s amazing reputation. It truly is a must-have for your website.

  1. P3 Plugin Performance Profiler

Remember how we said it’s easy to install way too many plugins on your WordPress site?

Well this plugin analyzes all the ones you have installed, and tells you which ones slow down your site’s load time most.

Makes it easy to get rid of the troublemakers!

  1. WP Smush

Have a lot of images on your website? With just a few clicks, this plugin automatically reduces the file size of all the images…without reducing their quality.

And it does this automatically for each new image you upload too.

Other plugins do something similar, but you may have to manually do the process for each image! Yikes!

In a bloated world of WordPress plugins, those are the top 4 for improving your page speed.

They’ll make your life, and your user’s experience, much better!

Why Every Page on Your Website Needs to Load Fast

Why Every Page on Your Website Needs to Load Fast

 

Web usability expert Jakob Nielsen, who’s been testing what web users really want since the mid-1990s before most people even had the internet, says this about page load speed:

“When sites shave as little as 0.1 seconds of response time, the outcome is a juicy lift in conversion rates. Today or the 1990s? Same effect.”

He goes on to add that web users prefer fast websites over gorgeous ones. And no VP of marketing aims for a “sluggish” experience in any area of business.

So, it’s super important for your bottom line that your website operates fast.

But, That’s Not the Only Reason Your Website Should Load Fast…

That’s because Google gives better rankings to websites that load fast. And this isn’t a recent rule.

In fact, it’s been in place for more than 5 years – since April 2010.

Remember: it’s Google’s goal to put websites with the most helpful information at the top of its search rankings. They’re a for-profit company, so they have to do that better than anyone else to stay in business.

After that, at a general level, they consider user experience. And since you already learned users want fast websites, that’s something you need to aim for.

How Do You Know if Your Website Loads “Fast?”

After all, people have different connection speeds. So not everyone’s experience is the same.

Some people might even still be on dial-up (remember that?)!

Fortunately, it’s easy to check. Google has a PageSpeed Insights tool that tells you (and appropriately so) in just seconds.

Simply enter in your URL. Google gives you a score of 1-100, with 100 being perfect. And it gives you separate scores for mobile and desktop versions of your website (you do have both, don’t you?).

Here’s an example so you see what we mean:

That’s the easy part.

The hard part is…making the changes. You don’t need a skilled developer to make them all, but you will need one to make most of them. Some you can get away with by using a simple WordPress plugin.

Examples of Websites that Load “Fast”

Believe it or not, you can shell out thousands of dollars making your website load fast. The good news is you don’t need to break the bank. You can get close enough if you’re on a budget.

But here’s a few websites that show you what to shoot for:

  1. Copyblogger

This website’s actually a thought leader in the online marketing space. Just click around on their site a little.

Notice how it loads so fast that you almost feel like you’re clicking on your desktop computer.

  1. com

This site delivers news stories according to your interest. Like Copyblogger, it loads fast and has a simple design.

In conclusion, your customers want everything now, and the same goes with your website. So, it’s important to make it load fast for their benefit, and to keep your Google rankings high.

Your Site Must Work for Mobile Users on April 21st

If your website isn’t mobile responsive by April 21, Google’s going to take 50% of your mobile traffic. Learn more in this post from i5 web works.

If you’re a search marketing pro, you knew it would come sometime.

And now Google’s officially made the announcement.

Now, your website must be “responsive.” That means it displays correctly on all devices (smartphones, tablets, desktops, and laptops).

There’s some talk Google’s been rewarding responsive websites with better search rankings. But now, they’ll actively penalize websites that don’t. And they’re handing out a big whack this time!

Is Your Website Responsive?

It’s easy to check. Just visit Google’s Mobile Friendly Test Tool. Enter the link to your site. And in about 20 seconds or so, Google tells you whether or not you’re good to go.

If you want to see what your site looks like on all major device types, visit StudioPress, and insert your URL. If all goes well, your site looks like this. Your users don’t have to browse to the right or left to see any of it:

Why is Google Doing This?

Well, for obvious reasons. One report from comScore holds that 60% of all internet traffic now comes from mobile devices. 51% of that comes from mobile apps.

Remember, Google’s all about user experience. They want to put websites that users love most at the top of the search engines.

Now, websites ready for mobile and with the most attractive content get those positions.

What If You Fail to Act?

No one knows specifics, but the news won’t be good for you. Some experts think you’ll lose 50% of your mobile traffic.

The average website gets 50-60% of its search traffic from mobile devices. You could lose 25-30% of your total search traffic immediately.

To calculate what you could lose with more precision, login to Google Analytics. Then go to “Audience” on the left menu, and “Mobile” and then “Overview.” You’ll learn exactly what percentage of your traffic comes from mobile devices.

The Good News Is…

The silver lining this is Google says this update won’t affect organic search for non-mobile devices. So if Google caught you completely by surprise, you won’t lose everything.

But your losses will still be significant. The simple cure is to have your website redesigned to be “mobile responsive.”

Better act now – web designer’s schedules are filling up!

Is Your Mobile E-commerce Website Converting?

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The Results are In: Desktop Converts Much Better Than Mobile E-Commerce

You’d think it would be the other way around. But that’s not what research from IBM suggests. Learn the truth and what to do about it in this post.

Recent traffic data from IBM shows the ratio of traffic-to-sales for e-commerce websites is 288% higher for desktop computers versus smartphones. When you compute the statistics reported by IBM into dollars per visit, it’s 372% higher for desktops!

What’s going on?

Isn’t everything you hear all about mobile and how it’s going to take the future over? It does account for almost as much traffic as desktop computers, but it doesn’t even come close in terms of conversion rate.

So why is this happening?

A few major reasons:

  • Jakob Nielsen, internet usability expert, reports some sites don’t follow basic guidelines for e-commerce usability
  • At a more detailed level, he identifies 884 e-commerce design guidelines many websites don’t follow
  • Other sites do great at following desktop guidelines, but fail to follow good mobile design guidelines

What Should You Look For?

Now let’s face the truth – small businesses often don’t have the time or money to identify all 884 issues and address them. But, you can look for some of the larger issues on mobile e-commerce sites that need to be addressed and then focus on the smaller ones as your business grows:

  1. Making the Mobile Shopping Experience Too Basic

It makes sense to simplify mobile shopping because, after all, their wireless connections often don’t have high bandwidth like desktop PCs do. And, the fewer steps you have to take to buy, generally the more purchases you get.

But, the risk there is reducing the enjoyable experience of shopping to a simple decision of whether to purchase or not. For many users, that takes the fun out of online shopping, and they don’t buy as a result.

  1. Unusual Choice of Copy

Because smartphone screens are small, copy gets condensed into its most concise terms. That’s helpful, but some companies go to the extreme of using unfamiliar language to customers just to make the copy fit in. If they don’t know what your copy means, they won’t be able to buy unless they’re a very determined shopper!

  1. Image Sliders/Carousels are Cool, but They Destroy Conversions

They get used on both desktop and mobile websites. They hurt desktop conversions and the effect is even more pronounced on mobile e-commerce sites.

That’s because when sliders intended for desktop websites get used on mobile sites, the images become too crowded and the text too small to see. Since that hurts the user’s browsing experience, they choose to buy less.

Mobile use of the web is here to stay and it’s going to continue to grow, but getting the most from it requires ongoing hard work. Keep it on your radar, and you will get more conversions as you fine-tune your site for success.

5 Game-Changing New Year’s Resolutions for Your Website

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You do go back to your website and check it to make sure everything’s spot-on, don’t you?

You do that with your car, business processes, and virtually everything you own, so why wouldn’t you do the same with your website?

It’s easy to get so busy during the holidays and cooler Winter months that you may completely forget to do this.

What should you check for anyway?

Here’s a few suggestions:

  1. Check Your Blog Content

Just a couple minutes analyzing your blog can lead to big changes in the future. First off, at the local business level, most SMBs don’t blog consistently. Figure out a schedule you can commit to (at least 2 posts per month, but 4-8 is better), and stick to it.

Also, do a quick check in Google Analytics to see which posts readers like best. Go to “Behavior à Site Content à All Pages.” Check both the “Pageviews” and “Avg. Time on Page” columns.

Low pageviews isn’t necessarily bad – it may mean no one can find your posts. However, you always want that average time on page to be at least 2 minutes or so. See which of your posts get read the longest, try to figure out what makes them great, and give your audience more of the same.

  1. Revise Your Static Web Pages

Is your home page still accurate? Or have you learned more reasons your market likes to buy? What about your “About” page? Have you had changes in your team’s structure?

Do you now offer new services? Are your prices on your site and do they need to be changed?

  1. Add Videos to Your Website

You could add a video to every page – if you’re ambitious. Otherwise, make sure you have one on your home page.

Videos aren’t just pretty – they boost your conversions too. You could also place them on your “About” page to introduce team members. On your services pages, you can show the value your services offer, or even add video testimonials.

  1. Simplify Your Contact Form & Newsletter Registration

For your newsletter list, all you need is the first name and an e-mail address. Seriously – the simpler you make it, the more people subscribe.

With your contact form, you can get a little more complex. Conversion rate experts suggest that highly complex forms (8 fields+) get you more qualified prospects. If you want volume, make yours simpler (3-5 fields).

  1. A More Enticing Offer

You don’t want to promise the moon on your website when you can’t deliver on it. But, you do want to make your offer as compelling as possible.

To do that, you must outline your ideal customer’s problem in excruciatingly vivid detail, and then paint a beautiful picture of how better their lives will be after they use your product or service.

If you check and tweak all those things, your website will start bringing in new customers!

How to Make Your Website More Linkworthy

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Even though Google changes SEO at a backbreaking pace, SEO still boils down to a few fundamentals:

  • Awesome content
  • Quality, relevant links
  • Great on-site user experience
  • Active social media profiles (these may play a bigger role in the future of SEO)

We don’t know the exact weight links play in your overall search ranking, but saying 50% would be a reasonable guesstimate.

You know some websites get more links than others. What factors influence how much people want to link to your site?

Here’s a few, that, if you work on them, make it much more likely people will link to your website:

  1. Your Site Loads Fast

All main pages on your site should load in less than 2 seconds. That’s part of the “user experience” on your website.

  1. Social Sharing Buttons

Users expect these as a standard on every website. Yours must have them, and they should be obvious and large enough for mobile users. It takes only a couple minutes to install a plugin that provides them.

  1. Fresh Content

Has it been 3 – 6 months since your last blog post? That’s too long. If you’re a small business of just 3-5 employees or so, aim to get 2 posts up per month minimum. 4 is really nice, and any more than that is a bonus.

  1. Useless, Boring, or Stupid Content

Only you can learn what’s relevant to your audience. If you run an HVAC repair company, your customers want to read how to prepare their AC unit for Spring or Winter.

Make your post so easy to understand that someone with no mechanical skills whatsoever can act on its information. And use simple language too. When your customers can read your posts and actually put your information to use in their daily lives, they have a reason to come back for more.

You don’t have to be William Shakespeare to blog. Cracking jokes and using slang – those are fine and actually encouraged.

  1. No Broken Images/Site Errors

What if you had a huge crack in the window at your physical office location? Wouldn’t you fix that immediately because you know what a poor impression it makes?

That’s what broken images and 404 Not Found errors do on your website. You don’t want a single one of these to be found anywhere.

  1. A Simple, Organized Look

Your website does need an attractive design. But it doesn’t need a lot of gimmicks/tricks that make it “cooler.” The main thing is the design looks recent (so people know you’re still in business), and the other priority is making your site easy to use and read.

If you do these things, you make your site look good to others, and they’ll want to link to it more.