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WordPress Tips & Tricks from Pros

Posted by on Apr 4, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on WordPress Tips & Tricks from Pros

With nearly 55 thousand plugins, you can hardly find a single WordPress function that can’t be updated or improved; however, it is necessary to understand the most important functions.

1. MAKE USE OF ONLINE LEARNING SOURCES

There are plenty of websites that can help you learn WordPress back-to-back, such as WP Beginner.

2. KEEP THINGS SIMPLE

You don’t want to start out with complex features right away – just take care of basics before you move on to advanced functions.

3. CHOOSE A GOOD THEME

Find a WordPress theme that blends with your branding strategy and gives you the ability to make changes easily and adapt it according to your own needs.

4. REMOVE SPAM COMMENTS

A WordPress site’s not going to look professional with spam messages, so just go over to “comments” (right under “pages” in your WordPress dashboard) and delete any spammy comments.

5. UNDERSTAND THE FUNDAMENTALS OF SEO

Search engine optimization is what’s needed for higher ranking in Google searches, so you’ll have to understand keywords, slugs, and meta-descriptions.

6. INCREASE YOUR MEMORY LIMIT

Plugins can slow your site down by draining memory, so simply open the wp-config.php file and enter the following line of code:
define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ’64M’);

7. TAKE CARE OF WEBSITE SECURITY

Don’t jeopardize months or even years of content creation. Create strong passwords and use a reliable security plugin such as “All-in-One WP Security” or “Wordfence”.

8. DELETE OBSOLETE PLUGINS

Sometimes inactive plugins can also increase the risk of a website hack, so just delete the ones you don’t use or don’t plan to reactivate.

9. HIGHLIGHT AUTHOR COMMENTS

Your content needs to hook the audience to your site, and one trick is to highlight authors’ comments. Write this simple code in the CSS file:
.bypostauthor { background: #eee; }

10. MAKE SIMPLE SITE STRUCTURES

Make your site easy to navigate by making a simple site structure with up to 6 main categories.

11. INCREASE LOAD SPEED

You can do it using online tools like “Pingdom”, a site that shows what’s fast or slow and what can be done in terms of improvement.

12. ADD SOCIAL ICONS

This’ll help visitors spread the word about your site through their accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

13. SET WEBSITE BACKUPS REGULARLY

This keeps your content safe and sound in spite of potential site hacks or technical issues like a sudden 500 error.

7 Things to Check to Ensure Your WordPress Is Secure

Posted by on Apr 1, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 7 Things to Check to Ensure Your WordPress Is Secure

You invest plenty of effort to keep your site as secure as possible. You chose a reliable host. You installed few plugins that ensure better security. Now what? Is your site safe?

You can’t just wait until security issues show up. You have to test and figure out how to secure WordPress on the go. It’s a continuous process.

In general, WordPress is secure. Still, there are few common issues that arise. Some of them include SQL injections, file inclusion exploits, and brute force attacks. That sounds scary, but you can prevent security issues if you keep working on your site.

We’ll list 7 things to check to make sure that your WordPress Site is secure.

The Checks: How to Make WordPress Site Secure

The Passwords

You already know this. You must use strong passwords that no one could ever guess. But did you? Are the passwords on your WordPress sites un-guessable? If you created these sites years ago, an update won’t hurt.

You can use a password manager to make them stronger and securely save them. 1Password is a good tool for that.

There’s something else: two-factor authentication. Did you add it? It’s one of the most effective preventive measures against brute force attacks. You can use a WP plugin to enable it.  

The Site’s Attack Surface

What can hackers attack at your website? What vulnerable surface have you left for them?

When a hacker decides to target a website, they won’t take random actions hoping to hit a vulnerable spot. They target the so-called attack surface, which includes the web applications, themes, and plugins that your website runs.

You can’t eliminate the attack surface, since you have to run applications. But you don’t need them all, so you can minimize these vulnerability issues. Start by removing all apps that you don’t need or you don’t use. Then, remove the accounts that are not being used.

The Backup

So you worked really hard to get high-quality content there. You invested in long-form posts, whitepapers, info-graphics, and even research studies. You hired a writer to write a brilliant essay, which got tons of positive attention and shares.

But you lose it. You lose all the content.

Now what?

No one really thinks about backups until something like this happens. At that moment, this is all you can think: “I wish I had a backup.” Don’t wish! Do it! Choose a backup plugin that offers a flawless restoration process. If the worst happens, you’ll have your site back with a click of a button.  

The Firewall

Do you have a security team actively maintaining the firewall? You should! Whenever a theme or a plugin gets vulnerable, it takes time for a fix to be introduced. During this time, your website is exposed and it’s the firewall that protects it.

Attacks can happen anytime. You need to invest in a team that will discover them. In addition, they will discover vulnerabilities before the hackers do, so they could improve the firewall on time.

The Users and Their Roles

Do other people have access to the panel? If you have contributors, you have to check and verify their roles. No one should have admin access. They could easily sign you out and take control over the site. That can happen if you started the site together with someone, they left it to you, and now they decided they want it back.

You want to remove the inactive users. Then, you should make sure everyone is assigned the right role.

The Security Plugin

This is one of the few plugins that you must install to a WordPress site. It will automate a good portion of the security checkups.

Wordfence and iThemes Security Pro are among the best security plugins at the moment. They include features like password checks, malware scans, two-step authentication, and more.

The Security… Duh!

Even if you take all steps towards better security, you’re never 100% secure. You have to schedule regular security checks. For that, you need to choose a good website malware and security scanner. It will discover outdated software, errors, and all kinds of trouble, so you can fix it before it causes damage.

You See? It’s Not That Hard

You’re always trying to make your site better. That’s your daily goal. But the first thing you should be asking yourself is: is this site safe?

Security is not something you can achieve and stop working on. It’s an on-going process that demands commitment. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to make the commitment. Just follow the tips above and you’ll stay on the right track.

The post 7 Things to Check to Ensure Your WordPress Is Secure appeared first on WP Fix It.

Checking to Ensure Your WordPress Site is Secure

Posted by on Apr 1, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Checking to Ensure Your WordPress Site is Secure

You invest a lot of effort and time to keep your site secure. You’ve chosen a reliable host, and you’ve installed some plugins that ensure better security. Now what? Is your site now safe?

Here are a handful of things you can do to make sure your WordPress Site is secure.

PASSWORDS
This one’s obvious: you have to choose a strong password. But: are they unguessable? A password update won’t do any harm if you haven’t changed it in a while.

You could use a password generator (available in WordPress’ “Your Profile” page under “Users), but there’s also “Two-Factor Authentication”, which can be a CAPTCHA, text-message verification, a question to verify it’s you (e.g. “Birthplace”, “name of first pet”, etc.), and much more. Most security plugins like “All-in-One WP Security” have such options available.

ATTACK SURFACES
When someone decides to hack a website, they attack what’s called an “attack surface”, which can be the web applications, themes, and plugins on your website.

Remove any themes, plugins or accounts you don’t or aren’t going to use.

BACKUPS
No one really thinks about backups until a hack occurs. “BackWPUp” is a plugin we highly recommend so you can be ready for a potential attack and you can restore your site with ease.

FIREWALLS
Attacks can happen at anytime. “All-in-One WP Security” has this and much more!

USERS AND THEIR ROLES
Who else has access to your WordPress site? Remove any users that are no longer needed.

SECURITY PLUGINS
This can’t be stressed enough, but “All-in-One WP Security” and others like “WordFence” have plenty to offer such as password checking, malware scanning, the afore-mentioned two-step authentication features, checks for outdated plugins / themes, and much more.

How to Create a Global SEO Strategy

Posted by on Mar 28, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to Create a Global SEO Strategy

How to Create a Global SEO Strategy

As a child, I did everything that most kids did. I played outside with friends, I watched a lot of TV, I loved eating cereal for breakfast, and I went to school.

My childhood wasn’t too much different than yours. But there was one thing that was a bit unique.

I grew up watching Bloomberg before I went to school.

Now, I don’t want you to think I was some child prodigy because I wasn’t. The only reason I watched Bloomberg in the morning is that my dad dabbled in the stock market and wanted to know if his stocks were going up or down.

Plus, we only had one TV… so I didn’t really have a choice.

But from all of those years of watching Bloomberg, it wasn’t too hard for me to spot trends. And one of the big ones is globalization.

See, as a kid, most of the financial news channels discussed how things were progressing in America.

But now, due to technological advances, companies no longer see themselves as regional or even national. Things like headquarters no longer matter.

Companies look at themselves from a global perspective. And every big company out there has done well because they focus on attracting customers from all over the world as it’s a much bigger pool and opens up more potential revenue.

And it’s not just businesses, it’s people too. When children go to school these days, their parents think about how they are going to stack up against kids in other countries versus kids just from their own classroom.

So, with everyone thinking from a global perspective, why do you think of your SEO from a national or regional perspective?  

Don’t beat yourself up just yet, I used to think about SEO from a national perspective until a Google employee opened up my eyes.

And once I cracked the nut of international SEO, my traffic exploded…

So how much traffic do I get?

Here’s how many visitors NeilPatel.com received over the last 7 days.

In the last 7 days, there were 972,026 sessions on my site that generated 1,501,672 pageviews. And of those visitors, 584,294 where unique people. Hopefully, you were one of those unique people. 😉

But this is where it gets interesting…

The United States only makes up 22.35% of my traffic.

The rest is coming from other countries and, in many of them, English isn’t their primary language. Just look at the chart above… Brazil, India, Germany, Spain, and France are all examples where I am generated a lot of traffic from.

Of course, there are people all around the world that speak English, but the big reason for the growth is that I started to expand internationally by doing things like translating my content.

Just click on the language selector next to my logo and you’ll see some of the regions I am going after.

So how does one go after organic traffic from different countries?

The simple answer is to translate your content. If you translate your content into different languages, in theory, you should get more traffic.

Just look at the most popular languages all across the globe:

Mandarin Chinese (1.1 billion speakers)
English (983 million speakers)
Hindi (544 million speakers)
Spanish (527 million speakers)
Arabic (422 million speakers)
Malay (281 million speakers)
Russian (267 million speakers)
Bengali (261 million speakers)
Portuguese (229 million speakers)
French (229 million speakers)

But what most people won’t tell you (because they haven’t done it enough times) is that translating your content isn’t enough. Even if you translate it and adapt it to a specific country, it doesn’t guarantee success.

I had to learn this the hard way.

Case in point, here are the traffic stats during the last 7 days for the Portuguese version of my blog:

And here are my traffic stats during the last 7 days for Spanish:

I get a whopping 238% more traffic on the Portuguese version of NeilPatel.com than I do on the Spanish version.

Here’s what’s interesting…

There are 298 million more Spanish speakers than Portuguese speakers.
My team doesn’t just translate articles for both of those regions, we optimize them and make sure they are adapted to the local markets.
We do keyword research to make sure we are going after popular terms.
And I have more backlinks to the Spanish version of the site than I do to the Portuguese version.

Here’s the backlink profile to the Spanish version:

And here is the backlink profile of the Portuguese version:

As you can see, the Spanish version has 52% more backlinks.

Are you puzzled why the Spanish version of my blog isn’t as popular? There is a reason and I’ll give you a hint. Here’s a quote from Eric Schmidt who used to be the CEO of Google:

Brands are the solution, not the problem. Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.

Need another hint?

Here’s how many people land on my site from branded queries (people searching for my domain name or variations of it) in Spanish speaking countries:

And here’s how many people land on my site from brand queries in Portuguese speaking countries:

That’s why I get so much more traffic from Portuguese speaking regions like Brazil. I have 104% more brand queries.

It’s something Google values so much that most people ignore.

And it’s not just me. I have analytics access to 18 other companies that have a global strategy due to my ad agency. I obviously can’t share their stats, but it just shows the power of brand queries from a global perspective.

So, what’s the real secret to ranking well globally?

Based on my site and helping 18 other sites go global, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. Sadly, I made one too many mistakes, but you won’t as long as you follow the advice below.

Localizing

You have to translate and adjust your content to each region you want to target. You can do so by hiring translators on sites like Upwork, but the quality may be low.

Now, this doesn’t mean Upwork is bad, more so you should consider getting an editor who knows the local market, speaks the local language and speaks English, and understands the niche you are working in.

This way they’ll understand your goals, your original content, and the market you are going after.

And similar to finding translators on Upwork, you can also find editors there too. Just interview a few and ideally look for people with experience in your field.

The last thing you want to do is translate 100 articles to find out that they were all low quality and you have to do it all over again.

Keyword research

Popular keywords in one language aren’t always popular in other languages.

Read this article to get an overview of how I rank for 477,000 keywords. It teaches you the concept of key expansion and it’s important for your translators and editors to understand the process. You’ll want them to use it.

In addition to that, have them use free keyword research tools like Ubersuggest as it will give them more ideas. I would also have them check out this tutorial as it will teach them how to get the most out of Ubersuggest.

By understanding which keywords to go after in new markets, you can start creating new content (beyond just translating) to target keywords that are relevant and have high search volume. By understanding where there are gaps in the quality of the competition’s posts, you’ll be able to produce new, high-quality content that can rank quickly.

The article on my Portuguese blog, for example, that gets the most organic traffic from Google is an article that only exists in Brazil. We found a keyword to go after that had low competition but high search volume and were able to rank very quickly for it. In the last 30 days, that article has had 17,197 visits.

Build links

Building links in English may be hard, but internationally it’s easy.

No one really sends those cold outreach emails begging for links, so when you do this for countries like Brazil, you’ll find that it is fishing with dynamite.

Again, you’ll want someone who knows the language to do the outreach… this can be your editor or someone you hire from Upwork.

Once you have the person who is going to be in charge of your link building, have them start with this. It will break down what they need to do step-by-step.

Make sure you let them know to avoid spam sites, paying for links, and even building rich anchor text links.

Remember in these markets SEO isn’t as competitive, so it won’t be too hard to get rankings. 

Hreflang

Google doesn’t penalize for duplicate content… especially when it is in a different language.

If you translate your content, it isn’t as simple as popping it up on landing pages. You have to tell Google which version to show for each country/language. You would use hreflang for that.

Here’s a video that explains how it works:

And here is a tool that’ll help you generate the hreflang code needed for your site.

Subdomains over subdirectories

On NeilPatel.com, you’ll notice that I use subdirectories for each language/country over subdomains.

They say subdirectories are better because more authority and juice flows through your site versus using subdomains.

But here’s what I learned the hard way, you are much better off using subdomains from everything that I tested than subdirectories.

Not only is it easier to rank as it is treated as a separate site, but it ranks faster from my experience. And if you don’t mind spending the extra money, I would even consider registering the international variation of each domain and forwarding it to the respective subdomain.

Browser redirects

Similar to how Google Analytics shows you the browsers people are using and countries and languages people come to your site from… your server is also getting that data.

What you’ll want to do is redirect users once you’ve translated your content and set up your hreflang tags.

For example, if you were to visit this site form Brazil and your browser told us that your preferred language is Portuguese, we would automatically forward you to the Portuguese version of the site. Not just to the homepage, but to the correct page you were originally browsing, just the translated version.

Now if you were visiting this blog from India and your browser stated that your preferred language was English, we wouldn’t forward you to the Hindi version of the blog. We would keep you on the English version as that’s what you prefer.

If you don’t forward people, you’ll find that it takes search engines much longer to realize that they should be ranking the language and country-specific sections of your site instead of the English version.

Build a community

As I mentioned above, international SEO isn’t just about backlinks or content, it’s about building a brand.

I pay in each country to respond to my blog comments as I don’t speak Spanish and Portuguese so I can’t personally respond to them.

I show them how I respond to comments in English so they can replicate me.

I also spend money on boosting posts on Facebook within those regions as it helps me attract new potential readers and get my brand out there.

And most importantly, I hire people on the ground in each country to help build up my brand. That’s why I do so well in places like Brazil over the Spanish market.

I have more people on the ground in Brazil focusing on brand building. From attending conferences to representing my brand on webinars… they put in the effort to truly help people out when it comes to anything marketing related.

That’s how you build a brand. Just look at my Instagram channel, the content is in English, but a lot of my followers are from Brazil due to the localized brand building efforts.

AMP

Do you remember Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)? No one talks about AMP anymore, but it does help increase traffic.

What we’ve found through testing is that in regions like the United States, AMP doesn’t do much, if anything, for your traffic.

But for regions like Brazil and India, where their infrastructure is still developing, we found that leveraging AMP boosts mobile search traffic by anywhere from 9 to 32%.

If you don’t want to use AMP that’s fine too. Just make sure you optimize your load speed times. Not only does it boost traffic, but it also boosts conversions.

Time

Similar to how it takes forever for you to get Google rankings in English speaking markets, it does take time internationally. Typically, not as long as it does for the United States or United Kingdom markets, but it does take time.

Typically, if you are doing everything above, you’ll see some results within 3 months. Things will really take off at the 9-month mark and after a year you should be crushing it.

Now as your traffic and rankings go up, this doesn’t mean you should slow down. Just like how you can lose rankings on your English site, the same can easily happen for any other region.

What countries should I target first?

You got everything done when it comes to international SEO… all that’s left is tackling the right regions.

It would be great to go after every language and country at once, but it’s going to be too resource intensive and costly.

You could try tactics like automatically translating your content through machine learning, but the translations won’t be great and your user metrics such as bounce rates will go through the roof. This typically will lead your whole site’s rankings to tank.

You don’t want to do that.

Another approach people take is to go after the markets with the highest GDP… such as the USA, China, Japan, UK, Germany, etc…

But going after markets that have money doesn’t guarantee success either because culturally each region is different. Some may not care for your products or services.

What I like doing is to look at your Google Analytics and see where your traffic is coming from. Are you getting traffic from countries where English isn’t their main language? And, if so, are people from those countries buying your products and services?

If they are, now you have a list of potential countries to go after.

Then what you’ll want to do is look at your competition and see if they are going after any regions by translating their sites. Chances are if a region that isn’t predominantly English speaking is driving you sales, and your competitor is translating their content for that region, then you should be going after it as well.

Conclusion

SEO is no longer about ranking your site in one country or even just English-speaking countries.

You have no choice but to think of it from a global perspective. Not only is it more affordable, but there is less competition and you can see results faster.

Sure, the total market of some of these international countries may only be a fraction of the United States, but there won’t be much competition, which means you can gobble up the market share.

So what countries are you focused on with your SEO?

The post How to Create a Global SEO Strategy appeared first on Neil Patel.

WordPress Tips for Cost Effective Hosting

Posted by on Mar 28, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on WordPress Tips for Cost Effective Hosting

Before you setup a WordPress website, you will need hosting. To help you choose the most affordable kind, here are a handful of tips which will help in picking a cost-effective and highly reliable best WordPress hosting.

UNDERSTAND YOUR HOSTING REQUIREMENTS

Hosting providers offer an assortment of hosting types like shared hosting, VPS hosting, re-seller hosting, etc.

For most small-scale WordPress sites, shared hosting (a type of hosting where numerous websites are hosted on the same server and you share bandwidth and other resources with the other sites hosted there) is the best and least expensive option. this is best for new sites as bandwidth and storage requirements are quite low on startup, and you can choose to move to a bigger plan whenever you need to.

SELECT A PROVIDER THAT OFFERS ONE-CLICK INSTALL

Many hosting providers offer one-click installations which make it much easier for people to install WordPress on the host.

UNDERSTAND THE MONEY-BACK POLICY

Most hosting services offer money-back guarantees for a limited time – it makes it easier for you to cancel hosting and get refunded if it does’nt meet your expectations.

LOOK FOR GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE

If you’re new to WordPress and/or web hosting, you probably will frequently run into issues and need professional help.

COMPARE PLANS AVAILABLE; FIND OUT ABOUT RENEWAL PRICING

Hosting providers offer dead cheap pricing for first-time buyers, but then end up with higher pricing when they renew their services. Doing a web search, you’ll be able to find the renewal price beforehand and pick a provider depending on how much yo’re willing to pay.

Is Javascript Bad For SEO?

Posted by on Mar 25, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Is Javascript Bad For SEO?

Is Javascript Bad For SEO?

Does a bear poop in the woods? With javascript and SEO, the answer is just as clear, if a little more complicated.

Javascript-driven sites aren’t bad for indexation. Google can crawl a site that populates content client-side.

Javascript-driven client-side content is bad for SEO. Javascript-driven sites make Google work harder. At the very least, Google renders them more slowly. In the SERPs, that’s a competitive disadvantage.

To demonstrate (Ian rubs his hands together) I get to use quadrant diagrams.

If you already know how javascript works, what client-side rendering is, and how Google handles client-side rendering, print this, stick it to your forehead, and move on:

quadrant

The javascript/SEO quadrant

For us mere mortals, here’s a fuller explanation:

Two Types Of Javascript

There are two ways client-side javascript—javascript executed by a web browser—can interact with web content:

UI enhancement changes the way the browser interacts with content rendered on the server. Examples include tabbed, drop down navigation, and (sigh) carousels.

Client-side rendering delivers pages and content separately. Your web browser uses javascript to merge the two.

This post talks about client-side javascript rendering and why it’s bad for SEO.

Client vs. Server-Side

Every web page is an interaction between a client (a browser, like Chrome, or a bot, like Google) and a server.

Generating a web page involves three steps:

Fetch the page template (the layout)
Fetch the content
Merge the content with the template

Server- and client-side rendering perform these three steps differently.

Server-side rendering does all three steps on the server, then sends the result to the client. The client has everything it needs, renders the full page, and goes on its merry way.

Client-side rendering uses javascript to split the labor: It sends the template to the browser or bot, then sends the content separately. The browser uses javascript to merge the content and the template. Client-side rendering has advantages: It’s speedy (if you do it right). It’s a great way to build interactive applications. But it requires more work by the client.

Here’s our quadrant diagram so far:

quadrant-server-client

Server and client rendering

Static Content vs. Dynamic Interface

Some pages are just stuff: Words and pictures and links and buttons. Clicking those links and buttons send me to another page or display a form. They don’t profoundly modify the page itself. That’s static content, and it’s what you browse 90% of the time: Articles, product pages, blog posts, news, etc.

Other pages change a lot depending on my actions: A text editor, a multi-faceted search, or a page where content continually updates. A page like this is a dynamic interface. The Portent Title Generator, built by some incredible agency (cough) is an example:

javascript-title-generator

A dynamic interface using javascript

Hopefully, your SEO strategy doesn’t hinge on dynamic content. If you’re going to succeed in SEO, you need to get your static content indexed and optimized.

Static vs. dynamic is the next part of the quadrant diagram:

quadrant-all-four

Static, dynamic, client- and server-side

When you combine static/dynamic and server-side/client-side, you get a feel for where and how javascript can make SEO more difficult.

When Javascript Hurts SEO

Javascript is terrible for SEO when you use client-side rendering for static content:

quadrant

The javascript/SEO quadrant

Here’s why:

Static content is what you need indexed. If you can’t get a key product into the rankings, if your blog post is invisible, you’re hosed. Fortunately, Google crawls and indexes javascript-driven static content. All good.

You also need static content optimized: You need higher rankings, and that content is how you’ll get there. The trouble starts here. Google uses two-stage rendering on javascript-powered websites: It crawls the site now, renders content later. Here’s how Google’s engineers put it:

“The rendering of JavaScript powered websites in Google Search is deferred until Googlebot has resources available to process that content.”

That’s in Google’s own words at io2018. Check the video at 14:11.

Two learnings:

Google needs extra resources to fully crawl, render and index javascript-powered, client-side rendered pages
Google felt it necessary to point out that fact

Client-side rendering doesn’t hurt indexation. It hurts SEO. There’s a difference. As I said, Google can crawl javascript content, and it does. But two-step rendering puts client-side content at a competitive disadvantage. All these quadrant diagrams are making me giddy:

quadrant2

Indexing vs. SEO

If you’re doing SEO, you can’t afford to end up in the bottom-right box.

If you must use client-side rendering on static content, here are two ways to reduce the damage:

Mitigation

If you must use javascript, mitigate it using prerendering or hybrid rendering.

Prerendering and user-agent detection

Prerendering works like this:

Render a server-side version of each page on your site
Store that
When a client visits, check the user agent
If the client is a search bot, deliver the prerendered content instead of the javascript-rendered content

The logic is licking-your-own-eyeball-from-the-inside tortured: If you can deliver prerendered content, why not just do that from the start? But, if you must, try Puppeteer to do prerendering, or a service like prerender.io, which does all the work for you.

Hybrid rendering

Hybrid rendering generates the first page/content server-side, then delivers remaining content client-side. Sort of. Most javascript libraries, such as Angular, support this. I think.

If you search for “hybrid rendering,” you’ll find seven million pages, each with a slightly different definition of “hybrid rendering.” For our purposes, assume it means “Deliver the most important content, then the other stuff.”

For example, you could use it for filtering. Coursera lets you filter courses without javascript:

But the interface gets speedier, and the results richer, if your browser supports javascript:

That’s not the best example. TRUST ME that hybrid rendering mixes javascript-driven and static content, delivering static content first.

When To Use Which

For static content, use server-side rendering or, if you must, prerendering. If you want to optimize content that’s in a dynamic interface (like Coursera’s course list), use hybrid rendering.

ONE LAST QUADRANT DIAGRAM:

Why Mitigation Sucks

My rule: If Google gives you ways to mitigate a thing, don’t do that thing at all.

You know your doctor can set a bone. That doesn’t mean you go out of your way to break your leg for giggles.

Google can handle javascript-driven sites. That doesn’t mean you go out of your way to render content using javascript.

If nothing else, remember that Google changes their mind.

But I am not a javascript hater. In some cases, javascript-driven pages make a ton of sense.

When You Should Use Javascript Rendering

Build a client-side javascript-driven website when interactivity is more important than rankings. Apps and app-like websites, aggregators, and filters require client-side javascript rendering. Then use hybrid rendering to deliver critical content to Google.

When You Shouldn’t Use Javascript Rendering

Don’t use javascript for static content. If content isn’t interactive—a basic product page, a blog post, news articles, and any other content that doesn’t have to instantly respond to user input—it doesn’t need client-side javascript.

That doesn’t include carousels and other stuff. That’s UI enhancement, not content delivery. Done right, it’s perfectly OK.

Testing

This will bunch up the undergarments of many SEOs, developers, search scientists, and engineers: Don’t test.

Tests make you feel better. They show you that Google can indeed render the content. Great! Hooray for you!

No. Boo for you! Because testing verifies indexing and rendering. It does not verify that you’re competitive.

If you’re using client-side javascript to deliver static content you’ve failed the test. Stop. Change it.

Ask Yourself Why

There are two lessons here:

Javascript can be bad for SEO
There’s a difference between SEO and indexation

If you want to compete in the rankings, don’t use client-side rendering to deliver static content, or any content for which you want to rank. Use javascript to drive app-like experiences. When you’re considering using javascript to deliver content, do a very honest assessment of the pluses and minuses.

Then remember this handy quadrant diagram. I put a lot of time into this:

quadrant

The javascript/SEO quadrant

The post Is Javascript Bad For SEO? appeared first on Portent.

5 Most Important WordPress Blog Hosting Ingredients

Posted by on Mar 25, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on 5 Most Important WordPress Blog Hosting Ingredients

Originally developed as only a blogging tool, it’s become a robust content management system (CMS) which now powers a whopping 32.3% of all websites on the internet! It’s no wonder since it’s free, open source, easy-to-use, highly customizable, SEO-friendly, and fairly secure.

All you need to do to keep it running properly is consider the following five factors when choosing WordPress hosting plans.

1. SPEED
Not only does site loading speed make for stellar user experience, but site speed is also a confirmed ranking factor, meaning faster website translates to higher rankings in Google.

Good service providers will be able to keep data transfer times low even under heavy load. You can check the load on your server’s CPU, RAM, and disk space usage in your cPanel.

2. SUPPORT
Whether you’re a newbie or a WordPress wizard, excellent customer support is crucial for your blog’s long-term success. You’re going to face issues like internal server errors, connection time-outs, the “white screen of death”, etc., so you will need a host that employs knowledgeable and prompt support staff.

To find this out, first check if the hosting provider is marketing itself specifically towards WordPress users; then check whether they provide enough help/support documentation and WordPress-specific guidance; lastly, verify how many channels of support the hosting provider offers: live chat, ticket system, telephone, forums, and emails.

3. SECURITY
WordPress, being so popular as a CMS, does naturally fall victim to a large portion of brute force attacks and other hacking isses every year. The faster you recuperate from a hack, the less severe its repercussion on your website and users. In many cases, you will require your hosting to help with the recovery efforts, so you have to understand how quickly your hosts’ support team responds, how You can reach them, and how competent their support resources are. Make sure your WordPress hosting provider offers all of these security features, if not more:

. Firewalls
. DDoS Protection
. Virus Protection
. Security Protection
. Spam Filter
. SSL Security Certificate
. Domain Name Privacy

4. SCALABILITY
Managing expectations is important in the world of blogging, but the sky’s indeed the limit – with a whole bunch of blood, sweat, and tears, your blog can grow into a massive business. So, whichever hosting provider you choose should allow you to effortless upgrade your plan for more web space.

5. RELIABILITY
Customer reviews and surveys can tell you a lot about the provider’s reliability.

Managing Disk Space For Your WordPress Website

Posted by on Mar 21, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Managing Disk Space For Your WordPress Website

Hosts today offer more space simply because of the significant decrease in the cost of storage space. In fact, the cost of bandwidth has been dropping as well.

Unfortunately, file sizes affect your site in ways other than just cost – the slower your website, the fewer visitors you’re going to have, so you have to keep file sizes as small as possible.

REDUCE IMAGE SIZES

You can do this by running a plugin like ReSmush.it or by manually resizing the images themselves using an image editor on your PC. You can even reduce your image size by using Optimizilla. Even a program as simple as Microsoft Windows Paint can do this effortlessly too.

REDUCE VIDEO SIZES

Videos are great as they can be very captivating visually, but they can also take up large amounts of space.

Reduce the video’s length and/or lower its resolution, and you’ll have a much faster loading website! This can be done very easily even with just Microsoft Windows Movie Maker.

REDUCE AUDIO BITRATE

Whether you have audio running on your website, or it’s part of a video on your site, you might want to reduce its bitrate; in other words, convert it into a lower-quality file (e.g. take a file from 320kbps to, say, 128kbps). This can be done using open-source programs like Handbrake.

How To Manage WordPress Disk Space For Your Website

Posted by on Mar 21, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How To Manage WordPress Disk Space For Your Website

How To Manage WordPress Disk Space For Your  Website

Given that so many web hosting service providers are offering generous disk space today, the thought of how much space your WordPress site needs may not have crossed your mind. Hosts today offer more space simply because the cost of storage space has gone down significantly over the years. As a matter of fact, the cost of bandwidth has also been dropping.

Unfortunately, file sizes affect your site in ways other than cost – they increase the loading time of your site and that is where it really hurts. While finding the right WordPress host to grow with certainly can mitigate some performance issues, it remains in your best interest to keep file sizes reasonable.

What is Disk Space

Normally it is referred to as the total number of bytes that a disk is capable of holding. In the website case, it is the space you purchase from the web hosts.

When you created a new page, upload a new image or install a new plugin, it gets stored on the disk space. The more files you uploaded to your disk space or server, the more full it becomes.

Eventually, you will need a bigger capacity for your website.

How to Manage File size and Free Up Disk Space

Most of the space taken up by websites lies in multimedia files, which means either images or video, with the former more common. Knowing that, let’s see how we can get manage these file types and clean up your WordPress to optimize your site performance more

Reducing Image sizes

Images sizes are flexible, and sizes of these files can range from a few kilobytes to a few megabytes each. What usually affects the size of an image is its dimensions, resolution and type. As a rule of thumb, the larger the size of an image the longer it will take to load.

There are many ways in which you can optimize your images to speed up the performance. These range from using plugins to automatically resize images or even doing it yourself manually. Today we will explore three ways in which you can optimize image files.

Manually Resizing Images

There really isn’t any way to describe this than to say it is as easy as opening an image in an image editor and then resizing it there. Even the most basic image editors like Paint in Microsoft Windows can do this painlessly.

Take for example the image below. The original size was over 3MB with dimensions of approximately 3000 by 2000 pixels. Once I opened it up in Paint and scaled the dimensions down to 750 by 480, the file size dropped dramatically down to 72Kb – a massive saving in space!

Caption: Paint lets you easily change the dimensions of image files

Optimize Online

There are also online tools which enable you to resize and optimize images. These vary in capabilities from simply helping you change image dimensions to even stripping unnecessary code out of the image to streamline them.

One tool I have used before and found useful is Optimizilla. This online image optimizer not only helps you change image dimensions but also lets you choose what quality level you want to keep the image at. This gives you a great amount of control over the image.

You can even change file formats to take advantage of different image types. It also isn’t necessary to manage your images individually as the tool allows for batch uploads and downloads as well as processing.

Use A Plugin

If the two methods I’ve discussed above don’t suit you then you can always revert to using a WordPress plugin. Although plugins tend to take up some site resources themselves, they can make image optimization very easy for you.

Take for example WP Smush, one of the more popular image compression WordPress plugins around. All you need to do is upload and configure it and the plugin will automatically manage all image optimization for you in the future.

Personally, I find that most plugins, while useful, are typically not as efficient as optimizing your images offline. However, it is a time-versus-benefit thing and you will need to decide for yourself which is more critical for your site.

Reducing Video sizes

If you think that image files are large and unwieldy then it is time to meet the biggest space hog on the Internet – the video file. Videos are great because they can be extremely visually captivating but they also take up large amounts of space.

However, if you really need to use videos there are several ways you can keep their space usage under control as well.

Reduce Video Length

By keeping the length of your videos shorter you are not only training yourself to make full use of shorter time periods, but also controlling size. Long videos also tend to lose viewers as they have limited attention spans. If you have longer videos that you need to share, try cutting them up into segments and posting them as a series.

Lower the Resolution

Like images, resolution of videos affects size greatly. Lowering the resolution of a video clip can make a huge difference in file size. If you feel that this may affect the quality of experience you are trying to pass on to your viewers, then allow them to choose the resolution they wish to view the video at.

Control Audio Bitrate

Another way of reducing video size is by reducing the audio bitrate. Videos are made up of a combination of audio and video and these two components can be controlled separately. You can also consider changing the audio codec to manage compression of that part. Not all videos need ultra-high-quality audio to be great.

As with managing image files, there are also several tools you can use to edit videos and optimize them. Some are easier to use while others more complex, so choose one which suits your skill level and needs.

Some video utilities you can use are;

Handbrake
Pinnacle Studio
iMovie

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways you can optimize both images and video to lower the space taken up by your WordPress site. They are simple to use and, in many cases, can be completely free. The most important thing to remember is not to take images and video for granted. Even with unlimited space, using bulky images and video can result in terrible user experience. Also, it can be time-consuming if you were to move your WordPress.

The post How To Manage WordPress Disk Space For Your Website appeared first on WP Fix It.

10 Quick Wins We Can Make Using ODN as a Meta CMS

Posted by on Mar 21, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 10 Quick Wins We Can Make Using ODN as a Meta CMS

10 Quick Wins We Can Make Using ODN as a Meta CMS

The Distilled Optimization Delivery Network (ODN) is most famous for SEO A/B testing and more recently full-funnel testing. But fewer people are familiar with one of the other main features; the ability to act as a meta-CMS and change pretty much anything you want in the HTML of your site, without help from your development team or writing tickets. DistilledODN is platform independent, sitting between your website servers and website visitors, similar to a Content Delivery Network (CDN), as shown in the below diagram.

This use case for ODN has been popular for many of our enterprise clients who have restrictions on their ability to make on-the-fly changes to their websites for a variety of reasons. A picture (or a gif) is worth a thousand words, so here are 10 common website changes you can make using ODN that you may not be aware of.

We’ve used a variety of websites and brands that use different platforms and technologies to show anyone can make use of this software regardless of your CMS or technology stack.

Before we get started, there is some jargon you will want to understand:

Site section: A site section is the group of pages that we want to make a specific change to

Global rules: These are rules that you want to apply to all pages within a site section as opposed to only a percentage of pages (like you would with an experiment). An example might be something like “Insert self-referencing canonical”. Rules are made up of individual steps.

Steps: These are nested within global rules, and are the steps you have to take to get to the end goal. Some global rules will only have one step, others can have much more.

In the example global rule above, the steps could be something like, “Remove existing canonical”, “Replace with self-referencing canonical”

On-page values: On-page values are constant values that we extract them from the pages in the site section. You can use these in steps. So for the above rule, we’d have to create two on-page values the “existing canonical” and the “path” of the URL we want to add the self-referencing canonical to. An example site where we’ve done this is included below.

The image below shows how these different components interact with each other.

If you’d like a more detailed explanation about any of this stuff, a good place to start is this blog post; what is SEO split-testing.

Now that you’re familiar with the terminology, here are our 10 common website changes made with ODN, with GIFs:

1. Forever 21 – Trailing slash redirect

Having URLs that return a 200 status code for both the trailing slash and non-trailing slash versions can lead to index bloat and duplicate content issues. On Forever21’s homepage, you can see both “/uk/shop” and “/uk/shop/” are 200 pages.

To fix this using ODN, we create a site section that has the homepage entered as the page we want our global rule to apply to.

Then we need to create an on-page value for the page without a trailing slash. In this example, we’ve extracted this value using regex. Having this value defined means that this fix would be easy to apply to a bulk set of URLs on the website if necessary.

Next, we create our global rule. This rule only has one step, to redirects the URL in our site section to the one created using the on-page value, {{path_without_trailing_slash}}.

2. SmartWater Technology – Duplicate home page redirects

Often, websites will have multiple versions of their homepage that return status codes, like when they have both an http:// version and an https:// version, or a www version and a non-www version. This is a problem because it means the authority of your strongest page is split across two URLs. It also means you may have a non-desirable version ranking in search results.

We can see this on SmartWater Technology’s homepage. We can fix this problem by deploying ODN on the non-www version of their site, and creating a site section for the homepage. We only have one page we want to work on in this example, so we don’t need to create any additional on-page values.

We then set up a global rule to redirect the non-www version of the homepage to the www version, which has one step. In the step we select to redirect the URL in our path list (the homepage), to the new destination we’ve entered, https://www.smartwater.com/.

3. Bentley – Adding self-referencing canonicals

As mentioned in the introduction, we can use ODN to insert self-referencing canonicals on a list of pages. We’ve done this with Bentley Motors as an example, which doesn’t have a canonical on their homepage (or any other pages).

We can fix this by setting a global rule with one step to insert this block of HTML after the <title> element:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.bentleymotors.com{{path}}”>

We didn’t have to create an on-page value for {{path}}, since it was created by entering the homepage in our path list. This rule will add a self-referencing canonical to any page that we include in our site section.

If we wanted to, we can also use ODN to apply canonicals that aren’t self-referencing by mapping out the pages we want to add canonicals to, with their canonical page as a value created with a csv upload.

4. Patagonia – Fixing soft 404s

Patagonia uses this landing page, that returns a 200 status code, for 404s, rather than a page that returns a genuine 404 status code. The problem with using soft-404s such as the one Patagonia uses is it won’t send the 404 signal to crawlers, even if the content on the page has the 404 message. This means search engines will see this as a real page, preventing the URL you intended to delete from being removed from the index.

To fix this using ODN, I’ve created a site section with the page path /404/. If you have multiple pages that are soft 404s, you can use other methods to define the pages in the site section. For example, you could match on any page that has “Page Not Found” in the title, or for Patagonia, we could use regex to match on any url that contains “/404/” in it.

Once we’ve defined what pages we want in our site section, we create a global rule with one step that changes the status code from 200 to 404.

5. Amazon Jobs – Changing 302s to 301s

When a redirect is truly temporary, using a 302 status code instead of a 301 makes sense; but if you’re not planning on reverting back to the original URL, using a 302 instead of a 301 redirect means you aren’t passing link equity from one URL to the next.

Once again, this fix is simple to deploy using ODN. We have done it with Amazon Jobs in the GIF below. First, we’ve created a site section with path of the URL we want to change the status code of. I have also changed the response code to match 302 rather than 200, which is the default for ODN.

Again, no need to create an on-page value in this instance. All that’s required is a global rule with one step, to change the status code on those URLs that match what we have in our path list from 302 to 301.

6. Etsy – Changing sitewide links that 30x/404

When you have a sitewide link that has a 30x or 404 status code, it not only might be a frustrating experience for users, it can also have a negative impact on your SEO. If a heavily linked to page on your site has a 301 redirect, for example, you are preventing it from being passed all the link equity available to it.

To fix this with ODN, we can replace the 301 link with the destination 200 link. We have done this on Etsy’s homepage in the GIF below.

First, we create a site section for the homepage, then a global rule with a step to replace the old blog URL. This step replaces the content of the element we’ve selected using a CSS selector with the HTML in the box.

In this case the css selector we have used is “a[href=”https://www.distilled.net/blog/uk/?ref=ftr”]”. Using the test feature, we can see this selector grabs the element “<a class=”text-gray-darker pt-xs-1 pb-xs-2 pb-md-1 display-block width-full” href=”https://www.distilled.net/blog/uk/?ref=ftr”> <span>Etsy blog</span> </a>”. That’s what we are looking to replace.

We then set it to replace the above element with “<a class=”text-gray-darker pt-xs-1 pb-xs-2 pb-md-1 display-block width-full” href=”https://blog.etsy.com/uk/?ref=ftr”> <span>Etsy blog</span> </a>”, which has the link to the 200 version of Etsy’s blog. Now the footer link goes to the blog.etsy URL rather than the 301 /blog/uk/?ref=ftr URL.  

7. Pixel Eyewear – Adding title tags

Changing title tags is often a desire for content creators, as metadata is one of the strongest signals you can send to Google on what your page is about and what keywords you want to target.

Say you worked at Pixel Eyewear, and after some keyword research decided you wanted to target the keyword “computer screen glasses”, rather than simply “computer glasses”. We can use ODN to make that update, and again this rule can easily be set to target a bulk set of pages.

In the path list, we include all the URLs we want this change to apply to. Then we create a global rule to add “Screen” to our page titles. This has one step, where we use the CSS selector to select the title element of the page. We then enter the HTML we want instead.

8. Pixel Eyewear – Adding content to product pages

This is an example of when a site section has multiple rules. Say that you worked at Pixel Eyewear, and you also wanted to update the descriptions on your product pages, in addition to adding “Screen” to your page titles, and you want to do this on the same pages included in the previous section.  

To do this with ODN, we create a second global rule to edit the product description. This uses a different CSS selector, “div[class=”pb-3″]”. You just want the main description to be more descriptive, so you replace the first paragraph of the element “Meet the most advanced eyewear engineered for the digital world.” to “Our most popular product, the Capra will have you looking stylish while wearing the most advanced eyewear engineered for the digital world.”

Since there are two global rules in this section, the order you place them in will matter. ODN works from top to bottom, as shown in the diagram in the intro, so it will apply the first global rule and its steps first before moving to the second. If one of your global rules depends on something created in another, you want to be sure that global rule is listed first.

9. Liberty London – Adding meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are an important meta property to entice users to click through to your webpage from the SERP, but it’s common for website owners to not have them at all, or on important pages on their site, as seen with Liberty London on their UK featured page.

We can edit the meta description content with ODN, and insert a description. First, we include the path of the target page in our path list, then create a global rule with a single step that grabs the meta description with a CSS selector. This time we set it to “Set or update the attribute of an element.” The attribute we want to replace is the content, and we want to replace it with the content entered.

This can also be used to add in meta descriptions when they’re missing entirely, or when you want to insert new ones. If you want to apply in bulk, you can upload a CSV that has the desired meta descriptions for each target URL as a value.

10. CamelBak – Removing duplicate content

E-commerce and other websites frequently wind up with duplicate content on their websites, which can lead to drops in traffic and rankings. Faceted navigation is a common culprit. We can see this in action on Camelbak’s website, where parametered URLs like https://international.camelbak.com/en/bottles/bottle-accessories?sortValue=af41b41832b34f02975423ad5ad46b1e return 200 status codes and have no canonical tags.

We’ve fixed this in ODN by adding canonical tags to the non-parameterized URL. First, we add the relevant URL paths to our path list. Then we need to create an on-page value for the non-parameterized version of the URL. This rule uses regex to extract the content of the URL that comes before the “?” character.

Once we have this on-page value, we can use it in our global rule. Since there are no canonicals already, this global rule has one step. If there were already canonicals on these pages, self-referencing ones, for example, that still referred to the parameterized URL, then we’d have to remove that canonical before we could add in a new one.

The step to add in the canonical inserts a block of HTML after the <title> element. Then we enter the HRML that we want to be inserted. You can see that this uses the on-page value we created, giving us this string:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://international.camelbak.com{{url_without_parameters}}”/>

Because we’ve used an on-page value, we put a list of paths for relevant parameterized URLs in our path list, and it will insert a canonical to their non-parameterized parent.

This tactic can be adjusted to account for pagination with rel=”prev” and rel=”next” tags and many other variations. Another way to address duplicate content issues with ODN is to redirecting unwanted URLs, among others.

Summary

These examples are only a selection of the types of fixes ODN can employ for your website. There are many more, in addition to being able to perform SEO A/B testing and full-funnel testing. The ability to create custom values and use CSS selectors means there’s a lot of room for any of these fixes to be customized to meet the needs of your website.

If you work on a website that has a difficult time being able to make these kinds of changes (you’re not the only one), then get in touch to get a free demo of our platform in action on your website.