Recently I sent a blog over to a client because I thought it was a great fit for a guest post to promote their company. They came back saying YES LET’S DO IT, but when they tested the blogger's site they found it was loading very slow.
When I checked the blog one of the primary issues it had was Browser Caching, and spot-checking a few other sites I found the same issue.
This interaction got me thinking a few things:
These are both assumptions of course, and through writing + promoting this post, we will discover how accurate these assumptions are. But my guess just based on experience is, this topic needs some attention.
If you are a blogger then this blog post series is for you. If you are a company with a blog, this may also be useful, however, it is more likely you have some kind of technical assistance. If that is the case just ask your team member to let you know what your site speed is + what improvements they recommend.
Bloggers, this series will help you optimize one aspect of your WordPress blog to increase your site speed. It might not be that browser caching is an issue for your blog - but I will say that when I checked several other blogs I did find browser caching was one of the primary issues which was slowing down the sites.
In this post, we are just going to check the site speed, in Part 2, I will show you how to optimize your browsing cache. So make sure you are signed up to our newsletter - you won’t want to
miss the next post!
How To Check Your Site Speed
What do you think the current patience level is of your visitors? I dare you to have a guess now. How long do you think someone will wait for your page to load on their mobile, desktop or tablet before clicking off and visiting someone else's site?
20 seconds, 15 seconds, 10 seconds?
Well – one quarter of people will leave your page if it hasn’t loaded in 4 seconds. That is 25% of your traffic gone, lost, probably never to return unless you are recapturing them on Facebook.
So, your goal is to get your site speed to under 4 seconds. I just spot-checked 10 personal blogs that we have in our database, this was their site speed:
· Site 1 > 15.5 Seconds
· Site 2 > 7.7 Seconds
· Site 3 > 6.04 Seconds
· Site 4 > 7.04 Seconds
· Site 5 > 4.91 Seconds
· Site 6 > 14.04 Seconds
· Site 7 > 3.14 Seconds
· Site 8 > 3.63 Seconds
· Site 9 > 3.78 Seconds
· Site 10 > 5.70 Seconds
So out of 10 sites, 3 had the goal site speed. Clearly, this needs some work!
So let's get stuck in.
First things first, check your site speed here for free:
CHECK SITE SPEED WITH PINGDOM
With Pingdom you are able to test your site from different locations. In this test, I chose Dallas Texas, USA.
Once you hit ‘Start Test’ you will get a summary of your site speed as above. You can see here that Ginger Marketing HQ has a load time of 3.32 seconds.
It only gets a C though, there is still a lot of room for improvement.
If you scroll down you will get a further breakdown of site speed issues. Check for leverage browser caching, if this is an issue for you then sign up to our newsletter so you get Part 2, where I will take you through a step-by-step process for leveraging your browser cache.
If it is not an issue for you then great! But, check the other points. Even better, go one step further and email me with your number one issue and I will create a post about how you and other bloggers can fix this too!
There is no reason we should lose traffic from our blog because of a slow site. And believe me, you don’t need to be technical to understand or execute on these issues. I am the least technical person ever, which means I will need to do a ton of research and make the process super, super simple if I am going to understand this and explain it to you.
So, no worries - we got this.
Until next time.
This is a guest post from Jaren Nichols, Chief Operating Officer at ZipBooks, online accounting software for small businesses. Jaren was previously a Product Manager at Google and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Growth and marketing work together, but are not the same. Especially with the popularity of “growth hacking,” there has been some confusion about how marketing and growth strategies work. The truth is, growth and marketing are different, but they are working towards the same goal.
Moving through the Funnel
Consider the marketing funnel.
In order for someone to discover your product, you need to create awareness. No one will be able to make a purchase from you, if they do not know you exist.
Your initial marketing techniques make it easier for a prospect to find you and start their journey through the funnel. However, the very shape of the funnel implies that not everyone who takes the bait will make it all the way down to the narrow stem.
We all know that not everyone who hears about you will become a customer. But, if they have heard of you, then inbound marketing has done its job.
Of course, the work of marketing is not finished yet.
Aside from inbound marketing, there are important tools like content marketing and product demos that help persuade your potential customer to purchase. But here in the middle of the funnel, growth serves a better purpose.
Narrowing your Vision
Marketers and growth marketers have a different focus. Growth “hackers” don’t replace marketers, they just play separate roles at separate points in the purchasing process.
As explained, the job of the marketer is to bring awareness to as many people as possible. This is how you get the word out—marketing sees everyone.
Growth, on the other hand, doesn’t see everyone. Growth only cares about the people who are already in the funnel moving towards a purchase.
This is one of the key differences between marketing and growth. Marketing has broader vision, while growth is more narrow.
Monitoring growth—and using these tests and feedback to inform product improvement—is how you improve marketing strategies and help your potential customer move further into consideration and closer to loyalty.
Growth is all about tracking tiny differences in customer engagement and product satisfaction—and then doing something about it.
In the growth stage of marketing, A/B testing and technical experimentation are key. Compare web page formats, test ad copy, vary your welcome email and then track consumer response. A 1-2% difference in customer engagement should matter to you. Take advantage of any positive increase and implement those changes immediately.
Growth transforms your business using unconventional marketing strategies and out-of-the-box marketing experiments. Most of the time, you are inventing these strategies for yourself. While you can google “growth hacking strategies,” you are more likely to find the returns you’re looking for when you take a risk. Know that sometimes this risk-taking will fail or will only work for a short amount of time.
This kind of risk-taking & adjustment-making is what distinguishes growth from marketing. Both marketing and growth care about conversion, but growth is willing to do a lot of trial-and-error to make those conversions happen.
Specifically when looking at inbound marketing and growth hacking (the two variants of each category that tend to be the most confused and interchanged), we see differences in time frame.
Inbound marketing strategies take time to establish and see returns in the long-term. Growth hacking, on the other hand, implements quick, short-term strategies that will bring returns in the immediate future.
The trial-and-error strategies you’ve employed should be tracked and changed quickly. Try a new, improved, innovative strategy each time—keeping what works and quickly ditching what doesn’t.
Growth keeps moving forward at lightning speed, evaluating errors and moving to alternate ideas. Marketing is slow-and-steady, but still does it’s job.
Growth is a sprint, while marketing is a marathon.
Growth Aids Startups
Another difference between growth and marketing is that they don’t always apply to the same businesses. For example, early in the life of a startup, the broad focus of a traditional marketer may not be useful. Since the thing startups care most about is growth, a marketer may not be necessary.
As a startup, our company depends on growth strategies, more than we depend on marketing. We do still have marketing strategies in place.
Most recently, we sent out a survey on recent tax cuts and used the results to create a blog post that increased general awareness for our brand. While this kind of marketing still works, we have employed more hyper-focused strategies in order to improve growth.
One example of a growth strategy we’ve employed is an A/B test at the bottom of the funnel — the step just before conversion to a paid plan for our software. The test we ran helped us determine whether it was more effective to ask a user for their credit card before or after they a 30-day free trial.
As a quick aside — there’s lots of free advice out there on this exact question, but remember that your product, like ours, is unique. Even if you find statistics that point you one way or the other, that type of science has its limitations — as useful as averages are, they don’t represent your unique product and circumstance.
We divided up traffic randomly, requiring some people to add their credit card before the free trial and some people to add it afterwards.
We ran the experiment for about two months, making sure that we saw the entire journey a couple times through, and using statistical analysis software (MixPanel and Google Optimize, in this case) to help us determine at what point our results were statistically significant.
Remember to expect and build in the cost of some technical challenges when you run your own experiments — for example, to truly divide traffic we had to present a different experience across both our marketing website and inside our app (each of which run on different tech stacks on different servers), and that experience had to be consistent based on if the user saw the A or B version.
That took some fairly sophisticated technical setup, but was worth it to know that we were gathering truly valuable data.
It turned out, that for us, getting the credit card information after the trial actually had higher conversion overall.
Again, remember, that was the result for us! In order to know what works for your product, in your market, you’ll need to run your own experiments.
Better Product = Better Growth
One thing that marketing and growth have in common is that they both depend on a quality product to succeed. There is no way to hack growth for a bad product.
To improve quickly, you should invite feedback from the minute you start production and then, implement those changes right away. Create something unique, intelligent and powerful—growth will happen and marketing will succeed.
Remember, marketing and growth should be working hand-in-hand to your benefit. They are different, but when used well, they build on each other. Marketing is the foundation, and growth allows you to get the most out of it.
In the world of blogging Google is absolute authority, king, queen and knight. But, the "word of Google" isn't as gospel as you might think. It pays to test!
That is why I am so excited to have James from Names.Of.London guest posting with us again. He has recently tested some of Google's comments around domain names, and how much of a ranking factor they really are.
Over to James!
That's right - despite numerous comments from Google that the domain name does not make much difference to a site's rankings, we managed to get a brand new dot-CLUB domain, with no relevant content, ranked top-10 in the UK (ranked No.5) and the US (ranked No.7) within 24 hours of purchase.
The fact that Google even knew the site existed is pretty impressive – but to get top-10 ranking that quickly is almost unheard of.
Clearly, in our example, we've hit a relatively rare search term, giving less competition, but there is further anecdotal evidence that new-GTLDs can boost your search ranking.
Maybe they're both right and here's a possible explanation.
When you see a hyperlink on a page, it comes in two parts. The linking text you see and the URL, you will be taken to, that you don't see. Google was the first search provider to fully exploit the concept that the text that you see, the link-text, contains important clues about the content of the site you will be taken to.
So let's look at the HTML code of a typical link – here is some HTML that might be emended in the code of a web page ...
Now lets consider the domain names cars.for.sale – on many social media platforms, like Twitter, this domain name will be recognised as no different than more traditional domain names like www.barryautos.com and so cars.for.sale will be converted into a hyper-link. Effectively cars.for.sale will be converted into the HTML code.
And Twitter is not the only site that will do this – many other social media sites and message apps will do the same. On Facebook, you would be required to enter the full URL to get it to be hyper-linked. In this example you would need to enter http://cars.for.sale/ - so you would end up with HTML code that looks like this.
So, when coffee.club went live, which was widely reported, every time it was mentioned it was also probably hyper-linked. So instead of just reporting the website as the plain text “coffee.club” people made it clickable by using the full hyper-link, like this.
On Twitter, you normally have no control over the link-text. Twitter simply uses the URL, or domain name, as the link-text. Therefore the only way you can control your link-text on Twitter is by using a descriptive domain name. This is common to many social media platforms.
Research by bit.ly shows that attractive links on social media achieve a 34% higher click-through rate. So the link “cars.for.sale” will almost certainly get more click-throughs than either barryautos.com or some URL shortener - as well as giving the site an SEO boost on the search term "cars for sale".
A further boost can be gained from type-in traffic. Domain names, usually new-GTLD names, that exactly match common search terms will get type-in traffic. We see about 10,500 users a week entering a search term that matches one of our new-GTLD domain names.
This may be because they have accidentally typed in a dot instead of a space, or it could be that, as these are mostly young users (55% 18-to-34) on phones (88% on mobile), they simply expect domain names like gifts.for.men or puppies.for.sale to work.
Google knows that direct type-in traffic is a valuable recognition of the user's familiarity with the website. For sites we do not often visit, we usually start with a search. But for sites we often visit, we either type the name directly into our browser, or we have the site bookmarked. If the site has Google Analytics installed, Google will see all this Direct traffic and this implied familiarity can provide an additional boost to the site's ranking.
If you buy a domain name, probably a new-GTLD domain name, that exactly, or very closely, matches the search term that you are trying to optimise for, it will almost certainly give you an SEO boost on two fronts - as well as coming with a bunch of free, targeted, visitors - but the boost is not from the way Google deals with the domain name itself, but the way people interact with it and the way other sites handle it.
Its probably the cheapest boost, to your online business, that money can buy. So if you want to rank high on nikes.for.sale or gifts.for.mom, maybe you need to consider buying the corresponding domain name - but the boost does not come for free, you will still have to work for it.
In some ways, it seems obvious. The search term you are trying to optimise for is the phrase you most want to associate with your site. So if your target phrase is "tours of london" owning the domain tours.of.london has to be an advantage.
But, remember, the old rules also still apply – if you don't have relevant content the visitors will just click-away so any gained traffic will be valueless.
If you have multiple domain names pointing to the same site, to get the best ranking, you should host the site on only one of the domain names, then use a permanent redirect (HTTP 301 redirect) at the other domain names, sending all the traffic to the primary location. That way Google knows all the domain names are effectively synonymous, and aggregates your ranking.
This is a republished post, the original came be found here.
Written by Cheryl A Clarke Chief Happiness Officer & Content Marketing Freelancer @ Ginger Marketing (unless stated otherwise)
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