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Free Tools to get your website humming

We are all looking for ways to improve our search engine ranking - the silver bullet to getting on page one of Google search. But many of us don’t realise that the systems we use for our websites, may actually be impacting its performance. Why? Not all websites are created equally. And the older the website, the more likely it is to have heavier code, html and images.

While Google Analytics offers us great insights into site performance, there is often push back to not utilise all of the recommendations for optimisation. There are a number of reasons for this, from the framework used, to access to the backend, to not not having the knowledge and skill base to implement the updates you’re after. Or maybe there is a debate about compromising a great look for speed.

But with Australia still lagging behind miserably with internet speeds, it truly is the time to get on the front foot and optimise.

To get you started - Use these tools to identify what’s wrong.

Google are constantly pressing forward with new algorithms and technology to improve the end user experience. When we don’t keep up with site optimisation the end result is a higher cost for advertising and poorer organic search results. That’s because Google bases its speed assessment on your mobile site.

Sites with large uncompressed images and heavy design elements are the most compromised. But there are ways to optimise without loss of quality. To get a handle on how your site is performing there are a couple of free sites available, offering strong advice.

1. Google Analytics.

The first port of call needs to be Google Analytics. Let’s face it- they are the vernacular and really determine our online success. Under the Behaviour tab in GA , you can see great content like page load time, server response time and page download time. You can also access map overlays, page timings and speed suggestions.

You can check the independent Google Test My Site for sanity. Compare 3G versus 4G results and understand more about how your site performs overall. This site will also create a document that’s easy to share with your team.

2. Pingdom

As a support tool, Pingdom Tools is a great site to verify problems.

For business heads, it provides a page score and a breakdown of the page elements with simple explanations and suggestions for each area. Each key element of the page is rated A through F and colour coded for simple identification. Like Test My Site, this too can be downloaded or emailed to your team for analysis and discussion.

3. Tiny PNG

Images can often be a big problem for websites. We love images that look brilliant, but they’re heavy. And the impact of this - slow download speeds especially on mobile. This site is a must for everyone. It not only identifies what savings you could make from using them, but also allows you to optimise a limited number of your images free each month with minimal visual degradation.

Check out the analyse link https://tinypng.com/analyzer to see what potential savings you can gain or download the plug-in for your site. The image quality when optimised is fantastic. And Free makes it even better!

4. Want an additional resource - try our free quick audit tool which provides a one page summary emailed to your in-box.

From your reports generated viaTest My Site or Pingdom, you will start to see references to a range of terms that might look technical, but are still great to understand when talking to your team. And these will be what get’s you some great savings.

For those wanting to understand more about site optimisation here are three common quick wins.

Gzip

A compression tool which reduces the size of a HTTP response sometimes up to as much as 70%. Check out this article for a better understanding https://betterexplained.com/articles/how-to-optimize-your-site-with-gzip-compression/ it’s still technical, but for teams that are more designer than developer this is a great article for them to read.

Asynchronous and deferred javascript ( More techy)

This one really is for your team, but in short asynchronous loading of scripts is the best way to go as it loads scripts only when ready, reducing the download time. By scripts ,we mean plug ins like your facebook widgets or forms, YouTube videos, site search windows. Asynchronous loading lets the basic content of your site load before these additional areas, making it faster and easier to engage visitors. A great site to read https://seo-hacker.com/optimizing-site-speed-asynchronous-deferred-javascript/

Content Delivery Networks (CDN)

And finally before your eye’s start to glaze over, Content Delivery networks or CDNs. These enable you to cache your website assets on servers around the globe so it becomes faster to access and doesn’t require that initial heavy download. More detail https://moz.com/ugc/how-to-get-cdns-to-play-nice-with-seo.

In Summary

There are wide variety of websites available from the simple (Wix and Wordpress) to the more secure content management systems like Umbraco and Sitecore. Some will allow developer access to the back and some won’t, but you need to have the correct technical support in-hand to perform any significant upgrades. Many interfaces today, make designing and launching a site simple, but this doesn’t mean you have the technical capabilities to drive enhancements.

Regardless of the system you use, there are always constant upgrades and updates available to improve your search engine optimisation.

Take -aways;

  1. Think mobile first - design for mobiles and scale backwards - this will ensure faster, more simple design and usability
  2. Speed equals dollars - site speeds do have impacts on both your organic ranking and your Google media spend.
  3. If you are using a simple template website it may be time to upgrade to something a little more sophisticated if you can’t implement basic upgrade tools. If you’ve relied on designers in the past to manage your site, now may be the time to investigate a qualified developer.

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