On the Ecommerce Outtakes blog, we talk a lot about what not to do online. In fact, our main focus is to point out where websites go wrong—with the intent, of course, to help improve the e-commerce experience across the web. One trend we’ve been noticing a lot lately is a lack of good filtering and sorting options. It’s a widespread e-commerce epidemic, and it’s high time we cured it.
Page loading time is crucial to keeping visitors on your site and
maximizing conversions. Studies have been done that show the maximum
time people are willing to wait for a page to load is less
than 5 seconds. Make them wait more than that, and it’s game over.
They’ll hit their back button, never to return. It’s vitally important,
then, to make sure your web site is loading as fast as possible.
Sure, having a super-beefy server helps, but one important aspect of
having a fast loading website is reducing the size and number of your
page assets as much as possible. This can be a real challenge within the
current state of the Web. Web pages are becoming increasingly more
complex globs of code that require a huge amount of assets to display
and function properly. In addition to the plain old html, a ton of
background for the page to fully render in a browser.
“What’s the big deal?” I hear you ask. “All my visitors are on
broadband, and the js/css/images are only a few KB extra – hardly a drop
in the bucket!” Now, this may very well be true. However, the fact is
that the actual size of your files are only a small part of the overall
cost incurred on a page load. There is a much more subtle bottleneck
that has nothing to do with file size: The maximum concurrent connection limit.
This is a limit the browser enforces which dictates how many
connections can be open simultaneously to a single server. Even if
you’re on a super-fast connection, your browser will still limit the
maximum number of files you can download at one time. This number varies
from browser to browser, and may change slightly depending on connection
speed and web server configuration. The actual values for Internet
Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome are below:
It can be helpful to think of a concurrent concurrent limit as the end
of a funnel that your page assets pour through. Naturally, the more
assets you have the longer it takes for them to get through the funnel.
Making your assets smaller helps them pour through faster, but still,
only so many can go through at once no matter how small they are. The
key is to combine them into as few files as possible, thereby reducing
the connection limit bottleneck. Making your files smaller AND combining
them is a win-win situation. Smaller files + fewer connections =
faster loading site.
To “minify” a file simply means to strip out all the “human readable”
parts of the file such as indentation, line breaks, comments,
extraneous whitespace, long variable names, etc. E.g all the stuff that
makes it easy for a human to read, but which a computer couldn’t care
Ultimately, we’re talking about local citation building. Citation building can have a powerful effect on your SERP positioning for keywords and searches returned using local data and terms. However, it’s not as easy as simply requesting inclusion in Google Places and getting a couple of links from sites like the online Yellow Pages. The following are 4 simple steps for taking a NAP, AKA; building effective and long-lasting local citations.
I wanted to publicly thank Bill Slawski from SEO by the Sea I recently hooked up with Bill in a Google Hang out which was hosted by and old mate of mine Dejan from DejanSEO. After listening to him talk about various SEO related topics, I knew I wanted to hear more. I fired off an email offering to take him out to lunch and he responded promptly (maybe he was just hungry?), we sorted out a day and time for me to come down to meet with him.
It was a pleasure to chat with an industry veteran and share some war stories. I am looking forward to learning from and working with Bill in the future. If you have the opportunity to listen to Bill speak, listen very carefully and take notes :-).
My rant of the day is that I’m struggling to understand why Google is not either penalizing website sites that do not provide a mobile version of their website, or rewarding websites that do?
This weekend I found myself annoyed yet again with Google’s search results while searching on my phone. I am really tired of surfing the web from my mobile device only to be presented with 10 of the slowest loading, fat bellied, ad riddled authority websites on earth. I want to see mobile friendly results when searching on my mobile and find what I need FAST. Waiting for these bloated outdated sites to load delivers an awful user experience, and that’s what Google is supposed to be making their number one priority. Even within Google News results, you find these traditional ad heavy websites are the ones that often appear. It’s maddening, sluggish, and I end up giving up before I find what I was searching for.
We know Googlebot can decipher the difference between a mobile website and a traditional website. I realize that in the beginning, the mobile search results will suffer, as many websites have not been provided the encouragement to create a mobile website. But I think the time has come. If you would like to see mobile search results on your desktop, all you need to do is to go to http://www.google.com/m and you can see what the search results look like on a mobile device.
Google, we all appreciate your efforts to take over the world, with your Android OS, Chrome OS, Chrome Browser, Google Radio among the many other market segments your actively jumping into with both feet. I think you need to circle the wagons here and make sure your core business is tidy before you keep going into new markets. You never know someone may be cooking up a mobile browser (like http://www.skyfire.com/) or better yet a mobile search engine in the background.
Why isn’t Google delivering mobile friendly results?
Cindy Krum discussed mobile search results here at SEOMoz, the talk about Google having two separate indexes for mobile and traditional search. She makes the point about how bad the results are when Google only provides mobile results. But I am not sure the results are any better when provided with several really big slow websites that take forever to load, and are nearly impossible to navigate or find what you were looking for.
Whether Google needs to maintain a separate index or have a difference in the algorithm is debatable, but I think this should be changed sooner rather than later. Once mobile websites are rewarded in mobile search, obviously more companies would get their sites mobile friendly. Google does need not exclude non mobile results, but possibly just tweak their mobile algorithm; doing something as simple as say for any query, run trhough the top 20-30 results which are traditionally fairy relevant, and if any of these results have a mobile website, show these website higher. No rocket science required, just a little common sense.
It is unusual that Google is not rewarding the online businesses that have embraced mobile search and even providing a great mobile website with the appropriate search engine optimization for mobile search. I really thought by May 2011, Google’s mobile search would have come further than this.
In addition to bringing you the most relevant results, search engines are many times fighting over presenting the most up-to-date pages to the searcher. That’s why Google has those time-related filters in the left, just below the “type” filters. Although recent content might be well of importance only to news-seekers, Google thinks otherwise. Long before the recent “Panda” update to its indexing algorithm that is being talked about all over the world in during last week, Google has made numerous adjustments to its ranking rationale, with frequently updated websites getting “bonuses” in SE placements.
Yet another step in the same direction was done several days ago, although no official announcement has been made. It seems, Twitter is getting more credit within Google, which has decided to present recent tweets in the search results. In addition, the results also show user’s picture. But more important is the fact that the link is the tweet is included in the SERP’s, making it a valuable inbound link for the featured website.
It has to be noted, that the above only applies to recently posted tweets (the exact amount of time could not be determined, but from my testing it is probably several hours, and after that the results return to the usual “join twitter to follow”. If you want to see those results, by the way, it is very advisable to include the word “Twitter” in your search query.
It’s no big news that Chinese market is growing with an impressive speed and more and more businesses turn eastwards – both for production and marketing. Over a billion people live inside the Far East giant borders – a healthy reason to address the region in order to increase sales as well as exposure.
The news is, however, that the internet content is now also part of the trend. China has reportedly surpassed USA in the number of internet users in mid-2009, and although English is still the primary internet language (42 percent of almost two billion of online “population” worldwide), Chinese is in solid second place, with about 32 percent. And since China is still less technologically advanced than the Western Countries, the number of potential Chinese speakers, who will soon be joining the online world is far greater than that of the English language carriers.
And with the Chinese government now requiring all English content in China-based websites to be accompanied with local Mandarin translation, the number of webpages in Chinese is about to increase immensely. And, restating the above thought about more and more companies regarding China as a prospective market, it seems that the near future of online marketing can easily shift toward Chinese content.
I am sure many people out there have tried to get included in Google News. We have been successful in getting multiple websites included in Google news. Recently we have been working fairly hard to get busy blogging. We decided to attempt to get SEO Moves included in Google news. Just for fun I am going to include the thread of conversation I have had with the people at Google News:
#3- Google News Replied:
Thank you for your note.
We reviewed your site and are unable to include it in Google News at this time. We currently only include sites with news articles that provide timely reporting on recent events. This means we don’t include informational and how-to articles, classified ads, job postings, fictitious content, event announcements or advice columns.”
#4- SEO Moves Reply Back:
In looking at a search today for search engine optimization- the results include a bunch of posts from ZDnet (screen capture included). These posts are really along the lines of what we post, but written by one man who proclaims himself to “NOT” be an SEO expert?
I wish you would reconsider our inclusion as we are really giving people strong real time advice, and tips. 100% white hat information and we are working hard to help the small and medium size businesses succeed online.”
#5- Google News Reply:
Thank you for your reply and for providing us with this additional information about your site. As we previously mentioned, the articles in Google News report on recent events. We currently don’t include informational and how-to articles, classified ads, fictitious content, job postings, event announcements, or advice columns.
Thanks for your interest in Google News.
Regards, The Google News Team”
Lets Take look at Google News Today for fun:
If you’re not using video on your website, you should be. Any business can use video on their website to improve their branding and profits. In fact, small businesses have been quick to adopt video on their websites. The number of small businesses using video on their websites at the end of 2009 was four times as great as only one year earlier. Video capability was the single fastest growing feature small businesses added to their websites. On-page video is one of the best known ways to engage an audience and it’s also a way to position your business right in front of those who are seeking out your product or service using search engines.
You can use video to showcase how to use a product, to show testimonials, to highlight a product’s features, or to upload clips made by customers about the product. Since search engines used to have to ignore video, everyone pretty much dismissed video. But now Google’s universal search format, which includes videos, news, blogs, maps, and other so-called vertical search content is making video more relevant than ever. Another factor driving the importance of video in SEO is the increasing saturation of broadband internet coverage. And there’s the simple fact that people like watching short videos. We’ve all watched funny cat or “fail” videos on our coffee break. Given all this, it makes sense to do what you can to optimize video content for search engines.
Local internet business directories can help your business out locally. While you may consider your business to be web-wide, there’s nothing wrong with getting the support of the local population, particularly if your business has a bricks and mortar presence too. Even if you do all your work over the web (such as translating documents or writing software apps), there’s no telling who might be living in the same area as you who needs exactly the skills your business offers. Don’t miss out on local attention thinking that just being on the web will catch everyone. It doesn’t take long to sign on to local business directories, and in most cases it’s free. Three local directories you should check out are Yelp, Yahoo! Local, and Bing Local.
Isn’t it a rush to get positive feedback about your business? Well, those compliments can be used to your advantage if you use them wisely. The goal is to not only get compliments, but also get real recommendations that other potential customers can see. That’s why local directories like Yelp are so helpful. yelp.com lets you gather good reviews about your company from customers. It is easy to get started.
First, register your business on Yelp by using its business profile directory. You can do this for free at https://biz.yelp.com/signup (see screen shot). The next thing to do – and this is important – is to review other companies and services you’ve used yourself, whether it’s a mechanic, a veterinarian, a restaurant, or some other local business. Keep your reviews positive, which means only reviewing businesses about which you feel positive. If you appear troll-like, you wont’ gain any credibility.
The next thing to do is to invite colleagues and friends to comment on and review your business. You don’t want a flood of these to come in at once. Yelp dislikes spam, and may construe a dozen glowing reviews your first day as such. Another thing you can do is ask your reviewers to review other local businesses as well so Yelp doesn’t think you’re coercing people.
You should build a good profile on Yelp, and you need to stay active in your community by reviewing other businesses (Many will reciprocate.) and make your listing more than just a boring list of your services and business hours. Let all your customers know that you’re on Yelp and that you’d appreciate a review. This is a good thing to include in your business’s email newsletter if you have one. The more you use Yelp’s social networking features, the wider a group of people you’ll connect with, boosting your presence on Yelp even more.
Claiming your Yahoo! Local profile will expose your business to local clients, and you can use the same information and photos that you use on Google Local (if you have it). You can edit your Yahoo! listing any time with changes to business contact information, business hours, and other important information. You can, if you choose, invest in a local enhanced listing. This lets you add to the basic listing your company logo / tagline, up to 10 photos, a more detailed business description, two customizable links for coupons, inclusion in up to 5 categories. You can check out the kind of things you get from an enhanced listing from the screen shot.
But even the free listing will bring more business your way. Yahoo! Local only lists businesses that serve designated geographic locations in the U.S., so if you’re online-only or statewide, then you can’t list there. You can improve your chances of your listing being accepted by carefully reading the basic listing requirements first and follow them. Assuming you are able to list there, ensure that the name of your business and your contact information is shown on every page of your website. If you don’t have a bricks and mortar store, clearly show how potential customers can make an appointment with you. Keep in mind that it may take up to five ddays for your listing to show up on Yahoo! Local, so don’t resubmit your site if it hasn’t been at least five days. You can check on the status of your listing on the Yahoo! Local Listings website.
Setting up your local listing on Bing is easy and it’s free. The first thing to do is to go to the Bing Local Listing Center, where you can create a local listing. When you start creating your account, Bing asks you for your Windows ID. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to create one, or you can create one by going to this link before setting up your listing on Bing. You’ll have to enter contact and business info, additional phone numbers, email addresses, hours, etc. You’ll also get to fill out a long section for information like your company’s tagline, brands, affiliations, and a bunch of other things. Try to fill in as many fields as possible, because it’s to your benefit.
You can then choose up to six categories in which to place your business based on your associated keywords. Bing has good local search refinement, so you want to take advantage of this by choosing as many categories as you can. After you finish this, you’ll have to review your business listing and check that the push pin locator is correct. If so, submit it and you’re done.
You might think that these local directories don’t make much of a difference, but you’d be surprised. Having complete listings on all the local search providers is good for your business and gives your local customers (and potential customers) another way to find you. Setting up accounts on Yelp, Yahoo! Local, and Bing Local does not take very long at all, and it’s a great way to point more people toward your business.