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6 Image Optimization Tips From Google

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In a new video from Google, Developer Advocate Alan Kent shares six tips for optimizing images for ecommerce websites.

While the video is specifically aimed at ecommerce sites, the advice is applicable to any website that serves a large number of images.

Clocking in at over 14-minutes, Google’s video is a lot to digest if you’re busy working on websites.

Here’s a more palatable recap you can consume in under five minutes.

These are Google’s tips for making images load faster and more efficiently.

1. Eliminate Image Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

CLS refers to instances where content on the page visually moves, or shifts, from one place to another as it’s loading.

While this problem isn’t exclusively caused by images, they can contribute to the problem if used incorrectly.

In most cases, CLS is easy to spot by looking for movement on a page during loading, but there are several tools to measure it.

For more on CLS, how to measure it, and how to fix it, see our comprehensive guide:

2. Correctly Size Your Images

Pick the right width and height for your images, as larger files take longer to download.

Sizing images correctly can be complicated due to the ranges of screen sizes and resolutions that visit your site.

If the browser crops the image on its own, the download size ends up being longer than needed, which only drags things down.

One easy way to detect incorrectly sized images is by using the properly sized images section under Opportunities in the PageSpeed Insights report.

Once you’ve identified images that are larger than necessary, you can fix the problem with solutions such as responsive images.

3. Use The Best Image File Format

Think about the file format of your images, such as whether to use PNG, JPEG, or webP files.

The file format affects the file size, so choosing right one requires careful consideration.

There are pros and cons to weigh out for each format. For example, JPEG and webP tend to have lower file sizes, though the smaller size is achieved at the expense of image quality.

However, a degradation of image quality may not be noticeable by shoppers, and the speed benefit could be substantial.

To detect if your site can benefit from using a different image format, look in the serve images in next-gen formats section of the PageSpeed Insights report. This report lists images that can be converted to a more efficient file format.

4. Compress Images Appropriately

Use the right quality factor for your images to encode them efficiently while retaining the desired image quality.

The Encode Images Efficiently section of the PageSpeed Insights report can be used to identify images that are good candidates for compression optimization. The report also shows potential file size savings.

To find a quality factor you’re satisfied with, use your choice of image conversion tool on several images using different quality values and compare the before and after.

Google recommends the site Squoosh.app as an easy way of comparing images with and without compression.

5. Cache Images In The Browser

Tell the browser how long it can safely cache images.

When you return an image you can return an HTTP response header with caching guidance, such as how long it is recommended for a browser to cache an image for.

Again, you can use the PageSpeed Insights report to detect if the HTTP response cache headers have been set properly on your site.

The serve static assets with an efficient cache policy section identifies images that may benefit from caching improvements.

To fix issues on your site, see if you have platform or web server settings you can change to adjust the cache lifetime for images on your site.

If you don’t change images frequently, then you can set a long cache lifetime.

6. Correctly Sequence Your Image Downloads

As a more advanced tip, Google recommends correctly sequencing the order webpage resources are downloaded.

The following download order is advised:

  • Hero images at the top of the page
  • Other images above the fold
  • Images just below the fold

The rest of the images on a webpage can be lazy loaded.

To detect if your site is loading images efficiently you can refer to the PageSpeed Insights report. In the defer offscreen images section of the report you’ll see a list of images that could be loaded after other images.

For more detail on any of the above tips, see the full video from Google below:


Featured Image: Tada Images/Shutterstock

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Top 5 Essential SEO Reporting Tools For Agencies

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Top 5 Essential SEO Reporting Tools For Agencies

Your clients trust you to create real results and hit KPIs that drive their businesses forward.

Understanding the intricacies of how that works can be difficult, so it’s essential to demonstrate your progress and efforts.

SEO reporting software showcases important metrics in a digestible and visually represented way. They save guesswork and manual referencing, highlighting achievements over a specified time.

A great tool can also help you formulate action items, gauge the performance of campaigns, and see real results that can help you create new and innovative evaluations.

The latest and allegedly greatest tools hit the market all the time, promising to transform how you conduct reports.

Certainly, you have to weigh a few factors when deciding which software to implement. Price, features, and ease of use are the most important to consider.

A cost-effective tool with a steep learning curve might not be worth it for the features. Similarly, an expensive tool might be more appealing if it is user-friendly but could quickly run up costs.

Just like any transformational business decision, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons carefully to determine the right one for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Cost, accessibility, and features are the common thread of comparison for SEO reporting tools.
  • To truly get the best use out of an SEO reporting tool for your agency, you’ll need to weigh several details, including scalability, customization, integrations, and access to support.
  • What might be considered a subpar tool could be a game-changer for an agency. Due diligence and research are the keys to knowing what will work for your team.

What To Look For In SEO Reporting Tools

It can be tough to make heads or tails of the available tools and choose which will benefit your agency the most.

Here are the 10 essential requirements of SEO reporting tools.

1. Accurate And Current Regional Data

SEO reporting is all about data. The software must have access to accurate and current data localized to your client’s targeted region.

Search data from the U.S. is meaningless if your client tries to rank for [London plumbing services], so localization matters.

The tool must update data regularly and with reliable accuracy so you can make informed decisions about where your client stands against the competition.

2. Integration With Third-Party Tools

Especially for full-scale digital marketing campaigns, the ability to report on all KPIs in one place is essential.

The more available integrations with third-party tools (e.g., Google Analytics, Google Business Profile, Majestic), the better.

Some tools even allow you to upload custom data sets.

3. Scalability

You don’t want to have to retrain or reinvest in new software every time your agency reaches a new tier.

The right SEO reporting tool should work well for your current business size and leave room for expansion as you onboard more clients.

4. Strong Suite Of Features

A great SEO reporting tool should include:

  • Position tracking.
  • Backlink monitoring.
  • Competitor data.
  • Analytics.

It is a bonus if the tool has reporting features for social media, email marketing, call tracking, and/or paid ads to make it a full-suite digital marketing software.

5. Continually Improving And Updating Features

SEO is constantly evolving, and so should SEO reporting tools.

As we continue the transition from website optimization to web presence optimization, a tool’s ability to integrate new features is essential.

6. Ability To Customize Reports

Each client will have different KPIs, objectives, and priorities.

Presenting the information that clients want to see is paramount to successful campaigns and retention.

Your reporting software of choice should be able to emphasize the correct data at the right times.

7. Client Integration

A good SEO reporting tool must have the client in mind.

It should have a simple bird’s eye overview of the basics but also be easy for clients to dig into the data at a deeper level.

This can mean automated summary reports or 24/7 client access to the dashboard.

8. Ability To White Label Reports

While white labeling is not essential (no client will sniff at receiving a report with a Google logo in the top corner), it helps keep branding consistent and gives a professional sheen to everything you send a client’s way.

9. Access To Support Resources

Quality support resources can help you find a detour when you encounter a roadblock.

Whether it’s detailed support documentation, a chat feature/support desk, or responsive customer support on social media, finding the help you need to solve the issue is important.

10. Cost-To-Value Ratio

With a proper process, time investment, and leveraging support resources, it is possible to get better results from a free reporting tool than one that breaks the bank.

This can mean automated summary reports or 24/7 client access to the dashboard.

Top 5 SEO Reporting Tools

In evaluating five of the most popular SEO reporting tools, based on the above criteria, here is how they stack up:

1. AgencyAnalytics

My Overall Rating: 4.7/5

Image credit: AgencyAnalytics, December 2022

AgencyAnalytics is a quality introductory/intermediate reporting tool for agencies.

Among the tools on this list, it is one of the easiest to use for small to mid-sized agencies.

It starts at $12 per month, per client, with unlimited staff and client logins, a white-label dashboard, and automated branded reports. The minimum purchase requirements mean the first two tiers work out to $60 per month and $180 per month, respectively. But your ability to change the payment based on the number of clients could help keep costs lean.

AgencyAnalytics comes with 70+ supported third-party data integrations.

However, this reliance on third-party data means you may have incomplete reports when there is an interruption in the transmission.

Though new integrations are always being added, they can be glitchy at first, making them unreliable to share with clients until stabilized.

With the ability for clients to log in and view daily data updates, it provides real-time transparency.

Automated reports can be customized, and the drag-and-drop customized dashboard makes it easy to emphasize priority KPIs.

2. SE Ranking

My Overall Rating: 4.5/5

SE Ranking has plans starting at $39.20 per month, although the $87.20 per month plan is necessary if you need historical data or more than 10 projects.

Setup is a breeze, as the on-screen tutorial guides you through the process.

SE Ranking features a strong collection of SEO-related tools, including current and historical position tracking, competitor SEO research, keyword suggestion, a backlink explorer, and more.

SE Ranking is hooked up with Zapier, which allows users to integrate thousands of apps and provide a high level of automation between apps like Klipfolio, Salesforce, HubSpot, and Google Apps.

SE Ranking is an effective SEO reporting tool at a beginner to intermediate level.

However, you may want to look in a different direction if your agency requires more technical implementations or advanced customization.

3. Semrush

My Overall Rating: 4.4/5

Semrush is one of the most SEO-focused reporting tools on the list, which is reflected in its features.

Starting at $229.95 per month for the agency package, it’s one of the more expensive tools on the list. But Semrush provides a full suite of tools that can be learned at an intermediate level.

A major downside of Semrush, especially for cost-conscious agencies, is that an account comes with only one user login.

Having to purchase individual licenses for each SEO analyst or account manager adds up quickly, and the users you can add are limited by the plan features. This makes scalability an issue.

Semrush has both branded and white-label reports, depending on your subscription level. It uses a proprietary data stream, tracking more than 800 million keywords.

The ever-expanding “projects” feature covers everything from position tracking to backlink monitoring and social media analysis.

Though it doesn’t fall specifically under the scope of SEO reporting, Semrush’s innovation makes it a one-stop shop for many agencies.

Project features include Ad Builder, which helps craft compelling ad text for Google Ads, and Social Media Poster, which allows agencies to schedule client social posts.

Combining such diverse features under the Semrush umbrella offsets its relatively high cost, especially if you can cancel other redundant software.

4. Looker Studio

My Overall Rating: 3.6/5

Looker StudioScreenshot from Looker Studio, December 2022

Formerly known as Google Data Studio, Looker Studio is a Google service that has grown considerably since its initial launch.

Though it is much more technical and requires more time investment to set up than most other tools on this list, it should be intuitive for staff familiar with Google Analytics.

If you’re on the fence, Looker Studio is completely free.

A major upside to this software is superior integration with other Google properties like Analytics, Search Console, Ads, and YouTube.

Like other reporting tools, it also allows third-party data integration, but the ability to query data from databases, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Google’s Cloud SQL, sets it apart.

You can customize reports with important KPIs with proper setup, pulling from lead and customer information. For eCommerce clients, you can even integrate sales data.

Though the initial setup will be much more technical, the ability to import templates saves time and effort.

You can also create your own templates that better reflect your processes and can be shared across clients. Google also has introductory video walk-throughs to help you get started.

5. Authority Labs

My Overall Rating: 3.2/5

Authority Labs Ranking ReportImage credit: Authority Labs, December 2022

Authority Labs does the job if you’re looking for a straightforward position-tracking tool.

Authority Labs is $49 per month for unlimited users, though you will need to upgrade to the $99 per month plan for white-label reporting.

You can track regional ranking data, get insights into “(not provided)” keywords, track competitor keywords, and schedule automated reporting.

However, lacking other essential features like backlink monitoring or analytic data means you will have to supplement this tool to provide a full SEO reporting picture for clients.

Conclusion

There are many quality SEO reporting tools on the market. What makes them valuable depends on their ability to work for your clients’ needs.

SE Ranking has a fantastic cost-to-value ratio, while Looker Studio has advanced reporting capabilities if you can withstand a higher barrier to entry.

Agency Analytics prioritizes client access, which is a big deal if transparency is a core value for your agency.

Authority Labs keeps it lean and clean, while Semrush always adds innovative features.

These five are simply a snapshot of what is available. There are new and emerging tools that might have some features more appealing to your current clients or fill gaps that other software creates despite being a great solution.

Ultimately, you need to consider what matters most to your agency. Is it:

  • Feature depth?
  • Scalability?
  • Cost-to-value ratio?

Once you weigh the factors that matter most for your agency, you can find the right SEO reporting tool. In the meantime, don’t shy away from testing out a few for a trial period.

If you don’t want to sign up for a full month’s usage, you can also explore walkthrough videos and reviews from current users. The most informed decision requires an understanding of the intricate details.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal



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TikTok Staff Can Decide What Goes Viral

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TikTok Staff Can Decide What Goes Viral

TikTok has confirmed employees can manually promote certain videos across the platform to ensure a specific number of video views. 

First reported by Forbes, TikTok has since confirmed some of its employees can boost videos to “introduce celebrities and emerging creators of the TikTok community.”

This is achieved via a so-called “heating” button, which bypasses the algorithm intended to drive the TikTok experience.

Back-end Manipulation Can Encourage Virality

According to the Forbes investigation, six current and former employees of TikTok and its Chinese-owned parent company ByteDance, employees within the United States, can artificially expand the reach of specific videos.

In a “MINT Heating Playbook, “ an internal document acquired by Forbes, ByteDance stated, “The heating feature refers to boosting videos into the For You feed through operation intervention to achieve a certain number of video views.”

This contradicts how TikTok has previously claimed its recommendation feed works by using an algorithm to curate a personalized feed for each user’s interests. 

Heating Allegedly Used To Encourage Partnerships

According to Forbes’ sources, this process builds business relationships and attracts influencers and brands.

“We promote some videos to help diversify the content experience and introduce celebrities and emerging creators to the TikTok community,” TikTok spokesperson Jamie Favazza told Forbes. “Only a few people, based in the U.S., have the ability to approve content for promotion in the U.S., and that content makes up approximately .002% of videos in For You feeds.”

However, according to the MINT document, heated videos make up around 1-2% of daily video views. 

View Manipulation Is A Fairly Common Practice 

According to Brent Csutoras, digital marketing expert and co-founder and managing partner at Alpha Brand Media, Search Engine Journal’s parent corporation, this type of behind-the-scenes manipulation is more common than platforms let on – and it has often resulted in misuse.

“Although it is not uncommon for social media platforms to utilize staff actions, give certain ‘power users’ the ability to have more influence, or even force content integration into your feeds (whether by ads, forced follows, or algorithmic factors), TikTok has long been a company who seems to ignore the impact these decisions have on their users trust, especially when conducted behind closed doors and without explanation,” Csutoras said.

“In each scenario where an individual or group of individuals can take action that impacts the visibility of content on a platform, whether it be social media or search engines, we have seen strong user pushback and abuse.”


Featured Image: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock



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Microsoft & OpenAI Extend Deal To Make AI Accessible To Everyone

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Microsoft & OpenAI Extend Deal To Make AI Accessible To Everyone

Microsoft is continuing its partnership with OpenAI, creators of ChatGPT, through a new multi-year, multi-billion dollar investment to speed up the development of AI technology.

This move builds on previous investments made by Microsoft in 2019 and 2021 and allows both companies to use the advanced AI technology they develop together independently.

One of the main goals of this partnership is to democratize AI and make it accessible to everyone. Microsoft intends to accomplish this goal in three ways:

  • Supercomputing at scale: Microsoft will put more resources into creating and using specialized supercomputers to speed up OpenAI’s research.
  • New AI experiences: Microsoft will use OpenAI’s models in its consumer and enterprise products and create new digital experiences using OpenAI’s technology.
  • Exclusivity: Microsoft Azure will power all OpenAI workloads as the company’s only cloud provider.

Independently, Microsoft has been working to make Azure an AI supercomputer for everyone since its introduction in 2016. Together, Microsoft and OpenAI are a step closer to realizing that vision.

The partnership between Microsoft and OpenAI has already yielded impressive results, including the development of GPT-3, one of the most advanced natural language processing models to date.

This new investment ensures that the companies can continue to push the boundaries of what is possible with AI.

In a tweet, Microsoft CEO Satay Nadella says the company will continue its mission “safely and responsibly”:

Interestingly, there was no mention of Microsoft’s Bing search engine in the announcement, despite rumors that it’s set to be enhanced with chatbot functionality shortly, possibly as soon as March.

The Information, the source that initially reported the rumor, had previously stated that Microsoft was planning to integrate OpenAI’s technology into its current software. Today’s official statement from Microsoft confirms that this is indeed the case.

This supports the notion that Bing may soon use ChatGPT to provide search results.

With the recent news that Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have given the go-ahead to integrate chatbot technology into Google, competition is brewing to see which company will be the first to release this feature to the market.


Source: Microsoft

Featured Image: Ascannio/Shutterstock



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