Connect with us

SEO

How to Increase Your Website Traffic Without SEO

Published

on

SEO can be a brilliant strategy to increase your website traffic but it isn’t always enough.

Imagine you rely on SEO for all your traffic. What happens when the Google algorithm changes? You risk losing potential customers!

That’s why diversifying your methods of increasing web traffic can offer better results. If you have multiple traffic sources, changing algorithms won’t completely halt your business. You will have a toolkit full of optimization strategies to keep your business running. Diversifying your web traffic can also be helpful in cases where there’s little scope for search engine optimization (for example, podcasts).

In this post, we’re going to look at effective strategies to grow your website traffic without SEO so you’re never left stranded by algorithm changes again. We’ll also look at practical tips you can start using right now, so you can get back in the game if your traffic has been low for a while.

Why Should You Try to Grow Traffic Without SEO?

You can generate substantial traffic from SEO alone, but not all traffic is equal.  High-quality traffic (that includes users more likely to convert) offers better ROI, so you need to prioritize it.

Plus, if you aren’t an SEO expert, you may want to focus on other strategies to grow your website traffic efficiently.

This doesn’t mean you completely ignore SEO. All websites, irrespective of their niche, must follow the best SEO practices to avoid being penalized by Google and to ensure the site gets indexed.

The strategies we’ll discuss below can be a helpful addition to a pre-existing SEO plan.

Top Strategies to Increase Website Traffic Without SEO 

1. Content Marketing

If you have been reading about digital marketing for a while, you must have heard the term “content marketing.” In simple words, it’s a way to organically advertise your brand through high-quality content.

Content marketing strategies often include blog posts, podcast episodes, infographics, YouTube videos, downloadable PDFs, etc.

For instance, Toggl, a time tracking software company frequently uploads informative blog posts and research data about productivity, work-life, and career.

Informative blog post about productivity to increase web traffic.

This attracts users interested in time management, productivity, and wellbeing in the workplace. When they read Toggl’s blog, they eventually discover Toggl’s time tracking app, among its other productivity tools. Some of these users convert, helping Toggl increase their website traffic and ROI.

Content marketing isn’t limited to blog posts. If you connect better through audio, you can try launching a podcast or host a webinar.

Nowadays, most social media apps let you post a variety of content formats including photos, audio clips, long-form text, and videos. You can experiment with one or more of these formats to see what works best for your audience.

2. Paid Ads

Content marketing is beneficial but it can take a lot of money, especially if you’re paying established writers to create original, well-researched posts for you.

Most of these projects also take weeks or months to show results, which isn’t a practical timeline for many businesses.

If you want quicker results with a budget you can control, why not try paid ads?

Seven in ten Americans use social media today. That’s more than two-thirds of the population. Think about the possibilities!

Paid ads can instantly generate hundreds, if not thousands, of clicks to your website. Plus, with new advertising and social media platforms appearing and innovating regularly, getting your ads in front of the right people is becoming easier than ever.

For example, Facebook offers detailed customer personas and multiple targeting options so you can put your business in front of your target customers without wasting a lot of money on mass advertising.

See also  Should Freelance Writers Sign Non-Compete Agreements?
Facebook paid ads can help you increase website traffic

However, you don’t have to stick to the largest platforms for effective advertising. In fact, advertising on lesser-known platforms whose audience aligns with your products can be more effective in the long run.

For example, if your ideal customer includes teens who enjoy memes and weird stories, you’d have much better results by advertising on Reddit, rather than Facebook or YouTube.

Another option is dating apps. If your brand is focused on relationships or if you’re targeting young singles, advertising on dating apps like Tinder can help you find your target customers faster.

If you’re worried paid ads will take a lot of money, remember, you don’t need to spend $1,000 on your first day.

Test the waters with $5-$10 a day and see what happens. Do that for a week, just to learn how different media platforms work.

3. Social Media Strategies

One of the best ways to increase your website traffic is to meet your customers where they like to hang out. Like we discussed earlier, almost everyone is using social media today. Ramping up your social media marketing efforts can help you reach new users, develop brand awareness and increase website traffic.

How to gain website traffic through social media?

When it comes to social media, you can’t just barge into “conversations” and ask people to buy something from you or to visit your website.

Think about how you’d present your brand in real life when you meet an individual for the first time. Would you immediately talk sales in their face? How about providing details about your product/service without introducing yourself first?

Remember, users visit their preferred social media platforms for entertainment, not for being sold to.

To make sure your efforts are well-received, you need to provide value first and develop positive relationships with your potential “followers.”

You can do this by sharing informative posts like How-Tos, or posting fun photos of your employees, like this post from Casper.

casper image how to increase traffic without SEO example

I wrote a detailed guide to increasing social media followers and boosting engagement. Here’s a summary of the top options to help you grow your website traffic.

  • join relevant Facebook groups
  • share helpful articles/videos in these groups
  • post updates about your company’s latest products
  • host contests and giveaways
  • Leave thoughtful comments on user-generated content

4. Link Building Strategies

When marketing teams talk about SEO, link building frequently comes to mind. When reputable websites link to your content, the algorithm favors your website and increases its rank on the search page.

Sounds helpful, but that’s not all.

Did you know link building can help you increase web traffic without relying on SEO?

Link building for brand awareness is a process where you focus your strategies on expanding your reach, putting your content in front of new users, and generating conversations around your brand.

This is more than just a casual backlink in a blog post. Link building for brand awareness takes more planning and resources, but the investment is worth the high-quality leads you’ll get.

Here are some tips for developing effective link building strategies to increase website traffic:

  • Engage with your audience: Create interesting, shareable posts and encourage your followers to respond and share your content.
  • Work with PRs: Recruit efficient PRs to help generate brand awareness and distribute your story to your desired audience.
  • Guest blog intentionally: Choose unique publications that align with your readers’ key interests and post guest blogs on their page.

5. Interact With Other Blogs

Guest blogging is an effective traffic-driving strategy aimed at leveraging somebody else’s audience to widen your brand’s reach.

Think about it: Somebody in your niche has a large, engaged following. Imagine if you could put your content in front of them. How much traffic could you drive to your website!

See also  Google’s John Mueller Clears Confusion About Mobile-First Index

Why would someone publish your work?

Probably because you’re good at what you do.

Everyone is looking for high-quality content. If you can provide a well-researched, helpful post for free, people are often open to publishing it on their website. After all, it’s benefiting their audience at zero cost.

Why would you give precious content away for free?

It’ll help you gain access to hundreds, if not thousands of new users, many of whom could become long-term customers.

It’s a win-win situation, but you have to be careful how you approach it.

Start by searching for blogs and media publications that publish content relevant to your business. For example, if you run a recruiting company, publish content on business blogs read by people interested in the latest recruiting practices.

If you want to find blogs in your industry that are accepting guest posts, use the following search queries to see more specific results:

  • name of your niche + “write for us”
  • name of your niche + “submit guest post”
  • name of your niche + “sites that accept guest posts”
  • write guest article + ‘name of your niche” + blog

Solvid provides a comprehensive list of places accepting guest blogs:

Publications that allow guest blogging to increase website traffic

In addition, research online biographies of specific companies and bloggers. More often than not, their web profiles contain a handy list of sites where they’ve been invited to guest post. That’s a plethora of most fitting guest blog opportunities presented to you on a silver platter.

Then, send a request. Most websites will have publication guidelines you can follow. Follow these instructions carefully to increase your chances of publication.

There’s also the option of using blog comments as a way to generate traffic to your site.

In the past, I have managed to generate $25,000 as a result of 249 comments.

How exactly do you go about using comments to generate traffic?

When leaving a comment, make sure you are adding something worthwhile to the discussion.

There is no use in leaving comments like “Awesome post!” or “Nice website!”

If someone posts a question, make sure you take the time to answer thoughtfully.

This showcases your expertise in the given niche and will encourage someone reading to click on your name and be taken through to your site.

If you read an article on a subject you don’t know very well, it would be imprudent to voice your own thoughts as fact. In this situation, you should simply ask questions. Then the website owner would be able to elaborate more on complex topics or complicated sections.

If you’re knowledgeable about a subject, feel free to contribute (e.g., suggest something, recommend a solution, answer a question). If you’re a novice, it’s best to ask questions. Powerful questions can bring you website traffic by encouraging blog readers to check you out.

Avoid embedding links in your comments. It comes off as a wretched attempt to plant your flag on someone’s lawn.

It’s okay to use your website’s link in the URL field when entering your name and email address, but your comment needs to add to the conversation or challenge an idea without lazy attempts at driving traffic to your blog.

Refrain from using the name of your business as your “commenting name.”  Use your actual full name instead.

Using a random or fake name is a missed opportunity to build strong branding because your brand actually starts with your name. In fact, failing to use your full name will reduce your chances of the website owner approving your comment.

See also  Google keeps changing – why your SEO and PPC teams must be best frenemies!

6. Email Marketing

If you read a few posts on digital marketing, email marketing would be mentioned in most of them. That’s because it’s still one of the most efficient ways to increase website traffic.

One study suggests email generates $36 for every $1 spent, offering a shocking 3,600 percent ROI. What more could you ask for?

Email marketing lets you reach potential customers directly. It’s an ideal platform for building long-term relationships for improved customer loyalty. You can post questions, ask for feedback, introduce soft sales, and persuade customers for the “big buy.”

Here are some tips for effective email marketing to increase website traffic:

  • Be real: Share stories, post behind-the-scenes content, and solicit original user-generated content.
  • Offer value: Just like content marketing needs a high value to convert readers, emails and newsletters must provide value before they make an ask.
  • Include all your links:  Make it easy to read and share your post.  Include links to your social media profiles, latest blog posts, and sales page in every email you send.

7. Provide Excellent Customer Service and Ask Customers to Review Your Brand

Ramping up your social media marketing efforts to increase website traffic is useless if you offer poor customer service.

According to a survey, 42 percent of customers said they bought more after pleasant customer service experiences.

Think about it: Users complain on social media, you offer a prompt and polite response. What happens? The person starts respecting your brand.

Even when users complain privately via email, it’s important to offer the best possible service so they come back for more.

How can you offer great customer service?

  • reply promptly
  • offer as many suggestions for customer problems as possible
  • apologize when you make a mistake and offer coupons/refunds

If you consistently provide great customer service, you can request users to review your brand.

Platforms like Trustpilot and Yelp can be great for building positive reviews. Many users consult these websites before making a purchase decision, so having a solid profile can help improve your reputation.

Increase Website Traffic Without SEO Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to increase website traffic without SEO?

Yes. You can use a combination of social media marketing strategies and content marketing techniques to increase website traffic without SEO.

Are there ways to increase website traffic for free?

Guest blogging, posting on social media, and requesting user-generated content are some of the most effective ways to increase website traffic for free.

Can I increase website traffic through marketing without an agency?

You can use techniques like guest blogging and content marketing to engage audiences without relying on any agency.

What’s the best strategy to increase website traffic quickly?

Working on improving your social media strategies can help you connect with new users, develop brand awareness and drive organic traffic relatively fast.

Increase Website Traffic Without SEO Conclusion

You shouldn’t only rely on search engines to increase website traffic. Algorithm changes and SEO techniques become outdated quickly.

The strategies we discussed today can help you create a comprehensive digital marketing plan to increase website traffic effectively.

Whether you use one of these tactics in isolation, or you use all of them together, they can transform the way you attract customers.

Which traffic-driving strategy will you try today?

See How My Agency Can Drive Massive Amounts of Traffic to Your Website

  • SEO – unlock massive amounts of SEO traffic. See real results.
  • Content Marketing – our team creates epic content that will get shared, get links, and attract traffic.
  • Paid Media – effective paid strategies with clear ROI.

Book a Call

Neilpatel.com

SEO

A Technical SEO Guide To Lighthouse Performance Metrics

Published

on

A Technical SEO Guide To Lighthouse Performance Metrics


Maybe you’re here because you’re a die-hard fan of performance metrics. Or maybe you don’t know what Lighthouse is and are too afraid to ask.

Either is an excellent option. Welcome!

Together, we’re hoping to take your performance improvement efforts from “make all the numbers green” to some clear and meaningful action items.

Note: This article was updated for freshness in January 2022 to represent versions 8 and 9.

Technical SEO and Google Data Studio nerd Rachel Anderson joined me on this merry adventure into demystifying developer documentation.

We’re going to answer:

  • What is Lighthouse?
  • How is Lighthouse different from Core Web Vitals?
  • Why doesn’t Lighthouse match Search Console/Crux reports?
  • How is Performance Score calculated?
  • Why is my score different each time I test?
  • Lighthouse Performance metrics explained
  • How to test performance using Lighthouse

What Is Lighthouse?

Performance is about measuring how quickly a browser can assemble a webpage.

Lighthouse uses a web browser called Chromium to build pages and runs tests on the pages as they’re built.  The tool is open-source (meaning it is maintained by the community and free to use).

Each audit falls into one of five categories:

  1. Performance.
  2. Accessibility.
  3. Best Practices.
  4. SEO.
  5. Progressive Web App.
Screenshot from Lighthouse, January 2022

For the purposes of this article, we’re going to use the name Lighthouse to refer to the series of tests executed by the shared Github repo, regardless of the execution method.

Version 9 is currently out on Github and is slated for large-scale rollout with the stable Chrome 98 release in February 2022.

Lighthouse And Web Core Vitals

On May 5, 2020, the Chromium project announced a set of three metrics with which the Google-backed open-source browser would measure performance.

The metrics, known as Web Vitals, are part of a Google initiative designed to provide unified guidance for quality signals.

The goal of these metrics is to measure web performance in a user-centric manner.

Within two weeks, Lighthouse v6 rolled out with a modified version of Web Core Vitals at the heart of the update.

July 2020 saw Lighthouse v6’s unified metrics adopted across Google products with the release of Chrome 84.

Chrome DevTools Audits panel was renamed to Lighthouse. Pagespeed insights and Google Search Console also reference these unified metrics.

This change in focus sets new, more refined goals.

How Is Lighthouse Different Than Core Web Vitals?

The three metrics represented by Core Web Vital are part of Lighthouse performance scoring.

Largest Contentful Paint, Total Blocking Time, and Cumulative Layout Shift comprise 70% of Lighthouse’s weighted performance score.

The scores you’ll see for CWV in Lighthouse are the result of emulated tests.

It’s the same metric but measured off a single page load rather than calculated from page loads around the world.

Why Doesn’t Lighthouse Match Search Console/Crux reports?

For real users, how quickly a page assembles is based on factors like their network connection, the device’s network processing power, and even the user’s physical distance to the site’s servers.

Lighthouse performance data doesn’t account for all these factors.

Instead, the tool emulates a mid-range device and throttles CPU in order to simulate the average user.

These are lab tests collected within a controlled environment with predefined device and network settings.

Lab data is helpful for debugging performance issues.

It does not mean that the experience on your local machine in a controlled environment represents the experiences of real humans in the wild.

The good news is you don’t have to choose between Lighthouse and Core Web Vitals. They’re designed to be part of the same workflow.

Always start with field data from the Chrome User Experience Report to identify issues impacting real uses.

Then leverage the expanded testing capabilities of Lighthouse to identify the code causing the issue.

If you’re working on a site pre-launch or QAing changes in a non-public environment, Lighthouse will be your new best #webperf friend.

Workflow for performanceScreenshot from Lighthouse, January 2022

How Is Lighthouse Performance Metrics Calculated?

Performance scores from LighthouseLighthouse, January 2022

In versions 8 and 9, Lighthouse’s performance score is made of seven metrics with each contributing a percentage of the total performance score.

Lighthouse metricsCreated by author, January 2022

Why Is My Score Different Each Time I Test?

Your score may change each time you test.

Browser extensions, internet connection, A/B tests, or even the ads displayed on that specific page load have an impact.

If you’re curious/furious to know more, check out the documentation on performance testing variability.

Lighthouse Performance Metrics Explained

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

  • What it represents: A user’s perception of loading experience.
  • Lighthouse Performance score weighting: 25%
  • What it measures: The point in the page load timeline when the page’s largest image or text block is visible within the viewport.
  • How it’s measured: Lighthouse extracts LCP data from Chrome’s tracing tool.
  • Is Largest Contentful Paint a Web Core Vital? Yes!
  • LCP Scoring
  • Goal: Achieve LCP in < 2.5 seconds.
LCP measurementsCreated by author, January 2022

What Elements Can Be Part Of LCP?

  • Text.
  • Images.
  • Videos.
  • Background images.

What Counts As LCP On Your Page?

It depends! LCP typically varies by page template.

This means that you can measure a handful of pages using the same template and define LCP.

See also  How Google Responds to a Site Move

Lighthouse will provide you with the exact HTML of the LCP element, but it can be useful to know the node as well when communicating with developers.

The node name will be consistent while the exact on-page image or text may change depending on which content is rendered by the template.

How To Define LCP Using Chrome Devtools

  1. Open the page in Chrome.
  2. Navigate to the Performance panel of Dev Tools (Command + Option + I on Mac or Control + Shift + I on Windows and Linux).
  3. Hover over the LCP marker in the Timings section.
  4. The element(s) that correspond to LCP is detailed in the Related Node field.
A Technical SEO Guide To Lighthouse Performance MetricsCreated by author, January 2022

What Causes Poor LCP?

Poor LCP typically comes from four issues:

  1. Slow server response times.
  2. Render-blocking JavaScript and CSS.
  3. Resource load times.
  4. Client-side rendering.

How To Fix Poor LCP

If the cause is slow server response time:

  • Optimize your server.
  • Route users to a nearby CDN.
  • Cache assets.
  • Serve HTML pages cache-first.
  • Establish third-party connections early.

If the cause is render-blocking JavaScript and CSS:

  • Minify CSS.
  • Defer non-critical CSS.
  • Inline critical CSS.
  • Minify and compress JavaScript files.
  • Defer unused JavaScript.
  • Minimize unused polyfills.

If the cause is resource load times:

  • Optimize and compress images.
  • Preload important resources.
  • Compress text files.
  • Deliver different assets based on the network connection (adaptive serving).
  • Cache assets using a service worker.

If the cause is client-side rendering:

Resources For Improving LCP

Total Blocking Time (TBT)

  • What it represents: Responsiveness to user input.
  • Lighthouse Performance score weighting: 30%
  • What it measures: TBT measures the time between First Contentful Paint and Time to Interactive. TBT is the lab equivalent of First Input Delay (FID) – the field data used in the Chrome User Experience Report and Google’s upcoming Page Experience ranking signal.
  • How it’s measured: The total time in which the main thread is occupied by tasks taking more than 50ms to complete. If a task takes 80ms to run, 30ms of that time will be counted toward TBT. If a task takes 45ms to run, 0ms will be added to TBT.
  • Is Total Blocking Time a Web Core Vital? Yes! It’s the lab data equivalent of First Input Delay (FID).

TBT Scoring

  • Goal: Achieve TBT score of less than 300 milliseconds.
A Technical SEO Guide To Lighthouse Performance MetricsCreated by author, January 2022

First Input Delay, the field data equivalent to TBT, has different thresholds.

FID Time in millisecondsCreated by author, January 2022

Long Tasks And Total Blocking Time

TBT measures long tasks – those taking longer than 50ms.

When a browser loads your site, there is essentially a single line queue of scripts waiting to be executed.

Any input from the user has to go into that same queue.

When the browser can’t respond to user input because other tasks are executing, the user perceives this as lag.

Essentially, long tasks are like that person at your favorite coffee shop who takes far too long to order a drink.

Like someone ordering a 2% venti four-pump vanilla, five-pump mocha whole-fat froth, long tasks are a major source of bad experiences.

Short tasks vs. long tasksScreenshot by author, January 2022

What Causes A High TBT On Your Page?

Heavy JavaScript.

That’s it.

How To See TBT Using Chrome Devtools

A Technical SEO Guide To Lighthouse Performance MetricsScreenshot from Chrome Devtools, January 2022

How To Fix Poor TBT

  • Break up Long Tasks.
  • Optimize your page for interaction readiness.
  • Use a web worker.
  • Reduce JavaScript execution time.

Resources For Improving TBT

First Contentful Paint (FCP)

  • What it represents: FCP marks the time at which the first text or image is painted (visible).
  • Lighthouse Performance score weighting: 10%
  • What it measures: The time when I can see the page I requested is responding. My thumb can stop hovering over the back button.
  • How it’s measured: Your FCP score in Lighthouse is measured by comparing your page’s FCP to FCP times for real website data stored by the HTTP Archive.
  • Your FCP increases if it is faster than other pages in the HTTP Archive.
  • Is First Contentful Paint a Web Core Vital? No

FCP Scoring

  • Goal: Achieve FCP in < 2 seconds.
FCP timeCreated by author, January 2022

What Elements Can Be Part Of FCP?

The time it takes to render the first visible element to the DOM is the FCP.

Anything that happens before an element that renders non-white content to the page (excluding iframes) is counted toward FCP.

Since iframes are not considered part of FCP, if they are the first content to render, FCP will continue counting until the first non-iframe content loads, but the iframe load time isn’t counted toward the FCP.

The documentation around FCP also calls out that is often impacted by font load time and there are tips for improving font loads.

FCP Using Chrome Devtools

  1. Open the page in Chrome.
  2. Navigate to the Performance panel of Dev Tools (Command + Option + I on Mac or Control + Shift + I on Windows and Linux).
  3. Click on the FCP marker in the Timings section.
  4. The summary tab has a timestamp with the FCP in ms.

How To Improve FCP

In order for content to be displayed to the user, the browser must first download, parse, and process all external stylesheets it encounters before it can display or render any content to a user’s screen.

See also  How To Add Internal And External Links That Get Clicks And Conversions

The fastest way to bypass the delay of external resources is to use in-line styles for above-the-fold content.

To keep your site sustainably scalable, use an automated tool like penthouse and Apache’s mod_pagespeed.

These solutions will come with some restrictions to functionalities, require testing, and may not be for everyone.

Universally, we can all improve our site’s time to First Contentful Paint by reducing the scope and complexity of style calculations.

If a style isn’t being used, remove it.

You can identify unused CSS with Chrome Dev Tool’s built-in Code Coverage functionality.

Use better data to make better decisions.

Similar to TTI, you can capture real user metrics for FCP using Google Analytics to correlate improvements with KPIs.

Resources For Improving FCP

Speed Index

  • What it represents: How much is visible at a time during load.
  • Lighthouse Performance score weighting: 10%
  • What it measures: The Speed Index is the average time at which visible parts of the page are displayed.
  • How it’s measured: Lighthouse’s Speed Index measurement comes from a node module called Speedline.

You’ll have to ask the kindly wizards at webpagetest.org for the specifics but roughly, Speedline scores vary by the size of the viewport (read as device screen) and have an algorithm for calculating the completeness of each frame.

Speed index measurementsScreenshot by author, January 2022
  • Is Speed Index a Web Core Vital? No.

SI Scoring

  • Goal: achieve SI in < 4.3 seconds.
Speed Index metricsCreated by author, January 2022

How To Improve SI

Speed score reflects your site’s Critical Rendering Path.

A “critical” resource means that the resource is required for the first paint or is crucial to the page’s core functionality.

The longer and denser the path, the slower your site will be to provide a visual page.

If your path is optimized, you’ll give users content faster and score higher on Speed Index.

How The Critical Path Affects Rendering

Optimized rendering vs unoptimized timesScreenshot by author, January 2022

Lighthouse recommendations commonly associated with a slow Critical Rendering Path include:

  • Minimize main-thread work.
  • Reduce JavaScript execution time.
  • Minimize Critical Requests Depth.
  • Eliminate Render-Blocking Resources.
  • Defer offscreen images.

Resources For Improving SI

Time To Interactive

  • What it represents: Load responsiveness; identifying where a page looks responsive but isn’t yet.
  • Lighthouse Performance score weighting: 10%
  • What it measures: The time from when the page begins loading to when its main resources have loaded and are able to respond to user input.
  • How it’s measured: TTI measures how long it takes a page to become fully interactive. A page is considered fully interactive when:

1. The page displays useful content, which is measured by the First Contentful Paint.

2. Event handlers are registered for most visible page elements.

3. The page responds to user interactions within 50 milliseconds.

  • Is Time to Interactive a Web Core Vital? No

TTI Scoring

Goal: achieve TTI score of less than 3.8 seconds.

TTI scoring systemCreated by author, January 2022

Resources For Improving TTI

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

  • What it represents: A user’s perception of a page’s visual stability.
  • Lighthouse Performance score weighting: 15%
  • What it measures: It quantifies shifting page elements through the end of page load.
  • How it’s measured: Unlike other metrics, CLS isn’t measured in time. Instead, it’s a calculated metric based on the number of frames in which elements move and the total distance in pixels the elements moved.
CLS Layout Score formulaCreated by author, January 2022

CLS Scoring

  • Goal: achieve CLS score of less than 0.1.
CLS Scoring systemCreated by author, January 2022

What Elements Can Be Part Of CLS?

Any visual element that appears above the fold at some point in the load.

That’s right – if you’re loading your footer first and then the hero content of the page, your CLS is going to hurt.

Causes Of Poor CLS

  • Images without dimensions.
  • Ads, embeds, and iframes without dimensions.
  • Dynamically injected content.
  • Web Fonts causing FOIT/FOUT.
  • Actions waiting for a network response before updating DOM.

How To Define CLS Using Chrome Devtools

  1. Open the page in Chrome.
  2. Navigate to the Performance panel of Dev Tools (Command + Option + I on Mac or Control + Shift + I on Windows and Linux).
  3. Hover and move from left to right over the screenshots of the load (make sure the screenshots checkbox is checked).
  4. Watch for elements bouncing around after the first paint to identify elements causing CLS.

How To Improve CLS

Once you identify the element(s) at fault, you’ll need to update them to be stable during the page load.

For example, if slow-loading ads are causing the high CLS score, you may want to use placeholder images of the same size to fill that space as the ad loads to prevent the page shifting.

Some common ways to improve CLS include:

  • Always include width and height size attributes on images and video elements.
  • Reserve space for ad slots (and don’t collapse it).
  • Avoid inserting new content above existing content.
  • Take care when placing non-sticky ads near the top of the viewport.
  • Preload fonts.

CLS Resources

How To Test Performance Using Lighthouse

Methodology Matters

Out of the box, Lighthouse audits a single page at a time.

See also  The 5 Best Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals on Marketing Tools

A single page score doesn’t represent your site, and a fast homepage doesn’t mean a fast site.

Test multiple page types within your site.

Identify your major page types, templates, and goal conversion points (signup, subscribe, and checkout pages).

If 40% of your site is blog posts, make 40% of your testing URLs blog pages!

Example Page Testing Inventory

Example Page Testing InventoryCreated by author, January 2022

Before you begin optimizing, run Lighthouse on each of your sample pages and save the report data.

Record your scores and the to-do list of improvements.

Prevent data loss by saving the JSON results and utilizing Lighthouse Viewer when detailed result information is needed.

Get Your Backlog to Bite Back Using ROI

Getting development resources to action SEO recommendations is hard.

An in-house SEO professional could destroy their pancreas by having a birthday cake for every backlogged ticket’s birthday. Or at least learn to hate cake.

In my experience as an in-house enterprise SEO pro, the trick to getting performance initiatives prioritized is having the numbers to back the investment.

This starting data will become dollar signs that serve to justify and reward development efforts.

With Lighthouse testing, you can recommend specific and direct changes (Think preload this font file) and associate the change to a specific metric.

Chances are you’re going to have more than one area flagged during tests. That’s okay!

If you’re wondering which changes will have the most bang for the buck, check out the Lighthouse Scoring Calculator.

How To Run Lighthouse Tests

This is a case of many roads leading to Oz.

Sure, some scarecrow might be particularly loud about a certain shade of brick but it’s about your goals.

Looking to test an entire staging site? Time to learn some NPM.

Have less than five minutes to prep for a prospective client meeting? A couple of one-off reports should do the trick.

Whichever way you execute, default to mobile unless you have a special use-case for desktop.

For One-Off Reports: PageSpeed Insights

Test one page at a time on PageSpeed Insights. Simply enter the URL.

Lab and field data available in PageSpeed InsightsScreenshot from PageSpeed Insights, January 2022

Pros Of Running Lighthouse From PageSpeed Insights

  • Detailed Lighthouse report is combined with URL-specific data from the Chrome User Experience Report.
  • Opportunities and Diagnostics can be filtered to specific metrics.  This is exceptionally useful when creating tickets for your engineers and tracking the resulting impact of the changes.
  • PageSpeed Insights is running already version 9.
    Pagespeed Insights opportunities and diagnostics filtered by metricScreenshot from PageSpeed Insights, January 2022

Cons Of Running Lighthouse From PageSpeed Insights

  • One report at a time.
  • Only Performance tests are run (if you need SEO, Accessibility, or Best Practices, you’ll need to run those separately)
  • You can’t test local builds or authenticated pages.
  • Reports can’t be saved in JSON, HTML, or Gist format. (Save as PDF via browser functionality is an option.
  • Requires you to manually save results.

For Comparing Test Results: Chrome DevTools Or Web.dev

Because the report will be emulating a user’s experience using your browser, use an incognito instance with all extensions, and the browser’s cache disabled.

Pro-tip: Create a Chrome profile for testing. Keep it local (no sync enabled, password saving, or association to an existing Google account) and don’t install extensions for the user.

How To Run A Test Lighthouse Using Chrome DevTools

  1. Open an incognito instance of Chrome.
  2. Navigate to the Network panel of Chrome Dev Tools (Command + Option + I on Mac or Control + Shift + I on Windows and Linux).
  3. Tick the box to disable cache.
  4. Navigate to the Lighthouse panel.
  5. Click Generate Report.
  6. Click the dots to the right of the URL in the report
  7. Save in your preferred format (JSON, HTML, or Gist)
    Save options for Lighthouse ReportsScreenshot from Lighthouse Reports, January 2022

Note that your version of Lighthouse may change depending on what version of Chrome you’re using. v8.5 is used on Chrome 97.

Lighthouse v9 will ship with DevTools in Chrome 98.

How To Run A Test Lighthouse Using Web.Dev

It’s just like DevTools but you don’t have to remember to disable all those pesky extensions!

  1. Go to web.dev/measure.
  2. Enter your URL.
  3. Click Run Audit.
  4. Click View Report.
    web.dev view report optionScreenshot by author, January 2022

Pros Of Running Lighthouse From DevTools/web.dev

  • You can test local builds or authenticated pages.
  • Saved reports can be compared using the Lighthouse CI Diff tool.
    Lighthouse CI Diff toolScreenshot from Lighthouse CI Diff, January 2022

Cons Of Running Lighthouse From DevTools/web.dev

  • One report at a time.
  • Requires you to manually save results.

For Testing At Scale (and Sanity): Node Command Line

1. Install npm.
(Mac Pro-tip: Use homebrew to avoid obnoxious dependency issues.)

2. Install the Lighthouse node module with npm

install -g lighthouse

3. Run a single text with

lighthouse <url>

4. Run tests on lists of usings by running tests programmatically.

Pros Of Running Lighthouse From Node

  • Many reports can be run at once.
  • Can be set to run automatically to track change over time.

Cons Of Running Lighthouse From Node

  • Requires some coding knowledge.
  • More time-intensive setup.

Conclusion

The complexity of performance metrics reflects the challenges facing all sites.

We use performance metrics as a proxy for user experience – that means factoring in some unicorns.

Tools like Google’s Test My Site and What Does My Site Cost? can help you make the conversion and customer-focused arguments for why performance matters.

Hopefully, once your project has traction, these definitions will help you translate Lighthouse’s single performance metric into action tickets for a skilled and collaborative engineering team.

Track your data and shout it from the rooftops.

As much as Google struggles to quantify qualitative experiences, SEO professionals and devs must decode how to translate a concept into code.

Test, iterate, and share what you learn! I look forward to seeing what you’re capable of, you beautiful unicorn.

More resources:


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal





Source link

Continue Reading

SEO

Google Considers Reducing Webpage Crawl Rate

Published

on

Google Considers Reducing Webpage Crawl Rate


Google may reduce the frequency of crawling webpages as it grows more conscious of the sustainability of crawling and indexing.

This topic is discussed by Google’s Search Relations team, which is made up of John Mueller, Martin Splitt, and Gary Illyes.

Together, in the latest episode of the Search Off the Record podcast, they discuss what to expect from Google in 2022 and beyond.

Among the topics they address is crawling and indexing, which SEO professionals and website owners say they’ve seen less of over the past year.

That’s going to be a key focus for Google this year as it aims to make crawling more sustainable by conserving computing resources.

Here’s what that will mean for your website and its performance in search results.

Sustainability Of Crawling & Indexing

Since Googlebot crawling and indexing happens virtually, it’s not something you may think has an impact on the environment.

Illyes brings this issue to attention when he says computing isn’t sustainable in general:

“… what I mean is that computing, in general, is not really sustainable. And if you think of Bitcoin, for example, Bitcoin mining has real impact on the environment that you can actually measure, especially if the electricity is coming from coal plants or other less sustainable plants.

We are carbon-free, since I don’t even know, 2007 or something, 2009, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t reduce even more our footprint on the environment. And crawling is one of those things that early on, we could chop off some low-hanging fruits.”

The low-hanging fruits, in this instance, refers to unnecessary web crawling. Such as crawling webpages that haven’t had any recent updates.

See also  How To Add Internal And External Links That Get Clicks And Conversions

How Will Google Make Crawling More Sustainable?

Illyes goes on to explain that web crawling can be made more sustainable by cutting down on refresh crawls.

There are two types of Googlebot crawling: crawling to discover new content and crawling to refresh existing content.

Google is considering scaling back on crawling to refresh content.

Illyes continues:

“… one thing that we do, and we might not need to do that much, is refresh crawls. Which means that once we discovered a document, a URL, then we go, we crawl it, and then, eventually, we are going to go back and revisit that URL. That is a refresh crawl.

And then every single time we go back to that one URL, that will always be a refresh crawl. Now, how often do we need to go back to that URL?”

He goes on to give an example of certain websites that warrant a significant number of refresh crawls for some parts of the site but not others.

A website like Wall Street Journal is constantly updating its homepage with new content, so it deserves a lot of refresh crawls.

However, WSJ is not likely updating its About page as frequently, so Google doesn’t need to keep doing refresh crawls on those types of pages.

“So you don’t have to go back there that much. And often, we can’t estimate this well, and we definitely have room for improvement there on refresh crawls. Because sometimes it just seems wasteful that we are hitting the same URL over and over again.

Sometimes we are hitting 404 pages, for example, for no good reason or no apparent reason. And all these things are basically stuff that we could improve on and then reduce our footprint even more.”

If Google were to cut down on refresh crawls, which is not 100% confirmed, here’s the impact that could have on your website.

See also  How Google Responds to a Site Move

What Does A Reduction In Crawl Rate Mean For Your Website?

There’s a belief out there that a high crawl rate is a positive SEO signal, even if you’re not updating your content as often as Google is crawling it.

That’s a misconception, Illyes says, as content will not necessarily rank better because it gets crawled more.

Mueller:

“So I guess that’s kind of also a misconception that people have inthat they think if a page gets crawled more, it’ll get ranked more. Is that correct that that’s a misconception, or is that actually true?”

Illyes:

“It’s a misconception.”

Mueller:

“OK, so no need to try to force something to be re-crawled if it doesn’t actually change. It’s not going to rank better.”

Again, it’s not confirmed that Google will reduce refresh crawls, but it’s an idea the team is actively considering.

If Google follows through on this idea it won’t be a bad thing for your website. More crawling does not mean better rankings.

Moreover, the idea is to learn which pages need refresh crawls and which pages do not. That means the pages you change more often will continue to be refreshed and updated in search results.

For more details on how Google plans to pull this off, listen to the full discussion in the podcast below (starting at the 2:40 mark):


Featured Image: Alena Veasey/Shutterstock





Source link

Continue Reading

SEO

Google Uses Different Algorithms For Different Languages

Published

on

Google Uses Different Algorithms For Different Languages


Google uses the same search algorithms for most languages, but there are certain cases where a language requires a different algorithm to interpret the queries.

This is stated by Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller in response to a Reddit thread titled: “Does Google use the same algorithm for every language?”

The thread goes on to ask about ranking factors and SEO practices, and how they may differ from one language to another.

More specifically, the thread reads:

“The BERT update had to do with semantics, so it got me wondering if it would be the same in every language. Which then made me think of other ranking factors, and how their importance might differ among different languages/cultures. Anyway, I want to ask anybody with experience in SEO in another language, if you’ve found any differences between ranking factors?”

Mueller doesn’t touch on the ranking factors aspect, but does address the use of search algorithms in different languages.

Read his full response in the section below.

How Google Search Algorithms Vary By Language

While many refer to the Google Search algorithm as a singular entity, it’s really made up of “lots & lots” of algorithms.

Some of those algorithms are used for searches in all languages, while some are used only for individual languages.

Mueller says, for example, that some languages don’t separate words with spaces. That makes it necessary to use a different algorithm than what Google uses for languages that do use spaces.

He states:

“Mostly. Search uses lots & lots of algorithms. Some of them apply to content in all languages, some of them are specific to individual languages (for example, some languages don’t use spaces to separate words — which would make things kinda hard to search for if Google assumed that all languages were like English).”

Source: Reddit

See also  The 5 Best Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals on Marketing Tools

How Google Search Understands Content In Different Languages

On the topic of searching Google in different languages, it’s worth noting a point that was brought up during the Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout last week.

Mueller was asked how Google determines when one page is similar to another when each page has content in a different language.

In short, Google can’t detect when a piece of content in one language is the same, or similar, to a piece of content written in another language.

Google relies on content publishers to identify that multiple pieces of content are equivalent when they’re written in different languages.

That’s accomplished via the hreflang HTML attribute, Mueller explains:

“… we basically use the hreflang to understand which of these URLs are equivalent from your point of view. And we will swap those out…

… I think it’s impossible for us to understand that this specific content is equivalent for another country or another language. Like, there are so many local differences that are always possible.”

Knowing that Google can’t determine equivalency of different language content on its own, it sheds more light onto why Google has certain algorithms for certain languages.

Source: Google Search Central on YouTube


Featured Image: YummyBuum/Shutterstock





Source link

Continue Reading

DON'T MISS ANY IMPORTANT NEWS!
Subscribe To our Newsletter
We promise not to spam you. Unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

Trending