I will open with a quick case study to illustrate my point on how important page speed is to Google. We did a SEO site evaluation for a client on his new website. The site looked nice and appeared very professional, but on running the site through the Google Page Speed Tool, the desktop score came back with a 24 out of a score of 100 and the mobile score came back with a score of 51 out of 100. Google rated both of these scores in the “red” zone.
Why is being in the yellow zone (70’s) or green zone (90’s) important?
Google AdWords uses scanning tools and will actively disapprove ads where they consider the page speed experience low. I have seen advertisers with red page speeds have ads disapproved. The only way to improve your page speed is a site redesign or difficult overhaul of an existing site. Google evaluates the domain, not just the landing page. So, Google AdWords considers a quick loading site an important Quality Score indicator.
Google has just released notice that in July 2018 they will be using website page speed as a ranking indicator for their organic index. As the Google organic index is now based solely on the mobile version of your website since early last year and Google no longer has a desktop index AND a mobile index, page speed of your mobile site is even more important to garnering organic placement.
This particular issue of page speed and the use of the mobile index to rank sites is also why AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages, a Google initiative to speed up the Web, is so very important to embrace on any new website design.
In conclusion, page speed is crucial for organic performance for websites and one of the most important factors you should consider as you choose your WordPress theme or website backbone.
Check back next week for more information on website redesigns selections.
Many business owners of websites older than five years are thinking of updating their websites this year. A frequent question we get at McCord Web Services is “Is WordPress right for me?” For some businesses WordPress may be a good fit, but it is important to understand that you do have options to a WordPress website.
In this series on WordPress or PHP, we will be looking at the pros and cons as well as benefits and challenges.
If you are considering a WordPress website please review my checklist below before you make a final selection and get your site into production. I encourage you to have a frank talk with your potential website designer and nail down some of these issues before you go to contract or fund the project with a deposit.
If you are going to use a pre-designed theme, all theme designers will have a “live preview”. Ask for that link and input the URL in Google’s page speed tester. https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ Better yet, let your web designer know that you will not want to use any WordPress themes that do not score in the “green” zone on the Google Page Speed Tester.
Assure that your site designer knows that you will want to use AMP plugins to render your WordPress website to be AMP friendly. If the designer has used that theme before, ask to see the AMP page of a site. The page you see in your browser and smartphone should not have navigation links and elements with the content pushed to the bottom. It should have a narrow banner and content. If you see a lot of navigation links, it means that the theme’s navigation is not compatible with the AMP plugins. If your site designer cannot provide a page for you to use, consider buying the theme in question, having them do the installation, install the AMP plugin for your evaluation before you go further. Do not do site build-out until you verify that this is not an issue with your theme. It is by far better to write off the cost of the theme (typically under $100) and choose a new theme to get the AMP compatibility you really need.
Review with your web designer the type of theme they will be using. It is easy for another webmaster to come in and put in blog content. Will blog post pages have builder fields and have to be customized at installation or will the blog content entry fields be typical as in WordPress Twenty Seventeen or Twenty Eighteen. Does the blog require a featured image and what are the size dimensions of the featured image? For many sites using featured images an image of 1920 by 1080 is required. This requires the blog post installer to buy a special larger image and then resize it to fit. This is an added expense that you should know about before you purchase your theme or go into production as you will incur additional costs.
Let the website designer know you are serious about security. All testing logins and user names and passwords at set up should be complicated and never use admin or default settings. After launch WordFence Premium can be added for additional security and firewall protection, but don’t allow your site to be hacked while in the design phase through lax security.
In our next blog post on Wednesday, we will discuss why there has to be such a focus on page speed for your new website.
Hackers, how do they get in to your website and hosting account? In today’s wild web, it just seems like sometimes you can’t keep hackers out!
Here’s what happened recently to me. I set up a new hosting account at a quality hosting service (not GoDaddy). The same day I loaded the site files, the site was hacked. Files were loaded and links to malware installed in newly created pages that mirrored my own site pages but with a .shtml instead of .html.
The host told me that all was secure and although the site was in a shared hosting environment that their network was not where the hack came in.
The only thing that I can possibly think of that caused the problem for this non-WordPress site is I emailed the passwords to the client. What the client did with the logins, I do not know. I am not sure if he even tried to login, but doubt it.
The host said that possibly a hacker got into the site via a field in the contact form, but there is a Captcha and tests for validity of information and on top of that no database connection for the form. I am mystified!
What I do know is that sometimes you just do not know how hackers get in, could they tunnel in from the host? Could they intercept logins by email? Could they be trawling the web for new hosting set ups and attack them? Your guess is as good as mine.
One thing I do know is that there is a new hack for WordPress websites that targets new hosting accounts where WordPress installation has not been completed. There are bots that are scanning the web for these new sites and coming in via WordPress setup files and taking control of hosting. Could this type of attack possibly be what I experienced? It is possible.
What I do know if that prompt action to clean up, wipe the server, and change all passwords for hosting and FTP and also no longer emailing logins is our newest protocol.
Once you use AMP on WordPress, and if you want to use AMP pages on your regular HTML site, you’ll need to do a little research. There are lots of sites and information from Google on how to set up and how to validate your new AMP pages.
This is what I have learned in the process of working on my own website pages.
The original and new AMP page need to be pointed to each other. The AMP page points to the original page using a canonical reference telling Google that the non-AMP page is the original. The non-AMP page then points to the AMP page so that Google can discover it using a special meta tag amp reference.
There are specialized AMP image references and specialized CSS references. Additionally, Google will require that the viewport be set in the page head section to validate the page.
It is not complicated to set up these static AMP pages, but it is complicated to get them to validate. That being said, the future for Google is all about AMP and mobile. With a little effort you can make your blog and website more attractive for Google to index (and cache) in this new “Mobile First” world.
Many legacy website owners are now looking at upgrading their websites to leverage new technologies but what type of site should you consider as you weigh your options?
WordPress Websites Pros and Cons
I have a love/hate relationship with WordPress. I love the power and adaptability. I love the free plugins, but I hate the security problems and I hate the lack of really fine control both for SEO use and for image placements.
If a client decides that they want to do their own content updates, WordPress is perfect for them, but at a cost.
If a client does not buy a security monitoring service like WordFence or SiteLock, they may leave their expensive new website open to becoming hacked and banned on Google (until remediated from a hack).
Being secure costs money and WordPress is not a set it and forget it application. Be prepared if you decide to do your own updates that you need security software and need to do your own weekly site updates to keep WordPress secure.
HTML Websites Pros and Cons
For clients that are never going to do their own updates and do not need special plugin features from WordPress, I love a regular HTML version website. I love the control of page and image naming, the ability to have total control over site architecture, and the security of knowing that hackers do not typically use HTML websites as a platform to spew spam or malware.
HTML websites do not need regular security review, analysis and monitoring as WordPress sites do. But as technology changes they typically should be replaced about every five years.
If you need help with a SEO focused information-rich website for your service business and are not using ecommerce, pick up the phone and chat with me about your needs at 540-693-0385. I’d be glad to let you candidly know if our services would be a good match for your needs.