15 May 2018

Are you up to date with the new page speed trends?

Page Speed is one of the most important elements of creating a user-friendly web browsing experience.  It is also essential when it comes to search engine rankings.  While average load times change based on a page’s industry and location, there are a few general trends that apply to all businesses with an online presence.

There is no better time than right now for webmasters to evaluate their average load times and learn a few new tips and tricks for improving page speeds across their sites.  Read on to find out about the next anticipated trends.

It Will Be All About Mobile

In fact, the past several years have seen a trend toward increased mobile internet use.  Of course, desktop browsing will likely always play a large roll in internet marketing, but any company that is advertising exclusively or even primarily to desktop users will be increasingly likely to fall by the wayside.

Google released the results of research conducted in early 2017 that proved the majority of mobile browsers, 53% of them to be exact, will leave a mobile page after just three seconds if the page has not begun to load.  Given that average loading times for mobile landing pages are still coming in at just over 20 seconds, that’s bad news for online marketers.

So, what’s the catch?  It’s actually quite simple.  Most mobile pages do not load fully until almost half a minute after browsers have begun to use these mobile sites.

Webmasters can use this information to their advantage by constructing sites designed to begin loading as quickly as possible even if it takes a little bit longer for ads and plugins to load fully.  Any webmaster who is unsure as to whether it’s worth redesigning a page to load faster can check industry averages to find out how their pages stand up to the competition.  If their load times are coming in below industry averages, it’s time to consider starting the new year with a redesigned site.

Average Size

There is undeniably a direct correlation between site speed and site size.  Webmasters who are looking to improve load times can start by checking size-correlated industry averages.

The newest recommendation is that all pages be under 500 KB to improve loading times.  Given that average values hover around 1.88 MB, it should go without saying that most webmasters have their work cut out for them.  Companies can begin optimizing file 

Number of Resources

how to improve page speedOnline resource counts refer to the number of files a browser must download in order to render a page correctly.  Pages that use CSS scripts, images, and other large files in addition to HTML files are taking up a much larger number of resources.  Each extra request from the computer to the server will place additional strain on both ends of the system, so it’s best to keep resource numbers low.

Standard resource numbers among most industries still average more than 100, yet experts recommend that this number be under 50 this year.  Webmasters should note that resources can often be combined or even eliminated completely through a careful redesign.  If done properly, this optimization will result in far lower resource numbers and consequently much faster page loading speeds.

Server Delays

TTFB, or time to first byte, plays almost as large a role in search engine optimization rankings as page loading time. Industry research has shown a clear correlation between TTFB and higher rankings in major search engines, and while it has yet to be proven outright that decreasing a site’s TTFB improves its search engine ranking, there is enough of an obvious correlation to merit further discussion and consideration of this important, yet frequently overlooked, issue.

Just like average page speeds, different industries also have different TTFB averages.  The average of these values across most industries currently comes in at around 2.11 seconds, yet the recommendation now is that webmasters keep their TTFB under 1.3 seconds.  Those who are unsure about current TTFB values can read on for more relevant information.

Helpful Resources

After evaluating industry standards and recommendations for the coming year, webmasters should begin to analyze how their own pages add up.  There are many online tools available that can help, including WebPageTest, Pingdom, Gtmetrix, MachMetrics, and SpeedCurve.

When optimizing pages for increased loading times and TTFB values, be sure to keep industry standards in mind.  The best way to remain competitive in search engine rankings and user-friendliness is to ensure that each page at least meets, and ideally exceeds, these standards now before the competition catches up.

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04 Oct 2017

7 of the Best WordPress Backup Plugin Options

As great as WordPress is, it’s not immune to security threats, cyber attacks, and data breaches that can tarnish a company’s reputation. Apart from these dangers, a Backpage misconfiguration can threaten a website’s integrity. In any event, site owners should prepare for the worst by having a backup from which full functionality can be restored. Below is a WordPress Backup PlugIn list that can make the data backup and restoration processes easier.

BackupBuddy

BackupBuddy is one of the most popular WordPress backup plugin options. It allows users to schedule monthly, weekly, or daily backups, and it stores them in Dropbox, Stash, Rackspace Cloud, Amazon S3, or another cloud service. There’s no subscription fee, and users can use this plugin on a certain number of sites as outlined in the plan. It comes with access to regular updates, support forums, and a gigabyte of cloud storage. BackupBuddy can also be used to restore, duplicate, and migrate websites.

BackWPUp

With BackWPUp, users get a free WordPress PlugIn that allows them to create comprehensive backups and store them with any number of cloud services, send them in emails, or save them to a hard drive. It’s easy to use and allows users to schedule backups according to the site’s update settings. Restoration from a backup is simple, and the Pro version of BackWPUp comes with Google Drive storage, priority support, and other great features.

BackUpWordPress

This is the WordPress Backup PlugIn to use if a site owner wants to create reliable, simple, and automated backups. After installation and activation, the plugin goes to work using default settings. If necessary, site owners can set a different backup schedule in the Settings menu. Although the WordPress Plugin itself is free, users can pay for extensions that increase the plugin’s functionality by linking it to cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Windows Azure.

Duplicator

This isn’t just a WordPress Backup PlugIn. It also gives users all the tools needed for site duplication and migration. It works by storing core files, databases, content, plugins, and WordPress Theme files into a single package. When the entire site is packed into a zip file, users can host it elsewhere or use the infrastructure to build a new site. However, users should know that Duplicator isn’t for WordPress beginners. While the process of creating a backup is very simple, it requires technical knowledge to use the packages created during the backup process.

VaultPress

If a user needs more than a simple WordPress Backup PlugIn, VaultPress is the way to go. Along with the ability to create an automated backup, the plugin also scans the site’s databases for viruses, malware, and other security holes. VaultPress also comes with spam protection to maintain a site’s SEO and reputation, but users will have to pay a monthly fee to use it and its features. Although the cost may be too high for a new site owner, it’s good for those who have the budget to invest in WordPress security.

Updraft Plus

This is a popular backup plugin that does nearly everything. It does backups, restorations, migrations, and site cloning all with one click. Users can also use advanced tools like site wide control and database search through UpdraftCentral. Although the plugin’s basic functions are free, a paid license allows users to encrypt backups, use backups from different plugins, back up a multisite network, and much more. This makes the UpdraftPlus tool useful on sites of any scale.

BlogVault

The only thing better than backing up WordPress sites on a daily basis is doing it in real time, which is one of BlogVault’s core features. The tool works by making an instant backup whenever site changes are saved, and it ensures that site owners never lose progress during content and site development. BlogVault comes with history, testing, and backup monitoring tools to preserve the integrity of a site’s data. The only drawback is that there’s an annual fee to pay before the features can be accessed.

In Closing

Creating regular, comprehensive backups is an important part of website maintenance and continuity assurance. However, site owners should remember to choose a WordPress Backup PlugIn that can help them meet their goals. Whether a webmaster needs a simple plugin or a comprehensive security solution, the options listed in this WordPress tutorial can help them make an informed decision.

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05 Jul 2017

What Every Company Needs to Know About Brand Safety

A brand can be harmed simply because an online ad is situated in a context that isn’t appropriate for the company involved. No company wants to discover they have spent thousands of dollars (or more) only to have the ad achieve the opposite effect of what was intended. Furthermore, having an ad appear next to content that is contextually negative, inappropriate or offensive can do significant harm to the organization in a short period of time. This impacts not only the reputation of the company but its sales. Brand Safety needs to be a priority for this reason.

Brand Safety

Brand Safety refers to tools that help to eliminate problematic advertising with regards to online marketing. Digital advertising, especially on sites such as YouTube, is something a company gives up some control over. For example, a brand advertising on this site needs to feel comfortable their ad won’t show up before content their target audience will find inappropriate or offensive. A company offering leather goods wouldn’t want to appear right before a PETA ad as PETA is known for protesting goods of this type. This is only one instance where brand safety could be compromised by the inappropriate placement of the ad.

A few years ago, the measurement company comScore provided an article regarding ad campaigns and how often they were placed in a contextually inappropriate place. It was found that 72 percent of ad campaigns were placed in an environment that was inappropriate. The question a company must ask is how much harm this will do to their business. How will their target audience act? Brand name recognition is good unless the brand is known for negative reasons. However, research presented at the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting found this number to be significantly lower. Brand Safety truly shouldn’t come down to which research a company believes. It is too important to leave to chance, thus it needs to be a priority.

Real Time Bidding

Real time bidding has declined as a result of concerns about the safety of the brand. This type of impression-focused advertising was notorious in the past for placing a brand’s ad next to content that was questionable. Direct programmatic is replacing this type of bidding, as it may be used to ensure the ad is placed only in those areas where the target audience will be left with a favorable impression of the advertiser. Programmatic advertising eliminates the human element and allows machines to determine where ads will be placed.

Contextual targeting is of great importance to make certain a company gets the best return on investment. Brand Safety plays a role in which type of programming should be selected. Be sure to take this into consideration when deciding which option is right for the company, the ad campaign or another factor. Often, companies find they benefit more from direct programmatic than real time bidding.

Brand Safety Tools

Brand Safety save dataA number of tools are now offered to help safeguard a brand. Brand Safety tools include ones that can be plugged into an ad server, and this type of tool allows the advertiser to establish ad campaign parameters to be certain the materials are only placed in contextually appropriate locations. As the company purchasing the ad determines the breadth of the parameters, they may limit the advertising options significantly or allow for more leeway. With direct programmatic advertising the company receives the option of white listing or selecting the desired environment and content types for ad placement. White listing guarantees the ad will only be found on these sites and no others.

When buying privately, companies find they reach a larger portion of the target audience. Furthermore, the ads are placed in a brand-safe environment, and the purchases made are carried out in a data-driven manner. Very few companies want to be associated with a product or service that is sexist, extremist, homophobic or racist, yet this can be an issue with real time bidding. Brand Safety tools help to minimize this problem.

Brand Safety and its importance should never be discounted. Companies that allow their ads to be placed anywhere on the internet, with no regard as to the context of the ad placement, will find they are suffering as a result. Keep the above in mind to ensure this does not become a problem. Organizations that make this a priority find doing so benefits them in a wide range of ways.

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17 Jan 2017

Web Hosting Tips for Startup Owners

When a business owner brings a company online, they typically concentrate on site design and content with Web Hosting coming in a distant third. Many business owners don’t think about hosting until the site becomes overloaded or there’s a question about cost, but this approach can be disastrous. Before considering hiring a web designer or purchasing a WordPress plugin, a startup owner should think about the kind of hosting they’ll need to keep the business running smoothly. Below are several tips on what to look for when choosing a hosting provider for a business website.

Shared Hosting Packages

On the surface, the concept seems simple. In shared hosting, the business site shares a server with many other sites. While this idea is acceptable for personal websites and small blogs, it really won’t work for a startup’s site that’s growing and bringing in more traffic every day. When site owners want to create viral content and lead generation campaigns, shared hosting simply isn’t enough.

Dedicated Hosting

With dedicated hosting packages, the business owner doesn’t have to share a server with other sites. Therefore, if a spam website slows down all the other sites on shared servers, the startup site won’t be affected. When sites run smoothly on a dedicated host, the user experience is better, the site is less likely to crash, and there will be fewer serious issues.

Managed Dedicated Hosting

With a managed hosting plan, the business owner doesn’t have to worry whether something will happen to their site because the hosting company will take care of problems as they arise. When a business is in the startup phase, the owner is likely to be very busy—and choosing a managed, dedicated host will allow them to focus on getting the business off the ground.

Now that business owners know about their hosting options, it’s time to learn how to choose the right hosting company. Below are some tips for startup owners on finding a reliable web host.

Selecting a Web Host

Many companies go for the cheapest, the most popular, or the biggest web hosting company they can find. However, these strategies don’t always work, and there are other options available. The web hosting industry is full of companies offering a variety of packages and plans. Variety is a good thing as it means startups can find the right package regardless of their needs. With such a wide range of options, clients can find a host that shares similar values and offers the services they need without all the unnecessary extras. When selecting a hosting company or package, business owners should consider the following factors.

  • User reviews
  • Downtime
  • The host’s customer numbers
  • The host’s history
  • Whether the company is eco-friendly and uses sustainable practices (if that’s important to the business owner)
  • Which services and packages are offered
  • What the service contract is like

By considering these factors, among others, startup business owners are more likely to find a host that suits the company’s needs and budget. Below are a few more tips for new business owners on finding quality web hosting.

Service Drill-Down

Now that the business owner knows what he or she should look for in a web host, they should learn which services they’ll need to run a business. Here, startup owners can learn what they need in a web hosting package.

  • Support for databases. If a client decides to run an e-commerce website, they should look for a web host that offers database support. This is important because the database is where all the company’s information is stored for future access.
  • Customer service. While there are plenty of cheap hosts available, users get what they pay for. Low-grade hosting plans often come with bare-bones customer service, which isn’t very helpful for a business owner. If a client runs a startup, they should look for a plan with free customer service included.
  • Good scalability. Most businesses start with an eye toward growth, and the owner should choose a hosting provider that can grow with the business. When choosing a host, find out if other customers were able to grow or if they had to change providers during the growth phase.
  • Transparent pricing. While most hosts are upfront about pricing, others try to hide behind gimmicks and promotions. Startup owners are typically budget-conscious, and they should look for a host with a transparent, easy-to-understand fee structure.

There are many considerations to make when choosing a web hosting company, but one thing is clear: customers should not pay for services they don’t need. Conversely, they should be willing to pay a little extra for beneficial services, especially during the startup phase. There are many web hosts that cater to owners of startup companies, and clients should practice due diligence in finding the host that fits their needs and the company’s budget.

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