In last week’s office hours we talked about some very important topics: page speed and Web Core Vitals
Coming next year, Google will make Web Core Vitals a ranking factor. That means, we have a couple months to get our websites together. Good luck! It’s proving to be a challenge for everyone!
There are a couple tools that will help you get a handle on this:
Here’s a YouTube video I found very helpful in troubleshooting Web Core Vitals scores:
Welcome to Office Hours. Today is October 21st, and we are going to talk about all things SEO. As is our tradition, we like to start off with a success story. I think our viewers remember Trisha Clemmens will jump us off her success story after telling us a bit of what she does for a living.
I am Trisha Clemens, and I live in Atlanta. I help small businesses with Google My Business is the primary business thing that I work with. I do some Social Media for some clients and a little bit of local SEO, getting more into helping local SEO. My most significant focus is Google My Business, but I want to add more to it to help my clients. My most recent success story has to do with Google My Business. I had a former client come to me. She is only former because she is in real estate. It’s very competitive, and she was focusing on other areas. I have thankfully done an audit on her google my business a little less than a year ago. She suddenly contacted me and said, “I need help” my Google My Business listing vanished from the map. I am like, “That didn’t happen. It’s in there somewhere. Usually, it’s suspended or something like that.” No. It was gone. Completely 100% gone. I was able to get back her reviews which is the most important thing. She has 16 five-star reviews. I was able to get those back for her, and she is happy, and then she left me a Google Review saying that Trisha Clemens is a miracle worker.
I love that. That was my big thing because sometimes when I help clients with Google My Business, I get really excited about things I can do. Then the clients are “Oh gee, thank you,” and they don’t understand its importance. I was really excited when I got that review from her.
That’s a great success story. That something to be definitely proud of. Does anybody else have a success story they’d like to start us off with today?
Yeah, I will. It’s sort of loosely SEO-related.
Last week was the big autism convention in New Jersey and this year was all virtual, which was very new. We set up a virtual vendor table there advertising. Several of our employees were actually speakers at the convention this year. We had a giveaway in which over 20 people entered, which was great. We are a tiny business. We got about 30 visitors to our web page that we would not have otherwise obtained. We got ten new inquiries for services which are fantastic for us. Our thinking of implementing that giveaway strategy into a regular social media occurrence to get engagement through social media and get more attention about our website’s services.
That’s wonderful. I love how you brought it back to how many new inquiries you got, not just the traffic. That’s money there, that’s super.
Yes, we are excited.
Lavonya, I’ll put you on the spot. Did you think of your success story yet?
No, I don’t have one. Sorry.
I think you are successful in being here.
My success story is more of a client management issue. I had hired a third-party developer to help a client. Actually, I should say I was working with a third-party developer to help clients work with some Page Speed Issues on their website. Unfortunately, that didn’t go very well. The developer was not able to help them as much as we had hoped. It was frustrating all around where the developer was frustrated because it was tough to do. The client was frustrated because it felt they didn’t progress, and I was frustrated because I wanted the client to succeed. But also, I empathize with developers. It was really frustrating to do.
I don’t know if we talked about Web Core Vitals in Office Hours before, but it’s kind of Google’s way of quantifying Page Speed. We only have two or three months before it’s an official ranking factor, and it’s just proving to be very hard. I think Google is going to have to pivot on it.
The success story is I was just anxious about the client and how the client would take this. This was not good news. This is something nobody wanted, from the developer to the client to me. I really appreciate clients’ long-term view and understanding of how this is one piece of the puzzle, and they asked the right questions – what else can we do? I was like, “Ah, success, good.” We are not just harping on what didn’t happen. We are thinking about what we can do, so we are coming up with a plan of action to learn from our mistakes. I don’t know where the error was at this point. Still, it felt good to work through a complex problem with a client. I think that success is just a great relationship with the client, and everybody benefits from it. That was kind of my success story, which is a little obscure, but I think so much of what we end up talking about here ends up being client management issues.
We didn’t have any pre-asked questions, so I would just open the floor. If anybody has any questions, or if not, I have a question for all of you.
I have a question based on your Page Speed. My first thing was when I was listening, you had someone to help with Page Speed, that kind of comes up a bit for me, and while it’s not specifically an immediate issue, it’s something that I think will come up more. I have one client that was able to change hosting, and their Page Speed improved dramatically. Then they still have things to work on. I’ve got other things I’m doing before that, but that’s something that will be coming up in the next few months with them. I just signed up yesterday. I haven’t gotten very far in training but is that something discussed or just something we talk about in Office Hours for Site Speed?
That was what I was going to transition to. One of the steps is to set up Google Search Console.
I do have that.
I recommend that everybody check that literally every Monday morning. The first thing you should do is check the Search Console for all of your clients because if there is a problem or a change in how Google is reading your website, you will see it there. A few weeks ago, we found out that Allies’ website had some weird issues, and we were able to kind of work through Search Console to help us identify things that we didn’t know the problem was. AT the bottom of the Dashboard at your Search Console is a listing for Web Core Vitals. That is what we are talking about.
You said, and I wasn’t 100% sure what that was, but now that you say that, I do.
For everybody’s benefit – Web Core Vitals is Google’s attempt to quantify Page Speed. Page Speed is so hard to quantify because it is very subjective. For instance, I have Giga fiber in my house and my office, so things run pretty fast here, but not everybody has that benefit. How does Google decide what fast is? You can’t really do it by time because how do you even measure time? What Google has done is taken Page Speed together and narrowed it down to three specific metrics.
Unfortunately, not every website will have data there, but here is the Web Core Vitals. There are three ways that Google will be quantifying PageSpeed for websites, and it’s basically announced in January these are going to be ranking factors. We don’t know where they will fit in the 200 or so ranking factors that are already out there. Is this going to be the number one ranking factor? Probably not? Is it going to be 200? Probably a little more than that. It’s going to be somewhere in there, and we have to pay attention.
First Input Delay is how long it takes before your website is interactive, and it should be faster than 100ms. That’s tenth of a second.
Cumulative Layout Shift, which is one of those things when you know what it is, you are like, “oh yeah, I hate that I’m so glad that is a ranking factor.” Cumulative Layout Shift is when a website loads and then suddenly lurches, often vertically. You will be looking at something like a website loads, and then it suddenly shifts down a little bit. That’s Content Layout Shift.
We have to pay attention to these three scores when it comes to our website. Often what it requires is a programing of how the website was built.
First Input Delay would be a factor of how if you have a bad web host. That would affect your First Input Delay.
Largest Contentful Paint is kind of an issue where “Hey, I know we love to have these large beautiful images but ain’t nobody has time to wait for your 10MB image to load on your homepage.”
I have a problem with a client on that one, and they are on SquareSpace. And literally, SquareSpace cannot tell me where the file is on their system: I have the URL to delete it because it is ginormous.
It’s this file, and Squarespace can’t tell you where to find it, so change to WordPress?
I went through GTMetrix, and in the waterfall, there is one film that stands out as the worst of all of them. I don’t understand. If I have an URL, why Squarespace can’t I find it.
I don’t either, but if that is the largest item and it takes more than two and a half seconds, it’s a problem.
Content Layout Shift is really how fundamentally your website is coded. If your website is not coded in light of thinking about this, you could be causing yourself problems. Developers cry over these things. These are really tough problems. I am still looking for someone who can really manage it. In fact, I had one of my clients’ internal developers fixed it. We were “Awesome!” but the next thing Google said, “No, not good enough.”. They shifted on us. Back to square one.
Don’t measure Page Speed based on your experience for several seconds. You look at these three things, and it breaks them down into a very specific measure. You can get to this through your Search Console. You can also do it by doing Page Speed Insights.
Sometimes I put the whole thing in, and sometimes I leave the “HTTPS://” is that a problem?
I would definitely use the full canonical URL because it will factor redirects into Page Speed.
The first thing to notice on this is we need to check the Mobile Version. Google is ranking our website based on the Mobile version, so look at the mobile version. This is a score out of 100. Yellow is ok. We ideally want it to be green. Over 90 is what we are aiming for on mobile. The good thing is it tells us exactly what the problem is—First Contentful Paint 2.2 seconds, which’s less than two point five. I get a green on that. Time to Interactive is a problem, right? Largest Contentful Paint six point five seconds, not good. Cumulative Layout Shift one point four is actually good. This is just for your homepage, so you have to go through every page to see how every page performs. That’s my Google Search Console data very important because it will tell you across the site how you are doing.
Does GTMetrix do the whole website?
I think it’s page by page on GTMetrix. That’s one thing I think people get really confused about. They work on their homepage, and meanwhile, their internal pages where they get traffic really suck at. But it’s these three Web Core Vitals that google is going to be using. Pay attention to these. Look at the Search Console. Talk to your developer about possibly improving these by the end of the year. My website is new, and it’s not that great. It’s not terrible. I have seen 13.
One had 2 or 2 that was the one I was telling you about
I saw a client with 0, and it turns out they had five-ten MB hero images in a slide.
It was easily fixed, but we had to fight them because they loved their images.
I’m not a big fan of sliders. I try when I can’t use them and convince clients not to use them. Is there something that if images are so big, that can compress them?
It helped to a certain degree. You have to use this yourself to see if it’s helping enough. If your site has enough data, it will tell you if you passed Web Core Vitals, and we want to pass it, obviously. We have a few months left to pass, but I was on the phone with my developer yesterday, saying we need to get this in the queue and get this worked on—something to know. What I like about Page Speed as a solution or a thing to do is that it will affect your SEO. Still, it’s also going to help Social media because so much social media is consumed on mobile devices that your Page Speed is really important. You can have a very effective Facebook campaign. Still, if your page loads forever on a mobile device, nobody will wait for that. Many emails are consumed on mobile devices. You need to make sure your website loads fast so people don’t wait for your page to load. Doing this, even if it’s not a big deal for SEO, even if we found out Google gave us the false alarm, it still helped a lot of your efforts to do these things. I love SEO Tactics that also help your other marketing channels because you can double those up.
Lavonya, I’ll put you on the spot because you are probably the most technical attendee. Have you played with this one yet?
Oh yes, I have seen this one in GTMetrix.
What have you found out works best in improving Page Speed?
When I started out, my issue was pictures. I had to use smush to lower my pictures or remove some of them to increase speed.
We use BeFunky to resize most of our photos, so they load quickly and don’t take too much space.
I have a question about that. I use ShortPixel. What I do is run it through that before I put it on the website. But if you have a website going for a long time, there is stuff on there no way you would be able to take everything.
Smush would do Bundle.
Would that be the best alternative for that? ShortPixel is a plugin that I use.
Smush is also a plugin, but it also has to do it all at once for you. Sometimes it depends on the picture. You can crop the picture down as well.
In WordPress, yes, I have done that.
You bring up a good point. What Google specifically says about Page Speed is that “The fastest item to load on a page is an item that you don’t load.” Sometimes you just have to remove something from the website. You have to decide – Do I want ten slides in my hero image? Are they so important because I will lose visitors because it takes too long to open the website?
I find that things go cyclical. In a few years, everyone will be on 5g, and bandwidth will be unlimited, which won’t be a problem anymore. Still, then there will be new technology that comes in ten years. Suddenly now we are all worried about websites being too large because we took advantage of 5g. It goes cyclical. Now we are in this time where you remove things from the website. You don’t have to remove everything but make sure what you have on the website really matters. You end up making these decisions might help with conversion rates because you have fewer distracting websites.
Another thing to look at Page Speed is how many plugins you have.
Yes, that is very true with WordPress. With WordPress, don’t just deactivate the plugins you are not using. Delete them.
Levana, I hope you will be able to guide us through this because we are all going to be struggling with this here.
It’s something for us all to be paying attention to. This is the WebCore Vitals page from Google. It’s very technical, but it at least gives you an idea of what is going on. If you are a developer that is having a hard time, I will refer them here. There are some videos, and I can share videos from Google. It’s going to involve changing the way we are thinking about Web Design. Making sure we are doing only what is necessary, not what we want to see.
That was one thing I did recently when I said I had a client that had a slider. It really wasn’t there for user experience, and they let me change it, and I was pleased with that. It didn’t really do anything for it, and they were images that had text on them, and they hadn’t put a mobile version of it, so when you look at it on mobile, words were cut off. I was “We need to get rid of it” They let me change it, I put the image and put the image that was friendly to mobile.
When looking at the overall game plan/roadmap, what step are you at in the process? I saw that look.
That’s my problem. I start, and I go here, and then I’m all over the place. As far as your plan, I just started, so I’m not that far into that.
I’m still stuck in keywords and blogs because I want to make sure I have good topics, and at the same time, I have time to write these blogs. That’s what I’m working on. I want to make sure I have good content.
Hopefully, this helps. You don’t have to write your blogs at once. You can set a goal to write one every month.
In one of our other sessions, it’s good to have at least two or three.
Ids say it’s good to start with two or three. Even if you are doing just one a month, pace yourself. You don’t have to write all at once, but the more frequently you do it, the more beneficial it will be.
I wrote my first blog post in months because I just don’t have time to do it. I hope it was helpful. I researched it, I worked hard on it, but it just takes a lot of time to do it, and it’s always quality over quantity. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress. If you can do it just once a month, you are doing great.
Then go back later. The way I wrote the process out is not only to do the steps but also to go back to that step every few. That’s why I said to publish a blog post every week, but not everybody can do that. People can do it more often if they can, great.
I used to.
I can’t keep up at this point, so I go once a month.
We are trying something new. I came up with an idea for us. We would either get an email with ten blog posts in a week and then nothing for a month. What we are doing now is creating a schedule, so we are going to plan ahead, and all the people that are responsible for writing blog posts rotate each month, so in theory, we only have to write one every six weeks or so and then we can pre-plan the topics to be relevant to the time of year. That’s something we have a big marketing meeting tomorrow about that we are hopefully starting to implement to take the pressure of “we haven’t published a blog post in a week, we have to post something out there” Even if you come up with the idea that maybe that you are not well versed in maybe someone else in the group is, and we can implement that. A few weeks ago, I think we talked about this. One of the services we provide is IP Advocacy and IP individualized education plan. Sometimes parents don’t really know how to hold the school responsible for good IP. we have gotten some traffic on our website, most likely because the school is partially virtual this year. We followed up that with a blog next week about IP and advocacy and going through. It got a lot of traffic and the next few weeks because we were going on where we already saw people going. Even though I don’t specialize in IP, I could source that out to another staff member who is, and she wrote a blog, and we were able to capitalize on that traffic.
We actually got a customer out of that too.
I love that you can pass to someone who is an expert in that area because then it’s probably easier for them to write it. You are smart, don’t get me wrong. It’s probably more of a problem for them to limit themselves, they can write a book about it in some cases, but that’s great.
We have an Insider program in our company. We have podcasts and incentives to be speaking on a podcast. We also have a lottery for our own employees. If you are working with someone and they are doing a great job, you can nominate them. If that person wins, the person who nominated them also wins, so it’s like a bonus that you get.
Then we were thinking about implementing something similar for the blog posts like monetary compensation or incentive to get people more excited about participating.
It is people taking the time. You have an expert on IP, that is real expertise, and they deserve some sort of compensation. It could be part of their job, and they are being compensated right.
Most of the people right now who have that responsibility are all salaried full-time. A lot of us don’t necessarily have the extra time to do that. Offering incentive to our part-time employees helps take that responsibility off our shoulders, have our part-time employees feel like they are contributing something more meaningful than just what they are doing in their regular hours, and getting good content from different perspectives—hopefully, a win-win situation.
If you can combine that with what Levon is doing in terms of identifying terms and phrases that people are searching for and then
you get the best of both worlds.
There are many good reasons to blog, but one reason to do it regularly is that it gives Google a reason to come back to your site. If you launch all ten blog posts at once, great, and over time, those blogs will bring traffic, and many great things will come off that. If you spread them over time, Google will want to come back. You will find websites better because it’s an actively maintained site rather than something stagnant. I am such a hypocrite because I don’t do this as much as I would like to. It’s hard, it’s really hard, especially when you are a sole proprietor to do this. I’ve worked with other partners and stuff like that to make sure I can keep things going, but it’s not easy, and I get that. The payoff is really valuable. Almost to a point, if there is one SEO you can do each month, just write a blog post. Make it good, make it relevant and make it unique.
We are also looking at the same blog posts the same time we did last year or the year before that is relevant at this time of year and repost them on social media. It’s already there, and we just shared it on social media and did not input any man-hours.
I do that frequently. I’ll go and make a list of all that’s published and just go recycle it.
Buzzfeed does that. I’ll open it, and it’s like from 2016.
Then you still look at it.
There are all sorts of sophisticated ways you can do that.
I did it for myself on social media, but then I had a client I used to work with, and because of the pandemic, they had to scale back. I am not doing any new blog posts for them but social media. I’m going back and referencing blog posts from this time last year. This is a pet industry, so it’s “Holliday foods that your pets can enjoy with you during this time of year” things like that. The information is still relevant.
We had a discussion.
Do you want to share your wisdom?
Just the last time when we had this discussion, you said we live it to the client but let them know what’s available. He also recommended Iubenda?
I looked at that.
The trick is there are laws. If you are doing business in Europe, there are strict laws to follow. If you can do business in California, that’s the cookie law.
California has a law that requires cookies to pop up?
A Lot of people are nationwide, and they just do the cookies for everybody. Also, Brazil just released the law. The US is working on a law. This is going to happen more. I struggle giving advice because I don’t ever want to say don’t obey the law. Some people might not matter if they get into trouble in Europe. Some people might not care about not doing business in California.
When you say let the client know, what should you preface with as far as it’s up to you, I guess I’m not sure what to call the different things?
I think SiteGround has a Youtube video that talks about it. Iubenda employees are the ones that are talking about it, and they give more information about it.
I just heard of that information today and was looking at what is IUBINDA today from your site. I am familiar with Tramagedon, and that’s all I heard off, and I know they don’t have cookie popup, and I’m just like, ok.
These are paid services. That’s why clients need to be informed, understand the implications so they can act appropriately. The best way for clients to succeed is to keep their business open by not getting in trouble with the law. I feel very underequipped to talk about that, so I push everybody to talk with their legal authorities because I don’t want to give anybody incorrect advice. I just want to make sure people know to consider this, and they can look at the resources and make the decision for their own business. If they are a small business, they might be able to get away with not doing it for now, but some laws might be federal US laws that might change soon. We just need to be prepared. Privacy is important, and we need to protect it, and we need to be prepared.
That definitely helps.
It’s a vague answer. I am sorry.
That’s ok. I’ll look more on Iubenda and see because I have been using Termageddon, and so I want to check the two out and see the cookie popup.
If you want to come back and say what you found out about Termageddon, I am more than happy to recommend a different tool.
The only other question that I have is back on the content we were talking about earlier This is more about site content.
I know blogs can be different than just regular website content. Is there any place that you do or recommend as far as doing and writing specifics and then have someone else work on the content?
I am not following you exactly.
Basically, write the content for your website but not your blog posts.
In my mind, I make a distinction with blog content which I call landing page content which is the more main website. In my mind, the blog post is usually more selfless and helpful. Still, the landing page or the regular website is more sales and promotional.
Both of them need to have some keyword research to understand how customers search for what we have to offer. Both of them need a significant amount of words to be able to talk about the topic knowledgeably. I hire writers to write this for my clients. They can write it faster than me, they learn the client better. I’m not so concerned with consistent wording or anything like that. Still, I keep a record of if a client makes a comment, “I don’t like the passive voice,” I make a note of that, and on every article or landing page, I tell the writer, “Oh, by the way, please don’t use passive voice.” I’ll keep a record of notes from clients because they give me input.
I think I’m fine with hiring someone to do it. Still, I always try to make sure they have the right topical focus that’s relevant and using the phrases that people are using to find my clients. Does that help answer your question?
Yes. Then as far as when you get writers, where do you prefer to go find good writers?
That’s a great question. There are a lot of services that offer writers at a very commoditized price. I found the services can produce volumes of content, and if I need a volume of content like a hundred E-Commerce products, I might resort to that. I probably work with half-dozen different writers, and I just keep reusing them, and I find value by using writers on a client that learns the client faster. The quality of content is happily received because someone has learned from mistakes in the past. Still, they actually start seeing stuff and learning the client well. Hence, they can volunteer stuff. If you are doing commodities like tax brokers, they are not growing as they learn. I’ve gotten to the point where my clients will say, “Only use this writer.” Frankly, that means the approval process is really easy because they know this person wrote it. They just publish it. Everyone is happy. Writers are happy because they have a steady income, are paid a premium because they are not just another cog, the client is happy because the quality of content is good, but it’s getting better every time. I am happy because the approval process isn’t sixteen months before we get the article approved for the site. The client goes, “Oh, they wrote it? Just publish it.” Absolutely hire that out. I recommend finding a couple of good writers, starting there and then keeping that. I am always looking for new writers.
Where do you look? Upwork?
Honestly, I have even gone to local job sites and posted a public thing saying I’m looking for writers. I do a brief little interview, I let them write a test piece, I pay them for that test piece, and if it’s good, I’ll call on them again. If it’s not as good I’d like, and I feel like I can work with them, I might give them a second chance. If not, I thank them for their time, give them their money and say goodbye.
I know good writers are going to be a premium, like you said. What is the average price per certain amount of words you would say is reasonable?
I tend to pay $100 for a thousand words, and that’s low. Any less than that, I found it tends to be not very good.
If you have something even smaller, like four hundred for $50?
I will. I am working with a new writer, and she is charging me a pretty good rate. And it’s expensive, and it’s fine, and I’ll pay her more just to keep her around.
That’s the thing I don’t want to do, underpay and suffer on quality. That helps a lot.
Great. I have to be rolling. Thank you all for the great questions. Everybody have a great week, see you soon! Bye!