Category: SEO

The Evolution of Digital Marketing: Past, Present, and Future

Introduction

Digital marketing has come a long way. From email to search engines, mobile to social media, digital ads to content marketing—the industry’s evolution hasn’t been boring at all. To help put things into perspective, this post reviews the history of digital marketing and provides insights into where we’re headed.

Digital marketing is a strange beast. It is the rare intersection of technology, human nature, and business. It’s come a long way from the good old days where the cost of “eyeballs” was measured by some very basic means, to now where it requires hours of research, hundreds in online advertising fees, and sometimes years of waiting for results that may or may not happen.

From the birth of the internet to the dotcom collapse, digital marketing has seen it all. The art and science of selling through the internet have come a long way from its early days when finding a market was so hard it seemed like a miracle. It’s moved from being an obscure craft for digital ad-men to having a firm place in mainstream business, with virtually every major brand having some sort of digital marketing strategy in today’s world.

To provide an overview of this ever-evolving discipline, we will take a look back at how things were, how they are today, and how they will be tomorrow.

This blog post contains the following information:

The History Of Digital Marketing

  • The First Clickable Banner & Yahoo’s Emergence – 1993
  • Turning People Into Searching Machines – 1994
  • The Birth of Google – 1998
  • Saying Hello to Web 2.0 – 2000
  • The Emergence of Social Media Platforms – 2003
  • The Digital Age of Cookies – 2006

Understanding Digital Marketing As Of Today [The PRESENT]

The Future of Digital Marketing is Web 3.0

  • The dawn of a new paradigm in Metaverse
  • Voice Assistant
  • Generational Targeting
  • Customized Marketing
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Live Video Streaming

 

The History Of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing was born out of the invention of the World Wide Web. It actually precedes the web by several decades, to the emergence of the earliest electronic media: radio, television, and print ads for these media. It began around the time of the launch of Web 1.0 in 1990. Since then, it has become a core element of business success. And one that directly influences 7 out of every 8 sales.

The First Clickable Banner & Yahoo’s Emergence – 1994

It might surprise you to know that in 1994, the first clickable banner went live. While this may not seem like a huge deal now, it was the start of something new. Because before this there were only static images.

The first clickable banner ad was an ad for AT&T on Hotwired, a website created by Wired Magazine. From this point onward, digital marketing evolved rapidly.

At that time, the internet was still in its infancy and only a small percentage of Americans were online. However, even with limited exposure to this exciting new space, people could tell that something big was happening.

Turning People Into Searching Machines – 1995

The year 1995 saw new technologies enter the digital marketplace, like Yahoo.

Receiving close to 1m+ hits in the first year of its launch, Yahoo! prompted wholesale changes in the digital marketing space, with companies optimizing their websites to pull in higher search engine rankings as opposed to focusing on brand placement and building brand loyalty through word-of-mouth recommendations.

In 1996, we saw the launch of a couple more search engines and tools like HotBot, LookSmart, and Alexa—the latter of which is still one of the most popular tools for analyzing search engine traffic today.

But then Google came along. The company, co-founded by Stanford University students Sergey Brin and Larry Page, introduced its search engine in 1998. The birth of Google ushered in a new era of search engines and tools that made it easier than ever to find what you were looking for online.

The Birth of Google – 1998

Before the year 1998, Yahoo was just a site that had a listing of websites that people could search through. That’s it. It was just a list.

But this new search engine–Google–was different from Yahoo’s. Instead of providing a list of websites to users and letting them choose which website to visit, Google provided an algorithm for matching keyword searches with relevant websites. Users didn’t see any listings; they saw results one after another in the order that Google’s algorithm deemed most appropriate for the search query.

Microsoft launched its own search engine in 1999, hoping to compete with Google. And Yahoo soon launched its own search engine as well—a service known as Yahoo Web Search—in 2000, hoping to keep up with the competition and retain its position as a leader in the field of internet search technology.

These three companies—Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo—continued to be leaders in this field for the following years, and set the stage for all digital marketing strategies later on down the line.

Saying Hello to Web 2.0 – 2000

The launch of Web 2.0 in early 2000’s and all that followed were the greatest things that ever happened to digital marketing. Information flow volumes increased by an order of magnitude. And the interaction between digital marketers and the general public increased from being mostly transactional to also being conversational.

The Web 2.0 revolution was a milestone as it changed everything in a flash. It allowed users to interact more freely with one another as well as businesses and other organizations. Suddenly, you weren’t a passive user of information; the information flowed to YOU. You could interact with businesses, and they could interact with you. And that information flow increased exponentially. We’re talking about an entire river of data. It was revolutionary.

However, the implications that came with the second generation of the web were enormous. It’s because internet marketers had to deal with a greater volume of information than ever before, which created new challenges for them.

But at the same time, it was a great time for digital marketers, who found that the increased information flow allowed them to target consumers in a much more efficient manner.

The Emergence of Social Media Platforms – 2003

In the mid-2000s, web design reached a new kind of maturity. With the initial wave of sites made possible by the first generation of web platforms now complete, it was time to look at what else could be done with this technology. And that’s exactly what happened.

As time went by, the pendulum began to swing more to the side of consumers. Social media became increasingly popular, as people began taking an active role in their own information network. Users started sharing their thoughts and opinions with one another (and with businesses) through blog posts, chat rooms, and social networks.

MySpace was the first of these platforms to appear, and we soon saw Facebook. Both of these sites introduced a new way to share information and connect with others—one that would soon be considered vital in the world of digital marketing.

The change brought about by these new networks was nothing short of revolutionary for digital marketers—it meant that information about products and services was no longer being filtered through official company channels. Marketers had to become more creative than ever before if they wanted their messages to stand out in the crowd.

What’s more, these platforms gave marketers a brand new way to reach potential customers. Companies could now build profiles and pages for themselves, then share updates about their products and services as well as engage in conversations with potential and existing buyers.

The Digital Age of Cookies – 2006

Cookie? More like COOL-kie!

It was one of the most important developments in digital marketing. Before cookies, advertisers could only guess what their audiences were interested in.

For example, if a user went to a makeup website and browsed for lipstick, and then later went to a nail polish site, the advertiser wouldn’t be able to tell that the user was likely looking for beauty products.

However, with cookie tracking, advertisers were able to target users who browsed or purchased similar products or services. This allowed companies to customize their marketing material to each customer’s interests.

Cookies were especially useful because they can target specific demographics like age and gender. This allowed advertisers to create targeted ads that will draw in specific types of customers and increase sales.

Before the emergence of browser cookies, advertisers were limited in the amount of information they could collect about their users—and that meant their marketing collateral and promotions had to be fairly generic. With cookie technology, however, digital marketers could tailor marketing materials to a user’s particular tastes and interests. This allowed for much more targeted advertising and marketing, which was a huge boon to companies trying to reach customers on the web.

Understanding Digital Marketing Of Today [The PRESENT]

Today we are living in a time when:

  • We can send each other graphics-enriched emails to say “Happy Birthday.”
  • We can contact our friends and family instantly on the social media site of our choice.
  • We can buy things from a website that looks like a real store.
  • We can send text and multimedia messages to one another.
  • We can watch videos of anything that catches our eye.

The Present of Digital Marketing is the perfect combination of the old and the new web 2.0 elements that you already love mixed with cutting-edge technology.

While email marketing has been around for over 30 years, it’s only recently that companies have begun to understand how to leverage it to create an effective digital marketing campaign. Social media sites like Instagram and Tiktok are also relative newcomers on the scene but have quickly become powerful tools for reaching consumers in a more personal way.

Social media sites are offering businesses a way to connect and interact with their existing community of customers, while text and multimedia messages are allowing brands to deliver individualized messages to their customers. And, as mobile devices become increasingly popular, businesses are turning to video marketing as a way to convey information about their products in an engaging way.

The Present of Digital Marketing is all about using all these elements together in a cohesive campaign, instead of relying on just one or two things. By doing so, businesses are making sure they’re connecting with audiences who are most likely to be interested in what they have to offer—and also spending their advertising dollars effectively.

Email Marketing

Take email marketing, for example, you can reach thousands of people, right in their inboxes—and if you include a video, they’ll get to see your service in action!

Social Media Sites

Or take social media sites: there are nearly two billion users on Facebook, so if you pay attention to what’s trending, you can be sure your customers will be too. And just think about all the opportunities that Instagram and Snapchat can give you!

Text and Multimedia

And even more powerful than any other form of marketing is the ability to combine traditional advertising with new digital methods. Text and multimedia messages, for example, are simple but effective ways to communicate—and studies have shown that including a video in your text message increases its effectiveness by 300%!

Video Marketing

Video marketing is also a great opportunity for reaching more people with your message. If you have a large enough YouTube following, then showing testimonials from satisfied customers can make an unbelievable impact on how people feel about your brand—and it costs less than traditional forms of video marketing like TV commercials.

The Future of Digital Marketing is Web 3.0

The future of digital marketing is upon us. It’s called Web 3.0, and it’s a brave new world of augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality.

Web 3.0 is going to change everything you know about digital marketing today and will make things as we know them today look like a Paleolithic cave painting. That means better ways to market your brand, higher engagement rates, and more sales than ever before!

In Web 3.0, marketers will have access to the technologies they need to create a truly immersive experience for their customers. It’s not just about banner ads anymore—it’s about creating an online experience that feels real and true to the customer, giving her a product that she can interact with in many different ways.

It refers to an era where web pages will be virtual, instead of physical. In other words, websites themselves will become more immersive and interactive for users, relying more heavily on Virtual Reality instead of just text and images on a page. As technology improves, we should see websites that are more responsive and intuitive, helping users feel like they’re actually experiencing a brand’s products or services firsthand, rather than just reading about them on a screen.

The Dawn of a New Paradigm in Metaverse

The future of business is digital.

In the future, you’ll be able to buy anything you want using cryptocurrency, and do all your digital marketing on platforms like Metaverse by Facebook.

– Imagine watching a commercial for a product in virtual reality. You could walk around the product, look at it from every angle, try it on, put your own spin on it—literally immerse yourself in the experience.

– Businesses will be able to create any kind of virtual environment they can imagine: a luxury villa with a pool and a butler? A classroom where you feel like you’re really learning? It’s all possible.

Businesses will become increasingly digital as more and more people adopt virtual reality headsets. Virtual stores will pop up all over the place, selling everything from clothes to food, with digital marketers creating ads tailored to each shopper’s preferences. In fact, the Metaverse by Facebook has already started making strides towards this reality – just look at their 3D ads!

In addition, virtual reality currency will become increasingly popular as well. Millennials have already adopted crypto currencies like Bitcoin as an alternative way of investing, so it’s only natural that they’d turn to them as a method of conducting business. Plus, the decentralized nature of crypto currency means there’s no need for banks or other institutions to get involved – just your crypto wallet and your product.

This practice has already been used by some companies, who have been working closely with Facebook to develop an immersive virtual reality experience for those who wear their Meta headset. These users can walk inside a simulated world and encounter digital objects that advertise a business or its products or offer them services. 

The ability to customize what these virtual, realistic experiences look like gives companies a level of control that they simply aren’t able to achieve with print advertisements and billboards.

If you’re thinking of taking your company into the future with you, you must familiarize yourself with this new style of digital marketing, so that you can stay competitive.

Voice Assistant

There’s no denying that Alexa, Google Home, and Siri are changing the world. It’s a simple fact: voice-based search queries are on the rise, and voice assistants are quickly becoming a must-have in any tech-savvy household. They’re being integrated into everything from cars to kitchen appliances to our phones, which is great news for digital marketers. It means that it’s time we make the switch to voice-based advertising.

What do I mean by that? Voice-based ads will sound differently than their text or image-based counterparts. They’ll be more conversational in tone, they’ll use natural language, and they’ll be contextual to your situation at the time you hear them. They’re going to be interactive and helpful—they won’t just tell you about a product you could buy, but give you real information about what you need right now.

Generational Targeting

Generational targeting will be the primary focus for businesses: identifying where each new generation is likely to spend its money, and ensuring that you’re making your products available to them there.

Gen Zers are going to be the big winners in the coming years as they move into positions of power and responsibility in the workforce. And while some senior executives may be uncomfortable with this new generation, their experiences and the expectations they bring with them will inevitably have a major impact on how businesses operate.

Gen Zers have been called “the entrepreneurial generation”. They’re also referred to as “digital natives”, meaning that they have grown up in a time when the internet was not just a luxury—it was a necessity. It’s where they get their news, talk to their friends, and find jobs.

While Millennials are often pegged as being entitled or lazy, Gen Zers are described by those who know them best as being ambitious go-getters with a strong desire for success. 

While Millennials are often criticized for spending too much on unimportant things like vacations or avocado toast (and buying into expensive, brand-name products too easily), Gen Zers are already taking control of their financial futures, working part-time jobs at local stores or small businesses to help save for college or contributing money to investments instead of brand-name handbags.

The two generations have some distinct differences in how they use technology and interact with businesses. This means that in order for businesses to succeed in the future, they will need to be able to target their products and services to these generations.

If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner looking to get your products and services out into the world, it’s important to learn about what these two generations have in common (as well as what sets them apart) so that you can focus on targeting them just right.

Customized Marketing

Before digital marketing, companies wanting to market to customers had one option: blanket-market to everyone. This made it difficult to really connect with their core customers and meant that the company was spending a lot of money on marketing that wasn’t bringing them the results they wanted.

Imagine if you could take one customer’s interests, likes, dislikes, and needs …and tailor your marketing efforts specifically to them. Imagine what kind of boost your conversion rate would get.

But that’s not all. Imagine if you could also use your data on previous interactions with customers to guide the development of future products and services, so you could create products that are truly tailored to their needs.

With the rise of social media and personalized advertising, consumers are demanding more personalization from the brands they do business with. They want to be catered to in a way that is unique to them. This demand for personalization applies as much to online advertising as it does to in-person interactions. 

Consumers are taking note of marketing efforts that are uniquely tailored to them and their interests, and they’re responding in kind by being more responsive to these personalized messages than ones that do not take individual preferences into account.

What’s more, consumers who engage with customized messages are 72% more likely than those who do not to spread positive word-of-mouth about their experiences with a brand. That’s a big number! So how can you capitalize on this? Send emails with personalized greetings and alter your newsletters according to the wants of various segments of your consumer base, even if it means sacrificing some efficiency. It’s worth it!

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is also the future of Digital Marketing.

The average consumer is getting tired of ads and videos that are too pushy, too obnoxious, and just plain bad. That’s why influencer marketing is so effective—it takes a page from the personalities and styles that consumers actually want to emulate, instead of pushing products on them.

Influencers have a large and loyal following, which means they can influence their followers’ purchasing habits. They also have a high engagement rate with their followers, which means that when they post about your product/brand, it will be seen by a large number of people.

In addition to this, influencers are credible sources of information for their followers because their followers trust them. This is why influencer marketing is so effective—it’s a sponsored post from someone you trust, who has a reputation for putting quality products out into the world.

Live Video Streaming

Live video streaming is a trend that’s only going to continue growing, and it’s a trend that we’re here to get on board with. From live gaming to live concerts to live news updates, streaming has become the most popular way to connect with people digitally. In fact, 68% of people say they’d rather watch a live stream than read a blog or article!

When you’re creating digital marketing, you want it to be exciting, dynamic, and engaging. You want your customers to feel like they’re not just being marketed to—they’re actually engaging with your brand and becoming part of the experience. Well, live streaming allows you to do just that!

Live streaming allows you to reach out and connect with your customers on a personal level in real-time. It’s not something that can be achieved through old digital marketing tactics like email or print advertisements—you need something more raw and real.

Live streaming also gives you the chance to be yourself, share your personality, and truly connect with your customers in a way no other digital marketing tactic can provide.

And although it is not a new phenomenon; however, it has gained prominence in the last few years. The trend took off with the popularity of Periscope, which was launched by Twitter in 2015 and now has over 100 million active users. Facebook Live Video Streaming was launched in 2016, and in 2017 it was embedded into Facebook’s main app. Facebook also opened its live-streaming feature to celebrities and other public figures in 2017. 

Other platforms such as Instagram introduced live-video features in 2016, adding another dimension to creating live content for brands.

Therefore, a live-streaming video strategy should be considered at the very beginning of a marketing campaign on any social media platform—with a plan that includes engaging content and an optimized environment for your followers, who are more likely to watch live videos if they can comment on them while they are broadcasting.

Conclusion

There you have it. A snapshot of the past, present, and future of digital marketing.

The story of Digital Marketing is still very much a work in progress. As digital marketing evolves, new trends, opportunities and challenges will present themselves. These changes aren’t just affecting the marketing world, but all markets.

A mobile strategy will be at the forefront. The rise of live-streaming and E-commerce are also reshaping this world. This can be seen across the digital landscape – from video content to email automation. Startups are now using social media for their voice and to promote their brands, instead of a TV or Radio Commercial.

It will also be interesting to see how marketers leverage the immense power of virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence-powered experiences in the years to come.

But as the dust settles, it’s clear that only the strong and highly adaptable companies will make it through this changing landscape.

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Top 10 Website Performance Metrics That Matter In 2022

Introduction

You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Businesses are constantly trying to put the finger on visitor engagement and ROI to optimize their content marketing and online advertising efforts. Without data, you are just shooting in the dark. So here are the top 10 website performance metrics that every business should be paying attention to.

Website performance management usually begins with discussing key performance indicators (KPIs). There are dozens of KPIs to choose from. But the following list, narrowed down to these top ten website performance metrics, should be sufficient for any size of a website on an unmeasured budget.

This blog post will cover the following information:

  1. User Satisfaction Score (Apdex)
  2. First Paint (FP) and First Contentful Paint (FCP)
  3. Time to First Byte (TTFB)
  4. DNS Lookup Time
  5. Traffic Source
  6. Keyword Ranking in SERPs
  7. CTR & Average Sessions Per Duration
  8. Bounce Rate
  9. Theme or Website Design
  10. HTTP Requests

1. User Satisfaction Score (Apdex)

User satisfaction or Apdex (Application Performance Index) is one of the leading website performance metrics. It measures how long a user has to wait for a website to load completely. It is also the measurement of your users’ level of satisfaction with your site, application, or internet service. The level of user satisfaction will determine whether you will get more customers or lose existing ones.

The Apdex scoring system measures user satisfaction on an interval scale from 0 to 10. The score ranges from 0 to 1, with the value 1 being assigned when users experience time-outs in response times. And 0 when no time-outs occur. A score of 5 indicates that 50% of requests have experienced some delay. A score of 10 indicates that no requests experienced a delay.

The right way to monitor a website’s Apdex score is by using an independent measurement tool–like Google Analytics–that measures your pages every time a user visits them. And tells you what percentage of users are satisfied with them.

For example, you know that a particular page had 200 visitors today. And that 140 of them logged out within a few seconds only.

2. First Paint (FP) and First Contentful Paint (FCP)

The First Paint is the time it takes for the content of a web page to become visible to the user. It’s important to know that this is different from just the time it takes for the page to finish loading.

The First Contentful Paint is when your page has enough content on it that people can start using it, like images and text.

The point of both of these measurements is to know how quickly you need to get content onto the page. So users don’t get frustrated with your site.

When a script is blocking, it means that while a script is downloading, nothing else will load until the script has been downloaded. If you have many scripts on your page, this can delay your First Paint and First Contentful Paint. To optimize your Website Performance Metrics, make sure that you remove any render-blocking scripts from your website’s header sections.

3. Time to First Byte (TTFB)

When a user types in the URL of a website, it takes some time for the web server to process the request. And deliver the HTML document back to the browser.

The length of this time is called Time to First Byte (TTFB). The lower the value, the faster a user will see an image or other file on your website.

TTFB impacts how responsive your site feels to users because they start seeing content on their screen after TTFB. While many factors affect TTFB, ultimately, it is dependent on how quickly your web server processes and delivers the HTML document.

In most cases, TTFB is determined by how fast your server can send content. How fast the client can receive content. And how fast they connect. So it’s essential to test all three.

If you want to decrease the TTFB, you should focus on reducing latency. You can do this by:

Optimizing your code. Make sure bytes are sent as quickly as possible. This will reduce the time between the client request and server response. A fast connection won’t help if the bytes sent over it are slow.

Using a server that is suited for your needs. If you don’t know whether your current hosting plan fits your needs, try to find out. If you need more resources, check if the hosting plan offers good value for money.

Using good CDN. The goal of using a CDN is to transfer less data and serve users faster due to the geographic location of the CDN servers. For example, if you have users from other countries, like Japan or Germany, you should use a CDN with servers in those countries.”

4. DNS Lookup Time

It’s always good to know how the thing you’re using works. For example, if you want to travel around a city without getting lost, it helps to understand how a street address works. What if the person who named streets hadn’t put any numbers on them? That would make things more interesting, but navigation would also be more difficult.

The Domain Name System (DNS) is like a street address, but for the Internet. DNS lets you enter a URL like http://www.google.com instead of having to remember and type in something like 74.125.224.72.

Websites are often slow because of DNS lookup time. When you type in the URL of a site or click on an icon or bookmark, your computer has to find out where that site’s server lives. So that it can connect to it and load the page from there.

DNS Lookup time is among the most important Website Performance Metrics. It is typically measured in milliseconds and denotes the time it takes to resolve a domain name (e.g., www.domainname.com) into its corresponding IP address (e.g., 123.456.789).

This can be done either in-house or externally by a third-party DNS service provider. Such as DynDNS, OpenDNS, or Google Public DNS.

Solving domain name queries is just one of the operations that make up a typical web request. Including TCP handshake, SSL negotiation, HTTP request and response headers, and the actual data transfer itself.

However, since DNS lookups are relatively slow, it is recommended to have them cached on the client-side using recursive servers like Google Public DNS, which can store lookup results for several hours. Or even days for popular domains. Thus, decreasing DNS lookup time considerably and making websites load faster for users.

5. Traffic Source

Traffic source refers to where visitors come from to a particular website. There are primarily two traffic sources: organic and paid. Organic traffic comes from search engines, referrals, and other websites linking to your website. Paid traffic is any visitors that come to your website because of an advertisement (paid or organic).

Organic traffic is free and generally very targeted in nature. Paid traffic is generally not as targeted (unless you specifically target the same audience that your ad is likely to attract). And is more expensive than organic traffic.

So why do we care about traffic sources?

A website’s unique visitors by traffic source will give you a good idea of how well your marketing efforts are working. Are more people coming through search engines, or are they finding you through other means? What percentage of your visitors are “new” versus “returning?” These are all important website performance metrics that can help you determine how much money you should be spending on which ads, keywords, and so on.

In addition, knowing the percentage of organic traffic can even help you determine if your SEO strategy needs some work; if the majority of your overall traffic comes from paid ads with a minimal amount coming from search engine results. Then something needs adjustment.

6. Keyword Ranking in SERPs

One of the most crucial website performance metrics is ranking on search engines for keywords that people are using to find your products and services.

A website can be ranked number one on Google for five keywords. But that website will not generate any leads if nobody searches for those keywords.

Therefore, keyword ranking is important because it can help businesses understand the interests of their target customers.

Businesses that sell products or services can then work to improve those products or services based on their ranked keywords. In addition, keyword ranking gives business owners an idea of what their customers want by seeing what words people are using to find a product or service.

The better keyword ranking improves a website’s performance, and the more relevant its content is to the information people are searching for, the more likely a webmaster is to have his website appear at the top of search engine results pages.

7. CTR & Average Sessions Per Duration

Click-through rate, or CTR, is one of the most critical website performance metrics. CTR measures your ability to convince visitors to click on your page. It is a ratio that compares the number of clicks on the page divided by the total number of impressions (the total number of times your page was displayed).

The average session duration refers to how long users stay on a website before moving on. It is calculated by adding up all the time spent by users while they are on your site and dividing it by the total number of sessions over a specified period. The higher this number, the more time someone spends on average per session.

Google Analytics is a perfect tool for measuring the metrics mentioned above.

For your better understanding:

The key to understanding click-through rate is that it’s an indicator of ad performance, not business results. When you advertise, you are throwing bait into a pond. Some percentage will be nibbled and follow the breadcrumb trail back to your site. That’s the click-through rate!

But just because a fish took the bait does not mean that you will close a sale with them or even sell them another product down the road. Many users may enter through a given ad but not achieve meaningful action on your site (and hence not generate any income).

If you’re paying for traffic, you want to make sure that your money is being spent in ways that will translate into income for you. Not all clicks are created equal. You want users that are more likely to convert into customers based on their online behavior and demographics.

8. Bounce Rate

Bounce rate measures the number of visits that resulted in a page view of any depth followed by a single page view of exit (a visit with only one pageview). The basic idea behind bounce rate is that if a visitor lands on your site and bounces, they are not interested in your content. Some websites will measure this as a percentage.

A low bounce rate is preferable to a high bounce rate because it shows that visitors are engaging with your website. This is an essential indicator of how interested users are in your content, which is one of the most critical factors in search engine rankings.

Why bounce?

In most cases, people don’t just bounce because they’re not interested in what you have to say or sell, but also because something about your site drove them away from the content you have to offer. They may have experienced technical issues or found their way around the site difficult to navigate. You can often use this information to help improve your website’s performance and provide users with a positive experience when visiting your site.

9. Theme or Website Design

Your website theme is one of the factors that can affect your website performance, regardless of how fast your hosting company is. Web design is an integral part of marketing because it’s the first thing people see when they visit your site. Therefore, it should be easily accessible to search engines like Google to help boost your online presence and visibility.

A good website theme should be lightweight, so it shouldn’t slow down page loading time. It should be compatible with any platform and browser so that visitors can view your site’s content without having to download additional files.

And most importantly, it should have less complex codes that load smoothly across all devices.

10. HTTP Requests

HTTP requests measure how many times your web browser has to make a request to the server for something like a picture or script. The larger the number of HTTP requests, the longer it takes for the page to load because more time is spent communicating with the server and waiting for it to send back all the parts of the page.

The best way to make fewer HTTP requests on your website is by combining all of your scripts in one file and then linking them into your HTML using a single <script> tag. This will reduce your HTTP requests and decrease loading time because there will be less data traveling between the browser and server.

The reason this is so important with websites is because each time a page loads in, it makes several HTTP requests to find all of the files that are needed for that one page. The more files you have, and the more places you host them from, the more HTTP requests you’re going to have and thus more waiting around for things to load.

For example, if you were hosting your images on Flickr instead of hosting them yourself, then every image that you wanted on your site would require an additional HTTP request that wouldn’t be required if you hosted them yourself.

Conclusion

And that’s it!

We’ve explored a variety of website performance metrics that you can use to study your own sites, hopefully giving you the information you need to create faster-loading websites.

With the right tools, these metrics will give you much greater insight into your site performance.

Ultimately, by analyzing these metrics, you can make more informed decisions about how to optimize your own site for speed and ultimately boost conversions in the process.

If you want to discuss the possibility of developing a high performing website for your business, contact Mpire Solutions for a FREE Consultation.

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Everything You Need to Know about the Google Sitelinks Search Box

The Google Sitelinks Search Box is yet another SEO feature that can impact your site traffic and user experience. In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the search box, including how to use it to your benefit.

What it is

First, let’s go over what the Google Sitelinks Search Box looks like, because chances are you’ve already seen it. It appears on Google’s SERPs under a website link and lets you search there before taking you directly to the website’s search results.

The Google Developers page explains the need for this feature. Their goal is to make the search experience better for users by allowing them to place all of their searches right on Google’s site:

“Search users often perform navigational searches using product or brand names. Then, on the product or company website, they perform a second search for specific details. Using sitelinks searchbox markup in your content lets the user perform the second search without leaving the original, navigational search results.”

For Google, it’s all about providing users with an optimal experience. The real question is how this affects businesses and their website’s usability.

How it works

The function of the Google Sitelinks Search Box is simple. The Google Developer’s Page offers Pinterest as an example. If you search Pinterest on Google, then you’ll see the corresponding search box directly under the first link.

If you search for something within that box, then you’ll be brought straight to the search results on Pinterest’s website. It’s the same as going directly to Pinterest and using the search box on the site. Just simpler and fewer steps.

How you can optimize your site for it

This feature is mostly beneficial for businesses. Not only does it bring users to your site, but it also lets them search for specific terms before they ever get there.

The only thing that’s left is optimizing your site for the search box. The Google Developers Page offers some help in this respect. It suggests, for example, adding a markup to your site’s homepage, specifying only one URL search pattern per platform, and always including a search target for your website.

If you have a WordPress site, then you just have to add a few lines of code to the header.php file of your site. This will signal to Google that your site is compatible with the Sitelinks Search Box.

How to disable it

Of course, not all businesses will want to take advantage of this feature. You might think that by allowing users to go straight to the search box on Google’s SERPs, they’ll be missing an important component of your site experience. This may compromise your content hierarchy and encourage users to skip over critical information. Alternatively, you might be considering this feature’s impact on your page views and ad revenue. Either way, there are legitimate reasons to disable it for your site.

The good news is that you can disable the feature at any time. This Search Engine Land article offers the code you need to do that:

  • (meta name=”google” content=”nositelinkssearchbox”)

Here’s the one caveat, according to the article:

“Webmasters who add this tag to their site, will communicate to Google not to show a sitelinks search box when your site appears in the search results. The sitelinks search box will be disabled as part of the normal Googlebot crawling and processing of the page, which can take a few weeks depending on the site and other factors.”

So, it might take a couple of weeks to disable the feature completely. But once it’s gone, it won’t come back.

If at any point in time you decide you’d rather have the Sitelinks Search Box, then you can just remove the code, and wait a week or two for it to start showing up again in Google’s SERPs.

Why it’s not appearing for your site 

Some businesses want the Sitelinks Search Box to appear under their link on Google’s SERPs, but never actually see it. There are a few possible reasons why this could happen.

This SEM Post article takes a look at what John Mueller said in a recent Google Webmaster Office Hours event. According to the article, the main takeaway is that just adding a schema to your site won’t guarantee it to get a Sitelinks Search Box in Google’s SERPs:

“If you do not already show a Google search box in your Google search results listing, merely adding the schema won’t trigger Google to suddenly display it.  So while you can still add the schema, don’t expect to suddenly see the site search box for your site in the search results.  This is something that John Mueller explained in a recent Google Webmaster Office Hours.”

In other words, while optimizing your site for the search box won’t hurt your chances, it also won’t automatically trigger it on Google’s SERPs.

Like always, Google factors in site quality and searcher intent when incorporating these features. If you’re doing everything you can for the Sitelinks Search Box and still not getting one, you might be better off reevaluating your site content and design.

The Google Sitelinks Search Box can improve your user engagement by making it easier to search on your site. Optimizing your site for this feature is relatively easy if you use WordPress. Moreover, you can also easily disable the feature if you decide that’s best for your user experience.

To talk more about the Google Sitelinks Search Box and how it affects your web design and marketing strategy, contact us today.

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How Google’s Invisible reCAPTCHA Will Improve Your User Experience

From a marketer’s perspective, spam can be death. If your blog comments are bogged down by spam comments or other types of negative content, your Google rankings suffers and the user experience drops.

But at the same time, the same negative effects happen if you get overprotective. Google’s reCAPTCHA, for example, has been universally hated because of its complicated nature. Put simply, no one wants to decipher and type in fuzzy text read from a picture just to confirm what they already know: they’re not robots.

So for years, Google has sought to improve its anti-spam tool. The first step occured in 2014, when reCAPTCHA 2.0 performed automatic verification. Still, users had to wait some time while the verification script ran in the background. Now, Google is taking the final step: invisible verification.

 

Understanding reCAPTCHA

For those new to the concept, it’s a bit of an odd acronym. CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart, which clarifies the concept a bit.

In short, it’s a system designed to let websites know whether users looking to interact with content are human or robots. The former should be able to comment, like, and share content as much as they want. To prevent spam, the latter should be blocked from doing just that.

You may not know the details of it, but you’ve seen CAPTCHA’s around the web for years. Basically, anytime you had to confirm you are not a robot (often by typing in fuzzy text from an image), you have come across the same basic concept.

The basic goal of any CAPTCHA effort is security. It fights bots, who post spammy link comments (reducing your search engine optimization) or provide false lead sign-ups. In short, it keeps your data clean and your SEO positive.

 

The New reCAPTCHA, According to Google

Of course, the traditional CAPTCHA also significantly reduces user experience. dSo for years, Google has made an effort to reduce the ways in which its verification affects users on websites that use the tool. The search engine giant brands these efforts the “noCAPTCHA reCAPTCHA.” In 2014, that effort paid first dividends:

On websites using this new API, a significant number of users will be able to securely and easily verify they’re human without actually having to solve a CAPTCHA. Instead, with just a single click, they’ll confirm they are not a robot.

On websites where its risk analysis engine didn’t spit out definite results, Google resorted to the next best thing. Rather than entering fuzzy text, users could pick matching images or their favorite color. This testing was more intuitive, but still required extra steps just to post a comment.

That’s done now. Google has officially introduced the Invisible reCAPTCHA. It’s a natural evolution of its previous efforts to simplify the process. Now, websites can confirm dynamically and in the background whether users are human or robot, and only those with questionable results will need to solve similar challenges to the above.

 

Building Your Website With UX in Mind

Google’s effort to improve user experience across websites should come as a welcome initiative to web developers and website owners everywhere. After all, your visitors need to have a positive experience to meet your conversion goals.

Any brand that publishes content or focuses on content marketing is looking for engagement. But tools that prevent that engagement could be just as damaging as the dangers they’re supposed to prevent. That’s why CAPTCHA’s, despite their benefits, have provided countless headaches for content marketers across industries.

In fact, one survey found that Google’s first iteration of the tool absolutely killed conversion rates. It discouraged visitors from becoming leads, a core goal of any content marketer.

Fortunately, that no longer has to be the case. Google’s Invisible reCAPTCHA allows you to prevent spam without annoying your web visitors. If you can run it completely in the background, your ‘regular’ audience won’t even know they’re subject to a Turing test.

That, in turn, allows you to build your entire website and its content with user experience in mind. You can safely encourage comments and generate leads, while at the same time keeping your data and SEO profile clean.

 

Implementing the Invisible reCAPTCHA

Given that it’s a new tool, you will have to make some changes to your script to make sure you’re accurately running the new Invisible reCAPTCHA. Fortunately, Google has provided a number of guidelines and a step-by-step process to help you get there.

When implementing the new tool and CAPTCHA challenge, Google provides web developers with three choices:

  • Automatically bind the challenge to a button,
  • Programmatically bind the challenge to a button, or
  • Programmatically invoke the challenge.

Each requires a slightly different development process. In the above link, Google provides specific scrips that can help you get your website ready. And of course, if you are running your website through WordPress, the first plug-ins already exist to ensure that your website remains secure and clean, without harming your user experience in the process.

Of course, you might still need help in making sure that your website does not suffer from spam and bots. In that case, working with a web development agency familiar with the tool and its potential implications makes sense. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you implement the new Invisible reCAPTCHA, improving your user experience without harming your security or SEO in the process.

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SEO Strategies: How to Approach the Pretty Girl Who Needs a Date for the Dance

Remember the agony of just thinking about asking your crush to the school dance? In your head you constantly went over different strategies, but they all ended with the same result.

SEO can be just like that at times. Businesses don’t exactly know how to approach it, and they spin their wheels by switching back and forth from completely different strategies. Here’s the usual sequence of developments:

Not caring 

Yup, our greatest hope is that by acting like we don’t care, our crush will play the chase game. Maybe she’ll even do the work for you and ask if you already have a date.

Some businesses like to pretend that SEO isn’t all that important. Or rather, they think that by focusing on content creation, they’ll make more progress on Google’s SERPs than an SEO strategy ever could.

And they’re not just imagining this scenario on their own. This Search Engine Land article, for example, suggests that content is by far the most important factor of SEO:

“Google’s end goal is to deliver the best solution to searchers in the fewest clicks. As the search engines crawl the web, they are searching for content that delivers value and matches end users’ expectations. In fact, content is among Google’s top three ranking factors — so it plays a central role in successful SEO strategies.”

Not to completely discredit either of these strategies, but how often does this actually happen for the regular student or average small business? It’s nice in theory, but most of us will have to put a little extra effort in to get the results we want.

Caring (too much)

Alright, now that the hopeful Plan A hasn’t worked out, it’s time to switch things up. The next strategy calls for a more active approach — starting a conversation and eventually asking the girl to the dance. The only problem is that with no real dating experience, you’re essentially playing Minesweeper.

A recent Search Engine Journal article explains why actually paying attention to SEO (and not just creating content) is necessary to get a better ranking on Google. According to the article, telling businesses to “produce great content” isn’t worth much in terms of SEO advice:

“Search engine optimization is a game of inches. There is no silver bullet. Telling me the answer to all my burning questions about optimization is simply ‘produce great content’ — that seems woefully inadequate. It’s like shouting ‘follow the North Star!’ to someone stranded at sea; thanks, but those generalized directions only help so much.”

In addition, the article offers some genuinely great active SEO advice, like:

  • Prioritizing older pages that are more likely to rank for valuable keywords
  • Refreshing your content so it stays relevant and current
  • Controlling your index by looking at the Google Search Console

These are all great white-hat tactics, but as someone new to the game, you can’t discern them from black-hat tactics. Similar advice can lead you to unintentionally spam and getting a site penalty.

To come back to the school dance analogy, it’s like you’re getting lots of different advice from different friends. Some, like making eye contact and staying calm, are good, while others, like bragging about your non-existent dating history, will just set you back.

What gives?

Of course, you’ll notice that some guys with truly horrible flirting tactics manage to get dates, and even though you’re playing by all the rules, you’re still struggling. This is the first time that the old “Life is unfair” adage hits you like a sack of bricks.

Likewise, you’ll see that some businesses rank on Google despite obvious spam tactics. They recycle the same garbage content and still maintain a top 10 site ranking. A part of practicing SEO is accepting that it’s not an exact or fair science.

When everyone zigs, you zag 

Hitting rock bottom is a good time to reevaluate your priorities. You’re slowly realizing that the girl isn’t interested in you, and it’s time to readjust your focus. The solution? While everyone is trying to get her to say yes, you’ll ask a different girl to go with you.

Most businesses can’t decide whether they should focus on content or SEO. Some are constantly weighing white-hat vs. black-hat tactics. Do you really want to get caught up in this game and follow the same pattern as everyone else?

Today, one of the most effective online marketing strategies is combining your SEO and branding efforts. It’s your way of zagging while everyone else is zigging. This Forbes article explains the merits of this strategy:

“There are dozens of advantages to using personal branding, even beyond its utility for an SEO campaign. In today’s age of corporate distrust and favoritism toward more personal relationships, it’s almost a necessity for corporate brands to get involved. If you’re getting started for the first time, be prepared for a slow build; this is a long-term strategy, and it takes time to generate real momentum. But it’s one that pays off in the long run, and is well worth the initial cost of development.”

Branding doesn’t just convince users to click on your site when they google your keywords; it convinces them to search for your brand’s name. With a successful strategy, you can more or less eliminate your competition.

Does that mean content and SEO strategies are expendable? Absolutely not. The focus on branding is your way of getting an edge on the competition. Even so, you’ll have to create search engine optimized content to get your brand’s message out to your target audience.

Like trying to get a date for the school dance, practicing SEO can take you through multiple phases, only to disappoint you in the end. Remember that you have the ability to flip the game upside down and separate yourself from the competition. To talk more about your SEO strategy, or anything else, contact us today.

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How To Rank in Google’s Featured Snippet Box

You may have noticed that Google has made some changes in how they display some search engine query results. Most notable is the increase in the number of Featured Snippets it displays on the top of the search engine results page (SERP). A Featured Snippet (also known as a “rich snippet” and a “rich answer”, among other things) generates a lot of traffic from organic search.

 

What Exactly Is a Featured Snippet?

If you entered a Google search query for, say, “how do I change my oil and filter”, you’d see a slightly different search result than you might be used to. What appears at the very top of the SERP is a box containing a list of steps to changing the oil and filter on a vehicle, followed by a link to the site where the information was taken from. How great would it be to show up at the very top of the SERP without it costing you a cent?

 

Rebutting the Detractors

Some detractors of Featured Snippets would have us believe that displaying the answer to a search query right there in the search results will lower traffic to the corresponding site. But, as demonstrated by two case studies published by Search Engine Land, that is not necessarily the case. And, if the list of steps in your Snippet is long enough, searchers will be “forced” to click-through to your website because not all the steps will be listed in the Featured Snippet box.

 

Getting Ranked in the Featured Snippet

After a fairly exhaustive study of Featured Snippets conducted by Matthew Barby at HubSpot, he identified 7 keys to optimizing web pages for the Featured Snippet position in Google:

  1. Backlinks don’t matter as much for ranking in the Featured Snippet when your page already ranks on page one. Of course, if your page isn’t already ranking high in the search results, you should make that your first priority. While neither Barby or any other expert who has written about Featured Snippets have said you must rank high in the search engine results, it’s reasonable to assume that’s an important criterion. Not only that, it’s just sound SEO practice to optimize for a page one ranking, regardless of your Featured Snippet ranking. To back that assertion up, I would just say that every page I’ve seen in the Featured Snippet box is also shown at or near the top of page one of the SERP.
  2. There should be an area on the web page where the search query appears in a header (h2, h3, h4, etc.). Incorporating keywords in page headlines and paragraph titles has always been integral to good SEO. Now it becomes even more important, if you wish to rank for the Featured Snippet box. But it’s important to recognize that, apparently, the exact wording of the search query must appear in one of the headers on the page. Again, no one comes right out and says that, but it’s logical to assume that a header that matches the query exactly will do better in Featured Snippet ranking than one that’s only a partial match.
  3. The content you wish to have shown in the Featured Snippet (the answer to the query) should be placed inside a <p> tag directly below the header mentioned in number 2 (above). This answer should be between 54–58 words long. This seems to be the ideal, not a hard and fast rule. You can find numerous examples of Featured Snippets (both step-by-step instructions on how to do something, and paragraphs of text) that have far fewer than 54 words. We suggest shooting for the 54-58 word window, but don’t be too concerned if you miss that mark.
  4. Google doesn’t always just pull an entire paragraph of text into the Featured Snippet. If you put your content in a step-by-step format (“Step 1”, “Step 2”, “Step 3”, etc. as h2 subheadings), Google will sometimes just pull the subheadings and list them chronologically with an ellipsis following each step. This indicates that there’s more information on each step on the webpage itself. This is another way of “forcing” readers to click-through to your website.
  5. For shorter keywords that are less question-orientated (e.g. “Inbound Marketing”), a Featured Snippet will likely be in the form of a paragraph of text rather than a step-by-step list. Page structure is important here. In this case, you should apply the rule in number 3 (above) that the content you wish to have shown in the Featured Snippet should be placed inside a <p> tag directly below a header (h2, h3, h4, etc.).
  6. Google tends to prefer ‘answers’ to queries that begin logically, as an answer to a question would. For example, if the query is “how do I bake bread”, the answer for step-by-step instructions might begin with the word “Directions”. If the query is “
  7. Featured Snippets for the same query often have different content, depending on which geographic version of Google the searcher is using (Google.com, Google.co.uk, Google.com.au, and Google.ie). Since Google.com is designed to serve the world in general, plus the United States, this is probably the one you should be optimizing for.

If you’re looking to increase your site’s visibility by getting featured in the snippet box for the queries you rank well for, run a quick audit of those keywords. Determine which of them are question-based keywords. Then drill down into where you currently rank for those keyword and how well your current content is structured in light of the keys we’ve shared above. Finally, develop a plan to adjust your content based on this information.

Contact us to learn more about the Featured Snippet box and how it can improve your website’s performance. We also invite you to check out the additional resources below for more information and insight on this topic.

Additional Resources:

How to Rank in Google’s Featured Snippets (aka Position 0 on Google)

How to Optimize Your Content for Google’s Featured Snippet Box

 

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Increase your visibility in Google with these 3 easy steps

After successfully launching a new web design company and receiving a few repeat clients, most businesses usually gets trapped inside a comfort zone. They just stop trying to impress their clients or even look for new and better clients.

Of course, making a good profit is the number one goal of any business. However, it shouldn’t be your only goal.

Never let profit margins, finances, or budgets keep you from achieving greatness. You may be running a small web design agency with a couple of your friends, but you could also be the guys who design the next version of Google Play, or something even greater.

If you’re the owner of a web design business or at least plan on building one, here are a few tips for building a company that grows bigger in size each day.

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