Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Archive for the Google Category

How Long Does it Take to Rank in Google? [Infographic]

How long does it take to rank in Google?

This is a question we get asked a lot. A LOT.

And there are so many variables, it often feels like an unanswerable question.

To the rescue comes Ellie Summers in the UK at The Website Group and the research folks at ahrefs. She’s created a helpful infographic that covers the answer (such as it is) very well. The infographic below is reproduced from Ellie’s website with her permission.

Need help getting your small business onto the first page at Google? Contact us to see how we can help.

Share with us what you learn from your own experience in the comments below.

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Frightening News about Page Speed and Bounce Rate

Page speed and bounce rate – a couple of definitions

  • Page speed: the time it takes to fully display the content on a specific web page.
  • Bounce rate: the percent of visits to a site that look at only one page.

Measure your page download speed and keep it under three seconds

How page speed and bounce rate are related

Impatience drives visitors to leave a web page that doesn’t display on their computer or phone as quickly as they want it to. That’s a bounce. The rule of thumb currently is that you begin to lose significant numbers of visitors when your page speed exceeds two seconds. Pingdom says:

… the average bounce rate for pages loading within 2 seconds is 9%. As soon as the page load time surpasses 3 seconds, the bounce rate soars, to 38% by the time it hits 5 seconds!

Graph showing the relationship between page speed and bounce rate

This graph illustrates the bad news. As page download time increases beyond 3 seconds, bounce rate increases dramatically.

A high bounce rate represents lost business.

If your goal is for visitors to take an action on your site, such as filling out an information form, contacting you, or buying something  — then bounces  represent lost customers.

But it’s actually worse than that.

Ranking factors on Google

It’s been well known and reported here that page speed is a ranking factor at Google. We began warning about it way back in 2009. All else being equal, a fast downloading page will outrank a slow page.

We’ve also pointed out that a high bounce rate is a negative ranking factor on Google as well.

Update June 2018: If your market is international, it may help to know what your page speed is overseas. I recommend a test at DotCom Tools that will test your page speed at over 20 international cities.

Update December, 2019:  Matthew Woodward in the UK has written a helpful guide you may find useful. 6x Free Ways To Increase Website Speed (and search traffic!)

Why it gets really bad

The frightening thing about all this is that these two negative ranking factors compound one another. It’s bad enough if you suffer a ranking penalty because your page is slow. But that slowness raises your bounce rate, resulting in a double-whammy to your ranking in Google search results.

Our recommendation is to work to make sure your pages all download within three seconds at the most. Two seconds is ideal, but three seconds is usually tolerable.

We always welcome your perspective. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

We offer a free SEO review of your website, including page speed and many other factors. Call us and let’s set it up.

 

Local Business: Get Found and Get Chosen

You need to get found — and chosen

Local listings on Google: the Local Pack or 3-Pack.

Getting found on Google

When someone is looking for what you do, you need them to find you. Typical SEO is great for getting you to show up prominently in the search engine results. But Google has been changing and you have additional opportunities to get found.

The Local 3 Pack  on the right often displays near the top of the page when a local search is performed. Whether you show up here is a function of three things:

  1. Your SEO
    This includes on-page optimization for the keyword phrases customers use most when looking for what you do, and off-page link building to improve your website’s online “authority”.
  2. Proximity to the searcher
    This is what it sounds like: how close your location is to wherever the searcher is searching from. Clearly you can have no influence over this.
  3. Prominence of your business
    This relates to your online citations: how broadly across the web your location data is listed and how consistent it is across dozens of local search engines, directories, maps and apps.

At Rank Magic, we’re experts in Local SEO for small and very small local businesses. And we have a simple solution for ensuring your prominence across the most important locally focused sites across the web.

Reach out to us for a free SEO and prominence consultation about your business.

The Moz Blog calls location data and review ratings “The 1-2 Punch of Local SEO”

Image courtesy of The Moz Blog

Once you’ve optimized your location data and customers can easily find you, the next step is to get them to choose you.

Getting chosen

Once you’ve been found, it’s very likely that some of your competitors will also show up. You want them to pick your listing in preference to the others. One of the best ways to do that is to demonstrate that you’ve got a very strong positive review profile. Inc Magazine says

Research shows that 91 percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

The impact of online review ratings is clear in this Google local 3-pack.With that in mind, take a look at the Local 3-Pack on the left for someone looking for an Indian restaurant in upstate New York. Which would you check out first? Most likely you would choose the one with 4.5 stars rather than the one with 1.6 stars. And if one of the restaurants listed had no reviews at all, odds are that would be your last choice.

It’s pretty clear that your online star ratings can have a significant impact on your business.

If you don’t have a strategy for encouraging positive reviews from your customers, now is the time to start one.

At Rank Magic we have a simple  program to generate positive reviews and balance them across the top rating sites like Google, Facebook, MerchantCircle, Yelp, and more. Contact us to learn more about how our solution can drive more customers to your business.

In fact, we have a free scanning service. Now you can see how good your own location prominence and reviews are. There’s no obligation, and did I say it’s free?

Just click here to run a free scan of your local listings.

Join the conversation with your opinions and experience in the Comments below.

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Does Your Site Use Intrusive Interstitials? Better Not!

Why you need to avoid intrusive interstitials

What’s an Interstitial?

An interstitial is an ad that appears in between two pages. Sometimes they can appear before the home page on your site. Often interstitials are pop-up ads, but sometimes they will be helpful, like an offer to chat with a live person. An interstitial ad is a form of interruption marketing used by advertisers who want their ads to be more like broadcast ads.

Many interstitials are just fine. But you want to be  sure your interstitials aren’t intrusive.

Examples of intrusive interstitial's that can generate a Google ranking penalty.

What’s wrong with an intrusive interstitial?

An intrusive interstitial or pop-up ad is one that annoyingly blocks all or most of a page. This is more problematic on mobile sites where there’s much less screen real estate. With less room on the screen it’s very easy for an interstitial to be considered intrusive.

One thing intrusive interstitials do is that they annoy your visitors. That’s a bad thing in and of itself, especially if it’s annoying enough to drive the visitor away. They also slow down the loading of your site because it’s extra material to download into a phone or browser.

Why is it important to avoid them?

It’s been well known for years that Google favors fast sites. If your interstitial is slowing down the display of your pages, that might hurt your ranking. But even beyond that, Google hates them. Google announced about a year and a half ago that at the beginning of 2017 intrusive interstitials would negatively affect your ranking. And here at  Rank Magic we are always concerned about the health of your rankings.

A few exceptions

Google has identified three types of interstitials that “would not be affected by the new signal” if “used responsibly.”

  • Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app-install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.

Please join the conversation and share your observations in the Comments section below.

If you’re struggling with your online visibility, please call us. Because at Rank Magic, we can fix that!

Page Speed for Google Rankings and Conversions

Page Speed Affects Your Search Rankings and Conversions

Take a stopwatch to your page download speeds.

When it comes to your website slow speed kills rankings and conversions.

What is Page Speed?

Page speed refers to how quickly a page on your website downloads into a visitor’s browser or phone. It can be measured a few ways. Google and some other sources report a score for your speed on a scale of 0-100. Others display it in seconds.

You can measure page speed a few ways:

  • Time to First Byte (how long it takes for your browser to receive the first byte from the web server
  • Page Load Time (how long it takes to fully display the page)
  • Above the Fold Time (how long it takes to fully display as much as you can see without scrolling down)

However you measure it, faster is always better.

Page Speed and Google

I’ve written before about how a slow page speed can hurt your rankings in search results. Google has explicitly stated that how quickly a site loads into a browser is now a ranking factor. All other things being equal, a faster site will outrank a slower site.

Google  scores your site separately for download to a desktop/laptop computer and for a phone. It’s quite common for those to get very different download speed scores. And mobile speeds are usually slower than desktop speeds.

Mobile Speed is Increasingly Important

Google is moving toward a mobile-first index, which means that the information they know about your website comes from the mobile version of your site,  not the desktop version.  Those two may be the same for a responsive site, but some websites actually have differing amounts of information between the two, usually with the mobile speed being slower. Since Google is now focusing on the mobile version of your website, it stands to reason that the page speed it measures on a phone is more important than the speed it measures for a desktop/laptop computer.

Page Speed and Your Visitors

A visitor snoozes while waiting for a slow page to load.

Don’t test your visitors’ patience or put them to sleep with slow page speed.

There’s another equally important reason to pay attention to your download speed: visitors. We are all increasingly  stressed over time and as a result have less patience for watching a slow web page load in our computer. If your page is too slow, visitors may leave before the page ever loads for them. If they find you in search, become impatient and immediately go back to the search results to select something else, Google makes note of that as a black mark against your page. That will negatively affect your  rankings moving forward.

Needless to say, the more people who abandon your website, the fewer conversions (converting visitors to paying customers) you will see.

Compared to a page with a two-second page speed, one that takes six seconds can expect to lose 25% of its visitors to abandonment.

page speed related page abandonment percentages

Abandonment rates as a result of slow page speed

Several years ago, Forbes reported

A 1-second delay in page load time equals 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions.

Assessing Your Page Speed

There are several tools you can use to assess whether your page downloads quickly enough.

Each of these measures and scores differently. You’ll get the best idea of your page speed by running and evaluating all of them.

Fixing Your Page Speed

How to fix a slow page is beyond the scope of this discussion. It’s technical enough that most small business owners aren’t equipped to attempt it. This is something best left to your webmaster.

If you’d like an idea of what’s likely to be involved, the folks at Moz list the main factors at play in this overview.

Update 12/3/2019: I’ve just found a very nice overview of how to increase your page speed written by Anna Foster at Top 10 Website Hosting in the UK.

Update 12/30/2019:  Matthew Woodward in the UK has also written a helpful guide you may find useful. 6x Free Ways To Increase Website Speed (and search traffic!)

Update 7/21/2020: Now that mobile searches comprise more than half of all Google searches, your site’s mobile page speed is more important than ever. The folks at Hosting Ninja have a somewhat technical article, but if you’re struggling with slow loading of your site you might consider sharing this with your web designer. 10 Ways to Improve Mobile Page Speed

This is just one of many factors that affect your online visibility when people search for what you do. We can help with the full array of optimization factors. Contact us for a free SEO consultation.

How has your experience been, wrestling with your site speed issues? We’re interested in your perspective: please comment below.