Website customer journey: more sales through an engaging story

Often, marketers talk about a so-called ‘(website) customer journey’. But what does this exactly mean? Meanwhile, this umbrella term has so many definitions that it no longer has a clear meaning. Time for a clear definition! 

In this blog, we will discuss what the (website) customer journey is and how you can use it to generate more revenue for your website. 

What is the customer journey? 

The customer journey is the path that a customer takes from the moment of an initial encounter with your company, to purchasing a product and hopefully becoming a returning customer. Throughout the customer journey, a potential customer is considering the best options that suit his or her needs and where to get those options. 

The general idea behind a customer journey is that the first contact rarely leads directly to a sale. A conversion often requires several phases or contact moments. These phases together form the customer journey and can be roughly divided into the following four: 

Awareness

In the awareness phase, potential customers discover that they have a certain need. Therefore, they go out and do research to find different options and solutions for their need. 

Consideration

In this phase, potential customers have a better idea of what they exactly want and delineate their needs. Accordingly, they compare the best solutions that best fit their needs. 

Purchase

The potential customer is transformed into a customer by proceeding to purchase a product or service. In this phase, it is important that the customer experiences as few barriers as possible. 

After-purchase

This phase is about building a relationship. Through pleasant experiences, providing good customer service and staying in touch with the customer. With high satisfaction, there is a chance that the customer recommends the product or service to someone else.

Customer journey vs. Website customer journey

The only difference between a regular customer journey and a website customer journey is that the latter takes place mainly on the website itself. The four stages would look like this: 

Awareness

I want to be in more control over my WooCommerce store by adding more functionalities and am curious what it takes to do so. After reading the blog, I think I should buy a plugin that suits my needs. 

Consideration

Now I just have to find the best option. After looking at several options, I think the WooCommerce plugin of WPupgrader  is the most suitable. The page won me over.

Purchase

I have purchased the plugin and the installation went smoothly! Also, the guide about how to utlize the plugin was very helpful. 

After-purchase

What a nice plugin this is! The customer service was also very good: when I had a question about the functionalities, I immediately received a clear en extensive response. I would definitely recommend this plugin to others. 

How to create an engaging website customer journey 

From the first moment of contact with your website, a potential customer has to be stimulated to see you as an option. After that, trust needs to be gained by convincing the potential customer that you are the right match! What can help with this is mapping out the customer journey by means of dedicated (landing) pages. 

Landing pages for awareness

  • Blogs are very suitable for introducing your target group to your services or products. In blogs, address their problem and tell them how they can solve it. Try to incorporate the keyword(s) in the blogs that your target audience searches for in Google. 
  • Your homepage should contain the most important information about your products or services offered. This is the entry point and through this path potential customers should be enticed to explore the rest of your website. 
  • You can use a portfolio to show what you have to offer as an organization and the variety of projects you have done. Hopefully, the potential clients will find projects that are similar to their niche. 

Pages for consideration

  • Specific product or service pages are pages that tie in nicely with the blog(s) you created in the awareness phase. These pages should further crystallize the potential customer’s problem and provide a solution to it. Additional tips: make the page scannable, structured and visually appealing. 
  • Do you offer an exclusive product? Then you can warm up a potential customer by offering a free sample
  • A convincing and clear pricing page can help the potential customer decide whether the money is worth the investment and whether it fits within their budget. You can add testimonials and reviews here to increase the chances of winning over the potential customer. 
  • In the service industry, but also increasingly for web shops, emotion plays a major role in purchases. So on your About Us page, tell them who you are, how you distinguish yourself from others and what your business contributes to the world.  

Pages for purchase

  • On checkout or contact pages, make sure that the product or service is easy to purchase. Also include quality and safety labels or references in order to increase trust. 
  • Do not ask for unnecessary information and make the payment process as quick as possible. 
  • Answer any questions the customer may still have about the terms and conditions or (shipping) costs of a product or service by using an FAQ table.

Pages for after-purchase

  • Make it easy for your customers to contact you through a ticket system or chatbot. Customer service is one of the most essential parts of a positive customer journey today. 
  • Ask customers to sign up for your newsletter and keep them informed about interesting news and information about new products or services.

Website conversion: what is it and how to increase it?

You can have such an attractive website, but it really stands or falls with pages that are designed to convert. Website conversion means nothing more than an identifiable action on your website that you want a visitor to perform. Think for example of how often a contact form is filled out, the number of orders in a webshop or a purchased service. Each of these actions contributes to gaining more sales. 

Conversion Rate

The number of website conversions is often expressed as a conversion rate, also known as conversion ratio. This is the number of percent of visitors who made a completed conversion. For example, if in a month you attracted 200 visitors to your website and 8 of them filled out a contact form, the conversion rate is 4%. 

The average conversion rate has been dangling between 3 and 4 percent for years. So you don’t have to worry if only one of 20 visitors makes a purchase. That is still a conversion rate of 5%! It is also useful to calculate how much a conversion potentially brings in. Suppose one or 5% of those 20 visitors earns $200, then 1% earns $40. Now you have performance results to benchmark with and compare them to your competitors and the standard in your industry. 

Examples of website conversions 

A website conversion has many forms and does not always have to be about a “sale”. This means that identifying website conversions is not only interesting for web shops. Some examples of website conversions are:

  • Filling out a contact form
  • Viewing a certain page or a number of pages
  • Buying a product or service 
  • Contacting a customer by phone 
  • Requesting a tender

What the value of these conversions is differs per website. For example, a foundation that primarily wants to provide information, the number of views of a particular page is an important conversion goal. But for a website that wants to make sales, the number of products or services sold is a more important conversion target.

Distinction between hard and soft website conversions

In addition to different conversions, a distinction is also made between soft and hard conversions: 

  • A hard conversion often leads directly to an increase in sales. Examples are the sale of a certain product or a visitor who requests a quotation. 
  • A soft conversion does not directly lead to an increase in sales, but it does contribute to it indirectly. It is a catalyst for a hard conversion. Examples include viewing a particular page or calling or filling out a contact form for more information.  

Most websites do well to consider both hard and soft conversions. A good balance of these two ensures a positive customer journey. If a website has few soft conversion paths, there is a good chance it is trying to sell in a too direct manner. This can scare off a visitor. If, on the other hand, products or services are offered in too indirect a manner, it is unclear what is expected of the visitor. 

Measuring website conversion

Since conversions say a lot about how your website is performing, it is not a bad idea to measure the number and types of conversions. The most widely used tool for this is Google Analytics, which is also available for free. With this tool you can measure for example:

  • Where a visitor comes from 
  • How a visitor ended up on your website (organic, paid, social media, email or direct traffic)
  • What a certain social or ads campaign has yielded and what the costs were 
  • Which pages are viewed the most/least and what their session length was
  • How many visitors have been on your website in a month 

To use Google Analytics you need to create a free account and place a code in the header of your website. To specifically measure conversions, so-called goals need to be created. 

Two other useful tools for measuring conversions are Hotjar and Google Tag Manager

Hotjar is a heat mapping tool for your website. By help of the tool, different sessions are measured within a certain time frame to generate visual reports. These results show how users navigate your website. In other words, what they look at, click on and scroll to. 

Google Tag Manager allows you to place so-called tags on your website that are “fired” by triggers. These allow you to measure specific conversions such as a call to action button or a submitted contact form. 

Website conversion optimization

Website conversion optimization means nothing more than trying to achieve even more conversions on your website with the aim of increasing sales. Actually, this is an ongoing process of measuring, analyzing the results and prioritizing actions based on these results. 

In any case, the most important thing is to identify which parts of your website need improvement. Based on this, campaigns can be set up to optimize website conversion. For example:

  • The relevance of your products/services
    Before you start optimizing your website conversion, it is important to take a helicopter view of your business. On a strategic level, look at what your business actually adds to the world and what your usp’s are compared to the competition.
  • Usp’s
    If you have come up with strong usp’s then you should definitely not hesitate to include them on your website. Let the visitor know what makes your business unique and what you have that the competition does not have.
  • Make it clear at a glance what you offer
    The most important principle for webshop conversion optimization is that visitors generally have a short attention span. So make sure that visitors can immediately find what they have in mind.
  • Increase your customers’ trust
    One way to create a bond of trust with your customers is by clearly indicating what happens to their data, especially their payment details. Also give your webshop’s privacy policy a prominent place. An SSL certificate can also help to gain trust.
  • Social proof
    By adding customer reviews and testimonials to your website, you show the quality of your products or services and visitors are more likely to buy something.
  • Optimize the loading time of your website
    If your website takes longer than a few seconds to load, chances are your visitors have already left. Modern people are very impatient and we cannot emphasize enough to maximize your website loading speed.
  • Get a better position in Google
    You can do this in two ways, with Google Adwords (SEA) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In other words, the paid and organic way.
  • Make your design responsive
    Take mobile traffic into account in particular because many websites currently receive more than half of their search traffic from mobile phones. Hence, always test your website on mobile phones and make it mobile friendly.

WordPress speed optimization: 6 trics for a speedy website

WordPress speed optimization is a must for any website owner or marketer. If your WordPress website does not load fast enough, visitors will leave as quickly as they came in. Concretely speaking, this means that your website should load within 2 seconds. We can already hear you thinking, “really, that fast?”. Yes, the attention span of the modern internet user is short. Very short. 

Also for search engines like Google a fast website is an important parameter for a seamless user experience. If your website does not meet the speed requirements then it is more likely to rank lower in the search engines. A lower ranking means less traffic. And less traffic means, you guessed it, less sales. 

Fortunately, there are several techniques you can employ to optimize your WordPress website speed. This article lists and describes these tricks so you can get started right after! We also tell you our three favorite WordPress plugins for speed optimization. 

How fast is your WordPress website? 

Before we present the best practices of WordPress speed optimization, it might be nice to know how fast your WordPress is. This is easy to test by using some speed/user experience tools. 

There are several free tools you can use to get an indication of your website speed. The ones we often use ourselves are: Google pagespeed Insights, GTmetrix and Pindom

All these tools do essentially the same thing: they give you the status quo of your website speed and tips on how to improve it. It is wise to run these tests on multiple devices because the scores are influenced by your physical location and speed of your internet connection, among other things. 

Other factors that influence the tests are:

  • The size of a specific page;
  • How many requests the page generates at a given time;
  • Whether the page is cached or not;
  • And finally, what kind of content (static or dynamic) the page contains.

Often the homepage of a website is used to benchmark speed, as this is usually the largest and heaviest page. In the example below, where the tool Google Pagespeed Insights is used, this is also the case. 

wordpress speed optimization

This custom made WordPress website passed with flying colors. But how does this score come to be so positive? We will answer that question in the next section. 

What factors can optimize the speed of your WordPress website? 

Now it’s time to tell you how to boost your WordPress website speed: 

WordPress speed optimization trick 1: pick a fast and solid WordPress hoster

WordPress Hosting has a big impact on how fast your website is. If your website is running on a server that is slow to respond, then there is little point in starting to optimize your website. That’s why hosting is also seen as the foundation for WordPress speed optimization 

If you choose a fast WordPress hosting, your website will have more hosting capacity and you will notice that almost immediately in the loading time. Two hosters we have very positive experiences with are Kinsta and SiteGround. Both are very good and score excellent on speed, support and security.

WordPress speed optimization trick 2: use a lightweight WordPress theme

WordPress themes with lots of dynamic elements like sliders, widgets, moving icons are attractive to the eye. But remember this: too much of a good thing will drastically lower your website speed. Therefore, it is wise to use a lightweight theme.

The only problem is that there are thousands of WordPress themes to choose from. So When picking a theme, you can look out for the following to seperate the wheat from the chaff: 

  • The number of downloads
  • Positive reviews (extra tip: read reviews through to the end)
  • No superfluous functionalities and a compact code
  • Relevance (is the theme still updated?) and support (do they have a ticket system and/or a helpdesk)

We recommend the themes Astra and OceanWP. Both are outstanding lightwieght WordPress themes and very user friendly. 

If you don’t want to change from theme, use a plugin like WProcket that optimizes your website codes.

WordPress speed optimization trick 3: resize images

Most websites are full of images. This often also means that images are the cause of a significant portion of the loading time. Therefore, we recommend testing the loading time of your website thoroughly and to reduce the size of unnecessarily large images to the actual size. 

WordPress already helps by saving each image you upload in different formats. You can further reduce and scale images in the WordPress media library, but also – if you are handy – on your own computer before uploading. You can use any image editor that exists; from Photoshop to Paint.

When you have set the format of your images correctly, there is a second optimization possible for the loading time of your images: compression. This means that the images are “packed” as best as possible into small packages, without losing too much quality. In this way you can quickly save several megabytes on dozens of images.

Fortunately, it is possible to use plugins that compress images for you. Two plugins that we definitely would recommend: WPsmush and Imagify.

WordPress speed optimization trick 4: loading static content externally with a CDN

Normally, images and scripts are loaded from your own server. A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is an external hosting party that copies and offers all your static content (images, PDFs, videos, but also scripts that rarely change). 

When a visitor visits your website, the dynamic content (the code of your website that changes per request) is still delivered by your own server, but all static content can be retrieved from somewhere else.

Because the requests of a visitor are spread over two servers, the load per server is lightened and a request can be handled faster. This improves your website speed. Cloudflare is an excellent CDN and is among one of the most popular in the world.

WordPress speed optimization trick 5: use caching

A cache makes your website faster by preventing the web server from having to load the same page over and over again. The website will load faster on your next visit because the browser has already saved it, so to speak. It is very easy to set up caching. If you have a WordPress website, you can do this using the plugins WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache.

WordPress speed optimization trick 6: website maintenance

The final point for website speed optimization is maintaining your WordPress environment. Many website owners neglect this task which makes their website slower and sometimes even let it crash. Therefore, always make sure that your theme, plugins, WordPress and PHP version are up to date. Also try to remove all plugins you no longer use, they take up unnecessary space and slow down your website speed.

Our top 3 plugins for WordPress speed optimization

To conclude this article, we finally present three more plugins that can help you make your website faster. These plugins have already been briefly mentioned above, but we’d like to pay a little extra attention to them.

WProcket 

WProcket is an all-in-one tool for optimizing the speed of your WordPress website. With this plugin you can not only combine and compress scripts, but also empty your cache. It can also help you remove and/or move render blocking resources. You do have to pay for this plugin, but it is certainly worth the investment if you are looking for a quick way to boost your website speed.

Cloudflare

Cloudflare is a CDN that makes your website faster and more secure. CloudFlare does this by capturing all your website traffic on their own faster servers. Indirectly, they get all the necessary information from your website. This way, your own server is protected from overloading. 

Some hosters like Kinsta already have a standard integration with Cloudflare, so always check this before downloading the plugin. 

WP Smush 

WP Smush is a best-of-class plugin for optimizing images. With this plugin you can compress and optimize images without losing quality. Hence, very useful if you want your website to be fast but at the same time look attractive. WP Smush also allows you to ‘lazy load’ images that are out of focus when opening the page. You can also optimize 50 images with just one click of a button. 

WP Smush has a free and a paid version. The free version will get you a long way but if you are looking for something more serious like image backups, image optimization above 5MB and optimization of more than 50 images then it is a good idea to upgrade to the premium version. 

The best WordPress plugins of 2021: our top 7

The beautiful thing of WordPress is that there is a plugin for almost every problem imaginable. But with thousands of plugins available, it can be hard to figure out which one you need.

  • For example, there are numerous plugins that secure your website and ensure that spam is warded off
  • There are several plugins that can help you SEO-proof your WordPress website
  • There are also plugins that can add pop-ups, sliders, forms and cookies to your WordPress website.

In short, a lot is possible and this creates overchoice. Fortunately you do not have to download every plugin available. Because every plugin takes up space and makes your WordPress website slower. And this has a big impact on your SEO. Therefore, you need to be frugal and critical when picking plugins. Hence, a statement that is very applicable to plugins: less is more.

Of course this does not mean that you should not download any plugins at all. How much a plugin slows down your WordPress website depends on the plugin itself. A plugin that adds a form to your website is usually a lot less slowing down than a plugin that integrates various webshop functionalities.

To get you started, we have listed our top 7 plugins below. The nice thing is that these plugins are not slowing down your WordPress website and certainly are a must-have for every WordPress website owner.

The best WordPress SEO plugin: Yoast SEO

SEO plugins are specialized in making your WordPress website rank higher in Google. There are many good SEO plugins available such as All in One SEO and All-In-One SEO Pack. Yet one plugin in particular stands out and that is Yoast SEO.

Why? Because of its many features. Of course it allows you to customize your titles and meta descriptions per page. But you can also have the title and description tag generated automatically for all pages. Moreover you can adjust URL-structures and the plugin has a tool for making your texts SEO-proof.

The plugin also generates sitemaps, has a link to Google Webmasters and allows you to configure your permalinks. In short, exactly what you need for the search engine optimization of your WordPress website!

The best WordPress redirect plugin: Redirection

Redirection does an excellent job in coordinating the 301 redirects on your website. As a result, this prevents 404 errors.

As soon as you change the permalink of a page/post, this plugin automatically creates a 301 redirect, which is placed in the .htaccess file. This is ideal if you are less technical and don’t know how to place a 301 redirect in your .htaccess file yourself.

The best anti-spam and security WordPress plugin: Akismet

Because 40% of all websites run on WordPress, it is an enticing target for hackers and spammers around the world. Not one WordPress website owner is waiting for spam responses under articles about soccer or cryptocurrency.

Fortunately, through a security plugin, you can nip most spam in the bud. Akismet is the mother of all security plugins for securing your WordPress website and reducing spam responses. It was developed by the company Automattic and has been around since 2005.

However, you do need an API key to use this plugin. Fortunately, the API key is available for free and for non-commercial use.

The best WordPress speed plugin: WProcket

WProcket is an all-in-one tool for optimizing the speed of your WordPress website. With this plugin you can not only combine and compress scripts, but also empty your cache. It can also help you remove and/or move render blocking resources. This plugin is not downloadable for free, but it is certainly worth the investment.

The best WordPress form plugin: Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms allows you to create forms. The plugin offers great flexibility to build complex forms. And with it you can greatly improve your landing pages and calls to action on your website. It is even possible to use the plugin to sell products. In our opinion, if you take your WordPress website a bit seriously, you can’t do without this plugin.

The best WordPress multilingual plugin: WPML

Building a multilingual website is always tricky. Often you mistake how much time it takes. So for us as a company, it’s clearly a detriment. However, since we purchased the plugin WPML (a while back), building multilingual websites has become much easier. WPML is very flexible and stable when it comes to translating pages, menus, widgets, themes, plugins, etc. And it is also very user friendly. We can’t imagine building another multilingual website in WordPress without WPML.

The best WordPress analytics plugin: Monster Insights

The second plugin developed by Yoast SEO that we recommend is MonsterInsights. This plugin allows you to configure your Google Analytics code in an advanced way, allowing you to measure in Google Analytics in an even more targeted manner. A must-have for marketers and website owners engaged in website optimization.

Not found what you are looking for?

Is the plugin for your specific solution not listed? Then take a look at the very comprehensive article from our hosting partner Kinsta. They have over 50 valuable WordPress plugins that can help you improve your WordPress website.

WordPress cookie plugin: the three best tested for 2021

It’s one of those things you’d rather put off until the last minute, but is actually very important: making your WordPress website General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) proof. If you do not meet the key privacy and data protection requirements of the GDPR, you run the risk of a hefty fine that could run up to € 20 million or 4% of annual turnover. This applies to every organization in Europe, so not just enterprises or multinationals. Fortunately, this does not have to be a very complex hassle if you know how to arrange it. To help you a bit, we will list the best tested WordPress cookie plugins for you. But before that, we first will provide you with some more in-depth information about cookies and the GDPR.

Cookies and the GDPR

Fair is fair, there are still plenty of websites that are not GDPR proof at all and also do not take cookie requirements or a correct implementation thereof into account. How GDPR and cookies relate to each other? The GDPR has been applicable for some time, namely since May 25, 2018. This ‘new’ law requires every organization in Europe to be able to justify that personal data flowing through the organization is properly protected. Roughly speaking, this means three things:

First of all, it means that as an organization you must have a clear picture regarding the personal data you collect. This should then be incorporated into a privacy policy that is also visible to visitors.
Secondly, you must justify that personal data that you provide to other parties is protected. Think for example of personal data that ends up with your accountant, in your CRM or in your email marketing software. This also applies to software outside Europe (e.g. software from American companies); as a European organization you are required to make these agreements with all your suppliers. In practice, this means that the GDPR has a global impact on the privacy policies of organizations.
Thirdly, you must also make agreements for your WordPress website with other parties who have access to your website. Think of your hosting company, editors, administrators and parties who, for example, have access to personal data through a plugin.

Actually, the cookie law was already there, obliging websites to ask their visitors for permission to collect privacy-sensitive data. Essentially, cookie consent is nonetheless a cornerstone of compliance for websites with EU-located users. However, GDPR links this part to the entire privacy legislation, as it were, and immediately makes it a lot more serious. Especially in the sense that nowadays there are stricter controls and hefty fines can be handed out.

How do I create a legal (WordPress) cookie?

Every website that receives visitors from Europe must ask permission to collect privacy-sensitive data. First of all, it is important to know that the cookie law makes an exception for cookies that are not privacy-sensitive. These are often cookies that make a website work properly. For example:

  • Analytical cookies

Websites use analytical cookies, for example, to keep track of visitor statistics. This gives them better insight into the functioning of the website. Analytical cookies have hardly any effect on privacy.

  • Functional cookies

Functional cookies are necessary for a service or webshop to function. For example, these are files that keep track of what’s in a shopping cart.

Do you only measure this kind of data? Then it is often not necessary to ask permission from your visitors and it is not a necessity WordPress cookie plugin.

However, the cookies that almost always require permission are those related to tracking. These types of cookies keep track of individual surfing habits and create profiles in order to enable targeted advertising. Personal data is usually processed with tracking cookies.

But how do you ask permission?

According to the GDPR, consent is only valid if it is freely, specifically, informed and unambiguously given.

This means that:

  • Prior and explicit permission must be obtained before any placement of cookies (apart from necessary cookies).
  • Your website visitors must also be able to refuse permission for tracking. Also, permission must be as easily withdrawn as they are given.
  • It must be clear exactly what you are asking permission for
  • Visitors must be given sufficient information about what happens to their personal data after they have given permission
  • Visitors must actually and with an active action give permission (‘he who remains silent, agrees’ does not apply).
  • Offer visitors a choice between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ by means of a clear banner. This way, you at least meet the requirement of choice for unambiguous consent.
  • It is not allowed to place a cookie wall, which denies access to visitors when they do not accept cookies.
  • You have to be able to prove that your visitor actually granted permission for their personal data to be tracked

WordPress cookie plugin top 3

Before we present the best-in-class WordPress cookie plugins to you, it is important to mention that no plugin will automatically make your WordPress website GDPR proof. It is all about having the right settings and permissions (see the list above), which correspond to what you describe in your privacy policy.

Also, it is not possible for a plugin to find out what cookies you use on your WordPress website. Therefore, you will have to work on placing a script yourself that ensures that the cookies are loaded correctly. For example, you do not want certain cookies to be loaded while the visitor has not granted permission for that. The best cookie plugins are therefore the ones that offer the option to accept or not accept certain cookies.

WordPress cookie plugin 1: GDPR Consent

With GDPR Consent plugin you can prevent your website from collecting personal data before your visitor has given permission to do so. The GDPR requires that visitors to your website give their permission first, but also that you cannot use a cookie wall to accomplish this. Meaning that your website must continue to work, even if no permission has been given for cookies. For many WordPress websites this means that some WordPress plugins (for example Google Tag Manager, Adwords, Facebook Pixels and Remarketing plugins) may only be activated after your visitor has given his or her consent.

With the GDPR Consent plugin you can define ‘consents’ and check which plugins should be activated after consent is given. Your visitors will see a narrow popup bar at the bottom of your website where they can give their consents (e.g. for Remarketing, Statistics and Advertisements). Depending on those permissions, the plugins are turned on for that particular visitor. This plugin is released by Sowmedia on WpUpgrader.com, our English-language platform.

WordPress cookie plugin 2: CookieYes

The CookieYes GDPR Cookie Consent & Compliance Notice plugin is also a great choice to make your WordPress website more GDPR proof. It works through accept and reject options, and the cookies are only placed after acceptance from visitors. You can also choose to make the cookie notification disappear after a few seconds. The cookies are then automatically not accepted. A handy feature of this plugin is that the different cookies can also be shown on the privacy policy page using shortcodes.

In terms of styling, this plugin has a lot going for it. You can fully customize the style of the cookie notice to fit the corporate identity of your WordPress website: change the colors, fonts, styles, position on the page and even how it behaves when ‘Accept’ is clicked.

Furthermore, the plugin integrates seamlessly with the official Facebook Pixel, Instagram & Twitter Feeds and Google Tag Manager.

WordPress cookie plugin 3: Complianz

Complianz is a Cookie Consent plugin that supports privacy laws for different regions such as European Union, United Kingdom, United States, Australia or Canada. It provides options for a conditional ‘Cookie Notice’ with default templates or custom CSS and a custom ‘Cookie Policy’ handled based on the results of a built-in ‘Cookie Scan’. What is very convenient is that the plugin also stores evidence of consent, i.e. registration of consents from users who accept the cookies.

Furthermore, periodic Cookie Scan for changes in Cookies, Plugins and 3rd Party services are done. Like the others, this plugin also offers full integration with third party software such as Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics and the official Facebook Pixel.

Website speed optimization: get a perfect Google score

Does your website already meet all the speed optimization requirements of Google Pagespeed Insights? Anno 2021 it is important to have a website that loads at the speed of light. In fact, Google is increasingly judging websites by user experience metrics, of which website speed is an important one. There are a number of useful website speed optimization hacks you can use to make your website lightning fast. In this article we will discuss the most important ones. 

Google developments 2021

The Google algorithm is actually constantly evolving, so it’s no wonder that a few things are going to change this year as well. In June, an important update called “Core web vitals” will be implemented. In short, Google is going to judge websites more strongly based on user experience factors using ‘Core Web Vital statistics’. This includes factors such as page speed, responsiveness and the stability of content while loading. 

Google has promised that website owners have until June 2021 to improve their website metrics on user-friendliness, speed and structure. Since then, Google saw a 70% increase in users engaging with Lighthouse, PageSpeed Insights and Search Console’s Core Web Vitals report in preparation for the update.

What does this mean for my website speed score? 

Google Pagespeed Insights is actually a misleading name because the test measures more statistics than just website speed. This also means that you won’t achieve a score of 100% if speed is the only optimization priority you have for your website. Factors such as user friendliness and structure must also be taken into account. Therefore, in this article we also look at these factors, in addition to the website speed optimization hacks. 

Create a solid foundation by choosing a good hoster

How fast your website is, is for a big part determined by your hosting provider. If your website is running on a server that responds slowly, then there is little point in starting to optimize your website. That’s like tuning up a moped: you can optimize all you want, but you won’t succeed in making it fast enough to drive on the highway. For this, you need a car. 

If you choose a solid WordPress hosting provider, your website will have more hosting capacity, and you will notice this almost immediately in the loading time. The two hosters we can heartily recommend are Kinsta and SiteGround. Both are very good and score excellent on speed, support and security. 

Go for full size images and compress them

Most websites are full of images. This often also means that images are the cause of a significant portion of the loading time. Therefore, we recommend testing the loading time of your website thoroughly and to reduce the size of unnecessarily large images to the actual size. 

WordPress already helps by saving each image you upload in different formats. You can further reduce and scale images in the WordPress media library, but also – if you are handy – on your own computer before uploading. You can use any image editor that exists; from Photoshop to Paint.

When you have set the format of your images correctly, there is a second optimization possible for the loading time of your images: compression. This means that the images are “packed” as best as possible into small packages, without losing too much quality. In this way you can quickly save several megabytes on dozens of images. 

Load content above the fold first

One factor that relates a lot to user experience is how quickly content above the fold loads. In other words, content that is visible without the visitor having to scroll down. Because Google wants to provide users with a pleasant experience, a lot of value is placed on how fast this content is loaded. 

How does your content load correctly above the fold? This has to do with how your website’s codes are structured. Some tips we can give you are:

  1. Remove CSS and Javascript that block the loading of the content above the fold. This way you load the visible elements first, then the rest. 
  2. A technique that has become very popular in recent years is Lazy-loading. This loads images only when they are needed.
  3. Reduce the data above the fold by compressing and/or combining scripts. 
  4. Make sure that the important content above the fold comes into view first, before other elements are loaded. 

Fair is fair, this does take some coding. Not too versed in coding, or don’t have anyone on staff? We’d be happy to help you out. 

Optimize your website code

An important point for website speed optimization is to optimize the code of your website. You do this by combining and/or compressing scripts. Loading JavaScript later by moving it to the footer also helps in improving your website code. 

Combining scripts

Combining scripts means nothing more than putting all the separate files together in one file. It’s basically like combining the contents of three Word documents by placing them one after the other in one document. The file size of the one combined script is actually no different from that of the separate scripts added together. Yet you improve the loading time, because your web browser has to make a new connection to load each file. And that takes time.

Because the browser now does not have to connect for three scripts, but only for one, the speed of the loading time increases. Two excellent plugins that allow you to combine JavaScript and CSS are WProcket and NitroPack.

Compressing scripts 

When you have combined all scripts as much as possible in the previous step, you can now start with compressing the combined file. For scripts, compression mainly means that unnecessary spaces, comments, tabs and whitespace are removed from the code so that the total file size decreases. This is called minifying. You can find numerous WordPress plugins that optimize the code for your website, but sometimes they create more problems than they solve. The plugin that we found most useful for compressing scripts is WProcket

Move JavaScript to the footer

JavaScript files contain code related to the functionality of your website. And CSS files make sure the website and the functions are displayed in a certain way. Since search engines care that your website is fully displayed as quickly as possible, it helps to load CSS files first, and JavaScript files as late as possible. A free plugin that can do this for you is Scripts to Footer

Check carefully that your website is still functioning optimally after activating this plugin. It often requires some technical knowledge to tune all JavaScript files so that they do not cause problems in the footer.

Use caching

A cache makes your website faster by preventing the web server from having to load the same page over and over again. The website will load faster on your next visit because the browser has already saved it, so to speak. It is very easy to set up caching. If you have a WordPress website, you can do this using the plugins WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache

Loading static content externally with CDN

Normally, images and scripts are loaded from your own server. A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is an external hosting party that copies and offers all your static content (images, PDFs, videos, but also scripts that rarely change). When a visitor visits your website, the dynamic content (the code of your website that changes per request) is still delivered by your own server, but all static content can be retrieved from somewhere else. Because the requests of a visitor are spread over two servers, the load per server is lightened and a request can be handled faster. This improves your website speed. 

Read more about the best CDN providers of 2021 in the article by Techradar.

Remove and relocate render blocking resources

A website has several components that are not directly interesting to a visitor, but which must be loaded either way. Think of certain CSS, Javascript or tools like Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. If these scripts are loaded first, the visitor has to wait longer for the things that really matter. And this is not what our friend Google likes either.

To solve this you can do a few things:

  • Minify your JavaScript and CSS. This means removing all extra white space and unnecessary description in the code.
  • Add JavaScript and CSS to each other. To do this, take several .js and .css files and combine them.
  • Delay loading JavaScript. It can be useful to delay loading JavaScript files until everything else on the page has loaded. A reliable way to delay loading JavaScript is to use asynchronous loading.

A handy plugin that can get you well on your way to removing and moving render blocking resources is WP Rocket

Website maintenance

The final point for website speed optimization is maintaining your WordPress environment. Many website owners neglect this task which makes their website slower and sometimes even let it crash. Therefore, always make sure that your theme, plugins, WordPress and PHP version are up to date. Also try to remove all plugins you no longer use, they take up unnecessary space and slow down your website speed.

But don’t take Google too seriously.. 

Actually, we mainly recommend that you take the score and recommendations of Google PageSpeed Insights with a grain of salt. A 100/100 Pagespeed score does not guarantee a lightning-fast website, but only shows that you meet Google’s website optimization requirements. This means that Google values your website more than websites with a lower score. Which of course is a big advantage if there is a lot of competition for similar content on which you want to rank. Yet, this does not say everything because website speed is only a small piece of the puzzle. There are many more Google ranking factors (2021) that are important for a good score in the search engine. 

To assess the speed of your website a bit more objectively, you can also use other tools like GTMetrix and Pingdom Website Speed Test. Just like Google, these tests give recommendations on how to optimize your website speed. This data will hopefully get you very far in speeding up your website and making it search engine friendly!

Duplicate content: the effect on SEO and how to solve it

You’ve run an SEO test and the results are shocking: you have more than 200 duplicate content errors! 

You look at your website bewildered and wonder how you’re going to get rid of all these errors. Just the thought alone makes you tired. 

The question is, however, is this cause for panic well-grounded? Very briefly, no. Generally speaking, duplicate content does not have a major impact on SEO. With a few exceptions. 

There are a lot of misconceptions about duplicate content. Time to clear them up once and for all. In this article we tackle the following four topics:

  1. What exactly is duplicate content?
  2. How duplicate content comes about
  3. Duplicate content is bad for SEO
  4. Detecting duplicate content
  5. How to prevent duplicate content

What is duplicate content anyway? 

Duplicate content is a term you often come across in SEO land. But what is it really? 

Duplicate content, also known as duplicate content, is website content that appears in more than one place on the internet. In other words, content that appears on multiple web pages or URLs. 

The question that is often asked is where the line is drawn. In other words, when is something duplicate content and when is it not? Google says it’s about “substantial blocks of content” that are either completely the same or significantly similar. 

What this means: a few copied texts from a website are therefore not duplicate content. It really has to be about large substantial blocks. So you can copy and rewrite small pieces of text without being penalized for it. 

However, there is still much uncertainty about whether it is exactly the same content, or whether it is content that is a certain percentage similar. Google leaves us in the dark with this issue. 

Types of duplicate content

There are roughly two types of duplicate content. Two identical pieces of content that can be found on two different websites are called ‘external duplicate content’. Copied content within one domain, is called ‘internal duplicate content’.

External duplicate content 

Because a lot of content is stolen and reused on the Internet, this is a form of duplicate content that occurs regularly. Many ‘copy pasters’ think: “if I copy this piece of content, then my website will be a bit more filled out, and I can quickly benefit from a better ranking”. 

Copying a piece of content from another website is allowed, as long as you ask permission. So are you planning to copy a piece of content from another website? Then be smart enough to ask the author for permission :). If you don’t do this and the author ever makes an issue of it, it can even get you a lawsuit or an expensive damage claim. 

Unfortunately for these copy pasters, copying content does not mean that you also build an SEO advantage. Which is what is often thought. A search engine only shows the original piece of content. And this is logically the piece of content that comes from the original source. This means that your copied piece is not or hardly shown in the search results. 

To be fair everyone copies a piece of content for their own website from time to time. However, the extent to which and the way in which you do this is of great importance. If you blindly copy a large piece of text, the copied content has no chance of ranking well. What works better is to copy a small part of the text, then rewrite it and complement it with your own content. This way Google will see that the new piece of content is original and will be awarded with a better ranking. 

Internal duplicate content 

Internal duplicate content is generally caused, usually unconsciously, by yourself. When Google crawls your website and discovers that two web pages are similar, confusion can be caused. As a result, Google then ranks the page they think that is the most relevant. It could be that this is the very page you do not want to be ranked higher at all. 

For example: on the website of an web agency there is a services page with information about developing a website and a blog with information about why to develop a website. The text on both pages is almost identical and therefore there is a good chance that Google sees it as duplicate content. 

This phenomenon is also called internal competition or keyword cannibalization. The pages cannibalize each other’s ranking, so to speak.  

It occurs at various websites, but especially at web shops. It is often the case with web shops that you can take different paths to the same product page. How does this look like? Just look at the fictitious example below: 

www.lawnmowerwebshop.nl/lawnmower/budget/lawnmower/edition-a

www.lawnmowerwebshop.nl/lawnmower/brands/moizasie/edition-a

Even tough the URLs are different, Google still sees this as duplicate content as the slugs overlap too much. 

How duplicate content comes about 

Actually, most website owners don’t intentionally create duplicate content. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there. In fact, more than 29% of content published on the web is considered as duplicate content. 

Let’s look at some of the most common ways duplicate content is unintentionally created: 

Copy and paste

This occurs at both internal and external levels. Internal duplicate content occurs by creating multiple pages with the same text. External duplicate content occurs by literally copying the content of another website onto your own website. This happens a lot with web shops. They receive standard texts from suppliers which are then copied unthinkingly. The result is that many web shops have the same texts in the search results. This is not beneficial for their SEO. 

URL variations 

URL parameters, such as click tracking and certain analysis code, can also cause duplicate content problems.

For example:

www.wpupgrader.com/blue-widgets?c… is a duplicate of www.wpupgrader.com/blue-widgets?c…&cat=3 “class=” redactor-autoparser-object”>

www.wpupgrader.com/blue-widgets is a duplicate of www.wpupgrader.com/blue-widgets?cat=3&color=blue

Session IDs can also be a common reason of duplicate content. This happens when each user visiting a website is assigned a different session ID stored in the URL.

Printer-friendly versions of content can also cause duplicate content problems when multiple versions of the pages are indexed.

HTTP vs. HTTPS or WWW vs. non-WWW pages.

If your website has two different versions (‘www.site.com’ and ‘site.com’, with and without the ‘www’ prefix), and the same content appears in both versions, you may also encounter duplicate content problems. The same goes for sites that maintain versions on both http: // and https: //.

Duplicate content is bad for SEO

As we told you in the introduction, duplicate content technically can’t get you a penalty. But that still leaves the question: how bad is duplicate content for SEO? There are a number of less-than-pleasant scenarios that can occur. We’ll discuss them below.

Google shows the wrong web page

When there are multiple pieces of similar content in more than one location on the Internet, it can be difficult for search engines to determine which version is most relevant to a particular search. In many cases, Google will have to choose between the duplicate content pages and show only one.

The search query has a big impact on how Google handles duplicate content. Imagine you have both an American and Canadian web shop and a potential customer wants to know your delivery costs. Accordingly, they then look up delivery costs with your website name. The only problem is that two pages are exactly the same and therefore Google will have to make a choice. Because the potential customer has not included a country name in the search query, Google will choose the page with the highest domain authority. And it may then happen that this is exactly the wrong page. 

Weakened link strength of backlinks

In most cases, Google handles duplicate content very well, and it does not have a negative effect on your ranking. Still, it can affect link strength if another website links to your duplicate content. This is because the links that refer to your website don’t know where to link to. They get confused that the same content can be found in multiple places. 

Instead of all links pointing to one unique page, the links are distributed among all duplicates. As a result, you will rank lower than if there had only been one unique page on the website. 

Keyword cannibalization 

We’ve given it as an example before, but another negative effect on SEO from duplicate content is keyword cannibalization. Because search engines are forced to choose between two pages, the one with the most authority is shown. So in the case of the example of the web agency, only the services page or the blog will be ranked high in the search results. It is very unfortunate when you have relevant information on both pages and only one is shown. 

You are then literally competing with yourself. To avoid this problem, it is better to use unique content and a unique keyword. 

Wasting your crawl budget

Every so often, Google goes through your website. This is called crawling. In this way Google knows what can be found on your website and what you have to offer. Using this information, Google can match a search query with the content on your website. Because Google uses a crawl budget, it is important that the right pages of your website are crawled. This is because only a maximum number of pages can be crawled. This is especially important for large websites as their crawl budget is more scarce. 

In the extreme: a penalty

Duplicate content does not lead to a penalty, unless you are really out of line. Only in very rare cases, when you are deliberately manipulating the ranking and misleading users for instance, it can have an impact on the ranking of your website. In extreme cases, a website may be removed from Google’s index and therefore no longer appears in the search results. However, this can only occur if, for example, your entire website consists of duplicate content. 

Detecting duplicate content

Solving duplicate content is not very difficult in most cases, but you need to detect duplicates first. There are several ways and tools to do this. 

The easiest way: search in Google

A simple way to search for duplicate content is to take a piece of text from a page of your website and search for it in Google. If you put the piece in quotes, you can see if there is a website that has literally copied your text. 

Duplicate content tools

If you want to do (large scale) research on internal and external duplicate content, it is wise to use a tool for this. There are many different tools to detect duplicate content. The ones we use ourselves are: 

External duplicate content check

A handy tool that can help you check for external duplicate content is Copyscape. In their tool, enter the URL of your website and it will investigate for you if there are duplicates of your texts. Do you see in the results that someone has copied your texts? Then send the owner of the website a request to remove the texts. 

Internal duplicate content check

With the tool Siteliner you can check your own website for duplicate content problems. However, you should make a distinction between duplicate content and content that you obviously repeat in multiple places on your website. Like your menu, footer and contact page for example. This type of content is also called common content and does not pose a threat to SEO.

Google Search Console: extensive audit duplicate content

If you want to do a more extensive audit for your duplicate content, we recommend the tool Google Search Console. With this tool, you can see that certain pages are not indexed because they are seen as duplicate content or if a duplicate page was found without indicating what the original is. You can also see which of the duplicates Google has selected as canonical pages. The handy thing is that when you click on these error messages, the location of the problem is presented. 

SE Ranking: duplicate keywords 

Another very useful tool for detecting duplicate content is SE Ranking. In addition to showing you which keywords your website is shown for in Google, this tool also shows you whether a keyword is linked to one or more URL(s). For example, it can happen that a keyword is linked to three different web pages. As a result, Google does not know which page should rank highest because all three pages are very similar. 

How to prevent duplicate content

In the best case scenario, of course, you have no duplicate content on your website at all. It is better to prevent than to cure. This saves a lot of work. What is the fastest way to achieve this? 

Creating unique content! 

The only way to really rank well in Google is by creating original and relevant content. Content that is unique and relevant to both the search engine and the search engine user is really valued. Obviously, duplicate content is not. 

When creating texts for your website, try to copy as little content from other websites as possible. Otherwise, your website will never rank high in the search results. This is also the best way to avoid duplicate content. 

Has the damage already been done and have you discovered duplicate content? Not a problem! With the following tips, you’ll have your duplicate content fixed quickly: 

Adjust content

Have you discovered a duplicate content error on two or more pages? Try to make them all unique by picking a different keyword and rewriting the text. It can take quite a long time for Google to assign new pages a certain ranking. Therefore, adapting the content of already existing pages is definitely beneficial. Existing pages are also already indexed and have a ranking, so Google will notice the changes faster. 

Use redirects 

Are multiple pages on your website linked to the same keyword by Google? Then create a redirect from all duplicate pages to the main page. If a visitor lands on one of the duplicate pages, it will then be redirected to the original source. 

The big advantage is that because of the redirects, a large part of the value of the duplicate pages is passed on to the original source. This gives the original source a higher SEO score. 

You can create a redirect with a plugin like Yoast SEO or through your htaccess file.

Use canonicals

With a canonical tag, you can let a search engine know that one or more pages are duplicates. Just like with a redirect, all the value is basically passed on. The big difference however is that pages with a canonical tag are still viewable. Meaning that a visitor is not automatically redirected to the main page, as is the case with a redirect.

A canonical tag can be placed in the source code of your website. Just like the redirect, you can easily add it with Yoast SEO.

No index 

You can also choose not to have certain pages indexed. As a result, they will then not be shown in the search results. This can come in handy for ‘thank you’ or ‘old job application pages’, for example. You can choose to have the page still crawled but no longer indexed by using noindex + follow to maintain link strength. Do you want Google to ignore the page completely and all links as well? Then choose noindex + nofollow. Again, you can set this up with Yoast SEO.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that duplicate content in itself is not a reason for a severe penalty, it is too important to ignore. Therefore, we encourage you to work on it to improve your ranking and the user experience of your visitors. We wish you the best of luck.
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WordPress caching: make your website changes visible

Have you ever experienced that you tried to change something on your website, for example adding an image, and it was not visible at once?

Or how about adding a new product to your shop and not being able to find it immediately on your website?

Probably it had to do something with your cache.

In this article we will tell you what WordPress caching is, what different caches there are, and we will give you a solution for making changes on your WordPress website visible again.

What is caching?

Cache means ’emergency supply’ and that’s actually exactly what caching plugins create. The result of each request is ‘cached’, so that an identical request that follows does not have to be recalculated. For example, when Visitor A opens your homepage, your server immediately caches the homepage. If Visitor B subsequently requests the homepage, the server does not have to do all the calculations again, but it is loaded directly from its memory.

In essence, a cache ensures that a static version of your website is stored. The purpose of this is to make your website faster and have heavy scripts preloaded before a new page view. This reduces the loading time of your website considerably. This is not only good for the visitor, but also contributes to the findability (SEO) of your website.

Caching for a WordPress website takes place on three different levels. These are: website (WordPress) caching, server caching and browser caching.

It can sometimes happen that one or more of the caches on the three different levels makes it impossible for you to see changes. This can be annoying when you make changes to your website. In this case it is wise to find out which cache is to blame by emptying them one by one. How to do this is explained below.

WordPress website caching

Caching on a website-level is usually operated using a cache plugin. This software creates statistical HTML pages from your website. These HTML pages can be shown to your visitors quickly, because everything is already loaded properly and does not need to be retrieved from the server.

The plugins W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache both offer many options for caching your WordPress website. Setting up website caching is not a very complex process. However, our experience is that you need to be pretty handy to get caching really working. You may be lucky to get it working right the first time, but in most cases it is a complex process to optimize the caching for your server and website.

If your website is already live and needs to keep functioning, it’s best to play around with the settings until you find a configuration that works for you. Is your website not loading (properly) anymore? Then uncheck your last settings and try again. In short: take your time!

Browser caching

If you are the only one who does not see changes on your website, it is probably because of your browser’s cache. A browser stores various web files such as images, CSS and JavaScript files. The goal of saving these data is that when a web page is visited, the information does not have to be requested again from the server. The result? An improvement in website speed, which provides a more pleasant user experience in return.

When you have emptied the website cache and changes are still not visible, you should probably empty the cache of your browser. The way to do this varies by browser:

Chrome – Settings (top right), More Utilities, Clear Browsing Data
Microsoft Edge – Options (three dots), Settings, Clear Browse Data
Firefox – Menu, Preferences, Advanced, Network, Buffered Web Content, Clear Now

If you followed the above steps for your browser, you should see your changes coming through. Still don’t see anything changing? Then try to empty your website’s cache again. If this does not help, the problem is probably with your server.

Server caching

When a visitor visits your website, the webpage is loaded in the following way: the server hosting your website receives a request to display the requested URL. The server processes the request and then sends the data to the visitor. This often takes a bit of time.

To ensure that the above process does not have to be performed again and again with each new visit, a server also uses caching. As you might guess this is called ‘service caching’. The result of server caching is that subsequent visitors are immediately shown the saved version from the cache, thus reducing the page load time. However, this is not always made known, so you may not be aware that caching is also possible at the server level. One hoster that makes server caching very easy is Kinsta.

It varies from hoster to hoster how easy it is to clear the cache. You can check if there is an option in the cPanel, DirectAdmin, Plesk or another control panel to empty the cache with your hoster. Does this not make you any wiser? Then we recommend you to contact your hoster about caching the server. You can then ask if the caching on server level is enabled and if there is a possibility to empty it manually.

Hopefully these tips will get you started on clearing the various caches and making your website edits visible.

SEO keyword research: finding lucrative keywords in 2021

Doing a SEO keyword research and selecting the right keywords for your website is crucial to becoming visible in Google and other search engines. In the good old days of search engine optimization coming up with keywords was very simple. You just stuffed your website with many keywords and almost immediately became visible in Google. A little later, this “keyword stuffing” strategy was no longer effective and every page had to revolve around an exclusive keyword. Each page was then set up according to one focus keyword and all content had to be completely in line with it.

The latter strategy is still used and can work very well. However, determining the right set of keywords is becoming increasingly difficult due to the constantly changing Google algorithm. With the so-called “Hummingbird update“, the context in which the search is performed has become much more important. This means that one should not think so much in keywords, but rather in different topics.

The shift to contextual search

Have you ever noticed that when you google ‘weather’ or ‘cinema’ for example, the most logical and relevant search results are displayed for you? For the keyword “weather” the temperature in your city or town is displayed. For the keyword ‘cinema’ the cinemas with their opening hours in your area are shown.

If Google had taken your search too literally, it would probably display Wikipedia pages of the terms. This so-called ‘contextual search’ is becoming more and more precise and in the long run search engines will understand more and more of your context. In addition to context, Google tries to gather as much information as possible from the searcher. This means that for every searcher, even if they google the same search term, the results shown will be different.

Does this mean you don’t have to take keywords into account anymore? No, not at all. People will continue to search primarily for more general keywords such as “weather” and “cinema”. It is therefore still important to have these types of keywords incorporated into your website. The main advantage of the update is that visitors will now arrive at your website with different search queries, depending on their personal preferences.

So how do I do a keyword research?

The funny thing is that you don’t actually need a marketing agency at all to do a keyword research for you. You have something very important that they don’t and that is: years and years of industry experience. Your industry experience and knowledge of your customers form the basis of the most powerful tool humans possess: common sense. What we are trying to say is that you know better than anyone else what your target audience is googling for. And this is exactly what Google wants to achieve with the Hummingbird update. Context and logic are becoming increasingly important. As an industry expert, you can capitalize on this.

Our top 4 keyword tools for a successful SEO keyword research

To confirm your common sense, you need objective data. Only then will you be able to compile an optimal list of keywords for your website. You need to know how often a keyword is searched for in Google and how likely it is that you will achieve a good ranking for the keywords.

Before you start analyzing the keywords, you should first try to create as large a database as possible of possible keywords. If you are wise, you will also use your common sense for this 😉. The keywords that you have come up with can then be used as input for a number of keyword tools that we have selected for you.

Option 1: Google keyword planner (free)

With Google’s keyword planner, it is very easy to investigate which keywords are being searched for and how often this happens per month. Based on the data, you have insight into the information needs of the target audience, and you can select relevant keywords that your target audience searches for.

To this day, Google’s keyword planner is still one of the best free tools available. This is not surprising because the data you see comes directly from Google itself. This makes the data accurate and reliable.

Because the tool has been set up in recent years primarily to convince you to start with paid Google Ads, it also has some limitations. For example, keywords are often bundled with closely related search terms and merged into one search term. It also shows certain parameters that are only relevant to Google Ads.

That said, the keyword planner is certainly a suitable tool for finding new keywords.

Option 2: SEMrush (paid)

SEMrush is one of the most complete keyword research tools you can find. With the tool, it is possible to find new keywords, find out search volumes and analyze competitors through various options. The tool is available from $83 per month if you pay annually.

But SEMrush is actually much more than just a keyword analysis tool. In fact, you can extract an awful lot of different information for ranking higher in Google.

In short: SEMrush is a perfect replacement for the Google keyword planner and offers a lot more functionality.

Option 3: SE Ranking (paid)

SE Ranking is a very complete SEO analysis tool that we use for many of our clients. The handy thing about the tool is that you can track keyword sets and their positions in a very clear way.

If you are doing SEO yourself and you want to track the progress of positions, then our advice is to use this tool for your clients.

Other useful features that the tool offers: the backlink checker, technical SEO audits, index checker and a complete SEO plan that you can go through for a client.

Option 4: Ubersuggest (free and paid)

Ubersuggest is a keyword research tool developed by the SEO guru Neil Patel. It is possible to use the software for free, but there is a daily limit on this. However, the free version is useful for doing a quick check of the search volumes, competition and CPC of a number of keywords.

The tool is very useful for getting new content ideas for your keywords. You can also see the URL, backlinks, domain score and social shares of the competitors you will be competing against.

Strategies for selecting the right keywords

Now that you have some understanding of how to do keyword research, it’s time to select the right keywords. This is a very important process, as it is the basis for becoming more visisble in Google. If you pick the wrong keywords, you may not be found by potential customers.

Analyze with these three factors in mind

For the keyword analysis, it is important that you carefully analyze the following data:

The search volume of the keyword, check for yourself if this is high enough and how many potential visitors you can get on your website with this keyword;

The difficulty of the keyword, whatever tool you use, almost all of them will give you an indication of how difficult it is to score on the keyword based on the competition. Consider for yourself if the struggle is worth it or if you would rather score on an easier keyword;

The number of backlinks of the competitor, find out how many backlinks the competitors have on the keyword you want to score on. If there are hundreds of them, the chances are slim that you will overtake them, unless you also go to work on link building.

Use keywords that turn your visitors into customers

When selecting a keyword, it is wise to ask yourself the following question: can this keyword bring me more potential customers? A smart tactic is to boost your words by adding some extra selling power.

How to do this?

Adding purchase keywords

Buy keywords are the searches that searchers use when they plan to purchase a product or service. For example, consider the following additions to a keyword:

  • Children’s clothing offer
  • Garden furniture discount
  • Outsourcing kitchen assembly
  • Buying paracetamol

Adding related products keywords

When someone is searching for a specific product, they may add certain keywords to a product keyword that they want more information about. Adding related product keywords can make a big difference:

  • Apple Watch 3 Experiences
  • Acer Swift 3 reviews
  • Best headphones
  • Most popular vacations
  • Cheap suitcases
  • Affordable laptops

Long tail vs short tail keywords

An additional tip for picking out suitable keywords, is by distinguishing between short tail and long tail searches. Short tail searches are keyword that consist of no more than three words, such as “cheap running shoe” or “best restaurants”. These types of keywords have a high search volume and the competition on them is therefore fierce. Long tail keywords include longer and more specific search queries. More combinations are possible, but the traffic per search is usually lower. Instead of searching for “best restaurants”, a long tail search could be “best sushi restaurants in New York”. The number of visitors from long tail keywords will be less, but the chances of these visitors converting will be higher. There are also fewer competitors on these types of keywords.

How do I incorporate the keywords into my website?

To ensure that the keywords you have selected score well, you can incorporate them in the following places:

  • All the different page titles
  • In your meta description
  • In the slug
  • In the alt attribute of your images
  • In the URL of the page
  • About once per paragraph
  • Note: choose a maximum of one keyword per page!

Extra tip: install Yoast SEO to receive hands-on tips about how to optimize your pages for Google and other search engines.

Now it is time to start developing your SEO strategy

With the strategies and tips we have given in this article, you can take some first steps towards developing your SEO strategy. However, there are more important SEO strategies for ranking higher in Google and other search engines. Meaning that, with only a keyword research you will not achieve the rankings you desire.

WordPress support: which steps to undertake for a solution

Although WordPress is a very user-friendly content management system (CMS), it can still happen that you can’t find a solution to your (technical) WordPress problem. This can be very frustrating and at that moment you are desperate for WordPress support. There are many manuals and articles findable online about different WordPress problems and how to solve them. However, it is sometimes difficult to find the specific answer you need from these sources. From that position, you have a few options to seek for help: 

  1. Through an (official) WordPress forum 
  2. Via your hoster
  3. Via a (premium) theme or plugin supporter (if you have one) 
  4. Via WordPress Codex and the Developer Handbook
  5. Via a premium support party

Before looking for an answer think carefully first what you want answers to..

It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what you need help with. Therefore, before you approach different websites, groups and forums, it is smart to do some research and identify the exact problem with your WordPress website. After this, you can determine a lot easier where the problem is coming from and what kind of help you need. In this process, you should ask yourself the following:

    • Is your WordPress question related to a hosting problem? This could be the case, for example, if the memory limit of your WordPress website has been reached and you can’t download new themes or plugins because of this. Or if individual files are too large to upload to your server. Almost every hoster offers (free) support where you can make use off if you have a hosting problem. 
    • Do you have a specific WordPress question? For example: how do I customize the WordPress menu or how do I change my theme colors? Then you can often find your answer through a blog or Youtube video. If you have a more specific question then it’s better to search for help on the official WordPress forum 
    • Want to know about how to modify a specific WordPress code? Try the Codex or the Developers Handbook. The downside is that you do need to be slightly tech savvy to understand these sources. 
    • Have you purchased a premium theme? Then you can often get your question answered by submitting a ticket on a support page of the theme’s creators.
    • Do you want a problem solved quickly and are you a professional company? Then you can always consider investing in a premium support party.

If you have gone through these steps then hopefully you have a better idea of where to go for WordPress help. Below we explain each WordPress resource in more detail and you can ask for help. 

Official WordPress forum

The WordPress support forum is the place to get answers to a specific WordPress problem. For example, you can ask questions about installing WordPress, code solutions, CSS/formatting and plugins. On this forum both paid and non-paid specialists are active who are willing to help you, often all for free. 

The support forums are mainly staffed by volunteers who are not paid by WordPress or an employer. Another part is working for WordPress organizations, agencies or companies that encourage their employees to share their expertise through the forums. Plugin and theme developers also often offer help through WordPress forums. Is your WordPress related to a paid plugin or theme? Then you can ask for help via premium theme or plugin support. 

Before asking your question, it is important to always do some research to see if your question has not been asked and answered before. If there is no answer to your question yet then you can ask it. However, keep in mind that the forums are largely supported by volunteers. So be a little nice to them and don’t expect an answer immediately

Hoster

Do you have problems with the speed of your website, does your website crash all the time or do you not have enough website memory for downloading new themes or plugins? Then the fault probably lies with your hoster. Almost every hoster has a dedicated page where you can ask for support, usually by submitting a ticket. Also, most hosters can be reached via live chat or over the phone, if you are using a smaller hoster. 

Is your hoster unable to resolve your WordPress issue or has your submitted ticket been open for a long time? Then it’s probably time for a new one. The two hosters we can heartily recommend are Kinsta and SiteGround. Both are very good and score excellent on speed, support and security. 

(Premium) Theme or Plugin supporter

Many theme and plugin developers offer (free) support on their websites and WordPress forums. Especially paid themes and plugins offer free support because this service is part of their products. Of course they do not want you to switch to another provider.. 

Do you have a problem updating a theme or plugin or do they no longer function properly? Then the best place to start is with the theme or plugin developer. Most of them will have a dedicated page where you can submit a ticket. Often you’ll have an answer to your WordPress question within a few hours.

WordPress Codex and the Developer Handbook

If your question is not specifically about a hosting, theme or plugin problem then you can probably find the answer in the WordPress Codex or the Developer Handbook

The WordPress Codex can be seen as a very comprehensive WordPress library containing information on how to use WordPress, functionalities, how to use a theme and even how to develop a plugin. The Codex pages are very detailed, so if you read carefully then you can definitely find the answer to your WordPress issue here. The Codex is suitable for less technically inclined WordPress users as well as developers. 

Unlike the Codex, the Developer Handbook is aimed primarily at developers. It is the official guide to the basic code of WordPress. The guide includes topics on WordPress coding standards, API development, the Gutenberg block editor and how to develop your own theme. If your question is related to a development issue then you will definitely find the answer here.

Premium support party

If you want your question answered immediately without much effort and want the problem solved at once, you will most likely have to pay someone for that. There are many companies and freelancers that offer premium support for a fee through a ticket system, for example. Before you decide to hire the services of a provider, you should always research the company carefully. 

Cheap does not always mean quality and you will be in trouble if the problem is still not solved when you have hired one of these companies. So always find out how the companies are rated, whether their website looks professional and what they promise regarding how quickly they solve the problem.

We hope we helped you out with where to go for WordPress help

As you have been able to read, there are plenty of places to turn to for WordPress help. You may feel a bit overwhelmed by the different WordPress support channels where you can ask your question. However, if you think a little critically and you have a good understanding of the problem of your question, then you can pick a help channel that best suits your issue. 

We hope this blog has helped you by making the right choice between the different WordPress support channels and are very curious about your reaction. Please leave it at the bottom of this blog if you are feeling to. 

Core Web Vitals: a very important Google update in 2021

A few weeks ago we wrote an article about the most important Google ranking factors of 2021. In this article we explained that from may 2021, Google will rank websites more strongly based on new metrics, called Core Web Vitals. 

Although nobody knows exactly how big the impact of these new metrics will be on the rankings, we do know that Google will place more value on user experience factors that have to do with page speed, responsiveness and the stability of content during loading. 

Focus on user experience and drastic measures

In essence, the Core Web Vitals represent different facets of the user experience. And because the user experience is quite a catch-all term, Google has made certain demarcations in the search algorithm, which are called the Core Web Vitals. 

Google has mentioned that website owners do not need to be hardcore web developers to meet the requirements of Core Web Vitals. According to them, the Web Vitals initiative aims to simplify website optimization and help websites focus on user experience factors that matter most. 

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Our analyses show that many websites need to take drastic and complex measures to meet the Core Web Vitals’ requirements. Therefore, we expect many website owners to engage the help of web developers. Ironically enough, Google itself does not meet all Core Web Vitals and even they still have important improvements to make:

Google Core Web Vitals

But don’t despair! Below we explain exactly what the Core Web Vitals are and how you can make your website meet these new metrics. 

 

But what exactly are the Core Web Vitals?

In order to be able to give a good answer to this question, it is important to make a distinction between the concepts ‘page experience’ and content. 

Google defines page experience as “aspects that measure how users experience a web page beyond the pure information value of that page”. The pure information value in this definition is about the relevance of information, or content. 

The Core Web Vitals mainly relate to the page experience. Hence, these metrics do not so much measure how relevant your website content is, but rather the things around it. This means that your content can still be so good, but if the visitor has to wait too long before the page loads or is flooded with intrusive interstitials (e.g. ads, banners or pop-ups), Google will not be very happy about it. 

However, Google has promised to still give priority to pages with the best content in general. The Core Web Vitals therefore help a website to score better when there is a lot of competition on similar content. The page experience can thus be seen as a decisive factor for a higher ranking in the search results.

As a website owner, how do I take the Core Web Vitals into account? 

The current set for 2021 focuses on three aspects of the page experience – loading (measured by Largest Contentful Paint), interactivity (measured by First Input Delay) and visual stability (measured by Cumulative Layout Shift). Good to know is that the statistics that make up Core Web Vitals will evolve over time and therefore multiple aspects of user experience will be added in a later stadium. 

In summary, the three aspects that are the most relevant at this moment, mean the following:

Largest Content Paint (LCP): measures the loading performance of your website. For a good loading performance, the largest element of the website should be loaded within 2.5 seconds after the page is opened. If this takes longer than 4 seconds, your website will score badly. 

First Input Delay (FID): measures the responsiveness of your website by measuring the time between loading a page and the moment when the user can interact for the first time. To provide a good user experience, pages must have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures the visual stability of your website and the frequency with which users see unexpected layout changes. To provide a good user experience, pages must have a CLS of less than 0.1.

To ensure you meet the recommended target for each of the above metrics, it is a good threshold to have 75 percent of page visits comply with the frames.

The three Core Web Vital aspects explained 

You probably won’t comprehend much from the summary above if you’ve never heard of the concepts LCP, FID and CLS. That is why we explained them more detailed below. We also tell you with which factors your website should comply in order to get a better user experience. 

LCP: make your website faster

As we discussed earlier, a good loading time of a page on LCP is under 2.5 seconds. If the loading time is between 2.5 and 4 seconds, improvements have to be made. If the loading time is longer than 4 seconds, it often means that the visitor has already left. Of course that is not the goal of any website. 

There is a whole list of LCP factors you have to take into account to offer your visitors the best web experience, but in total there are four factors that really matter: 

1. Response time of the server

The longer it takes for a browser to receive content from the server, the longer it takes to display something on the visitor’s screen. A faster server response time immediately improves each individual page loading speed, including the LCP.

To optimize the server speed, you need to investigate how your server processes all content. This is measured by the Time to First Byte (TTFB). From there you can see what is needed to optimize. Possible solutions are for example: 

  • Optimizing your server 
  • Directing visitors to a CDN
  • Caching
  • HTML cached pages

2. Render blocking JavaScript and CSS

JavaScript and CSS are two important sources that can block the display of content on a page. And thus also slow down the LCP. Therefore, make sure that only the minimum amount of CSS required blocks the display on your website by applying the following: 

  • Reducing CSS
  • Delaying non-critical CSS
  • Inlining critical CSS
  • Reducing the blocking time of JavaScript

3. Resource load time

Although an increase in CSS or JavaScript blocking time directly results in poorer loading performance, the time required to load external sources such as photos and videos can also affect LCP. There are a few ways to ensure that these files are loaded as quickly as possible:

  • Optimizing and compress images
  • Pre-loading key resources
  • Compressing text files

4. Client-side rendering

Recently more and more website builders are using JavaScript frameworks because they offer a lot of options and are very user friendly. One problem, however, is that this can undermine the LCP, causing a visitor not to see a page or do nothing on the page, until all critical scripts have been executed.

If you are building a website that is mostly client-side displayed, you should be extra wary of the effect this can have on LCP when a large JavaScript bundle is loaded. Therefore, consider the following optimizations when building a client-side rendered site:

  • Minimizing critical JavaScript
  • Using server-side rendering
  • Using pre-rendering

FID: make the interface of your website responsive 

FID measures the time from the moment a user first interacts with a page (clicking a link, tapping a button or using a custom JavaScript-controlled control) to the moment the browser processes the event in response to the interaction. 

If the interaction is very slow and there is no confirmation for the visitor that something is going to happen, this can affect the user experience. 

In essence, the FID can be seen as a subjective measure of user frustration. It differs per visitor how annoying they find it before an action occurs when they have searched for interaction by, for example, clicking a button or sending a form. 

Of course Google has to draw a line here and they have set this at a delay of one tenth of a second (100ms). So for a good score on First Input Delay you have to make sure that in 75% of the page visits there is 100 milliseconds or less delay between an interaction on your page and the result thereof.

Solutions that can help you with this:

  • Visually show that something is being processed
  • Limit the loading time of third-party codes such as Google
  • Shorten the JavaScript execution time
  • Minimize the main thread work
  • Keep the number of requests low and the transfer formats small

CML: don’t let the layout of your website shift during loading

Shifts in the layout of a website can be very distracting. Nothing is more annoying for the experience of the visitor when suddenly all elements on the page shift when fully loaded. 

Often these shifts are caused when visible elements are forced to move because another element has been added to the page or its format has changed.

Ultimately, the CML measures the instability of content due to shifts that do not occur within 500 ms of user interaction. It looks at how many visible elements have shifted and at the distance by which the elements have shifted.

Google sees the CLS as a very important metric for user friendliness, and this applies especially to the mobile phone. A mobile screen is in fact very small, so a shift in the layout soon has a huge impact. 

The most common causes of a bad CLS are:

  • Images and advertisements without dimensions. Make sure you specify the height and width of the images and/or advertisements. Reserve enough space for this in advance and take a good look at what the elements look like on the page.
  • Dynamically implemented content. For example, an arrow pointing to relevant content after the user clicks a button. Make sure the arrow is loaded within 500 ms to meet a good CLS score. 
  • Webfonts cause FOOT / ERROR
  • Actions waiting for a network response before updating DOM

How do I check if my website complies with the Core Web Vitals?

There are several ways to check how your website is doing with respect to the Core Web Vitals. In the tool list below a distinction between field, lab and Javascript tools is made. 

Field tools (measuring real-time data)

Javascript tools (very accurate for measuring Core Web Vitals but requires knowledge to implement them)

Lab tools (lab measurements are the best way to test the performance of functions during development) 

The Core Web Vitals keep developing

With Google’s constantly changing search algorithm, it is expected that many more future improvements and additions will be made to the Core Web Vitals.

We recommend that you keep a close eye on updates from Google and optimize your website based on the information about the current Core Web Vitals in this article.