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.

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

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.

A first step towards an SEO optimized website

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.

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.

 

30 best free WordPress themes for 2021

Best WordPress webshop themes 2021: our top 8

Are you planning on making your own webshop or do you want to build a webshop for a client? Then you for sure need an attractive, fast and responsive WordPress webshop theme that is user-friendly as well. Luckily there are plenty of great webshop themes to choose from and it is often not necessary to build one yourself from scratch. 

To create your webshop you can choose the free Storefront theme of Woocommerce itself. This is a free theme with a quite attractive design that meets most Google pagespeed scores. The theme also offers a number of options for implementing your own branding and is maintained by the main developers of Woocommerce. Which means that the integration with WordPress and other WooCommerce extensions is seamless.

If your goal is to design a website where you can customize the branding, it is best to choose a premium (paid) theme of WooCommerce. Most themes cost between $50 and $70 and offer numerous options for applying your own style and design. Moreover, the themes are often fully responsive and have a good speed score which is beneficial for SEO. Furthermore, the themes usually take a lot of account of user experience factors, making it easier for your webshop to convert. Which is the main goal of most webshops right? 

Enough talk, below we present our top 8 WordPress webshop themes.

Top 8 WordPress webshop themes

 

1. Astra 

Astra

 

 

Astra is a very light WordPress theme that can be used for creating webshops, portfolios, agency’s blogs and many other purposes. The theme is above all very suitable for building webshops because it is very user friendly and meets all Google pagespeed scores. The theme also offers many options for customizing your webshop. Furthermore, the theme offers very good support and is being updated with many new features on a monthly basis due to the large number of users. You can choose to extend the functionality of Astra by upgrading to the pro version of the theme. However, this is most of the time not necessary because a wide range of functionalities are completely free to use.

2. Astra 

OceanWP

OceanWP is a flexible WordPress theme that is suitable for almost any webshop, in any sector and of any size. The theme has a very clean code and is quite light, making the website optimally secured and also very fast. Also, the theme is fully responsive, works very well with Woocommerce, has an extensive mega menu and is compatible with almost all popular page builders. In addition, monthly updates are performed, making the theme better and better by time.

3. Shoptimizer

Shoptimizer

Shoptimizer is a WooCommerce theme of CommerceGurus, built around the two goals of speed and conversion. Research shows that even a one second delay results in a 7% reduction in conversions. Because Shoptimizer meets all major page speed scores, you don’t have to worry about your webshop converting less well due to poor website speed. Besides the lightning-fast website speed, Shoptimizer also has a number of very handy conversion-oriented features, including a distraction-free checkout process, trust badges (in addition to attractive call-to-action buttons) and a callback option. Moreover, this theme is designed to be completely mobile-first, which is beneficial for SEO as well.

4. Jayla

Jayla

If you want to go for a minimalistic and modern Woocommerce website then Jayla is definitely a suitable option. Jayla contains every functionality you need for creating a professional looking webshop to promote and sell your products/services online. The theme is fully responsive as well and super flexible through the advanced panel options and mega menu’s. Moreover, you have many options for customization through the Multi Builder blocks and an unlimited number of colors for the layout. Video backgrounds and even portfolios are also available! Building general pages can be done with the easy-to-use page builder Visual Composer and the Bootstrap framework.

5. Metro

Metro

Like Jayla, Metro is an excellent choice if you want to go for a minimalistic WooCommerce design. The theme comes together with two premium plugins called WooCommerce Variation Swatches Pro and Woocommerce Variation Images Gallery Pro. These two plugins are built to make your web shop pages even more attractive and convert better. Metro also offers a wide range of layout choices, with an unlimited number of color combinations and seven unique multi-page homepages. Like all the other themes in this blog, Metro is fully responsive and mobile friendly, making your web shop look great on all devices.

6. Divi

Divi

Divi is an immensely popular theme, suitable for all kinds of applications – from creating blogs to building webshops. Especially when combined with the bundled WooCommerce plugin, Divi is transformed into a true e-commerce monster. Thanks to Divi’s very user-friendly page builder (called Divi Builder), designing layouts is a breeze for everyone. When you download Divi you can choose from pre-programmed layouts with different homepages, portfolios, e-commerce storefronts and much more. In this way you can start building your webshop right away!

7. Storefront

Storefront

Storefront is the official WooCommerce theme of WordPress, which can also be downloaded for free at WordPress.org. The theme is seen as a lightweight basic theme that forms an excellent basis for creating a webshop. The integration with WooCommerce is seamless and makes it easy to create a fully functional webshop. The theme looks pretty simple, but the lightweight and bloat-free design makes it easy to expand and customize Storefront to your own wishes.

8. Atelier

Atelier

Atelier offers a high-quality look that you would expect with a premium WooCommerce theme. Because of its luxurious look, the theme is very suitable for selling art or more luxurious clothing for example. Moreover Atelier contains and supports a number of popular plugins, such as Yoast, BuddyPress, Visual Composer, Gravity Forms, Revolution Slider and Go Responsive Pricing Tables. It also has a large number of layouts to choose from, with seven demos, three product pages, 10 headers and more. Also included are shortcodes and a child theme for easy customization.

 

Enough WordPress webshop themes to choose from.. 

As you can see there is enough choice for your ideal WordPress webshop theme. We are curious about what your favorite theme is for creating a webshop, in a comment at the bottom of this blog.

 

Google Ranking factors: what is going to change in 2021?

About a month ago, WordPress Tavern published a rather disturbing article about a number of new Google ranking factors in 2021. The article states that as of May 2021 Google will rank websites more strongly based on user experience factors by means of  ‘Core Web Vital statistics’. This includes factors such as page speed, responsiveness and the stability of content during loading.

The upcoming Google update combines these factors with previously announced UX-related signals for mobile friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS security and intrusive interstitials (intermediate pages or web elements that appear before or on the mobile web page you actually want to visit, for example ads, banners or pop-ups).

Google has promised that website owners will have until May 2021 to improve their website metrics in terms of user friendliness, speed and structure. Since then, the company has seen a 70% increase of Lighthouse, PageSpeed Insights and Search Console’s Core Web Vitals report users in preparation for the update.

But what will be the effect of these new ranking factors on the current ranking system? That is of course the big question and nobody knows exactly. What we do know is that Google has promised to still give priority to pages with the best information in general. Hence, the website metrics related to user experiences, which will be used from May 2021, help a website to score better when there is a lot of competition on similar content.

Most likely this means that already existing Google ranking factors such as backlinks and content will remain important. So we think there is no reason to worry that the entire ranking system will be blown over by the Google update. Below we have made a list with which Google ranking factors will all remain relevant in 2021, taking the new update into account.

Type Google ranking factors

Before we present our top 6 Google ranking factors, with which you can optimize your website, we will first discuss the three different types of Google ranking factors. Marketers usually talk in terms of ‘on- and off-page’ Google ranking factors, but there are actually three distinct types: 

Off-page ranking factors: external ranking factors that are not measured on your website by Google and mainly relate to backlinks.

On-page ranking factors: ranking factors that are measured on your website itself and are related to the keywords and informative quality of your pages. 

Technical ranking factors: factors that are also measured on your website itself, but have more to do with the overall performance of the website as a whole, as opposed to individual pages as is the case with on-page ranking factors. 

It is important to note that there is not a single Google ranking factor that will make or break your SEO. It is the sum of all your technical, on-page and off-page efforts that will determine your website ranking.

The 6 major Google ranking factors in 2021

Now that we have categorized the Google ranking factors, we are pleased to present the 6 important ranking factors in 2021, starting with the technical ones.

1. Core web vitals

As discussed in the introduction, Core Web Vitals are the latest user experience metrics that will soon become very important Google ranking factors. The statistics measure the first impression the user gets when visiting a website. For now this impression will be made measurable with three metrics, but there will most likely be more in the future. These three measurement factors are the loading time, interactivity and stability of a website.

Google ranking factors 2021: As discussed in the introduction, Core Web Vitals are the latest user experience metrics that will soon become very important Google ranking factors. The statistics measure the first impression the user gets when visiting a website. For now this impression will be made measurable with three metrics, but there will most likely be more in the future. These three measurement factors are the loading time, interactivity and stability of a website

Source image

 

Google has released a detailed set of guidelines to optimize every vital website part. In summary: for faster loading, Google recommends better service response times, less JavaScript and CSS blocking and faster loading of resources. For improved interactivity, Google recommends splitting codes and using less JavaScript.

Finally, for improved visual stability, Google recommends using size related guidelines for images and videos. This content should also be loaded from above so that images and videos are visible immediately. For more in depth knowledge about the Core Web Vitals we recommend reading the following article

Want to know how to measure core web vitals on your own website? Then read the following article.

2. Mobile optimization

Since September 2020 Google uses mobile-first indexing when crawling websites. This means that Google’s search engine mainly uses the mobile version of a website for evaluating a page.

Even if the desktop version of your website is fully optimized, your ranking in Google’s search engine can take a huge hit if the site is not optimized for mobile traffic. So always preview your web pages on the mobile to see if they are easily accessible on this device. 

You can use this test of Google to check whether your website is mobile friendly. If your website is sufficient, you’ll get a green light and if not, you’ll get (some) suggestions for improvement. 

Checking your website page by page may be a bit impractical. You can also choose to use the Google Search Console tool to check all your pages at once. Instructions: Start the tool, go to Enhancements > Mobile Usability and view a report compiled with a list of suggested improvements.

In this article on Mobile SEO you can read more about how to optimize your website for mobile traffic.

3. Internal links

As mentioned in the article about Mobile SEO, search engines crawl different types of content and index them accordingly. The search engine uses internal links as a method to analyze information and index it correctly. In this context, the term ‘internal links’ refers to any hyperlink that refers to an internal page on a website.

In practice, this means that the more organized and thoughtful your internal link structure is, the easier it is for search engines (and users) to find what they are looking for. 

To realize this, when creating a new page, you need to think about which pages you are going to link to. As we also have done in this article. 

A popular method to structure internal links is by creating subject clusters. The idea is simple: you create content around a specific overarching topic and maintain interconnectedness within this cluster.

Furthermore, topic clusters are also beneficial from a user experience perspective. It makes content easy to navigate and readers will find that they do not have to go to multiple sites to find what they are looking for. This also increases the ‘average time on website’, which is also an important parameter for a better ranking.

4. Backlinks

On the contrary to an internal link, a backlink is a hyperlink that comes from a page outside your website. In 1996 Google launched its groundbreaking PageRank algorithm update that made the number and quality of links to a website or page a strong indicator of a website’s ranking. Ironically enough, this is still the case more than two decades later. 

It seems that Google is planning to abandon backlinks in the future, but for now this still seems to be a pie in the sky. Backlinks are and will remain the most important ranking factor for a website for the time being. So your goal should be to get as many backlinks as possible from domains with a high authority. 

There are several backlink strategies to grow your backlink profile. The three most important are writing quality content that peers in your sector can share, guest blogs and the most difficult one: cold-outreach. To get more ideas of what kind of backlinks are suitable for your niche, competitive research is very useful. Tools that can help you on your way are for example SE Ranking and Ubersuggest.

5. Relevant keywords

There is no doubt about whether relevant keywords are the basis for an effective SEO strategy. Keywords are the search terms that people use when they visit a search engine to find what they are looking for. Before you start creating content for your website, it is crucial that you do a keyword search.

It can be a challenge to find out which keywords to use, where to place them and how often to do this. In order to have as much chance as possible to rank well, it is a good strategy to benchmark the top pages of your competitors. You can do this with the tools SE Ranking and Ubersuggest, which in our opinion are two of the best SEO tools. 

Once you’ve determined your keyword strategy, it’s time to create content. One tool that can be very useful for meeting SEO variables on the pages you are going to create is Yoast. Yoast gives you, among other things, an indication of how often you should use the keyword and where to place it. It also gives advice about the link structure on the pages you are going to design.

6. Quality content

In the good old SEO days it worked to stuff your pages with many different keywords at the same time. Nowadays focus is very important in SEO and a page has to meet an appropriate number of relevant keywords, titles and images in order to rank well. Hence, the page should be written in a ‘natural copywriting style’ with qualitative information as the main focus. After all, the goal of the visitor and Google is to get an answer to the question they have been looking for. 

Most content loses its value over time. Articles you have written in 2018 become obsolete at some point and Google search trends change over time. So try to take a closer look at older pages and complement them with new keywords and information.

Some pages may need a complete rewrite, while others only need a few minor adjustments to bring them back to life. If you are updating a message, republish it with the new publication date. This will give your visitors the impression that the message is brand new. Don’t forget to delete the old message otherwise Google will see it as duplicate content.

Google’s algorithm keeps evolving

The new update of Google that will be implemented in May 2021 shows us to keep an eye on the ever evolving SEO landscape. It is highly likely that in the future current Google ranking factors, such as backlinks and keywords, will gradually lose their value. Other factors, such as user experience and qualitative content, will take their place.

At the same time, there is no such thing as an SEO miracle cure. Climbing into the search engine takes time. It turns out that Google’s algorithms are erratic and that updates can completely overhaul the current ranking system. The most important notion to keep in mind is therefore to keep your website as relevant and informative as possible for your visitors.

Google wants to show the most relevant search results for each search, so that everyone can find the information they are looking for as quickly as possible. So if you do your absolute best to show your visitors the most relevant information possible, Google will notice it and will reward you with a positive ranking.

Icon fonts: the 10 best icon websites and tools

During the design of your website you have undoubtedly needed them: icons, also called icon fonts. They come in all shapes and sizes, and are often available for free. In order to meet the demand of minimalist website design, the large supply has become more or less a necessity. 

In this blog we present an overview of the icon fonts where a distinction is made between free and paid options. On certain websites you will be asked to refer to the icon font source when putting it on your website. And this is mainly the case with free variants.

Most of the time this is not considered convenient by web developers as it gives an amateuristic appearance on a webpage. Therefore we mentioned in this whether it is the case you have to give a reference when using the icon font.

The follow-up of this blog will be about how you can best implement the icon fonts in your website and how to determine which icons are suitable.

Our top 10 icon fonts websites and tools

 

Option 1: Font-Awesome (free and paid option)

Icon fonts: Font-Awesome

 

Font-Awesome is one of the most widely used icon sets and toolkits for developers. The biggest advantages of Font-Awesome are that you can choose out of more than 7.000 icons! The icons are very customizable as they are very css friendly. In addition, their library made it super easy to add the icon to your website and the tool is easy to use as well. 

Moreover, It is also possible to add your own created icons to Font-Awesome.

Option 2: IconMoon (free and paid option)

icon fonts: IcoMoon

IcoMoon has over 5000 open source icons available in their library. All IcoMoon icons are designed on a precise pixel grid, making the icons look attractive on any website.

With the extra feature ‘IcoMoon app’ you can create your own icon packages and use them in many different formats, including SVG, polymer, PDF, XAML, CSH, icon font with ligatures or good old PNG / CSS-sprites. IcoMoon offers both free and paid variants.

Option 3: Dashicons (free)

Icon fonts: Dashicons

Dashicons is the official icon font of the WordPress administrator from 3.8 onwards. Since 2018, no new icons have been created but there is a whole list (more than 300 icons) to choose from. The icons are very compatible with Gutenberg, which is the standard pagebuilder of WordPress.

Option 4: Bytesize (free)

icon fonts: Bytesize

Each Bytesize icon is hand coded along a 32×32 grid and uses a SVG line for maximum style flexibility; meaning you can adjust the weight, color, size and shape of the icons. 

If your goal is to build an uber lightweight website, then Bytesize is definitely a good option. All their 84 icons weigh only 9kb in minified form and 2kB in SVGZ or Gzipped.

Option 5: Flaticon (free)

Icon fonts: Flaticon

A good option for unique and fun icons is Flaticon. With the free version you can download up to 10 icons per day. The icons weigh around 16 kb each. However, the disadvantage is that if you use the free version, you will have to reference the source of the icon on your webpage.

Option 6: Fontello (free)

Icon fonts: Fontello

Fontello is a free icon font generator, where you can discover and build new icons. There are standard icons available but it is also possible to convert vector images into an icon font. You can also upload your own images and have them converted.

Option 7: Free Icon Shop (free)

Icon fonts: Iconshop

Just like Free Icon Shop, this is a good (free) option for unique and good looking icons. The advantage of this website is that there is no need to mention the source. The disadvantage is that the website does use advertising which hinders you from downloading the icons.

Option 8: Iconfinder (free)

Icon fonts: Iconfinder

On Iconfinder you can choose from more than five million icons! Approximately 319 thousand of them are free. Via the search function you can set whether you are looking for free or paid icons. You can also indicate if you are willing to put a backlink on your website for the icon packs where this is obligated. So you can filter in such a way that the website only shows the icons that you can use completely for free.

Option 9: Envato (often paid)

Icon fonts: Envato

In addition to many other images, Envato also offers icons. Most icon packages are paid for but you have so much choice on this platform that it is not difficult for you to find a unique set of icons.

Option 10: Emojipedia (free)

Icon fonts: Emojipedia

Of course you can also just use classic icons: emojis. These are very easy to integrate into your website and are all freely accessible. They also weigh almost nothing.

So plenty of options to choose from.. 

As you now know, there are a lot of options that can help you in finding your ideal set of icons. Let us know what your favorite website/tool for icons is, in a comment at the bottom of this blog.

Mobile SEO: mobile first and the most important ranking factors

Mobile SEO: mobile first and the ranking factors

The growth of the mobile internet is unstoppable… Worldwide, more and more people are using their mobile phone to perform searches on Google, visit websites and make purchases on webshops. Of the just over 17 million inhabitants in the Netherlands in 2018, 16.38 million people were Internet users and 84% of this group used their mobile phone to surf the Internet. 

Research shows that on average we spend more than a month a year on our smartphones. The cell phone truly has become our best friend. We take it with us everywhere we go, even to the toilet.

Mobile SEO best friend

Apart from the fact that this trend has a major impact on our way of life, the SEO, ‘Search Engine Optimization’/Search Engine Optimization, ranking factors are also strongly influenced by this phenomenon. Many websites already receive more than half of their search traffic via mobile phones.

Google also sees that mobile searches have increased explosively in recent years. 

That is why websites are increasingly judged based on SEO ranking factors related to concepts such as ‘mobile first’ and ‘mobile friendliness’. Do you want to know what this means and what guidelines you should use to optimize your website for mobile traffic? Then read on or click below on the topic you want to know more about.

  1. Brief introduction SEO
  2. Mobile SEO
  3. Mobile Indexing
  4. Mobile SEO ranking factors and Google guidelines
  5. How WPupgrader can help you with your mobile SEO rankings

Brief introduction SEO

Ever wondered why one website in Google ranks better than another? The answer is SEO, which stands for the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website for internet users of a search engine. In essence, SEO ensures that your information, product or service matches the searches of internet users as well as possible. SEO also often refers to the improvement of unpaid results and excludes direct traffic through the purchase of advertisements.

This is how it works: Google (or any other search engine that performs a search) has a ‘crawler’ (a robot that searches the world wide web in a very methodical and automated way), which collects information about all the content it can find on the internet. The crawler brings all this data back to the search engine to build an index. That index is then fed through an algorithm that tries to match all the data with a specific search query. There are a lot of SEO factors that are relevant for this algorithm, just take a look at this article.

Mobile SEO

No distinction is made between the SEO ranking factors on the mobile phone or the desktop; the same principles apply to both devices. However, as relatively many searches and website visits are performed on the mobile phone these days, the experience on this device is becoming more and more important. Google and other search engines measure this experience based on a number of essential factors that you should definitely take into account when optimizing a website for mobile traffic. Don’t worry about this, because if your website is already optimized for search engines there are only a few things that need to be adjusted according to Google.

It is always a smart idea to check if your website gets a lot of mobile search traffic before you start optimizing your website. It could be that your website receives almost no mobile traffic, this differs from industry to industry (see the image below). If this is the case, it’s a shame to completely set up your website for mobile traffic. Researching your website traffic can be done with the tool Google Analytics.

Responsive web design

Advantages responsive web design

Creating a responsive website offers many advantages. For example, only one website needs to be developed and maintained for different devices and most of the content remains accessible on almost all devices, with focus on the mobile phone. 

Moreover, a responsive web design offers an optimal visitor experience on both smaller screens and larger screens with a (very) high resolution. As with dynamic websites, in a responsive web design there can also be chosen to omit less relevant content from mobile visitors in order to improve page speed. For example with heavy imagery or font files.

In addition to these benefits, Google indicates some other advantages of a responsive web design;

  • a responsive web design makes it easier for users to share content with the same URL and link to it;
  • a responsive web design helps assign Google’s algorithms accurate indexing properties to the web pages instead of investigating and indexing the existence of corresponding desktop or mobile pages;
  • it requires less time and energy to maintain multiple web pages with the same content;
  • a responsive web design does not require redirection of visitors to display a device optimized view, which ultimately reduces loading time;
  • and Google only needs to crawl a responsive web design website once, instead of multiple times to retrieve the content. This improvement in crawl efficiency can indirectly help Google index more of your site’s content and find all relevant content.

All in all, Google definitely recommends to go for a responsive web design, in order to score well in terms of mobile SEO and create the best user experience.

Mobile indexing

Another very important topic of mobile first is mobile indexing. It is very important that the Google crawler can fully index a website by not excluding JavaScript and CSS files from indexing in robots.txt. If you don’t do this, Google will not be able to determine whether the website is actually mobile friendly.

In 2020, Google indicated that their analyses show that most sites displayed in search results are suitable for mobile-first indexing. For example, 70% of the sites displayed in Google’s search results have already switched to mobile-first indexing. To make it easier, Google will switch to mobile-first indexing for all websites from September 2020. Google claims to still crawl with the traditional desktop Googlebot from time to time, but most crawling will be done with their smartphone user agent.

To check if your website complies with the mobile-first indexing features, it’s best to use the Google Search Console tools. For example, the status your mobile first indexing can be displayed on the settings page as well as in the URL inspection tool. In particular, Google recommends ensuring that the displayed content (including text, images, videos, links), metadata (titles and descriptions, robots meta tags) and all structured data are the same on both the mobile and desktop website.

 

Mobile SEO ranking factors and Google guidelines

SEO mobile ranking factors

There are several ways to make your website mobile-first easier and score well on the mobile SEO ranking factors. Below you’ll find 11 very important methods to do this:

 

  1. High page speed score: Ensure a high page speed score. This is a very important ranking factor and certainly for mobile traffic. When your website is too slow, Google will not only rate your website worse, but you will also miss a lot of visitors. If a page doesn’t load within three seconds, visitors will most likely abort the loading and go to a competitor’s website. This is especially true for webshops. Ways to improve the page speed score are: selecting a fast hoster (like Kinsta), reducing resources on HTML, CSS and JavaScript, optimizing images, limiting the number of redirects, enabling compression, using browser caching, improving the server response time, considering a Content Delivery Network and choosing a suitable (WordPress) theme. With this tool you can examine the page speed of your pages.
  2. Responsive web design: Always go for a responsive web design in the first place if you want to score as good as possible in the field of mobile SEO, here is explained why.
  3. Mobile friendliness analysis: Always test the mobile friendliness of your website with an analysis tool like the mobile friendliness test or the settings page of Google Search Console and improve the error messages.
  4. Delete unnecessary content: Delete all unimportant content on your website. Mobile visitors don’t feel like scrolling through long lists of unnecessary content, so always make sure you have a minimalistic and sleek landing page. This ensures a lower bounce rate, which can significantly improve the SEO of the website.
  5. Call to action buttons: Make sure your Call to action buttons work and give them a prominent place. In this way you don’t run the risk that visitors will leave because they couldn’t find what they came for fast enough.
  6. Clear pages: Work with clear buttons and (product) pages. For example, provide your pages with a logical categorization of content and do not put too many products on one page when you are running a webshop.
  7. Search bar at the top of the page: Make it easy for the visitor to search for specific content by placing the search bar clearly visible at the top of the page.
  8. Structured data: Use structured data from Schema.org. Because of the limited screen space on a mobile phone, a search result with rich snippets is even more striking than on a desktop. It is therefore recommended to take advantage of structured data such as rich snippets.
  9. Optimize titles and meta descriptions: Remember that when a visitor visits your website with a mobile phone, you have less screen space to work with. To score best in terms of mobile SEO, you need to be as concise as possible when creating titles, URLs and meta descriptions.
  10. Optimize for local search: If your business offers a local service or product, don’t forget to optimize the website for local search. This includes standardizing the name, address and phone number and including the name of your city in the metadata of your site.
  11. AMP: Make use of AMP (‘Accelerated Mobile Pages’) on your website where this is possible and appropriate. Read more about AMP here.

Besides the different ways to make your website mobile-first and score well  in the search results, it’s also useful for both visitors and search engines, that your website meets the following guidelines of Google;

  • notify Google when a page has been created for mobile search traffic. This helps Google to accurately display your content in search results for mobile traffic;
  • make sure your website does not block CSS, JavaScript or other  files. The Smartphone GoogleBot wants to see and categorize the same content as users, so don’t hide it. These elements are essential for Google to understand whether you have a responsive site or another mobile solution;
  • try to avoid common mistakes that really frustrate mobile visitors, such as displaying unplayable videos (for example Flash video as the main content of the page). Mobile pages that provide a poor search experience can be downgraded in the ranking or displayed with a warning in mobile search results; 
  • the text must be readable on the page without having to zoom in;
  • content should be scaled based on screen size;
  • do not bundle links in a small area 
  • avoid installing App Interstitials for mobile users as much as possible (e.g. a pop-up for downloading a particular app).

WP Upgrader can help you with your mobile SEO rankings

The above Mobile SEO ranking factors and Google guidelines can be a lot to process and perhaps also difficult to put into practice right away. At WP Upgrader we are happy to help you as our goal is to rank your (mobile) website in the search results for organic (mobile) search traffic as high as possible. We do this by applying our knowledge of the Mobile SEO ranking factors and Google guidelines to your website. So if you need help with the implementation of the SEO ranking factors, creating a responsive website or have certain questions about the Google guidelines, you can ask for help here

 

What changes in WordPress 5.5?

It has been a while since the current version of WordPress has been launched. But WordPress (and other Open Source software) is like the Sagrada Familia: never finished. The latest edition of our favorite software (5.5) is scheduled to be launched on August 11.

Automatic updates for everything

Well, almost everything. With the latest version of WordPress, the automatic updates set since version 3.7 are extended to plugins and themes. You must do side effects for the core of WordPress manually.

Full-site editing

One of the biggest of the biggest updates in sight is the ability to edit your entire site from one worksheet. This sheet would make direct archive, search page, blog posts and post types accessible. This video from The Gutenberg Times gives a rough idea of ​​how full-site editing works.

Possible workflow with the full-site editor

Direct access to the Block Directory

A plugin from the Block Directory is actually a block (one with special features, a bit like a Uno hit map). In WordPress 5.5, you can put a block from this library in your post with the same ease of adding a new block in older versions of WordPress.

Built-in sitemaps in XML

Early this year, a team assembled by Google and Yoast built an XML sitemap. This map includes a homepage, a page for blog and “regular” posts, categories and tags and users. Not everyone is happy with this. After all, it can slow down loading speed and an XML sitemap is already available as a plugin.

Online maps, gps navigation concept. Map pointer location on a computer laptop. 3d illustration

Global Styles refresh

At the moment, work is still underway on Global Styles, an extension that allows theme makers to set standards such as font and color via a JSON file. Website users can then edit the theme through an administrator status interface. The question is whether this is a good development: after all, it may happen that end users perish in the multitude of options (do you go for a line height of 10.1 or 10.2 millimeters with font x?) That sets this in motion.

From beam to block

In addition to making the internet more accessible to the world, WordPress has another mission: to make a block of all toolbars. The full transformation is planned to be over after the launch of 5.6, so block fans are not quite satisfied with 5.5.

Corona plugin shows location distribution

Since the world has been gripped by the corona virus, the WordPress community is doing its best to alleviate the various measures by building different implementations for WordPress.

We wrote earlier about the launch of icons by Font Awesome. There is also a WordPress plugin called Corona Virus Data from the Chinese architect Duke Yin that shows where the virus is spreading. Data from infections, deaths and recoveries from COVID-19 are visualized on the world map, in a graph or table. It is also possible to display one continent in a WordPress message by using shortcodes. For those who do not want to reveal anything about themselves at any cost, the plugin is less suitable: the user’s IP address is stored.

Screenshot Corona plugin for WordPress

Screenshot corona plugin

 

 

Unfortunately, the application is not usable for those interested in corona data from Russia, because the API is blocked by the Russian government. Fortunately, such obstacles are not the case in the Netherlands and at Sowmedia we remain fully operational, corona or not.

Do you have any tips to deal with this situation? Leave it in the comments!