A Web Dev’s checklist for maintaining page speed

Filed Under (Blackhat tips) by blackhatforums on 21-09-2017

A guide for web developers to maintain a faster site with better performance

It’s obvious to say that all websites need upkeep, but often times they are left as “good enough.” Collecting dust, attracting hackers, slipping in the rankings. We’ve already gone into painstaking detail about why page speed matters and various levels of guidance for site speed optimization overhaul from novice to advanced. This article assumes you’ve implemented most of those major improvements, at least somewhat recently. If you haven’t, then definitely do start here.

In this post, we’ll look at the most likely culprits causing page speed to creep back up, and basic fixes to help keep the base layer of the marketing stack (infrastructure, page/site speed) healthy.

Infrastructure and site speed are the foundation for good digital marketing

Infrastructure drives internet marketing. It’s the base of the stack.

Image compression

Over time, lots of content gets added, edited, and generally messed with on your site. Content producers upload images, page templates get a facelift, and so on. In the hustle to keep our content fresh, compelling, and published on-time, marketers can easily forget to follow the image compression procedures that we carefully laid out the last time we did a site speed push.

Whatever the reason for the average image size creeping up, if images are not optimized before they go live, or auto-optimized on upload, it won’t take long for your newest content to under-perform.

Maintenance Tip #1: Test a handful of your main pages quarterly like the homepage, blog hub, services page, products hub, etc., on webpagetest.org. Analyze the results and make sure you address image compression issues.

Identify where and how over-sized images are popping up most frequently, and proactively address it with the folks who can improve their process. Teach your content team how they can optimize imagery for your site. Better still, implement a plugin that will auto-optimize your imagery on upload.

HTACCESS rules overwritten

This may sound like a strange culprit, but it definitely happens. A CMS and/or plugin modifies the local Apache config file (.htaccess) and in the process, wipes out a bunch of browser caching or compression directives.

Maintenance Tip #2: Be sure that you’re still defining max-age (or far off) expiration times for your static files like images, CSS, JavaScript, fonts, etc.

JavaScript and CSS bloat

Have you added any plugins to extend functionality lately? More often than not, plugins inject their own javascript and CSS on every page, even if they’re only truly being utilized on a few.

Maintenance Tip #3: Customize your theme (or app) to remove these unnecessary resources where they are not needed. This can be tedious, but taking the time to limit all plug-ins to only the uses and pages where they’re needed will add up to improve your performance metrics, and enhance your customers’ experience on your site.

3rd party scripts

Marketers love their tools. They provide great insights into all kinds of metrics to help make informed decisions. From page views and click-throughs to heat maps and scroll tracking. But sometimes they love their tools too much — and subsequently have their dev team install a bunch of 3rd party scripts into the code.

With the advent of Google Tag Manager, marketers can even insert some of these scripts themselves, which opens its own can of worms that we won’t get into. We’re big fans of GTM in general for the agility and visibility it brings to marketing teams, but as a developer that knows the value of site speed, you still need to understand all the code that’s going into your site.

Maintenance Tip #4: Coordinate with your analytics and/or marketing teams who utilize these tools and analyze them carefully. Be picky about what you are running on your site. Purge scripts that are no longer needed (or no longer work).

CMS and Updates to Plugins, Extensions, Modules

Regardless of your CMS, you should be keeping up with core updates for security patching and enhanced functionality. Sometimes, the updates are improvements to code efficiency. Plus, you don’t want to fall so far behind that when you finally address updates, they are of the large, complicated, headache variety. Iterative updates for the win!

The same goes for any plugins or extensions.

Maintenance Tip #5: Be vigilant about CMS updates. Keep ‘em small and painless. If a faster site wasn’t enough incentive, you don’t want to be unknowingly advertising for hackers, right?

That’s all for now!

This should be a fairly simple, manageable list to get your site’s performance back on the right track — and, most importantly, convert more leads. I would suggest reviewing once a month, and if you haven’t made any investment in site speed before this definitely check out Portent’s Massive Guide To Site Speed as a starting place If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below.

The post A Web Dev’s checklist for maintaining page speed appeared first on Portent.

Driving with John Chow – Episode 28 Your Attitude Sucks!

Filed Under (Blackhat tips) by blackhatforums on 21-09-2017

Upgrading the 27″ iMac Memory from 4GB to 16GB

Filed Under (Blackhat tips) by blackhatforums on 21-09-2017

7 Ways To Use Video On Your Blog To Get More Engagement

Filed Under (Blackhat tips) by blackhatforums on 19-09-2017

You’ve probably used or are using video to make your posts more effective, but has it ever occurred to you that there are several other innovative ways you can use video to amplify your blog’s impact? Yes, they do exist, but it’s a little unfortunate that the majority of us haven’t learnt these tricks.

Don’t fret though, because we dug them up and, today, we present them to you just so that you may have a better opportunity to make your blog posts more inventive, engaging, and successful.

1. Add Text Content

Simply embedding the video without providing a context won’t draw in enough viewership. In fact, this might turn away a part of your audience as they might not be convinced enough to watch the video. It’s, thus, a great idea to introduce the video with beautiful and captivating sentences, and if possible, add a few short paragraphs that lead into it. Applying this to your explainer, how-to, or testimonials video is a sure way to convince your prospective audience to watch it. If you do it well enough, they will watch through to the end.

2. Interact With The Audience

Part of your video content should have a section where you encourage your audience to leave their comments or other feedback. In fact, make it your mission to always fit a question for your audience. Such feedback gives you a chance to interact with your audience and squeeze out lessons you can use to make your content better. Also, such discussions could be helpful to other viewers and, in other cases, it presents an opportunity for you to respond to your audience’s concerns.

3. Customize Your Video

Viewer experience largely depends on how well you customize your video. It’s really a huge mistake to embed a video on your blog post and fail to fit it within the post’s boundaries or give it aesthetic additions and other functionalities that could optimize its function.

Setting a particular start time or allowing/disallowing related videos to show up when the current one is complete are just few of the many aspects you can adjust as you wish.

This might be a challenge for some people, especially those who’ve not embraced the technical aspects of embedding a video, but the least you can do to make your video attractive is to ensure its width doesn’t go beyond the blog post’s column.

4. Make The Post And Video Mobile-Friendly

Smartphones are more popular today than ever, and nowadays, more people use their phones to access blogs and other platforms. It’s reported that the majority of this users spend well over 50% of their time on their cellphones, mostly accessing websites and viewing videos. So, since the majority of them will access your blog from a mobile device, customize your blog and video such that they will be friendly to these users as well. This way, you will engage a larger audience.

5. Embed It Close To The Top

There’s a section of your audience that will only care about your post once their eyes land on a video embedded in it. This means that keeping it way below is sure to work to your disadvantage in most cases. But note that this will largely depend on the type of content in your blog.

6. Make It Short

Many studies today agree that a lot of people often lose their attention after hitting the one-minute mark. So, it’s only best that all the videos you embed on your post are short. Videos that have had the most impact today are those that run for 30-45 seconds.

Some viewers will even be discouraged to check out the video if they realize that it’s long. However, in the case where you have to create a video that is longer than one minute, ensure the introduction is incredibly captivating and the accompanying content so fascinating that your audience will sit through to the end.

7. Quality Matters

No matter how impeccable your video content is, your readers aren’t going to watch even a second of it if its quality is wanting. For instance, if the video’s highest resolution is 240p, many will be discouraged to watch it. It’s, therefore, advised that you aim for the higher resolutions.

Sound quality, transitions, and other related aspects also have to be considered. Keep in mind that uploading top quality videos might take you ages if your internet is average or poor. Therefore, before you start to edit it, that’s something else you’ll have to put into consideration.

Wrap Up

In summary, embedding a video on your blog post is good but doing the entire process creatively and expertly is what makes all the difference. The seven ways we’ve mentioned are tested and proven and, if applied well, they will get you the engagement level and viewership you’ve always wished for. So, pay extra attention to each and, if possible, seek expert help where it’s necessary.

VideoRemix is a video software company that allows users to create, edit, personalize, and publish production-quality video campaigns to engage their audience. Clients can feature these dynamic videos on websites, landing pages, video-sharing sites, and Facebook.

Original post: 7 Ways To Use Video On Your Blog To Get More Engagement

4 Ways to Promote Your Business with Video

Filed Under (Blackhat tips) by blackhatforums on 18-09-2017

Did you know that almost 80% off all Internet traffic is made of video? And did you know that every day over five billion videos are watched it on YouTube? Video is huge, and if you’re not using it to promote your business you are missing out on a big opportunity. Below you will find four ways that you can use to promote your business with video content.

1. Create marketing videos

YouTube has over one billion active users many of them are searching for general information, tutorials, how-to videos and so on. If you create a marketing videos targeting specific keywords related to your business you could attract those users. The cool thing is that you don’t even need to know how to record video. You can leverage libraries like VideoBlocks to download ready to go motion graphics and then simply customize eat to your business.

2. Convert your existing content into video

If you don’t know what kind of videos that you can create, you can simply transform your existing content into videos. For example, you can convert your blog posts into videos. Second, if you have a marketing material like e-books or reports you can also convert them into videos.

3. Create a YouTube channel

As long as you plan to create a more than a couple of videos, and you should, then creating your own YouTube channel is a must. By promoting your YouTube channel on your website and on social networks you should be able to increase their popularity off your videos. Here is a post with 18 tips you can use to promote your YouTube channel.

4. Use explainer videos on key pages

Research confirms that video can increased conversion rates significantly. This means that you should have at least one video on your sales pages, newsletter sign-up pages, and so on. There are many online tools that can help you to create an explainer video for your product or service, and those will help your potential customers to better evaluate and understand your offering.

Original post: 4 Ways to Promote Your Business with Video

Funnel-Based PPC Account Strategy – An Overview

Filed Under (Blackhat tips) by blackhatforums on 14-09-2017

Channel Contribution 101: You want your paid search account to drive value and make money. You want to use your paid search account to help reach new customers and grow your business. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as whipping up a campaign, throwing in some keywords, and then watching the revenue come flooding in. You need a strategic plan that allows you to get your business to where you want it to be.

A good strategic plan will map out your campaign and ad group structure so you can apply the right assets (keywords, ads, etc.) that target the right audience. As a result, you’ll be able to achieve your goals in the most efficient ways possible.

So, how do we do this?

Using the Marketing Funnel in PPC

In order to create a strategic plan which will allow you to be successful, we need to understand your audience in terms of where they are in their journey to conversion. The marketing funnel can help us visualize this journey from awareness to action.

The conversion funnel guides PPC Account Strategy - Portent

The top of the funnel represents an audience unaware of your business and the bottom of the funnel represents an audience who has converted and become a customer or a client. Hence, a high funnel audience is less likely to convert than a mid or low funnel audience. This is important to understand as you’ll need to use different campaigns for different audiences, each with assets tailored to move a given user further along in their own journey through the funnel.

Think about it: how often do you go from being completely unaware of a given company or product to being ready to buy in one step? Not very often, right?

You usually need a bit more information before taking that action. So, if you’re targeting mid funnel audiences with a given paid search campaign, does it make sense to use content focused on, say, the price and a call to action of “buy now”? Maybe not. Perhaps you should utilize content which informs this audience further, moving them along from being aware they have a problem (mid funnel) to aware that you are their solution (low funnel).

Your strategic plan needs to be in lock-step with this kind of funnel, or user journey. Let’s take a look at each part of the funnel in detail to see what campaign types and strategies you need to take advantage of and optimize for.

High Funnel PPC

User’s Location in the Funnel: Awareness

A high funnel user is either unaware or just becoming aware of your business and isn’t necessarily interested in your offering(s). This audience likely isn’t searching for anything relevant to your business.

Campaign Type: Display

A vast majority of the time, a high funnel user needs an initial point of contact outside of search to go from being unaware of your business to aware. This audience is usually acquired through banner ad or video ad display campaigns (non-remarketing).

Focus: On-Site Usage Metrics

This audience is highly unlikely to convert right away. If your account’s average cost per acquisition (avg. CPA) is $50, you should expect to see an avg. CPA 20 or 30 times higher for these campaigns specifically. You want this audience to engage with the content on your website so they become interested in what you have to offer.

High Funnel Key Performance Indicators

Because these audiences likely won’t convert by their nature, you should rely on on-site usage/engagement metrics to determine the success of these campaigns:

  • Bounce Rate
  • Avg. Session Duration
  • Pages per Session

Remember, the goal of these campaigns is to move a high funnel user down the funnel to become a mid funnel user.

Mid Funnel PPC

User’s Location in the Funnel: Interest

A mid funnel audience is aware of your business and is becoming more interested in your offer(s). These users may be actively searching for related topics to learn more and see what offers your competitors have.

Campaign Type: Non-Branded Search (Including Shopping), Soft Remarketing

This audience is typically acquired through non-branded search queries – terms that indicate this audience is problem-aware and/or solution-aware. They also tend to convert well with soft remarketing campaigns which offer additional content to assist them down the funnel instead of a hard sell.

Focus: New User Conversion Metrics, Assisted Conversion Metrics

These audiences do convert but do so typically at lower rates than the account or site average. These campaigns can best be judged by new user conversion metrics; these more accurately reflect a mid funnel audience. Furthermore, since these campaigns are designed to get a mid funnel user to return to your site later and convert as a low funnel user, assisted conversion metrics will be among the most important KPIs at this stage.

Mid Funnel Key Performance Indicators

  • New User Conversion Volume
  • New User Conversion Rate
  • New User Avg. CPA
  • New User ROAS (if e-commerce)
  • Assisted Conversion Volume
  • Assisted Conversion : Last-Click Conversion Ratio

Low Funnel PPC

Users’ Location in the Funnel: Desire

A low funnel audience is well aware of your business, possibly searching for it specifically, and is ready to make a purchase. These users are ready for the hard sell.

Campaign Type: Branded Search (Including Shopping), Hard Remarketing

This audience is typically acquired through branded search queries – terms that indicate this audience is looking for a specific brand and ready to convert. Likewise, they may convert well from a remarketing ad which is offering them the specific product or service they’ve become familiar with through your preceding marketing efforts.

Focus: Returning User Conversion Metrics

This audience will convert at higher rates than any other type of user. Focus on returning user conversion metrics, particularly on a last click model, to measure the success of these campaigns.

Low Funnel Key Performance Indicators

  • Returning User Conversion Volume
  • Returning User Conversion Rate
  • Returning User Avg. CPA
  • Returning User ROAS (if e-commerce)

Develop Your Account Strategy

Now that you know which campaign types correspond with which audience types, you’re ready to begin developing a robust and sophisticated strategic plan which will set you up for success.

Remember where we started, “Channel Contribution 101.” Taking the time to build out a strategic account plan will naturally cause you to create accounts and campaigns that hit the big goal: moving any given user to the next step of the marketing funnel. From structure to creative, knowing where your audiences are in the funnel and what to show them next will lead to planning campaigns with appropriate assets, messaging, and context.

Commit to building out this plan before you start advertising. It will pay huge dividends in the long run. Your end result after executing this plan will be better conversion rates and more revenue than you could otherwise hope to achieve from paid search.

The post Funnel-Based PPC Account Strategy – An Overview appeared first on Portent.

Your Small Business Needs a Blog and Here is Why

Filed Under (Blackhat tips) by blackhatforums on 14-09-2017

Small businesses can gain a lot from taking advantage of technology and by using a website builder. One of the easiest and most important ways to utilize this is to start a blog. A blog is a tool that allows you to reach people and engage with them. There is no other method for marketing and engagement that is as effective as blogging. When you create a blog, it allows you to essentially speak to your target audience. This makes you more real and relatable to them, allowing for a deeper human aspect with your business.

Offer Promotional Material

When you are blogging, you want to ensure that the content is varied and valuable. You can make some blogs centered around promotional materials, such as coupons or special sales that are coming up. You can also create content about new products and services that you are launching. It is estimated that marketers who blog get about 67 percent more leads compared to those who do not blog.

Search Engine Optimization

People need to be able to find your business website to see what you have to offer. Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the biggest factors in getting your website better search engine placement. While you want to utilize it on all pages, it is easier to take advantage of this method with your content. You start by doing keyword research to see what people are searching for. For example, if you sell a productivity application for mobile devices, you want to see which keywords people use to find information on these apps.

Once you know the top two to three keywords, you build valuable and accurate content around them to drive traffic to your website. Just remember that while the keywords are important, the most critical aspect of your content is quality.

Market Research

You have to know what your audience wants and your blog is an excellent way to assess this. Your website builder can implement different tools to aid you in tracking activity so that you can analyze what is attracting visitors and what is not. The backend of your website has analytics to show you information, such as where your traffic is coming from, where and how it is being shared, and the content types that are the most popular. Use this information to help direct your blogging strategy.

Enhance Credibility

Businesses must be credible in order to succeed. A blog is an opportunity for you to create a presence for your brand within your specific niche. When you blogand provide valuable information to your customers, you make your brand more trustworthy. Remember that success begins with providing something of value to your target audience.

Your blogging can help to increase your company’s value to the public by not only supplying them with products or services, but also with important information that is related. In fact, approximately 60 percent of consumers have a more positive outlook on companies that provide high-quality and valuable custom content.

Network More Efficiently

Networking with fellow businesses, professionals, and your customers is important to grow your company. When you blog, you get to meet people and engage with those that can be beneficial for your business. Make sure to read comments, answer questions, and work to develop relationships through your blog. Over time, the relationships that you do make could further your credibility and enhance your bottom line. Just ensure that your interactions are genuine.

With this information, the next step is getting your small business blog up and running. You do not need a complicated setup or anything fancy. In fact, keeping it simple will be the most beneficial. Just make sure that the content is sharable and that it is true and honest.

Original post: Your Small Business Needs a Blog and Here is Why

Driving with John Chow – Episode 44 How Much Is Your Time Worth?

Filed Under (Blackhat tips) by blackhatforums on 13-09-2017

5 Web Marketing Strategies for Startups Interested in Efficiency

Filed Under (Blackhat tips) by blackhatforums on 12-09-2017

So you’re a new business owner and you’re cash strapped. You’ve sown everything you have into your venture and worked hard to get things off the ground. Now you want to see some growth, and you recognize that the web offers a treasure trove of potential sales that you haven’t really tapped into. You’re on the right track, as the Internet offers startups the chance to compete with bigger, more established competitors. There are some risk to web marketing for up and comers, though. You can spend time and money on a marketing venture that just doesn’t bring returns.

Here are five strategies to help you invest those web marketing dollars efficiently in hopes of seeing sizable returns.
 
1. Believe in remarketing
 
Depending upon what you’re selling, remarketing might be the best way to get the most out of your marketing dollars. Remarketing is placing your ads strategically where they’re seen by people who are purchasing complementary items or services. For instance, if you’re an upstart private jet brokerage that’s looking for long-term clients, you might remarket to those people who have visited luxury car buying websites. You’ll know that these people have money and the willingness to spend extravagantly. This way, you won’t have to worry about your ad dollars being invested on people who have no ability to purchase your services.
 
2. Be careful with pay-per-click advertising
 
You may want to limit your pay-per-click advertising until you have a better grasp of who you’re targeting and how to target them. Budget control is key for startups in the competitive entrepreneurial world. Pay-per-click advertising seems to make sense because it provides the certainty that your ad dollars will lead to engagement.

Problematically, though, you may not have strong conversion rates in the beginning, especially if your website isn’t as functional as it might be later. Make sure you limit your exposure to pay-per-click marketing until you’re absolutely certain of your website’s ability to process requests quickly and without incident.
 
3. Piggyback your web marketing and offline marketing efforts
 
Let’s say you’re a startup that’s splitting marketing dollars between the Internet and offline ventures. You might spend a few hundred dollars sponsoring a hole in a celebrity charity golf tournament, or you may invest in a sponsorship agreement with a small-time professional athlete. It’s possible to have all of your momentum moving together in the right direction. Make sure that your web content highlights the ways in which your company is getting out into the community. Web marketing that highlights your offline marketing in an organic way can build credibility for your brand and make your offline marketing more effective at the same time. It’s critical to have these two forces working in the same direction if possible.
 
4. Avoid web marketing companies that lack familiarity with your field
 
If you’re going to pay money to a web marketing company, they better deliver results. Given the constraints of the web marketing budget for most startups, going with a major web marketing firm can be a risk. To mitigate this risk, you’ll want to choose a marketing arm that has familiarity with your field. Some agencies market restaurants well. Others are better for purely online businesses. Find a marketing agency that has a demonstrated record of success in dealing with companies like yours. This way, you’ll be able to see measurable results sooner and get your cash flow up.
 
5. Become an authority in your field
 
There are many ways today that you can become an authority on your own business ventures. You might write articles for publication through LinkedIn. You may share useful advice to consumers and prospective clients through your Facebook page and Twitter feed. If you work to become an expert in your field, you’ll build relationships with other important and meaningful people. From this, you may benefit from free marketing, as individuals will share, comment, and otherwise engage with your content.

Many startups make the mistake of thinking that all of their web content must try to convert sales. This isn’t true. In reality, some of your content should be designed to build your credibility so your company can fully engage with long-term clients and with other leaders in your industry.
 
Web marketing is far from easy, and it’s not an exact science. If you’re going to come out ahead as a startup company, you’ll need to have a smart, measured approach. Do everything you can to maximize the momentum of your marketing dollars, be careful how much you invest in pay-per-click services, work to be an industry authority, and don’t be afraid to remarket to people who seem like an excellent target demographic for you.

By utilizing these strategies, you’ll put yourself ahead other new business owners looking to exploit the power of the Internet.

Original post: 5 Web Marketing Strategies for Startups Interested in Efficiency

Give It To Me For Free Now and I’ll Pay You For It Later

Filed Under (Blackhat tips) by blackhatforums on 12-09-2017