5 ways to identify potential featured snippets to rank for

Have you been wondering how to start owning Google’s featured snippets for your brand?

If you’d like to earn those coveted “position 0” spots, you need to start by understanding what featured snippets are and how to earn them. By earning featured snippets, you can increase web traffic, boost visibility in Google SERPs, and earn the credibility you deserve.

The first, and most important, step in earning featured snippets is understanding how to identify “snippable” opportunities.  Once you know how to find them, you can craft the rest of your strategy around maximizing these opportunities.

In this article, I’ll go over five ways to identify featured snippet opportunities.

Use Google to identify potential snippets

Start looking for snippet opportunities by putting yourself in your audience’s shoes and thinking what questions you may want answers for.  Even boring industries have a large range of opportunities to answer questions in the featured snippets.

For instance, let’s say you are in the diamond industry. The very nature of this industry is filled with terminology people will search to get information about.

Doing a quick Google search like, “What is a girdle on a diamond” will showcase a Google featured snippet.

Hopefully the showcased content is yours. Under the snippet you will sometimes see a helpful note from Google, “People also ask.”

These are the pressing questions your target audience wants answers for. You can dig a little deeper and even see who has the leading content for that question based query.

Now that you see a few competitors, you can try to steal their snippet with a little more research and some snippable optimization.

Use SEMrush to snag competitor featured snippets

SEMrush is one of the most used online platforms for site analytics, and also a useful tool to identify Google Featured Snippets. You can use SEMrush to find your snippets, or use the platform to find your competitors’ snippets as well.

To check out your snippets, do an “Organic Research” search for your domain:

Next, locate “Featured Snippet” on the right side of the page.

You can also filter your snippable keywords using the “Advanced Filters” option, choosing Include – SERP Features – Featured Snippets.

Once you’d identified snippets that your competitors rank for, you can optimize for those same terms.

As for identifying your own snippets, it allows you to find variations of relevant long tail keywords that you could also own, and find keyword clusters that you already have authority in and might be able to expand upon.

Look for questions on Quora

Given that the foundation of these snippets is answering who, what, why, when, where type questions, you’ll need inspiration for finding the questions your audience is asking.

To do so, you can use Q&A platforms like Quora to find them. This will help you compile a healthy list of potential blog topics for your Featured Snippet content marketing campaign.

For instance, let’s say you were a travel site looking to compete with Kayak, Expedia, and other dominating brands.

Type in a quick question with a few of your keywords:

A nice dropdown of questions to choose from will suddenly appear right from the get-go, even before finishing your question.

You can also type in one or two keywords and find groups that may have snippet-worthy questions waiting for you to develop content around.

Once in the group, you can poke around, follow certain questions. You can also find a nice list of other groups to the right you may want to check out.

Next, you can use the on-page elements to optimize for the snippets as described here.

Find segmented questions on Answer the Public

Did you know that certain question words have a higher likelihood of being showcased as a snippet? That’s right: the question in question matters.

According to research by SEMrush, question based queries that begin with “how” or “what” are more snippable than when, where, why, and who.

This is valuable knowledge to have, but where do you find questions segmented into those respectable question words fast? Well, Answer the Public to the rescue.

Let’s say you want to earn a few SEO content snippets.

Your search results for SEO will yield a ton of questions you can use for content. The best part is that you can focus on the “how” and “what” questions to increase your Featured Snippet chances.

Find a variety of questions on Reddit

If you are searching for a wide range of questions for your daily blog, Reddit can be very useful. This online platform offers valuable insight for what questions are trending.

First, you will need to access the “askreddit” section of the platform:

Once you are there, you can use the search feature to further segment your search based on your industry. Focus on generic keywords in order to get relevant questions.

Once you’ve identified the questions, you can then focus on optimizing for those searches.

Ready for position zero?

Identifying potential Featured Snippet opportunities is the first step towards earning those coveted position ones. Make a list of all the question based queries you find using the above strategies, and begin optimizing your snippable content today.

How do you find featured snippet opportunities?

How to escape Google’s filter bubble

For some people the personalization of their news apps and other content feeds online is a manual, conscious decision.

They want to be displayed certain topics due to their interests, which is completely understandable. Cut through the noise by making sure that you get given what you want.

For a lot of us, though, while personalization can make the considerable amount of time we spend scrolling through social feeds more entertaining, most of the automated personalization we encounter on a day-to-day basis is not necessarily requested – and is wider spread than one might initially think.

In a Ted talk, Eli Pariser discussed what he called the ‘filter bubble’. For those who have never heard of the filter bubble, it is a similar theory to that of ‘echo chambers’. Essentially, the focus of providing and consuming content that is closely aligned to your preferences results in the creation of a bubble or chamber, restricting your view of the wider picture.

Bubble floating against white background with the Google logo imposed on it.

As our internet ecosystem has evolved, we have shared increasing amounts of personal data with services we use every day, from social networks to search engines. They then use this data to tailor the content they provide us with to what they think will be most appealing, engaging or relevant. Google in particular has gradually increased the extent with which it tailors results to the user with innovations like Hummingbird and RankBrain, the inclusion of social results in search, and semantic search.

To many users this personalization of search results is helpful and convenient, but an increasing number of users are disturbed by the extent to which the sites they encounter are being shaped by forces outside of their control. If you are one of them, you may be wondering: How can you stop this from happening? How do you escape the filter bubble?

In this article, we are going to look at ways in which you can partially escape Google’s filter bubble, as well as how SEOs can penetrate it to make sure their sites are surfaced to as wide an audience as possible.

How do you escape Google’s filter bubble?

Disclaimer: If you want to be completely free of Google’s filter bubble, the only real way is to stop using Google. Know this, though – the rest of your treasured social feeds and news outlets will be no different, and who would want to stop using Google?

Do what you can to hide from the Big G

You can always log out of Gmail, delete your search history/browser cache and use an incognito browser (to prevent a level of browser caching). Again, though, you will not be completely free.

The filter bubble is not just specific to personal activity online; it also takes into personal factors that are not dictated by the individual such as device and location. You are also potentially not free of Google’s own internal bias, shown by their recent fine from the EU.

The outlook appears to be pretty bleak, huh? Well not entirely. Escaping Google’s filter bubble (and to an extent, all other platforms’ bubbles) is less about attempting to erase your internet history or privacy settings, and more about simply being aware of the bubble.

Awareness is critical

Take it upon yourself to find different sources and take an objective view. Let’s face it: echo chambers were around long before Google and Facebook. Newspapers have spent decades reporting the news with their own bias – you only need look at the differences in how The Independent and the Daily Mail provide commentary for the goings on in the world to see this in action.

Depending on how conspiracy theory-led you are, you could argue that this pushing of agendas comes straight from the top at a government level. The point is that the most powerful tool for escaping Google’s filter bubble is one’s own awareness of the situation. If you are researching important information, don’t take everything as gospel and verse. Research, utilize multiple sources, and try to look at the situation objectively.

All of us are culprits, including myself. We use a single news app because it is the easy option, thus our echo chambers are somewhat self-inflicted. That is not to say that we should necessarily start to use Ask Jeeves, Yahoo or DuckDuckGo.

The point is that we should look deeper than the first results, and utilize alternate sources to investigate key topics.

How can SEOs penetrate Google’s filter bubble?

Whichever side of the fence you are when it comes to the personalization of content and its effect on our ability to have complete access to information, the Google filter bubble presents a predicament to SEOs and marketers alike.

Compared with the deeper moral arguments surrounding the Google filter bubble, it may seem somewhat trivial to discuss how SEOs can flog more of their wares via Google. However, the filter bubble has a real impact on both consumers’ lives and companies.

So how as SEOs do we penetrate it?

How specific are target search terms?

We did a test in the office here with three different individuals off two different devices each (mobile with wifi turned off, and laptop), all logged in to their Gmail accounts. We tested both broad and more specific search terms, and were not displayed different results.

This is not to say that the filter bubble does not exist, but it did get us thinking. Pariser’s Ted talk used the example of two individuals searching for ‘Egypt’ and being returned very different results. The issue here? Egypt is an incredibly broad search term and whilst SEOs may look to target ‘broader’ search terms within their strategy, the majority will have a very different view of ‘broad’ when compared with searching for ‘Egypt’.

We would bet that the data would show a less powerful filter as the searches become more and more specific, especially for more traditional transactional search terms harbored by SEOs.

Penetrating the bubble

One of the main issues of the filter bubble for SEOs is that it takes users down a self-fulfilling path: the more you engage with a certain website or topic, the more likely you are to be shown similar information. As such, penetrating the filter bubble is the number one priority.

A constant improvement in your site’s authority will help prevent your website being shut out of people’s filter bubbles, but alternate marketing channels should also be utilized:

Social media

Capitalize on highly shareable content to expand your degrees of separation and drive traffic to your website. You will be competing against each social platform’s own version of the filter bubble, but this is somewhat mitigated by the ability to share content.

Paid search and social

If the bubbles are proving too strong to penetrate, incorporating paid search (Adwords) and social media advertising will give you a foot in the door for new prospective customers.

Email

Direct mail is often shunned by those of us that are dedicated to the Inbound Methodology but is another effective way of driving action from consumers. Use behavioural automation to take your campaigns to the next level and drive action.

Trust in the process

Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here; what we are saying is nothing new. Trusting in the quality of your campaign and ensuring that you diversify the marketing channels that you employ should be part of the agenda regardless of filter bubbles. It might require a revisit of some of your core pillars but this is something that should be completed time to time anyway.

Really understand your buyer personas – these are the individuals who will become customers. Dig deeper into their drivers and satisfy their queries, questions and concerns. As always, value for the user is at the forefront of what we as SEOs should be providing.

Diversity of content and link building – again, no surprises here. Spread the net a little wider and assess how diverse the content is that you are providing. Is it too specific to a certain buyer persona and therefore somewhat neglecting other (also valuable) prospects?

Furthermore, high quality link building can gain you exposure on relevant sites, therefore widening the net further.

Keep people coming back

All of the above is great for your SEO campaign but don’t neglect the need to keep people coming back. The continual improvement of your user experience and a higher percentage of returning visitors will ensure that your users are furthering their own self-fulfilling Google filter bubble prophecy.

Combine this this with a widening diversity of content, and you put your website in a great place to mitigate the effects of the filter bubble.

 

If you enjoyed this article, check out some of our other pieces on similar topics:

The Perfect Blog Post Length and Publishing Frequency is B?!!$#÷x – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

The perfect blog post length or publishing frequency doesn’t actually exist. “Perfect” isn’t universal — your content’s success depends on tons of personalized factors. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains why the idea of “perfect” is baloney when it comes to your blog, and lists what you should actually be looking for in a successful publishing strategy.

the perfect blog post length and frequency

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about blog posts and, more broadly, content length and publishing frequency.

So these are things where a lot of the posts that you might read, for example, if you were to Google “ideal blog post length” or “ideal publishing frequency” will give you data and information that come from these sources of here’s the average length of content of the top 10 results in Google across a 5,000-keyword set, and you can see that somewhere between 2,350 and 2,425 words is the ideal length, so that’s what you should aim for.

I am going to call a big fat helping if baloney on that. It’s not only dead wrong, it’s really misleading. In fact, I get frustrated when I see these types of charts used to justify this information, because that’s not right at all.

When you see charts/data like this used to provide prescriptive, specific targets for content length, ask:

Any time you see this, if you see a chart or data like this to suggest, hey, this is how long you should make a post because here’s the length of the average thing in the top 10, you should ask very careful questions like:

1. What set of keywords does this apply to? Is this a big, broad set of 5,000 keywords, and some of them are navigational and some of them are informational and some of them are transactional and maybe a few of them are ecommerce keywords and a few of them are travel related and a few of them are in some other sector?

Because honestly, what does that mean? That’s sort of meaningless, right? Especially if the standard deviation is quite high. If we’re talking about like, oh, well many things that actually did rank number one were somewhere between 500 words and 15,000 words. Well, so what does the average tell me? How is that helpful? That’s not actually useful or prescriptive information. In fact, it’s almost misleading to make that prescriptive.

2. Do the keywords that I care about, the ones that I’m targeting, do they have similar results? Does the chart look the same? If you were to take a sample of let’s say 50 keywords that you cared about and you were to get the average content length of the top 10 results, would it resemble that? Would it not? Does it have a high standard deviation? Is there a big delta because some keywords require a lot of content to answer them fully and some keywords require very, very small amounts of content and Google has prioritized accordingly? Is it wise, then, to aim for the average when a much larger article would be much more appreciated and be much more likely to succeed, or a much shorter one would do far better? Why are you aiming for this average if that’s the case?

3. Is correlation the same as causation? The answer is hell no. Never has been. Big fat no. Correlation doesn’t even necessarily imply causation. In fact, I would say that any time you’re looking at an average, especially on this type of stuff, correlation and causation are totally separate. It is not because the number one result is 2,450 words that it happens to rank number one. Google does not work that way. Never has, never will.

INSTEAD of trusting these big, unknown keyword set averages, you should:

A. look at your keywords and your search results and what’s working versus not in those specific ones.

B. Be willing to innovate, be willing to say, “Hey, you know what? I see this content today, the number one, number two, number three rankings are in these sorts of averages. But I actually think you can answer this with much shorter content and many searchers would appreciate it.” I think these folks, who are currently ranking, are over-content creating, and they don’t need to be.

C. You should match your goals and your content goals with searcher goals. That’s how you should determine the length that you should put in there. If you are trying to help someone solve a very specific problem and it is an easily answerable question and you’re trying to get the featured snippet, you probably don’t need thousands of words of content. Likewise, if you are trying to solve a very complex query and you have a ton of resources and information that no one else has access to, you’ve done some really unique work, this may be way too short for what you’re aiming for.

All right. Let’s switch over to publishing frequency, where you can probably guess I’m going to give you similar information. A lot of times you’ll see, “How often should I publish? Oh, look, people who publish 11 times or more per month, they get way more traffic than people who publish only once a month. Therefore, clearly, I should publish 11 or more times a month.”

Why is the cutoff at 11? Does that make any sense to you? Are these visits all valuable to all the companies that were part of whatever survey was in here? Did one blog post account for most of the traffic in the 11 plus, and it’s just that the other 10 happened to be posts where they were practicing or trying to get good, and it was just one that kind of shot out of the park there?

See a chart like this? Ask:

1. Who’s in the set of sites analyzed? Are they similar to me? Do they target a similar audience? Are they in my actual sector? What’s the relative quality of the content? How savvy and targeted are the efforts at earning traffic? Is this guy over here, are we sure that all 11 posts were just as good as the one post this person created? Because if not, I’m comparing apples and oranges.

2. What’s the quality of the traffic? What’s the value of the traffic? Maybe this person is getting a ton of really valuable traffic, and this person over here is getting very little. You can’t tell from a chart like this, especially when it’s averaged in this way.

3. What things might matter more than raw frequency?

  • Well, matching your goals to your content schedule. If one of your goals is to build up subscribers, like Whiteboard Friday where people know it and they’ve heard of it, they have a brand association with it, it’s called Whiteboard Friday, it should probably come out once a week on Friday. There’s a frequency implied in the content, and that makes sense. But you might have goals that only demand publishing once a quarter or once a month or once a week or once every day. That’s okay. But you should tie those together.
  • Consistency, we have found, is almost always more important than raw frequency, especially if you’re trying to build up that consistent audience and a subscriber base. So I would focus on that, not how I should publish more often, but I should publish more consistently so that people will get used to my publishing schedule and will look forward to what I have to say, and also so that you can build up a cadence for yourself and your organization.
  • Crafting posts that actually earn attention and amplification and help your conversion funnel goals, whatever those might be, over raw traffic. It’s far better if this person got 50 new visits who turned into 5 new paying customers, than this person who published 11 posts and got 1 new paying customer out of all 11. That’s a lot more work and expense for a lot less ROI. I’d be careful about that.

*ASIDE:

One aside I would say about publishing frequency. If you’re early stage, or if you were trying to build a career in blogging or in publishing, it’s great to publish a lot of content. Great writers become great because they write a lot of terrible crap, and then they improve. The same is true with web publishers.

If you look at Whiteboard Friday number one, or a blog post number one from me, you’re going to see pretty miserable stuff. But over time, by publishing quite a bit, I got better at it. So if that is your goal, yes, publishing a lot of content, more than you probably need, more than your customers or audience probably needs, is good practice for you, and it will help you get better.

All right, everyone. Hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. We’ll see you again next week. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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The 15 best Google Chrome extensions for SEO

Google Chrome has taken a dominant position as the world’s favorite desktop browser, with almost 60% market share and rising.

Its central role among Google’s vast suite of digital software and hardware has driven this growth, but users also love how customizable the browser is.

It can be dauntingly customizable, in fact. With tens of thousands of extensions available, finding the few that will aid you on a daily basis is an all-consuming endeavor. In one store, you can find everything from Nicholas Page (an extension that turns any page Nicholas Cage-themed) to a variety of income tax calculators.

Somewhere in between those two extremes, there are hundreds of SEO-themed extensions, some much more useful than others.

There is a little bit of a learning curve to using some SEO Chrome extensions, but once they become habit, they will save plenty of time in the long run.

Therefore, within this list we have distilled this down to the 15 extensions that will simply make you more effective at the core areas of SEO.

Chrome extensions for a quick site review

SimilarWeb

The SimilarWeb extension is a great place to start with a quick site analysis. It provides a broader view of a website beyond just SEO, taking into account all traffic sources. The extension does this by analyzing clickstream data from thousands of internet service providers, SimilarWeb’s own web crawlers, and their clients’ data.

As a result of these calculations, you can get reasonably reliable stats on a brand’s audience demographics, how much they spend on paid media, and which countries their traffic comes from.

All of these factors affect SEO, of course, so this provides invaluable insight when analyzing a brand’s digital presence. The Chrome extension is free, but a paid account does give access to a more complete data set.

MozBar

We couldn’t really have an SEO Chrome extensions list without including MozBar. As an all-in-one tool for a quick SEO site overview, MozBar is still the best on the market. Once a user is logged into their Moz community account (it’s free to sign up, for those that haven’t opened an account), MozBar springs into action on websites and search engine results pages.

It contains an extensive list of analyses, covering technical SEO, on-site content, social media engagement, and backlinks. MozBar can cause sites to load a little more slowly, however, so it’s best to enable it only when you need to assess a website’s SEO metrics.

Impactana

Impactana is a content marketing toolbar that offers the social media analysis you would expect, displaying share counts for each page on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, et al.

Where it stands apart from the competition is in its use of proprietary metrics to calculate the ‘Impact’ and ‘Buzz’ of each piece of content. These metrics incorporate user engagement signals to assess not just whether content has been shared, but whether people have interacted with it too. As such, it makes for a great starting point when analyzing the effectiveness of a competitor’s content marketing campaigns.

Chrome extensions for technical SEO

User agent switcher

In this mobile-first age, we need to make sure we are optimizing for a variety of screen sizes and device types. That’s pretty hard to do with just a desktop to hand, unless you have a user agent switcher downloaded.

This extension will give you the option to view web pages as they would appear on a wide variety of devices and operating systems. It’s an essential extension for developers, but it’s very useful for anyone conducting SEO analysis too.

Scraper

Quite often, we need to pull elements from a range of individual pages or websites for large-scale analysis. There are a few different ways of doing this, such as using IMPORTXML code to pull structured data from websites into Google Sheets or Excel.

The Scraper Chrome extension speeds up this process, using the XPath query language to export HTML data elements from a page, along with similar data from across the website.

It take a little getting used to, but there is a handy step-by-step guide here. Once you get accustomed to how Scraper functions, it saves a lot of time during any technical SEO audits.

META SEO Inspector

If we want to understand how a search engine crawls and indexes our websites (and presumably, we all do), we need to get to grips with metadata. META SEO Inspector goes beyond the narrow, SEO-focused definition of metadata as the ‘meta’ tags defined within the HTML source code.

The extension also facilitates analysis of XFN tags, canonical tags, and various microformats. It is also updated quite regularly to stay abreast of any amendments or additions to Google’s best practice guidelines.

Tag Assistant

This Chrome extension from Google isn’t the most glamorous tool on our list, but it is one of the most useful. Tag Assistant acts as a trouble-shooter, verifying the installation of Google tags such as those used for Google Analytics and Remarketing.

The ability to record sessions and analyze the implementation of tracking tags through user journeys is perhaps Tag Assistant’s main USP. It gives the extension a lot of potential for frequent use, beyond the occasional spot checks to verify if tags are implemented correctly or not.

Page Load Time

As we discussed in a recent article, speed is of the utmost importance as Google continues to prepare its mobile-first index.

Page Load Time helps SEO keep an eye on this essential ranking factor, without being obtrusive in the way that other Chrome Extensions can be. Every time a page loads, it highlights the amount of time it took in seconds.

Users can then click on the extension’s icon to see a breakdown of the elements required to load the page’s content. For quick insights into page speed, it makes for the perfect starting point.

Chrome extensions for on-site content analysis

Page Analytics

Many of the entries on our list focus on assessing competitors, but this Google extension allows you to view data from your Google Analytics account while you browse your website(s). Once a user is logged into GA, they can view metrics from their account in real time by opening the extension.

The metrics available in this snapshot include bounce rate, unique page views, and average time on page. With the increasing prominence of user engagement factors in a RankBrain-driven Google search ecosystem, this extension is a very handy way to keep an eye on how each individual page is performing without visiting the Google Analytics platform.

Keywords Everywhere

Some things never change in SEO. We still need to understand which search queries our target audience uses, but gaining access to accurate search volumes has grown increasingly difficult. The Keywords Everywhere extension doesn’t quite solve this riddle entirely, but it goes some way towards providing a bit of clarity.

By pulling data from Google Keyword Planner, Google Search Console, and UberSuggest, the extension displays approximate search volumes within results pages. From there, SEO professionals can start to consider for which queries they want to optimize their content.

This extension shouldn’t be used in isolation to conduct larger keyword research tasks, but it has enough handy features to make it a worthwhile addition.

Spark Content Optimizer

This extension is ideal for getting different teams to incorporate SEO into their daily routines. Everyone from copywriters to developers can benefit from Spark, a Chrome add-on that scans content to assess how comprehensively it covers a topic and how well it makes use of popular search queries.

This can be a tricky area of SEO, as we want to provide a search engine with clear signals about our content, but also need to tread carefully to avoid stuffing in keywords to the detriment of content quality. Spark provides some hints without being overbearing, making it a worthy addition to any SEO armory.

Chrome extensions for backlink analysis

Link Research Tools

This toolbar from Link Research Tools overlays backlink data as users search and browse. It’s great for getting a quick look at a site’s backlink profile, although it does require a paid account to gain access to some of LRT’s more advanced features.

Much is the same fashion as MozBar, the LRT toolbar overlays backlink data onto search engine results pages too. This is very beneficial for taking a backlink-based look at why particular sites perform well for a keyword.

LinkMiner

LinkMiner is probably the best Chrome extension for identifying broken links. Once activated, it will highlight the number of outbound links on any page, highlighting in green those that are active, and in red those that are broken. It makes for an easy way to share issues with the development team and get links fixed.

Through its integration with a range of indices (including Ahrefs, Majestic, and Moz), it also creates a simple overview of the ratio of inbound to outbound links on each page.

Majestic Backlink Analyzer

Majestic remains one of the heavyweight SEO software packages, and this Chrome extension provides much of its functionality without having to visit a separate URL.

The Backlink Analyzer provides insight into the quantity and quality of backlinks pointing to any page, along with their topical relevance to the source material. Majestic’s index is larger than Moz’s, so this makes it a more robust reference point when conducting backlink analysis. You will require a paid Majestic subscription to avail of these benefits, however.

Buzzmarker

Engaging with influencers can be a fantastic way to gain relevant, authoritative backlinks. Nonetheless, as anyone who has worked in this field will know, the pursuit of those all-important backlinks can bring with it a lot of time-intensive, manual work.

This extension from outreach platform BuzzStream aims to simplify the outreach process. It helps with prospecting, by highlighting key social media metrics on a potential partner’s website. It also makes it easier to bookmark influencers and add them into the main BuzzStream platform.

Once more, this will require a paid BuzzStream account, but if you already have an account, then downloading this extension should be a no-brainer.

Why site speed is as important as ever on the visual web

In 2017 there has been a lot of focus around the impending mobile-first index and serving content through HTTPS. But there have also been two other important unfashionable topics lingering in the shadows: cybersecurity and site speed.

Since 2010, Google have publicly acknowledged that they take into account page load speed and site speed, and with tools like Page Speed Insights (along with a number of other third party solutions) we’ve been able to monitor and analyse our seconds.

However, balancing a quick page load speed and a great user experience hasn’t always been easy. As the internet has become a more and more important part of our daily lives, our online experience has evolved and we (as users) prefer much more visual content.

Big visuals also mean big image files, video files and potentially a lot of JS and CSS to fancy up the written text. This also means that there is more to load, therefore increasing load speed.

The reason that this is becoming more of an issue is because in 2015 mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic in a number of verticals, and mobile users browse everywhere; when they’re on the Wi-Fi at home, at work or using roaming data on the go. Users are noticing slow-loading pages; which means Google have noticed users noticing slow loading pages – and now Facebook has noticed slow-loading pages.

Identifying site speed issues

At the moment, with the noise surrounding mobile responsiveness and HTTPS, a lot of webmasters and development teams are being overwhelmed with changes. It’s also worth remembering that not everyone runs modern stacks or has a clean website; there are still a lot of big websites on legacy platforms.

That being said, there are a number of checks you can carry out that could make a big difference to your page load speed by refactoring your code.

JavaScript Libraries

I’ve encountered a number of websites that run big JavaScript libraries that aren’t used on a lot of pages, but they still have to load on every page.

Making excessive calls to a large amount of unnecessary JavaScript and CSS files slows down the overall page load speed.

You could move all of these code elements towards the end of the code, meaning they are called last. This would only really impact the user if you’re using dynamic phone numbers that change an element through JavaScript, but the flicker is often only a twentieth of a second and minimal.

Image optimization

Images and graphics play a big role in both delivering the message of the content and improving the user experience on a website. Getting rid of images isn’t viable, but compressing their file sizes is.

In some scenarios, the delivery of the images could also be optimized. If your images are quite far down a piece of content, utilize lazy-load solutions or even better, utilize a CDN like Cloudflare or Amazon CloudFront.

System fonts

Another (and slightly less common) solution to improving page load speed is to utilize system fonts.

System fonts are the fonts that come pre-installed on your device. These are great options as they don’t have to be loaded, you simply call the system fonts in your CSS. That being said, choosing a system font can be tricky.

System fonts generally fall into two categories, optimized for screen and optimized for print. The main difference between these fonts is the detail. The only other issue with choosing a system font is that they are really over-exposed.

As every computer and device in the world (near enough) has them, they are not unique; so if typography is important to your brand, use custom fonts. But if Helvetica, Garamond or Seravek will do, use them.

Is AMP really the solution?

I couldn’t go through his whole article without mentioning AMP. AMP allows webmasters to create their slow, heavy pages but essentially serve their content through a new AMP page, that canonicals back to the original slow page.

Accelerated Mobile Pages seems on the surface to be an easy solution, especially for the big content publishers. But it’s not really a solution to the problem, more papering over the cracks.

What made these big sites slow and heavy in the first place is often tied very closely to how they generate revenue, advertising. Big banner adverts, banners spliced into content, overlays, auto play videos in the sidebars (yuck), all there to get your view and edge the website ever closer to another CPM payday.

With AMP, you don’t get to do it to the same extent and will lose out on potential revenue and ad views. How content is formatted is also very controlled, and the fact that Google hosts the content makes it a weird position to put the content publisher in.

Google is obviously willing publishers to utilize AMP and take advantage of the ranking benefits (AMP v non-AMP), but it still an odd situation to be in. A lot of webmasters have migrated to AMP as they manage large web properties that command a lot of traffic, but not because it is a logical business sense to do so, but because they are too afraid not to while their competitors make the move.

AMP is the right move for a number of websites, but I would assess all options first to speed up your website before boarding the AMP ship.

In conclusion

Producing a modern website that works for both SEO and users is not easy. It requires a lot of careful technical planning and development to ensure it contains useful, valuable content; that it’s secure; that it works on mobile; and that it’s fast.

Site speed can often be overlooked as a lesser priority, but it’s an extremely important part of the quartet. There are a number of free ways to test your site speed as well, and a lot of them provide good guidance on how to fix a lot of the issues.