I recently listened to a presentation by James Osborne from Google on Modern Content Creation and Strategy. The scoop was his section on Web Stories.
Web Stories are a modern way to engage with an audience who enjoy the swipe style of functionality that is used in Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok. The framework behind the scenes is Amp. The advantage is that they load extremely fast, have ADA compliance built in and are stored on Google’s Servers.
You can easily:
Share your stories, add buttons and use different swipe effects.
Monetize using ads
Track and measure by adding tracking ids between the stories.
They don’t expire and are optimized for performance
Publish and unpublish them whenever you like.
If your site is built using WordPress you can easily create stories from within your WordPress dashboard using a plugin. There are drag and drop tools with 3rd party image and video tools. An additional feature is an accessibility tab on the plugin.
Your stories could show up in Google Search. It is not rolled out to all regions.
Stories appear on mobile in the carousel format on Google Discover, and in the grid view on Google Search.
On Mobile if you do an image or video search, there is a Story section. On an image search, the images can be found as an image card with a webstories icon.
The internet is highly competitive. If creating content using visual tools is something that you enjoy, I would consider using Stories for visibility.
Search engine optimization is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine. SEO refers to the improvement of unpaid results and excludes direct traffic/visitors and the purchase of paid placement.
It is an abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization and usually refers to the unpaid results that a search engine serves a user who enters a query. SEO is important because improves the online presence and traffic for a website.
Publishing a website is not enough. The search engines have crawlers or robots that scan the websites and store the data in a database called an index. If someone types in a search query into the browser, the most relevant answer will be provided. The way that the search engines decide which website should feature is determined by a mathematical algorithm that takes multiple factors into account. Most of this information is not shared with us. However, there is some information that is made public and it is these parameters that we attempt to comply with in order to rank better.
Generally speaking we need to bear two factors in mind. The people visiting the site are humans and we should make it as easy as possible for them to navigate the website and find what they are searching for. We need to give them the best user experience possible. The search engines are robots and they understand our website as code. There are specific markers that they are looking for that are intended to make it easier for a human to find our website. If we give the search engine what it is looking for, we have a better chance of showing up in the results. The search engines are also looking to provide a better user experience, so as the algorithms improve, the sites that are less spammy and provide more valuable information are more likely to be promoted. Google search engine has made it very clear that they reward sites with higher search engine rankings when you provide users with a better overall experience.
If your business offers products or services, then your potential clients also need help finding answers to questions about those products and services. Anticipating those questions and providing content to help answer them can help you to establish an ongoing relationship with your target audience.
Once you understand these elements, you can easily optimize any webpage.
— Lars Erik Larson
Fixing Duplicate Content
Many sites suffer in their rankings because they are attempting to feature for certain terms and publish duplicate content. Sometimes there is good intention, but the search engines do not understand that in a human manner and they see it as a form of plagiarism. If you intentionally have duplicate content, then mark one of the duplicate pages as the original content. That way you acknowledge that it is duplicated and that this duplicate should not be indexed. Check your site regularly and if you have duplicate keywords or articles, fix it.
Short, yet descriptive URLs
Sometimes people forget to set up the url of their blog post correctly and it comes out with an id number instead of a title or title and date. A short descriptive url is easy to remember and easy for search engines to find.
Page or Product Titles
One of the most important aspects of on-site optimization is the title of the page, blog post or product. The key words should be included in the page title.
Description and keyword meta tags
The meta tags are messages to the search engine relaying a short description and topic about your page. This description is used to display the snippet that is displayed on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). I think of it as an elevator pitch because frequently this will determine whether the user will click on the link or not.
For certain industries where the data in the website follows a uniform structure, it is worthwhile to research and implement the proper schema markup. Schema is a data markup tagging mechanism developed by a consortium of search engines to help them better understand complicated data. Examples include bed and breakfast properties with markup for a title, description, price, amenities. There is a standard structure to this data that is repeated by all vendors in this market.
Complex and non search engine friendly navigation
Make it easy to navigate your web site and find what you offer with a simple and logical structure. The rule of thumb is to not have more than 7 navigation tabs across the top and that each tab should not be more than 3 levels deep. If you have a large website you might like to have a Site Map page. If it is small, then a site map in the footer will suffice. In general do not use animations for the navigation menu that increases the time the user has to wait until the page loads. Make it easy for search engine spiders and humans to find the content.
The higher a website ranks for keywords, the more traffic it will receive. The more keywords your website ranks for and the higher they rank, the more often your brand is visible to potential customers.
Before performing any SEO it is necessary for your SEO professional to help you to set goals for the site. The most basic goal is to rank for a set of keywords. Ranking for the most popular keywords in your industry is probably challenging because it is highly competitive. Secondly, we are aiming at providing quality to the user and therefore if we aim towards a specific niche we are more likely to provide what the user is looking for, and also more likely to perform in the search engine results page. Attempting to rank for a more specific set of keywords is more likely to create a conversion for your website. When starting out a mixed set of keywords that are low, mid-level and highly competitive, is recommended. It may take several months to get ranked for any of these. Initially, the proportion of highly competitive words should be smaller.
Optimize your site structure in order to gain traffic for the more competitive keywords.
There are SEO tools that check the keywords and the likelihood that you would be able to compete for these. The first stop is the search engine that provides information. For example here is a search that I ran for Mars:
Note that the sentence located underneath https://mars.nasa.gov is the meta description (Elevator Pitch). As my search becomes more specific, I get about a third of the previous result:
The era of no-click search results
Often people find the information that they are looking for in the rich featured results provided by the search engine and do not click through. For example when I searched for Mars moon, the search engine told me that they were called Phobos and Deimos. That was all that I needed to know, so I did not click through.
Internal link structure (in-line links)
A part of the ranking in search engines is designated to internal links within your own site. The question is whether a piece of content that you are writing or keyword refers to something that you wrote in the past? That is the ideal case to provide an internal link. The idea here is to be helpful to the user in order to enable her to elaborate on a topic if she chooses. In some cases, it may be worth writing new content to facilitate this process. Remember that search engines follow links. You can provide these links in order for additional content to be found on your website.
Do you have content that is worth linking to? If you have something that is unique, helpful and informative that is not found on millions of other websites, it may be worthwhile to link to your content.
Check whether there are professional organizations, directories or industry related sites that might benefit from having a link.
Research similar organizations that you can approach to add a link to your content.
Consider paid directories that will publish your link.
Organizations like Chambers of Commerce will publish your url along with the other members and that provides a quality link.
Lastly, if you are an industry expert, you could write original articles for other organizations that will provide a link to your website.
Optimizing your website
1. The url’s, titles, meta descriptions and keywords should be included in every page, blog post or product. 2. Use Headings and sub-headings on your pages. Headings (H1-H6) can and should be thought of as titles and subtitles (or headings and subheadings), and should be used appropriately. The title is always H1 and there should only be one H1 per page. The other heading levels should only be used in sequence. An H4 header should not be used before an H3 header is used on the page. 3. Provide well written, user-centric content When writing content, the most important thing is to make sure it is of high quality, unique, useful and entertaining. There should be something that sets it apart from the other pages on the Internet that cover the same topic. If your content is not unique it will not feature in search results. Avoid overstuffing keywords and focus on the quality of the content provided. 4. Use lists with numbers and bullet points. Many people do not read the text. They read the headings and bullets. 5. Include internal links. If you link to external content, message the author of that content and let him know that you have provided a link.
Website SEO Audit
An SEO audit can come in varying levels of detail and complexity. It is a report of the organic SEO health of the website using multiple analysis tools. It includes topics that have been addressed and topics that need to be tackled. A simple website audit can be as short as a few pages long, and would address glaring on-page issues such as missing titles, and lack of content. On the other end of the spectrum, a comprehensive website SEO audit will be comprised of dozens of pages (for most larger sites it will be over one hundred pages) and address even the smallest details of website elements which may be potentially detrimental to the ranking-ability of a website.
Preparing the audit and implementing the recommendations are two separate projects. It is important to realize that once the recommendations in the audit have been implemented, there is no guarantee that the website will appear in the first page of search results. Search engine optimization results take time, and require ongoing maintenance in order to produce reliable, and stable rankings.
The SEO audit should be based on white hat (in compliance with Google and Bing guidelines) techniques and provide users with guidance that will help make their website a step closer to being search engine friendly.
Implementing the guidelines is not a magic solution to ranking issues. In order for a website to rank it is necessary to have professional ongoing work performed and to track the data consistently.
Terms SEO: Search Engine Optimization SERP : Search Engine Results Page Meta desription: a short summary of your web page that shows up in the Search Engine Results Page. I compare it to an elevator pitch because often this is what determines whether the user will click on your link.
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“A WordPress Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software. A WordPress theme provides all of the front end styling of your WordPress site.”
The list of options is so vast that it is difficult to know what to choose.
– Make a list of Essential features or functions that you need.
This may include columns, layouts, sidebars, footers, and navigation bars.
– Consider purchasing a Premium Theme
There are many free themes available for people that are on a budget. Automattic (the makers of WordPress) offer several options. If you pay for the theme, then you can get support from the developers and there is more of a chance of it being properly updated. In some cases the developer will abandon the theme completely. Sometimes free themes contain malicious code when downloaded outside of the WordPress repository.
If I consider purchasing a premium theme vs hiring someone to build something for me, the cost is minuscule. Great Value!
Some themes like Genesis provide a very basic layout and in order to gain the effect that you want, you will need to purchase an additional Child Theme also known as a framework ( for example Genesis by Studiopress).
– Avoid Bloated Themes
A theme that is cluttered with features that you don’t use will slow down your website.
– Pick a Responsive Theme
In search engine optimization (SEO) we build for mobile first since many people will never view your site on a desktop. As we know, Google rolled out a mobile-first update that prioritizes sites that are mobile friendly. Check that your theme looks good on mobile devices. Google even offers a free mobile-friendly testing tool to check whether the theme is mobile-friendly.
– Pick a Theme with Clear Legible Fonts
Some themes come with very small light fonts. Is that something that you can change or will people have to squint to read your site?
– Easy Customization
Is the theme user friendly? The customization options vary from theme to theme and by changing a few features, you should be able to create diverse layouts without any knowledge of coding.
– Pick a Theme that loads quickly
Website speed today is one of the most significant factors affecting conversion rate. Most people abandon a site that takes more than a few seconds to load.
Here’s what I look for:
How long has the company/developer that built the theme been established?
Does the theme have reviews? How many reviews?
How many people have installed the theme?
What does it look like on mobile?
Does it work on all browsers?
View the support forum. Are there responses for the tickets/questions?
Do a preview of the theme if it is available. If not try to figure out which websites are using it.(The support forum might help.)
Check if the theme has a preloader – that is something in lieu of the hour glass that you see on the screen while the rest of the page’s content is still loading. If the theme has one, the site will be slow.
Do a speed test on the theme demo and if possible on websites that use it. If the Home page is extremely long, it may not be the best page to pick.
If you have a copy of the theme, you can download a plugin that will help you test it – called Theme Check
If you need the theme for a specific purpose like a realtor site, either pick a theme that specifically targets your needs or a basic theme that can be adapted to many purposes. (I like Beaver Builder and Divi.) If you have a multipurpose theme also known as a bloated theme, it will take time to load all the elements available on your website that are not being used. For example, if you are not doing ecommerce, do not load Woocommerce.
Translation & Multilingual Ready
NOTE! The basic WordPress installation is free of charge and comes in multiple languages. You can select the language you want to use for your installation.
All the WordPress default themes include all the languages and are free. These themes are Twentyseventeen, Twentysixteen, etc.
If you need a theme in a language that is not English, look for the language that you need. If you need a language that is read and written from right to left look for RTL in the theme documentation. Make sure that you look at an example of a site with the theme in an RTL language. You can check
.mo files for translation: That means the theme is translated and you have control over the terminology used – you can change it.
WPML: That means that you can do the translation.
Some themes don’t have the language in the description, however when you check the support forum, you may find that someone has used it successfully.
A page builder is a plugin or a built in feature of a theme that enables you to quickly and easily set up the page elements or modules without knowing how to code.
Except for Beaver Builder, most page builders leave short codes in the front end of your website if you delete the page builder plugin. There are ways to strip the short codes, and it may be easier to rebuild the pages from scratch depending on the size of the website.
If you own the license to the page builder, you can use the same page builder for multiple themes.
Some themes from companies like Theme Forest come with a group license for their page builder. Everything seems great until the page builder runs an update that is not rolled out by the makers of the theme. I had a site that I could not update for a month because of that. The option is to purchase the page builder plugin separately and install it yourself. It is helpful to budget for that option before you begin and not overly expensive.
Conclusion: Use a page builder!
The theme should have user friendly customization features, particularly with regards to colors, fonts and page layouts.
Sometimes we are looking for customization that is not included, such as emphasizing the Donate navigation tab on a non-profit site.
If the level of customization needed is more than CSS markup, it is necessary to install a Child Theme.
We never make changes to the core WordPress or Theme files on a site. If it is necessary to change PHP coding language for example, we would only do that with a child theme. The reason is because if the files are updated, all the changes will be lost. The child theme is only ever updated by you or your WordPress developer.
Themes that include frameworks cannot support child themes since the framework is the child theme. An option is to not install a framework or use a plugin that will support the changes needed.
I hope this article helped you select the perfect theme for your WordPress site. If you liked this article, then please subscribe.
What are the most important aspects for building a website that you should include regardless of the platform that your site is build on? We build websites in order to promote our content whether it is personal or business related. What are the most important elements to promote site traffic?
Since Google Search Engine created the mobile first index, websites that are not responsive can only be found on the desktop index.
A site that loads within 2 seconds is essential so that users stay on your page instead of moving onto the next search result on the page. One of the elements that can speed up a site is caching. Caching allows you to serve compressed and cached files to your visitors. This reduces the load on your server and your website becomes faster. Another is Image Optimization.
I think my new site should be no. 1 on Google search engine.
How come I can’t find my site on page 10?
When a new prospect tells me “I need a website built for my business”, s/he often loses sight of the goals. They might have an idea in their minds of what their website will look like or have looked at other sites that they liked. Others merely know that they need to have “one of those”. If you are an emerging entrepreneur, of course you have to have a website otherwise you would be left in the dark ages.
The most basic goal of the site is visibility. Do you want to sell your book, get more donations, sell your services or have more people read your blog? In theory you can achieve this goal with an ugly website. I worked on a search engine optimization project recently. The client spent thousands of dollars on advertising and tens of thousands of visitors came to his site. The goal of his site was to go viral, and he did – at 50c per visitor. How much are you willing to spend to have your post go viral? What happens if you don’t have a large advertising budget? Many of my clients are emerging entrepreneurs and they are looking for a budget solution. Maybe they have a good basic website. Is there a way to increase web site traffic fast without spending thousands of dollars?
The answer is no and yes. If you have recently published your website then perhaps your friends and acquaintances will take a look out of courtesy. If nothing changes on your site, there is no reason to go back to it. Your site is like a grain of rice in a sack. There are many, many similar sites attempting to reach the same people that you are trying to reach.
How can you overcome this problem if you have a small budget? When someone is looking for a service or a business like yours, they will first go to a search engine and type in a search phrase. In order to be visible to your audience, you need to optimize you website for the search engines and attempt to match those search results. The more compatible your site is with Search Engine standards, the easier it will be for them to find you.
Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS)
There are two kinds of search engine results: The first is paid advertising. You will see these results in the top of the search engine results. The second is known as organic optimization. That means that a person who understands search engine optimization has taken specific steps to make that website more accessible to search engine bots. With a small investment, we can provide the search engines with the data they are looking for and improve our visibility chances.
At this point people tell me that their “web designer took care of all of that”. If you want to live in a house, you do not have to be a builder. When your builder has completed your house, you understand a little about tiles, bathroom fixtures and kitchen cabinets. Do you expect your builder to do the landscaping as well as the build the house? In the current budget market few web developers or designers can afford to include more than basic Search Engine Optimization in the price of the site. From a personal perspective, I add the website to search engines and create an account on Google Webmaster tools. Any further effort on my part will raise the cost of the site, and price me out of my market. In looking at some of the basics of search engine optimization, I see that is true in most cases.
How to increase website visibility on Google and other search engines?
Looking at this topic very broadly, we can divide the criteria into 3 main factors:
User accessibility. Is it easy to navigate your website?
Always remember that the site must be easy for humans to navigate. If I am looking for some specific information and I need to click three times to find it, the chances are that I will abandon the site because the next site in the search engine results page (serp) will give me that information immediately.
2. Ranking factors – these may be compared to grades assigned by search engines. For example site speed – the time that it takes for your web page to load.
3. Non – ranking factors – these help you to be found, but the search engines do not grade your site if you have them. For example, keywords. (more…)