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Google Panda and Website Load Times – Keep Up With The Web – Sherryl Perry

Google Panda and Website Load Times

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I taught a class over the weekend called Marketing Websites & Blogs on a Shoestring. (Yes, I’m aware that a blog is a website but not everyone is clear on that. So, to reach the most people and also include both keywords, I chose to call it that.) In class, I covered several topics including showing up in the free organic searches as well as a quick overview of PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising with Google AdWords and a very brief overview of using Google Analytics to track what is working for you and what isn’t.

The 3-Second Rule of Grabbing Your Visitor’s Attention

One of the topics that I bring up in this class is that marketing your site and getting people to visit your site is the 1st step but unless you immediately grab their attention (the dreaded 3-second rule) and get them to stay on your site long enough to see your call to action, your efforts have been futile.

In addition to having a clean neat design with plenty of white space and your most important content viewable without having to scroll, your site needs to look professional, be free of spelling errors and be grammatically correct. Oh, being keyword rich and loading quickly is a must too.

 

Google Panda & the Importance of Optimization

Optimizing your site to load quickly is increasingly important now that Google Panda (their latest algorithm change) was released. (Not sure what Google Panda is? Basically, it’s Google’s algorithm that targets “quality” content.)

Since I recently had written a post on “Tips for Optimizing Photos and Graphics for Your Blog”, I inserted a slide of that graphic and explained the importance of alt-tags, alternate text, and keywords in your title and description. All of these fields help search engines find your web page and increase your chances of your site showing up in those coveted free organic search results.

I once advised a blogger to go back and re-size all of the photos on her blog. She was promoting her photography and it was absolutely gorgeous but she had uploaded the print sizes of all of her photos rather than resizing them and compressing them for the web. It was definitely affecting her blog performance. (Turns out, that she had recently moved her blog and her once optimized images were no longer re-sized. I suspect she had been relying on the software to re-size her images rather than uploading the compressed photos herself.)

Over to You:

Since it was a 2 hour class, I covered a lot more than just the importance of optimizing your site and keeping your website visitors’ attention. Stay tuned and I’ll be writing more tips. Meanwhile, although no one’s time is really “free”. (Time may be our most valuable asset and it shouldn’t be wasted.) I believe that if I can find ways to keep visitors coming back and staying longer by tweaking my blog posts myself in my spare time, why not? At least, I’m not opening up my wallet. So, that’s free enough to me. What sort of tweaks do you do to your blog to spruce it up? Do you ever go back to your old posts and spend a few minutes tweaking them and then promote them again?

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Published by Sherryl Perry

Welcome! If you're looking for help building an Internet presence that fits your needs and works for you, you're in the right place. I blog common sense articles about WordPress, social media and SEO. My goal is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs understand their core business. Together, we can develop and implement business strategies that make sense to you.

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  1. Pingback: google
  2. Hey Sherryl! First time visitor! 🙂

    Great blog and site speed not only improves SEO BUT how long a visitor stays on your blog. If you have 3 seconds to grab your readers attention you site better load in 1.5 seconds LOL

    I was able to drastically reduce my site by using a CDN.

    Thanks again

    Joshua

    1. Joshua,
      Thanks for the reminder. I have the W3 Total Cache plug-in installed for my site but I have not set up my CDN (yet). I know I have to do this because I am not happy with my site performance. I am really glad that you brought this up and I’m happy to meet you here too!

    2. Hi Joshua,
      Welcome! That’s a great point about load time. I enjoyed your article about CDN. That’s a topic that I have not blogged about. So, hopefully readers may follow your link.

      Next time – and I hope there’s a next time – that you comment here, would you please use CommentLuv? That automatically opens a new window and people are more like to see that you have a post that might interest them.

      Thanks for the comment. I tweeted your article for you.

      1. Wow its almost a year to the day that I posted on this post LOL man how time flies

        Good to have received a response 🙂 hope all is good with you Sherryl

        1. Wow! Joshua, I try to reply to comments in a timely fashion. I have never replied to one this old. I didn’t even note the date. I saw August but didn’t look at the year. For some reason, your reply ended up in my email box today. (Possibly because I recently switched to a new PC and transferred my Outllook?) I have no idea. So, please accept my apologies for taking so long! 🙂 I did like your article. If you suddenly start getting replies to it, you’ll know it probably came because I tweeted it today.

          1. Not a problem at all and thanks for the tweet! 🙂 although its been ages since I blogged on that domain. The tips still work great though and I still use my CDN today

            I’ve switched to a more brandable friendly domain name.

  3. Jean, When I visit sites like that, I often contact the owner and suggest that they optimize the images. I’ve met some very nice people this way. One woman that I contacted was extremely grateful. She had moved her site to a different host and hadn’t noticed that full sized images were loading. We talked about resizing her images before uploading them for the best optimization. Maybe she became a reader. I’m guessing I sent her a link to my post on optimizing images. 🙂

  4. Hi Sherry, I’m too engaged in this SEO thing that I wanted to know what’s there to know. Actually you’re tips nailed home. I’m a reader also and I don’t like messy page like it’s disorganized. I want to see some spaces. And well, video really helps. Far more interesting than reading very long posts. Thanks for this one…

  5. It is always a good idea to get the lowest load times possible. But im sure im not the only one who has no clue how to do it.

    1. Stephen, There are some great articles on tweaking your website for better load times.I had bookmarked an article with lots of tips for optimizing a WordPress blog. I can’t find it right now but if I do, I can either come back here and leave another reply or possibly write a new post. I do remember that one of the plugins that I want to install for caching is W3 Total Cache. I’ve been using WP Super Cache since I started this blog but from what I’ve been reading, I plan on switching.

  6. With all the talk on panda, this was a good solid writeup. The link to quality guidelines was also helpful, as people getting hit by Google’s updates tend to heavily skew into craziness. I think quality is still very much up in the air, but good page load time, and content heavy can help. Reducing the number of links and paid ads will also help that!

    1. Thanks Keith. I’m glad you found the link to the guidelines helpful. There’s so much written lately about Google Panda that it can almost be overwhelming. I’m trying to make a conscious effort to reduce the links I have to blogs that are heavy with links. It takes time to check out the blogs of new commenters here but it’s worth it to try to keep Google happy. 🙂

  7. I love that 3-second Rule of yours Sherryl. It’s keeps me thinking what kind of designs I’ll do.. And thanks for always reminding us the importance of SEO.. Looking forward in your new updates about this stuffs. 😉

      1. Sherryl,
        It’s my pleasure doing these comments for you and letting me read all the good stuffs you share to us! 🙂

  8. Agreed, It’s hard at first — especially for writers because most work is edited. But practice and the realization it helps you become a better writer eases the “personalizing” of things.This is my first time I have visited this site. I found a lot of interesting information in your blog. From the tons of comments

    1. Hi Abu,
      I think optimizing your posts for SEO can be a huge challenge for writers especially. You want to include keywords while at the same time, you don’t want to compromise your writing style. I appreciate your dropping by and leaving a comment for me. Thanks! I appreciate it.

  9. Thanks for the information! I agree with you that optimizing your site to load quickly is imperative, however not only because of Google Panda but also because everyone is always on the go and always in a rush now a days. With the never ending amount of information available on the internet, it wouldn’t matter if your site had better information, a nicer web template, and is more organized. No one will care if they have to wait more than a couple of seconds to view it.

    1. That is so true Jes! I have to really be motivated to stay long on a website that I have to wait for. I find that often the culprit is the fact that not everyone realizes that they have to resize their photos before uploading them. That’s a common mistake that I see often.

  10. When Google Panda launched, it hurt most website/blog that have low quality such as spam link, copy content, low content.

    I also think that the long time respond for load time of website will effective for Google Panda too.

  11. You will manage to avoid negative consequences of Google Panda update only if you provide 100% original content at a website. Also, it makes sense to decrease the volume of Pay-per-Click advertising and add more content to a web page.

    1. Even if you do provide unique content it does not always protect you. If multiple scraper sites republishes your content – they can still outrank your site if they happen to have more authority from Google’s point of view. More authority usually means more backlinks to their site, pagerank, quality of backlinks.

      1. Daniel, Nothing frustrates me more than having my content stolen. From what I’ve read about the aftermath of Google Panda’s algorithm, scraper sites are being punished. Hopefully, Google will start rewarding us for both good content and our social networking efforts. We can always hope.

        1. I have recently read about new google protocol to notify subscribers about new blog posts.
          It does it via sending notifications about rss feed changes to subscribers.
          Protocol is called “pubsubhubbub”

          There is also wordpress plugin for this: wordpress.org/extend/plugins/pushpress/

          Matt Cutts recently claimed this could help with faster indexing of new blog posts and that in turn hopefully would help Google recognize who is original author of the content.

  12. I tend to do a few tweaks here and there at least weekly. Often I’ll find ways to remove advertising that I think isn’t converting well; so that it doesn’t become a burden to readers. I also tend to lean towards a simpler design – so do my best to rid my sidebars of items that aren’t necessary.

    The other, most often used tweak is the post. There are so many ways to develop and organize a post. Where you’ll include advertising, social buttons, etc…It can quickly become a headache if not done properly.

    All in all, I tweak in order to put more focus on the content. If you look at the most successful blogs, the content is always the focus – and that’s what you’re drawn to.

    1. That is so true Christian. If our content isn’t good, no matter how we try to optimize our site or drive traffic to it, our efforts will be in vain. I need to give this blog a house cleaning soon. I haven’t tweaked it in months. I don’t know how you find the time to tweak yours weekly.

  13. Sherryl,

    Thank you for the information. It seems very daunting to keep up with the google changes and seo and I need all the help that I can get. I figure the best thing for me to do is to keep writing posts that my reader enjoy reading.

    Jenn

    1. That’s my plan too Jennifer. I only try to stay on top of SEO enough to make sure I’m not doing something that hurts me. I write for my readers too. If the content is good, people will keep coming back. I do always keep in mind keyword-rich content, titles, alt-tags, descriptions and header tags.

  14. Thanks for the skinny on this new algorithm. Yes, image optimization is really important. Lagging websites usually get passed by. This post is sure to help many, Sherryl. And good for you for always going out there and learning something new everyday. I usually tweet old posts because of a blog post I read last year about “evergreen blog posts”. These are posts, that although old, still resonate with the reader because it hasn’t been marked with dates and can easily be read at any time.

    1. Dennis, I recently installed a plug-in to retweet old posts. I’m not sure there’s going to be an easy way to track the impact but I’m sure with some digging, I should be able to see if it has an impact on my traffic. If/when I figure out if it helps, I’ll share.

      1. Hi Sherryl,

        I’ve had tweet old posts installed for a while now and I can definitely say it’s made a difference. Had quite a bit of visits for older posts (I only go back 45 days though). My biggest surprise was seeing how many people on Twitter RT these posts for me. Which is great because with more visits, it will allow these pages to build more page authority.

        Thanks for the heads up about the new Panda algorithm. Will have to read up it. Funny story about your friend as I too made the same mistake when I first started my online venture 3 years ago. Just couldn’t figure out why my site was moving so slow. Did realize that my hundreds of images 1+MB was slowing it down.

        We have to learn somehow. 😉

        1. Michele, I didn’t realize you started online 3 years ago. Did you start NewBizBlogger then?

          I’ve begun noticing RTs of older posts too. It wasn’t until recently that I realized it was from that plug-in. I went back a year. I believe some of my first posts were really good but no one found them. I’m thinking of freshening up the content and re-posting them.

          1. Refurbishing old content is a great idea Sherryl! I’ve been meaning to do the same, but something new always comes up. 😉

            I actually started NBB just a bit over a year ago. My first was an online store selling used kids clothes that I started in 2008. However right around I started NBB an ugly virus attached my files and I pretty much lost everything on the site.

            I considered rebuilding it, but decided it wasn’t worth the effort since it was a LOT of work with a low profit margin. Also, by then I realized the I really loved doing what I was doing with NBB and decided that maybe that was a sign of the direction I should be heading into.

            Interesting how things work out… 😉

            1. Well, you’re certainly doing amazing things with NBB Michele. Things do tend to work themselves out. This is not my first online endeavor either. Lots of my examples of lessons learned come from previous forays into the online world. That’s for sure. 🙂

  15. Excellent post, I wish I would have been able to attend your training! I’m in the process right now of working with an SEO expert (IT is like a foreign language to me) to try to increase my views/ratings. There’s so much to learn!

    1. Good luck optimizing your site Billye. I appreciate that you join in on the conversation. A couple of very easy things that you can do is to go to Gravatar.com and set up a globally recognized avatar. That way, when you leave a comment here, we’ll start seeing your profile pic. Another thing that you can do is when you leave a comment, leave a link to one of your blog posts. Since I have the CommentLuv plug-in installed here, not only will we all have the opportunity to click on your link and go to your post but you’ll also pick up a little SEO link-juice at the same time.

  16. Sherryl, what a valuable post! Thank you some of your tips here on your blog as well! =)

    I had never heard of Google Panda before and loved the resource that you linked. There’s plenty that I can improve on my blog and I can’t wait to work on it more! I definitely have to work on loading times — even though I “smush” my images, everything seems to be loading a lot slower than I expected!

    I also love how you mentioned having a neat design with plenty of white space. I, for one, am a big fan of white space! =) What are your thoughts on websites/blogs that use colored backgrounds?

    Thanks for this excellent post, Sherryl! =)

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback Samantha. I’m glad you’re finding my blog helpful. As for text and colored backgrounds, I would say that nearly 100% of the blogs that I follow are black text on a white background. There are so many blogs online, I can always find one that is easy to read.

      Are you creating a copy of your images and resizing them before you “smush” them?

      1. Actually, yes! Boy, am I proud to say that. =P Just last week I thought of resizing photos before uploading. Half of my photos are still not resized though. That could make a big difference! Thanks, Sherryl! =)

  17. Good tips as always Sherryl. I used to have photos on the excerpts on the front page and found it did slow the load time so i took them off and just use them on the post. It is sometimes the little tweaks that make a difference.

    1. I haven’t really noticed that it takes a while for my home page to load Susan but I should definitely test it. (Most of my graphics are 10kb or less. So, I’m hoping it will pass the test.) I really like having the photos on my home page. You are so right about the little tweaks making a difference.

  18. Sherryl, good points here. Regarding the compressed photos, it’d be important to be sure that both the file size and the image size are compressed; otherwise the photos can still take a long time to load, and the great Google god doesn’t like that.

    1. The “great Google god” – 🙂 I like that John. You are so right about the images. Why upload an 8 1/2 x 11 inch photo when all you want to display is a 2 x 3? Resizing it and the compressing it is definitely the way to go.

  19. Sounds like a good class Sherryl! Am positive they learnt a lot from you.

    Maybe what they should concentrate with to start with is to keep visitors from disappearing after 3 seconds. The site has to be attractive, if it’s not it doesn’t matter what they do or write. People will leave.

    1. I agree Catarina. One of the things that makes me leave almost immediately is not being able to read the text. Anything other than black text on a white background can be very difficult to read.

  20. Yeah, the page speed is dilemma for me since the Google Panda update. I am gladly to simply my blog but still I need to put the picture based advertisement on my blog. I think image compression may be a good way to solve this.

  21. Love the Google Panda. I remember visiting one of the Panda reserves in China.
    Your blog has a lot of value. Thanks for posting it

  22. Thanks, Sherryl, for these tips and including the latest Google Panda update. You’ve got to get visitors to your site first. Until fairly recently I didn’t optimize my blogs with meta tags, which was a mistake. Google will tell you that including meta tags (a headline and description you fill in at the bottom of your post if you’re using a WP plugin such as All-in-One SEO Pack) won’t boost your ranking, but Google will use your description if it is better than what the search engine will use if you don’t have tags. The headline and description is called a “snippet” in Google-speak and it’s what you see when you type in a search term. If description is a “grabber” you have a better shot of someone clicking through to your site. This also according to Google.

    1. All great points Jeannette. I once had one of my posts that just was not drawing the number of readers that I expected. I knew that I had promoted it in the same way as all of my other articles but that one just was sitting there. When I looked at it more closely in WP, I spotted that I had not entered a description! Missing that one piece of data cost me that first burst of traffic that I normally get. You can bet I put in place an extra step where I make sure that I don’t miss any of those fields again.

  23. Hi Sherryl,
    Thanks for reminding me of the 3-second rule and these good tips on how to grab people’s attention on my website. I look forwad to implementing them on my new blog. Would you recommend a picture on your blog, or no pictures and why?

    1. I absolutely recommend including pictures in your blog. Just remember that search engines don’t “see” images. So, it’s especially important to enter keywords in the alt-text, title and description fields. Lots of people are visual and pictures help to engage the reader. Video is a great way to grab and keep attention too.

      1. Video is not just a good way to grab and keep the visitor’s attention. It is undoubtedly THE BEST WAY of doing so. Out of 100 videos, I watch 99.

        When it comes to reading texts or looking at pictures — that rarely ever happens.

        As for speeding up your blog, I’m using W3 Total Cache along with cSprites for WordPress. Give it a shot, Sherryl! 🙂

        1. Wow! You watch a lot of videos. I definitely read more text myself. Most of the time, I have my speakers turned off. 🙂 I need to keep in mind that a lot of people enjoy audio and video and I do need to make a conscious effort to incorporate it more.

          I use WP Super Cach but I’ve never heard of cSprites. Thanks Nabil. I’ll check that out.