Easily Move Your WordPress Website

Moving a WordPress website from one host to another is not as simple as moving a static website. Luckily, there are tools available to help with the migration.

In this tutorial, we show you how to migrate your WordPress website with the Duplicator plugin.

This plugin works for transferring a live website from one host to another or to launch a WordPress website that has been developed locally on a computer.

Megan Leese | Senior Web Developer

How to Perform an SEO Audit

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has played an essential role in the growth and sustainability of businesses since the first search engine launched in 1990. It’s been reported that 60% of consumers begin their product research on a search engine, up to 77% when it comes to B2B research. So, contrary to what many ill informed marketers might proclaim, SEO is not dead.

Whether it’s big business or small business, a plumber or retail store, if you’re a web design newbie or a master of the SEO dark arts – performing an SEO audit should be step number one in growing your online visibility and brand recognition.

Much like when I wrote 4 DIY SEO Tips for Beginners, rather than a highly technical article this will be a top level view of what items to review at each given step. In this article we’ll discuss the three core components of a successful SEO audit, as well as the tools you’ll need to complete the job.

Building Your Toolkit

Before we dive into how to perform an SEO audit, we need to be sure we’re working with the right set of tools. I highly recommend Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool. This tool allows you to quickly crawl, analyze and audit a site from an on-page SEO perspective. It will fetch key on-page elements and present them in tabs by type and allows you to filter for common SEO issues.

When it comes to seeing where your business ranks on a keyword level, it’s hard to beat SEMrush. SEMRush will tell you how many keywords your business ranks for, the position, cost per click, and overall monthly search volume.

I also like Moz for a lot of reasons. It gets a bad rap in SEO nerd culture, but it does a good job of taking an otherwise complex and confusing topic and make it very easy for the average user. I prefer it for the Open Site Explorer function to review backlinks of sites I’m auditing, as well as perform a spam analysis on each backlink to determine if I need to disavow the link or not.

Reviewing Technical & Architectural SEO Elements

While on-page SEO gets all the love and attention in the C-Suite, it’s the technical and architectural considerations that really help a site climb the search engine results page (SERP).

These elements require us to look at page load times, crawl rate optimization, server response codes, URL canonicalization and more.

To begin reviewing technical items, I’ll usually start by crawling the domain with Screaming Frog.

Once the crawl report is complete, I’ll skim through the Internal HTML pages crawled for any URL’s not following the existing best practices for length, link depth, formatting and other anomalies.

I’ll look at the External crawl tab to see where we’re sending the crawlers, then look at the Protocol report to make sure no HTTPS pages are bleeding over to non-HTTPS pages.

Most importantly I’ll review the Response Codes tab. This is where you’ll see which pages you are blocking search engines from accessing (Blocked by Robots.txt filter), you’ll get a nice list of all redirections (3xx errors), missing pages (4xx errors), and server errors (5xx errors). In my opinion, addressing these server response codes is the top priority during the implementation phase.

Within Screaming Frog you’ll also want to review the Directives tab and make sure all of your canonical URLs are correctly linked, and the pages you do not want to show in Google are set to noindex.

Performing an On-page SEO Analysis

If technical and architectural SEO is the blueprint and foundation to a website, on-page SEO is the aesthetics and ambience which make the site easy for a search engine crawler to visit and hang around for awhile.

Sticking with Screaming Frog, we’ll start with the Page Titles tab and investigate for any missing or duplicate page titles and character length considerations. Likewise, we’ll make these same considerations for the Meta Description, Meta Keywords and H1.

Consider this good housekeeping. These elements must be present on each page, uniquely written, of single usage, and within the recommended character count lengths.

This is also the point in our SEO auditing journey where we exit Screaming Frog and refer to your chosen keyword research tool (I recommended SEMrush) because now we need to know exactly which keywords we’ll be targeting.

Using your keyword research tool, identify four or five unique keyword phrases per page with as minimal overlap as possible. On larger sites siloing keywords becomes increasingly difficult, but necessary to prevent internal keyword cannibalization.

What we’re looking for when we research keywords is that the keyword is relevant to the contents of the page, a medium to high search volume, and competition levels are low to medium.

Once our list of keywords is built, begin distributing them among your page titles, descriptions, meta keywords and primary headline (H1), keeping the keywords in line with the individual pages focus.

Don’t be afraid to use the most competitive keywords in all four of the mentioned elements. Just be sure to use them in a phrase to avoid keyword stuffing.

Off-Site SEO

For many years, SEO consisted of only on-page and technical SEO. As marketers and business owners learned how to manipulate these items, search engines began favoring off-site signals to determine the relevancy a site has to a given search query, and as a vote of trust between the site and the search engine.

The first thing I recommend looking at is a list of backlinks for the site. Backlinks are any third party website linking to the site that is being audited. To do this, I use Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool. A manual review of all inbound links should make it pretty clear if it’s a legitimate backlink or not. Any questionable backlinks should be manually removed, or as a last effort, submitted to Google for disavowal.

As part of the off-site audit, I’m also looking at business directory listings. All third party business listings and social media sites must have consistent data including name, address and phone number. The more consistent signals a business can to a search engine, the more confident the search engine is in that information.

Yext is a great tool to quickly scan more than 200 third party listings for data errors.

Conclusion

While we didn’t dive into the “how” of SEO, a semi-working knowledge of the items mentioned in this article are enough to get you asking the right questions and checking the boxes that need to be checked when it comes to auditing your businesses website.

Being proactive by understanding what to look for and know how to identify potential site problems before they harm your rankings is a major piece of the puzzle when it comes to maintaining and growing your brand’s awareness through search.

Dallas McLaughlin | Digital Marketing Specialist

How to Design a Mobile Friendly Website

Designing for Mobile

With Google reporting that the number of mobile users has surpassed desktop users in the United States and nine other major countries, having a mobile friendly website is more important than ever. The mobile browsing experience is very different than that on a laptop or desktop computer. Understanding these differences will help you design a superior site and accomplish your website goals.

Responsive versus Mobile

When designing and developing a mobile friendly website there are two main ways to go about it: 1) You can build a separate smaller mobile website or 2) You can code your full desktop website to be responsive. A responsive website is a website that is built on a fluid grid to resize based on the size of the screen it’s being viewed on. You must know your business and identify which option is best for your target users.

Examples of successful separate mobile websites:

Examples of successful TJA designed responsive websites:

There are pros and cons to mobile and responsive websites. For most sites, The James Agency recommends building a responsive website. Responsive websites’ fluid grid systems make them more “future proof” for the ever-changing technology and screen sizes. With the rise in the number of mobile users, many expect to be able to view all content on their mobile device and are frustrated by smaller mobile sites. From a company and time management prospective, responsive websites are easier to maintain. Instead of updating content on two websites (the mobile site and desktop site) you only need to make edits in one place and it will display for all website visitors.

Tips for a well-designed mobile site:

1. Know your audience and their browsing behavior patterns

There are two main types of mobile users: users looking for specific information and users that are casually browsing. The users looking for information have a task in mind and want to get from point A to B as quickly as possible. Creating a pathway for them to get to the information as fast as possible helps this type of user to complete their task. Calls to action are important with this demographic since “80 percent of online shoppers admit that mobile purchases are impulse-driven and that they’re more likely to purchase from and interact with a brand that offers an engaging mobile experience.” (Huffington post)

The other main type of mobile user is an information gatherer. Information gatherers are often casually browsing through the Internet looking for information on a given topic. This user wants to be able to access the information as easily as possible and will leave your site quickly if they cannot find what they are looking for.

Identifying what type of website visitor your website is catering to will help you map out your website content and navigation to create the best mobile browsing experience.

2. Keep the design simple

Cut the clutter on mobile design. Trade small detailed design elements for larger simple features and easily digestible bites of information. Mobile websites have much less space to work with and simplified sites can better utilize the space available without sacrificing legibility. Simple designs load faster and help the user accomplish their website goals fast and easily by using the least amount of data.

With responsive websites, not all functionality needs to be accessible on the mobile version of the website. When designing how the site will look on mobile screens look through every element and ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Is this necessary?
  2. Does this enhance the design of the page?
  3. Does this function on a touch screen?

If you answer no to more than two of the questions above, hide or remove it from your mobile layout. Some common website functionalities, including pop-ups and hover elements, do no work well on mobile. Pop-ups are successful on desktop computers because they have space to open an element larger on the screen. With a small screen there is no room to open an enlarged element. Often with the pop-up border, the content within the pop-up is the same size or smaller than before it was opened. Without a mouse, all hover states must be accessed differently.

organos mobile website

 3. Font size

Content on a mobile website should be simple and easy to read. Ensuring all the text is large enough to read on a small screen, and has enough contrast, can make a significant difference in how the website visitor interacts with your website. All fonts vary in “x” height but Google recommends the base font size for mobile text to be at least 16px.

4. Large buttons / Click space

Easy to click buttons and links are key in a mobile website. Don’t frustrate users by making links and buttons small and hard to click on you mobile website. Plan for people to have make mistakes when trying to click on specific links and buttons. Mobile and tablet users do not have a mouse that can click on small spaces. Having multiple small text links close together is difficult to click and can cause the user to move on to an easier site to accomplish their goals.

 5. Navigation

There are two common mobile navigation styles typically used in mobile web design. The first is a dropdown menu. When using dropdown navigation, you need to make sure you have large enough click space allowing for ease of use. We recommend dropdown navigations with only one to two levels in the vertical dropdown menu. The second is “hamburger” navigation. This is the small three-line icon that opens a menu on click. Hamburger navigation is a great option for larger websites with multiple levels of page navigation. Either method is successful when implemented correctly.

TW Lewis Dropdown Navigation Example

Capital Place Hamburger Navigation Example

6. Load time

Mobile users are mobile. They may be connected to a free low-speed WiFi or cellular service. Users get frustrated by slow loading pages and will likely go to a faster site. Every second counts when it comes to website load time. Kissmetrics reports that 47% of mobile web browsers expect a website to load in less than two seconds. 40% of users will abandon a site if it takes more than three seconds to load.

Designing a mobile friendly website is more important than ever. Take your time to think about how you interact with websites on your phone and design your website with that in mind.

Megan Leese | Senior Web Developer

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