12 Tips and New Standards for Optimizing Your Website
The latest web development standards, SEO ranking factors and social integrations can be a bit much to keep up with. In 2011, innovative applications for website optimization, user interaction and social media are springing up left and right.
I’ve kept watch and tried out many new web development techniques. I’ve also held an active interest in engaging with readers directly on site and through social networks as much as possible.
In this article, I share the optimization techniques and resources that have been most beneficial to me as a web developer and blogger.
Site Header Tips
1. Optimize your title. By default, WordPress and other CMS’s append your website name to the end of title tags on posts and pages. Using your choice of SEO optimization plugin, such as All In One SEO or WordPress SEO, you can configure post titles to contain just the title of your post.
This technique has proven to be beneficial for ranking well for key terms within post titles. It works because you will eventually receive backlinks with better anchor text and more relevancy on social network shares.
2. Set a default image URL for Facebook & LinkedIn sharing. In the past, images accompanying my articles when displayed on social sharing services like Digg, Facebook, bitly, and others always seemed to be the wrong one or missing entirely! The problem annoyed me to the point that I had to seek out a solution.
I was ecstatic to finally work out a simple way to define the proper post image every time. Plug this code into your site header to define the image URL.
<link rel="image_src" type="image/jpeg" href="post-thumbnail.jpg" />
3. Set an author link attribute. (New) Google, Bing and Yahoo recently announced a joint initiative hosted at Schema.org. This HTML tagging platform will work as a framework for defining the structure of a website and individual bits of data. This initiative to create a more open web filled with rich data is just getting started.
Google is getting started right away with a new way to connect authors with their content across multiple websites. Simply define rel=”author” when linking the author’s name in post display as shown here.
<a rel="author" href="http://markfulton.com">Mark Fulton</a>
Site Speed Tips
4. Track page speed with updated Google Analytics code. (New) Last month Google introduced a revolutionary new feature as part of the upgraded Google Analytics, tracking website load times.
With a little adjustment to your tracking code you can begin receiving reports on site speed analytics. Get this rolling and watch as the next few tips greatly reduce page load times.
Automagically have all these files compressed and combined. This will reduce the number of HTTP requests, significantly speeding up page speed performance.
6. Compress images and serve them across multiple sub-domains. Another highly recommend solution for improving website speed is the WP Smush.it plugin which compresses images as you upload them.
I still recommend saving all images for the web using PhotoShop before uploading. Then let Smush.it work a little extra magic to reduce the file size further without noticeably compromising quality.
Additionally, hosting some images on different sub-domains allows them to be loaded simultaneously instead of one at a time.
Ironically, the new Google +1 button code suggests placing the script tag in your header. Put it in the footer instead!
8. Split test your business and lead generation copy. We’re hearing more and more about split-testing or A/B tests in recent years as easier tools are made available. The smallest of changes in copy, color or positioning of call to action elements can sometimes yield big returns.
Here are some economical choices for getting started with split testing your website content.
9. Reduce bounce rate by engaging readers. There are a lot of great methods for engaging website visitors, encouraging them to stick around longer and click-through to further pages on your site.
I’ve written some common sense suggestions for reducing bounce rate in the past. Simple things like improving your navigation or adding images to content can help.
I have been pleased with increased engagement here at DotSauce Magazine using the following applications.
- Wibiya Toolbar (red toolbar at bottom of window) – An incredibly useful toolbar with lots of applications.
- Punchtab Rewards (“Rewards” icon at bottom left of window) – Encourage return visits and sharing content with Punchtab’s innovative new social rewards layer.
- HelloBar – Run a promotion in the header of your site to get immediate attention. Simple app with lots of thought put into it.
I have 5 beta invites to HelloBar for those interested. Please leave a comment and let me know you’d like one.
Extend Your Reach
10. Go mobile. I use the WPTouch plugin which automatically generates a mobile optimized version of DotSauce Magazine. Have you looked at your Google Analytics browser reports to see if many visitors are using mobile devices? It’s likely more than you think.
Greatly improve their user experience and conserve server resources by implementing a mobile optimized display.
11. Get social. Love them or hate them, social networks are driving traffic and allowing your following to engage and endorse your content. Discover the best widgets and sharing buttons for your website and include them in prime positions such as at the top of your sidebar or directly after post content.
I recommend you highlight the big 4; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and email.
- Facebook Social Plugins
- Twitter Website Resources
- LinkedIn Share button
- Google +1 Button (New)
- Sharedaddy (Part of JetPack for WordPress)
12. Become a curator of the latest news and resources. This suggestion goes hand-in-hand with getting social. The most influential people on social networks are found generously sharing editorials, news and resources. It’s a great way to build a following and get recommended.
Every day I share a selection of domaining, online business and web development resources on Twitter, the DotSauce Facebook page, LinkedIn, social bookmarking and social news websites. I’ve been doing this for years and have found the practice to be very rewarding.
Next Up: Optimizing Publisher Experience
I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and techniques for optimizing websites for both search engines and readers. I’m considering a related post that will feature methods of optimizing your experience as a publisher on the backend of a website. This year, I’ve discovered some very interesting tools and resources that make professional blogging that much easier. Stay tuned.
Thanks for reading my tips. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions about this article, I would love to hear your thoughts.